Refugee

In the morning at my lute an hour, and so to my office, where I staid expecting to have Mr. Squib come to me, but he did not. At noon walking in the Hall I found Mr. Swan and got him and Captain Stone together, and there advised about Mr. Downing’s business. So to Will’s, and sat there till three o’clock and then to Mr. Swan’s, where I found his wife in very genteel mourning for her father, and took him out by water to the Counsellor at the Temple, Mr. Stephens, and from thence to Gray’s Inn, thinking to speak with Solicitor Ellis, but found him not, so we met with an acquaintance of his in the walks, and went and drank, where I ate some bread and butter, having ate nothing all day, while they were by chance discoursing of Marriot, the great eater, so that I was, I remember, ashamed to eat what I would have done. Here Swan shewed us a ballad to the tune of Mardike which was most incomparably wrote in a printed hand, which I borrowed of him, but the song proved but silly, and so I did not write it out. Thence we went and leaving Swan at his master’s, my Lord Widdrington, I met with Spicer, Washington, and D. Vines in Lincoln’s Inn Court, and they were buying of a hanging jack to roast birds on of a fellow that was there selling of some. I was fain to slip from there and went to Mrs. Crew’s to her and advised about a maid to come and be with Mrs. Jem while her maid is sick, but she could spare none. Thence to Sir Harry Wright’s, but my lady not being within I spoke to Mrs. Carter about it, who will get one against Monday. So with a link boy to Scott’s, where Mrs. Ann was in a heat, but I spoke not to her, but told Mrs. Jem what I had done, and after that went home and wrote letters into the country by the post, and then played awhile on my lute, and so done, to supper and then to bed.
All the news to-day is, that the Parliament this morning voted the House to be made up four hundred forthwith.
This day my wife killed her turkeys that Mr. Sheply gave her, that came out of Zealand with my Lord, and could not get her m’d Jane by no means at any time to kill anything.

a stone in mourning
for her peak

I borrow the song of a bird
to slip into the country

and play a while
with my keys


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 4 February 1659/60.

Surviving

The day we wanted to walk to the cathedral,
it rained. I would have pointed out the stained 
glass roses, the dim alcove where the figure 
of the crucified Christ was laid prone on a table, 
one plaster foot extended so the faithful 
could seal the wound with their lips. There is 
perhaps no real lesson here—only another 
illustration of how we're made to think 
we could never offer enough atonement 
for the great audacity of being alive 
past childhood, past war, past calamity, past 
ruin. I wanted to say, I've lit enough votives
for a lifetime of several conflagrations. 
I wanted to just sit on a wooden bench,
no longer waiting for a voice to tell me
anythiing about how I should live
my life. I wanted to walk out into the damp 
air, believing that was enough absolution.



Fallow

fallow ground risen
on stilts of ice

how fun to crunch
in new winter boots

through a snow squall
the sun’s inflorescent glow

drawing me on with its
mirage of comfort

to find that fabled spot
out of the wind

Quietism

Drank my morning draft at Harper’s, and was told there that the soldiers were all quiet upon promise of pay. Thence to St. James’s Park, and walked there to my place for my flageolet and then played a little, it being a most pleasant morning and sunshine. Back to Whitehall, where in the guard-chamber I saw about thirty or forty ’prentices of the City, who were taken at twelve o’clock last night and brought prisoners hither. Thence to my office, where I paid a little more money to some of the soldiers under Lieut.-Col. Miller (who held out the Tower against the Parliament after it was taken away from Fitch by the Committee of Safety, and yet he continued in his office). About noon Mrs. Turner came to speak with me, and Joyce, and I took them and shewed them the manner of the Houses sitting, the doorkeeper very civilly opening the door for us. Thence with my cozen Roger Pepys, it being term time, we took him out of the Hall to Priors, the Rhenish wine-house, and there had a pint or two of wine and a dish of anchovies, and bespoke three or four dozen bottles of wine for him against his wedding. After this done he went away, and left me order to call and pay for all that Mrs. Turner would have. So we called for nothing more there, but went and bespoke a shoulder of mutton at Wilkinson’s to be roasted as well as it could be done, and sent a bottle of wine home to my house. In the meantime she and I and Joyce went walking all over White Hall, whither General Monk was newly come, and we saw all his forces march by in very good plight and stout officers. Thence to my house where we dined, but with a great deal of patience, for the mutton came in raw, and so we were fain to stay the stewing of it. In the meantime we sat studying a Posy for a ring for her which she is to have at Roger Pepys his wedding. After dinner I left them and went to hear news, but only found that the Parliament House was most of them with Monk at White Hall, and that in his passing through the town he had many calls to him for a free Parliament, but little other welcome. I saw in the Palace Yard how unwilling some of the old soldiers were yet to go out of town without their money, and swore if they had it not in three days, as they were promised, they would do them more mischief in the country than if they had staid here; and that is very likely, the country being all discontented. The town and guards are already full of Monk’s soldiers. I returned, and it growing dark I and they went to take a turn in the park, where Theoph. (who was sent for to us to dinner) outran my wife and another poor woman, that laid a pot of ale with me that she would outrun her. After that I set them as far as Charing Cross, and there left them and my wife, and I went to see Mrs. Ann, who began very high about a flock bed I sent her, but I took her down. Here I played at cards till 9 o’clock. So home and to bed.

quiet sunshine
with a bottle of wine
and the shoulder of a wing

news passing
like the turn of a far
high flock


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 3 February 1659/60.

Dear Exile,

no matter how often I think it,
I can't stop loving the first
cold slap of water coming through
the pipes in winter, the cornhusk
smell of heat pressing down
on eyelids in summer; 
                     on my face, my skin.
Windowless nights
and how they dress
in persistent 
light—

And if I gave up, 
if I stopped desiring
the ordinary things, ordinary 
rituals we hardly thought about 
                      even as we did them—

Could I forget, completely?

Moths tuck themselves 
into drawers, where they 
work out their hidden
citzenships in scripts
of perforated silver.

The taut threads 
of the hammock loosen;
                     day loses to night,
and night again to day, 
 
Who was I 
before the earth
shook my world to pieces,
before parts of barely formed
history were buried along with beams
of a house that no longer exists?

At the Chinese restaurant 
they served coffee 
or service tea in thick white cups, 
and old men in frayed sweaters 
hunched eternally over chessboards.

Roads wound through 
mountains but at a certain juncture, 
           one could glimpse the sea.

Perhaps I am that house to which 
I can no longer return.

Even now, more than just 
the stones are forgetting me.
  

The silver of the sea

Sam Pepys and me

Drank at Harper’s with Doling, and so to my office, where I found all the officers of the regiments in town, waiting to receive money that their soldiers might go out of town, and what was in the Exchequer they had. At noon after dining at home I called at Harper’s for Doling, and he and I met with Luellin and drank with him at the Chequer at Charing Cross, and thence he and I went to the Temple to Mr. Calthrop’s chamber, and from thence had his man by water to London Bridge to Mr. Calthrop, a grocer, and received 60l. for my Lord. In our way we talked with our waterman, White, who told us how the watermen had lately been abused by some that had a desire to get in to be watermen to the State, and had lately presented an address of nine or ten thousand hands to stand by this Parliament, when it was only told them that it was to a petition against hackney coaches; and that to-day they had put out another to undeceive the world and to clear themselves, and that among the rest Cropp, my waterman and one of great practice, was one that did cheat them thus. After I had received the money we went to the Bridge Tavern and drank a quart of wine and so back by water, landing Mr. Calthrop’s man at the Temple and we went homewards, but over against Somerset House, hearing the noise of guns, we landed and found the Strand full of soldiers. So I took my money and went to Mrs. Johnson, my Lord’s sempstress, and giving her my money to lay up, Doling and I went up stairs to a window, and looked out and see the foot face the horse and beat them back, and stood bawling and calling in the street for a free Parliament and money. By and by a drum was heard to beat a march coming towards them, and they got all ready again and faced them, and they proved to be of the same mind with them; and so they made a great deal of joy to see one another. After all this, I took my money, and went home on foot and laying up my money, and changing my stockings and shoes, I this day having left off my great skirt suit, and put on my white suit with silver lace coat, and went over to Harper’s, where I met with W. Simons, Doling, Luellin and three merchants, one of which had occasion to use a porter, so they sent for one, and James the soldier came, who told us how they had been all day and night upon their guard at St. James’s, and that through the whole town they did resolve to stand to what they had began, and that to-morrow he did believe they would go into the City, and be received there.
After all this we went to a sport called, selling of a horse for a dish of eggs and herrings, and sat talking there till almost twelve o’clock and then parted, they were to go as far as Aldgate. Home and to bed.

at the temple we desire
to be water

a dress of ten thousand hands
the noise of the wind

face to face
to be of the same mind

and see one another
silver as herring


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 2 February 1659/60.

The Speed of Light

Is it the dream
or is it the poem 
that wants to return 
the cry torn from a mouth

A dream is a poem
working out the question 
for an answer you think
might never come

When is that future
when we look at the sky
and the sounds we make
arrive dressed in light

Territory

Sam Pepys and me

In the morning went to my office where afterwards the old man brought me my letters from the carrier. At noon I went home and dined with my wife on pease porridge and nothing else. After that I went to the Hall and there met with Mr. Swan and went with him to Mr. Downing’s Counsellor, who did put me in very little hopes about the business between Mr. Downing and Squib, and told me that Squib would carry it against him, at which I was much troubled, and with him went to Lincoln’s Inn and there spoke with his attorney, who told me the day that was appointed for the trial. From thence I went to Sir Harry Wright’s and got him to give me his hand for the 60l. which I am to-morrow to receive from Mr. Calthrop and from thence to Mrs. Jem and spoke with Madam Scott and her husband who did promise to have the thing for her neck done this week. Thence home and took Gammer East, and James the porter, a soldier, to my Lord’s lodgings, who told me how they were drawn into the field to-day, and that they were ordered to march away to-morrow to make room for General Monk; but they did shut their Colonel Fitch, and the rest of the officers out of the field, and swore they would not go without their money, and if they would not give it them, they would go where they might have it, and that was the City. So the Colonel went to the Parliament, and commanded what money could be got, to be got against to-morrow for them, and all the rest of the soldiers in town, who in all places made a mutiny this day, and do agree together. Here I took some bedding to send to Mrs. Ann for her to lie in now she hath her fits of the ague. Thence I went to Will’s and staid like a fool there and played at cards till 9 o’clock and so came home, where I found Mr. Hunt and his wife who staid and sat with me till 10 and so good night.

morning of a war
on nothing

but the field
where soldiers lie

like played cards
till night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 1 February 1659/60.

Binding

~ after Linda Pastan

I have not yet learned that lesson
of abandoning the world, of letting fall
the various claims we make on each other
as though it were our right as humans. If I 
were a tree, I might be the one that hasn't 
quite shed its overgrowth of foliage 
despite the blight worked by heat, the blasts 
fired by winter. Sometimes I feel like a small 
insistent animal pushing its head into your lap, 
circling your ankles, angling for a crumb 
of forgiveness or love. Though the moon
floats in the sky as if it's worked free 
of its own tethers, still I feel the tidal
pulse go through me as if it were 
an umbilical cord uncut. And in the dark 
I tense, anticipating the sterile blades'
descent, fearful of the moment you
might turn away, wanting nothing 
more to do with me. 

Revelatory

In the morning I fell to my lute till 9 o’clock. Then to my Lord’s lodgings and set out a barrel of soap to be carried to Mrs. Ann. Here I met with Nick Bartlet, one that had been a servant of my Lord’s at sea and at Harper’s gave him his morning draft. So to my office where I paid; 1200l. to Mr. Frost and at noon went to Will’s to give one of the Excise office a pot of ale that came to-day to tell over a bag of his that wanted; 7l. in it, which he found over in another bag. Then home and dined with my wife when in came Mr. Hawly newly come from shipboard from his master, and brought me a letter of direction what to do in his lawsuit with Squib about his house and office. After dinner to Westminster Hall, where all we clerks had orders to wait upon the Committee, at the Star Chamber that is to try Colonel Jones, and were to give an account what money we had paid him; but the Committee did not sit to-day. Hence to Will’s, where I sat an hour or two with Mr. Godfrey Austin, a scrivener in King Street.
Here I met and afterwards bought the answer to General Monk’s letter, which is a very good one, and I keep it by me.
Thence to Mrs. Jem, where I found her maid in bed in a fit of the ague, and Mrs. Jem among the people below at work and by and by she came up hot and merry, as if they had given her wine, at which I was troubled, but said nothing.
After a game at cards, I went home and wrote by the post and coming back called in at Harper’s and drank with Mr. Pulford, servant to Mr. Waterhouse, who tells me, that whereas my Lord Fleetwood should have answered to the Parliament to-day, he wrote a letter and desired a little more time, he being a great way out of town. And how that he is quite ashamed of himself, and confesses how he had deserved this, for his baseness to his brother. And that he is like to pay part of the money, paid out of the Exchequer during the Committee of Safety, out of his own purse again, which I am glad of. Home and to bed, leaving my wife reading in Polixandre. I could find nothing in Mr. Downing’s letter, which Hawly brought me, concerning my office; but I could discern that Hawly had a mind that I would get to be Clerk of the Council, I suppose that he might have the greater salary; but I think it not safe yet to change this for a public employment.

out of my bag
another bag

out of a star
a god
a good game

out of shame
money

out of my mind
change


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 31 January 1659/60.