Christ was a Carpenter

erasure of a page from Samuel Pepys' diary

[Christ was a carpenter,
my wife, one coal of fire,
my father a bell.
A strange doctor stayed the death of tomorrow.]

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 8 January 1659/60

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. I notice the extra “white spaces/lines” (as in nos. 1, 4 and 5) are no longer “in the picture”. Has their use (or lack of) changed for any specific reason?

    All erasure poemists should check out Tom Phillips’ Humument that probably introduced the form.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tom. I’ll check that out. Most of my exposure to the form has been through the work of other online poets, but I’m mostly groping out my own methodology here. I don’t see any compelling reason to preserve Pepys’ paragraph spaces, especially since I am changing so much else (including punctuation when need be). If it turns out that I am too far from established orthodoxy for these to be true erasure poems, I’ll simply call them something else. :)


      1. No. 4 is my favourite so far.

        Short bits of Pepys’ Diary has been published in our daily newspaper for a long time; it just goes to show that a brilliant idea can come from the most unlikely sources (or centuries).

        Keep them coming!


        1. I think I will! I somehow missed out on the blogged version the first time around, possibly because all my blogger buddies were following it and I’ve always been a contrary sort, but thankfully the proprietor opted to run it afresh (and through some magic I don’t quite understand, is using the very same, already-published posts from the archive and pushing them out to RSS and the front page of the site, which allows me to work ahead if I like).


    2. Judging from the gallery at, that’s a real work of visual art! These MS Word-generated erasures I’m making are a different thing altogether, not least in the limitation I’ve imposed to work within the original consecutive order of words.


      1. The Humument exists as an app for the iPad – a fantastic bit of lateral thinking combining art and tech as well as fun since it has a “predictive” function based on random page selections. There’s a review of it here.


  2. I love these erasure poems. Not something I’ve tried as yet, but am now inspired to do a little creative vandalism.


    1. Thanks for the kind words, Dick. I’m eager to see what you come up with. I must tell you, though, these have been a lot more work than composing an original poem from scratch. I have at least two completely different erasures of most entries so far; one yielded as many as four before I found one I was satisfied with. But the perhaps unattainable idea of a kind of mash-up between Rabelais and surrealism keeps me going.


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