and under our breath
asked permission
to pass through the garden,
through any stretch of strung
vine and moss-speckled trail
kept by unseen spirits.
We mean no harm, we said
as we plucked a buttercup
or mimosa leaf that drew back
into itself at our touch.

Up and to Sir Philip Warwicke, and walked with him an houre with great delight in the Parke about Sir G. Carteret’s accounts, and the endeavours that he hath made to bring Sir G. Carteret to show his accounts and let the world see what he receives and what he pays.
Thence home to the office, where I find Sir J. Minnes come home from Chatham, and Sir W. Batten both this morning from Harwich, where they have been these 7 or 8 days.
At noon with my wife and Mr. Moore by water to Chelsey about my Privy Seale for Tangier, but my Lord Privy Seale was gone abroad, and so we, without going out of the boat, forced to return, and found him not at White Hall. So I to Sir Philip Warwicke and with him to my Lord Treasurer, who signed my commission for Tangier-Treasurer and the docquet of my Privy Seale, for the monies to be paid to me.
Thence to White Hall to Mr. Moore again, and not finding my Lord I home, taking my wife and woman up at Unthanke’s. Late at my office, then to supper and to bed.

how is the world
and what and where
these days

gone without going
found and not finding
me in my unbed


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 18 April 1665.

First you want to know
why I don’t write poems
in my own language—

Which tongue was mine
though, before you
tore it from its bed?

Torque is the instance
of force that causes

something to twist
against itself,

against the trellis
to which it’s been lashed.
Here I am: I’ve lived nearly

more than half my life
away from what you call
the boondocks.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Up and to the Duke of Albemarle’s, where he shewed me Mr. Coventry’s letters, how three Dutch privateers are taken, in one whereof Everson’s son is captaine. But they have killed poor Captaine Golding in The Diamond. Two of them, one of 32 and the other of 20 odd guns, did stand stoutly up against her, which hath 46, and the Yarmouth that hath 52 guns, and as many more men as they. So that they did more than we could expect, not yielding till many of their men were killed. And Everson, when he was brought before the Duke of Yorke, and was observed to be shot through the hat, answered, that he wished it had gone through his head, rather than been taken. One thing more is written: that two of our ships the other day appearing upon the coast of Holland, they presently fired their beacons round the country to give notice. And newes is brought the King, that the Dutch Smyrna fleete is seen upon the back of Scotland; and thereupon the King hath wrote to the Duke, that he do appoint a fleete to go to the Northward to try to meet them coming home round: which God send!
Thence to White Hall; where the King seeing me, did come to me, and calling me by name, did discourse with me about the ships in the River: and this is the first time that ever I knew the King did know me personally; so that hereafter I must not go thither, but with expectation to be questioned, and to be ready to give good answers.
So home, and thence with Creed, who come to dine with me, to the Old James, where we dined with Sir W. Rider and Cutler, and, by and by, being called by my wife, we all to a play, “The Ghosts,” at the Duke’s house, but a very simple play.
Thence up and down, with my wife with me, to look [for] Sir Ph. Warwicke (Mr. Creed going from me), but missed of him and so home, and late and busy at my office. So home to supper and to bed.
This day was left at my house a very neat silver watch, by one Briggs, a scrivener and sollicitor, at which I was angry with my wife for receiving, or, at least, for opening the box wherein it was, and so far witnessing our receipt of it, as to give the messenger 5s. for bringing it; but it can’t be helped, and I will endeavour to do the man a kindnesse, he being a friend of my uncle Wight’s.

guns call me by name
I must go to be questioned

the ghosts miss me
and my neat silver watch


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 17 April 1665.

Is it my body
I inhabit, or do I only haunt
a country whose maps have grown
unreadable?
Luisa A. Igloria, “On Suffering

This body, a box of paints with a broken brush,
a violin with a bow
of exploded horsehair.
But the maker of mosaics knows the value
of shattered glass. The collage artist
pieces the picture together out of fragments.

My body, a swamp to shelter
runaway slaves, a garden run wild.
Some months, the land
produces enough to keep us fed.
Other months, the crops wither
from harshness.
The soil resurrects
itself by consuming every dead
creature back to basic elements
and recycling all our dreams.

We are cameras with vast
digital files and no efficient way of archiving
them. Some days, we can find what we need
in this filing cabinet of doom; some years, we search
with increasing desperation for the lost
material. The best afternoons develop
when we take unplanned rambles
through the weedy, winding paths
so far from home.

Once, I was an athlete, running
long distances in the pre-dawn haze
of summer. Now I set the kettle
on to boil as I plot
the day ahead. Once I breakfasted
on the freshest fruit. Now I bake
muffins, close cousins to cupcakes.
I adorn each one with a quilt
of my homemade lemon curd
and the preserved and sugared rinds
of citrus from the trees that stoop
with gifts for those with eyes to see.

(Lord’s day). Lay long in bed, then up and to my chamber and my office, looking over some plates which I find necessary for me to understand pretty well, because of the Dutch warr. Then home to dinner, where Creed dined with us, and so after dinner he and I walked to the Rolls’ Chappell, expecting to hear the great Stillingfleete preach, but he did not; but a very sorry fellow, which vexed me. The sermon done, we parted, and I home, where I find Mr. Andrews, and by and by comes Captain Taylor, my old acquaintance at Westminster, that understands musique very well and composes mighty bravely; he brought us some things of two parts to sing, very hard; but that that is the worst, he is very conceited of them, and that though they are good makes them troublesome to one, to see him every note commend and admire them. He supped with me, and a good understanding man he is and a good scholler, and, among other things, a great antiquary, and among other things he can, as he says, show the very originall Charter to Worcester, of King Edgar’s, wherein he stiles himself, Rex Marium Brittanniae, &c.; which is the great text that Mr. Selden and others do quote, but imperfectly and upon trust. But he hath the very originall, which he says he will shew me.
He gone we to bed.
This night I am told that newes is come of our taking of three Dutch men-of-warr, with the loss of one of our Captains.

in bed we expect
a great still music

we are the original text
that others quote imperfectly

this old news
of our loss


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 16 April 1665.

I like to say I come
from a town whose main street
is bookended by the post

office at the top
& the market at the bottom.
I like to take my coffee

with a little cream
& sugar, & now usually
nurse it through the day.

I like to smooth the covers
after I get out of bed, just
for the pleasure of feeling

there could be a small, smooth
space later, between the day’s chaos
& the night’s hoped for oblivion.

“Sometimes, happiness is all we have left.” ~ Alberto Rios

I am trying to remember:
do I still know how dark

green curves open to a frill
on the backs of winged beans,

how pale streaks bloom
on long-bellied gourds

as if a child scribbled
on a rough piece of slate

with chalk? Under the old
grandmother’s window we

lined up empty soda bottles,
pouring water from the tap,

pushing crushed petals in
to mimic rose and turmeric.

I don’t know if there is a name
for the moment when a sundial’s blade

is wedged between noon and night;
I forget. And yet, decades after,

I remember how I grew still when a hand
not mine shaded the sun from my eyes

while the other hand made the road
buckle so it ribboned away and away.

[Etymology, gnomon: From Latin gnomon, from Ancient Greek γνώμων (gnōmōn, “indicator”), related to γιγνώσκω (gignōskō, “I know”) and γνῶσις (gnōsis, “knowledge”].