Kitchen confidential

Sam Pepys and me

(King’s birth-day). Rose early and having made myself fine, and put six spoons and a porringer of silver in my pocket to give away to-day, Sir W. Pen and I took coach, and (the weather and ways being foul) went to Walthamstowe; and being come there heard Mr. Radcliffe, my former school fellow at Paul’s (who is yet a mere boy), preach upon “Nay, let him take all, since my Lord the King is returned,” &c. He reads all, and his sermon very simple, but I looked for new matter. Back to dinner to Sir William Batten’s; and then, after a walk in the fine gardens, we went to Mrs. Browne’s, where Sir W. Pen and I were godfathers, and Mrs. Jordan and Shipman godmothers to her boy. And there, before and after the christening; we were with the woman above in her chamber; but whether we carried ourselves well or ill, I know not; but I was directed by young Mrs. Batten. One passage of a lady that eat wafers with her dog did a little displease me. I did give the midwife 10s. and the nurse 5s. and the maid of the house 2s. But for as much I expected to give the name to the child, but did not (it being called John), I forbore then to give my plate till another time after a little more advice.
All being done, we went to Mrs. Shipman’s, who is a great butter-woman, and I did see there the most of milk and cream, and the cleanest that ever I saw in my life. After we had filled our bellies with cream, we took our leaves and away. In our way, we had great sport to try who should drive fastest, Sir W. Batten’s coach, or Sir W. Pen’s chariott, they having four, and we two horses, and we beat them. But it cost me the spoiling of my clothes and velvet coat with dirt.
Being come home I to bed, and give my breeches to be dried by the fire against to-morrow.

six spoons in my pocket
for you my plate

a great butter-woman
spoiling my breeches


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 29 May 1661.

Owl man

Sam Pepys and me

This morning to the Wardrobe, and thence to a little alehouse hard by, to drink with John Bowles, who is now going to Hinchinbroke this day.
Thence with Mr. Shepley to the Exchange about business, and there, by Mr. Rawlinson’s favour, got into a balcone over against the Exchange; and there saw the hangman burn, by vote of Parliament, two old acts, the one for constituting us a Commonwealth, and the others I have forgot.
Which still do make me think of the greatness of this late turn, and what people will do tomorrow against what they all, through profit or fear, did promise and practise this day.
Then to the Mitre with Mr. Shepley, and there dined with D. Rawlinson and some friends of his very well. So home, and then to Cheapside about buying a piece of plate to give away to-morrow to Mrs. Browne’s child. So to the Star in Cheapside, where I left Mr. Moore telling 5l. out for me, who I found in a great strait for my coming back again, and so he went his way at my coming.
Then home, where Mr. Cook I met and he paid me 30s., an old debt of his to me. So to Sir W. Pen’s, and there sat alone with him till ten at night in talk with great content, he telling me things and persons that I did not understand in the late times, and so I home to bed. My cozen John Holcroft (whom I have not seen many years) this morning came to see me.

an owl who
is still all day who
is alone at night telling me who
I am


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 28 May 1661.

The Wisdom of the Young

river in November light between bare woods and mountain
Some think of youth as synonymous with innocence, 
of childhood's landscape as a time uniform and

unmarked until its transformation. Yet emperors
and successors of the Dalai Lama were chosen

even before they reached the age of five. They're sweet
as children are, giddy in a room full of favorite toys;

they 'd cry when tired or sleepy. But they reached out,
touched oracular items as if they recognized them from

a former life—sandalwood prayer beads, a ritual drum.
Where we are in our ordinary lives, it's the start of another

hot summer. Blueberry bushes speckle witih fruit that don't
even make it to ripeness since the birds are early with

their hunger. Still, there's enough to fill crates arriving
at the farmer's market; and abundant stone fruit, lacy kale,

lush peonies. Later, when we walk through the neighborhood,
our grandson points out anthills, hollows where he thinks rabbits

burrow; which among the leafy clumps amassed at the base
of trees are poison ivy. Already, he seems wise beyond his years.

He listened to his father tell a story about a shoeshine boy
not much older than him, making his way in a big city

during the Depression years—that boy kept no more than
a dollar of every earning, saved the rest for a houseful of

siblings. On one of the hottest days, this boy shaded his mother
with an umbrella as she pulled the trash bins to the curb.

Falling star

river in November light between bare woods and mountain

This morning to the Wardrobe, and thence to a little alehouse hard by, to drink with John Bowles, who is now going to Hinchinbroke this day.
Thence with Mr. Shepley to the Exchange about business, and there, by Mr. Rawlinson’s favour, got into a balcone over against the Exchange; and there saw the hangman burn, by vote of Parliament, two old acts, the one for constituting us a Commonwealth, and the others I have forgot.
Which still do make me think of the greatness of this late turn, and what people will do tomorrow against what they all, through profit or fear, did promise and practise this day.
Then to the Mitre with Mr. Shepley, and there dined with D. Rawlinson and some friends of his very well. So home, and then to Cheapside about buying a piece of plate to give away to-morrow to Mrs. Browne’s child. So to the Star in Cheapside, where I left Mr. Moore telling 5l. out for me, who I found in a great strait for my coming back again, and so he went his way at my coming.
Then home, where Mr. Cook I met and he paid me 30s., an old debt of his to me. So to Sir W. Pen’s, and there sat alone with him till ten at night in talk with great content, he telling me things and persons that I did not understand in the late times, and so I home to bed. My cozen John Holcroft (whom I have not seen many years) this morning came to see me.

war broke out
to turn a profit

on a cheap star
I have not seen this morning


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 28 May 1661.

Dominion

river in November light between bare woods and mountain
When I was child, I played
with chesspieces but out of order,

not heeding rules or design.
I skirted around the bishop, laid

the rounded head of a pawn
in the bowl at the castle's top.

The horses were only horses'
heads, so I could not bridle

them or take them for a canter.
Slender king, dangerous queen,

walking the edges of a checkered
field beyond which forests

breathed, and the patient
tongues of the sea waited.

Poetry Blog Digest 2024, Week 21

Poetry Blogging Network

A personal selection of posts from the Poetry Blogging Network and beyond. Although I tend to quote my favorite bits, please do click through and read the whole posts. You can also browse the blog digest archive at Via Negativa or, if you’d like it in your inbox, subscribe on Substack (where the posts might be truncated by some email providers).

This week: dreams and ghosts, forgetting and remembering, program and underprogram, wasps, spiders and cicadas. Enjoy.

Continue reading “Poetry Blog Digest 2024, Week 21”

Ab ovo

Sam Pepys and me

To the Wardrobe, and from thence with my Lords Sandwich and Hinchinbroke to the Lords’ House by boat at Westminster, and there I left them. Then to the lobby, and after waiting for Sir G. Downing’s coming out, to speak with him about the giving me up of my bond for my honesty when I was his clerk, but to no purpose, I went to Clerke’s at the Legg, and there I found both Mr. Pierces, Mr. Rolt, formerly too great a man to meet upon such even terms, and there we dined very merry, there coming to us Captain Ferrers, this being the first day of his going abroad since his leap a week ago, which I was greatly glad to see. By water to the office, and there sat late, Sir George Carteret coming in, who among other things did inquire into the naming of the maisters for this fleet, and was very angry that they were named as they are, and above all to see the maister of the Adventure (for whom there is some kind of difference between Sir W. Pen and me) turned out, who has been in her last.
The office done, I went with the Comptroller to the Coffee house, and there we discoursed of this, and I seem to be fond of him, and indeed I find I must carry fair with all as far as I see it safe, but I have got of him leave to have a little room from his lodgings to my house, of which I am very glad, besides I do open him a way to get lodgings himself in the office, of which I should be very glad.
Home and to bed.

coming out of my egg
I found the first day

going into another
cursed little room


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 27 May 1661.

Triggered

Sam Pepys and me

(Lord’s day). Lay long in bed. To church and heard a good sermon at our own church, where I have not been a great many weeks. Dined with my wife alone at home pleasing myself in that my house do begin to look as if at last it would be in good order.
This day the Parliament received the communion of Dr. Gunning at St. Margaret’s, Westminster.
In the afternoon both the Sir Williams came to church, where we had a dull stranger. After church home, and so to the Mitre, where I found Dr. Burnett, the first time that ever I met him to drink with him, and my uncle Wight and there we sat and drank a great deal, and so I to Sir W. Batten’s, where I have on purpose made myself a great stranger, only to get a high opinion a little more of myself in them. Here I heard how Mrs. Browne, Sir W. Batten’s sister, is brought to bed, and I to be one of the godfathers, which I could not nor did deny. Which, however, did trouble me very much to be at charge to no purpose, so that I could not sleep hardly all night, but in the morning I bethought myself, and I think it is very well I should do it.
Sir W. Batten told me how Mr. Prin (among the two or three that did refuse to-day to receive the sacrament upon their knees) was offered by a mistake the drink afterwards, which he did receive, being denied the drink by Dr. Gunning, unless he would take it on his knees; and after that by another the bread was brought him, and he did take it sitting, which is thought very preposterous. Home and to bed.

alone at home
I begin to look at a gun

in anger I have made
myself a stranger

high on god I could
not sleep or think

how to receive
the sacrament of the gun


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 26 May 1661.

Curate

river in November light between bare woods and mountain
A woman tends a garden
filled with a great variety of roses.

Climbing or opening, each of their
names is a poem.

The walkway is trellised
with braided boughs.

In another garden, a fig tree
towers next to a persimmon.

They have secret names, too:
crow-feathered poems.

Mystery's the answer
to what I can't explain.

Moss thickens like ache
among islands of grass.