The Kiss

This day my Lord took physic, and came not out of his chamber.
All the morning making orders. After dinner a great while below in the great cabin trying with W. Howe some of Mr. Laws’ songs, particularly that of “What is a kiss,” with which we had a great deal of pleasure.
After that to making of orders again. Captain Sparling of the Assistance brought me a pair of silk stockings of a light blue, which I was much pleased with.
The Captain and I to supper, and after that a most pleasant walk till 10 at night with him upon the deck, it being a fine evening.
My pain was gone again that I had yesterday, blessed be God.
This day the month ends, I in very good health, and all the world in a merry mood because of the King’s coming.
This day I began to teach Mr. Edward; who I find to have a very good foundation laid for his Latin by Mr. Fuller. I expect every minute to hear how my poor wife do.
I find myself in all things well as to body and mind, but troubled for the absence of my wife.

What is a kiss?
A pair of silk stockings.
A light blue supper.
A pleasant walk.
A fine pain.
The king’s coming.
A good foundation for Latin.
The absence of I.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 31 May 1660 (with inspiration from the poem by Robert Herrick).


This entry is part 27 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013


Mine is the wooden bowl
and the drink drawn by the hand-pump
from the spring; and the slippers left
by the kitchen door for entry into the house—

So when I come in from the heat,
I do not argue with the darkening
pages of the day when this body
wants nothing more than to sink

into the folds of a sheet,
an envelope of water, a book
held open at the mark as quietly
as a wood satyr’s wings.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Fever Dream

On the insides of the wrist, nape, the elbow’s
hollow: run a thin trickle of cooling water—

I think of myself in that bed: flushed with heat
and delirium, wrapped in nightgowns of rushing water.

What was it the gods claimed was stolen from them?
Some elixir of life, ambrosia, nectar, sugar water?

Flesh sweetens, ripens, pulsed with kisses;
anoint its stations with cologne water.

Above the reflecting pool, trees grows heavy
with fruit. Thirst seems a mere sip away from water.

If I drank straight from your mouth, I might revive
or I might wither. How far from reach is the water?


In response to Via Negativa: Lost.

Soul Food

About eight o’clock in the morning the lieutenant came to me to know whether I would eat a dish of mackerel, newly catched, for my breakfast, which the Captain and we did in the coach.
All yesterday and to-day I had a great deal of pain in making water and in my back, which made me afeard. But it proved nothing but cold, which I took yesterday night.
All this morning making up my accounts, in which I counted that I had made myself now worth about 80l., at which my heart was glad, and blessed God.
Many Dover men come and dine with my Lord. My Lord at ninepins in the afternoon. In the afternoon Mr. Sheply told me how my Lord had put me down for 70 guilders among the money which was given to my Lord’s servants, which my heart did much rejoice at.
My Lord supped alone in his chamber. Sir R. Stayner supped with us, and among other things told us how some of his men did grumble that no more of the Duke’s money come to their share and so would not receive any; whereupon he called up those that had taken it, and gives them three shares apiece more, which was very good, and made good sport among the seamen. To bed.

I eat a dish of mackerel
and a cold heart.
My heart supped with us
and told us to take
three shares apiece,
which was very good.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 30 May 1660.

Birthday of Desire

The King’s birthday.
Busy all the morning writing letters to London, among the rest one to Mr. Chetwind to give me an account of the fees due to the Herald for the Order of the Garter, which my Lord desires to know.
After dinner got all ready and sent away Mr. Cook to London with a letter and token to my wife.
After that abroad to shore with my Lord (which he offered me of himself, saying that I had a great deal of work to do this month, which was very true).
On shore we took horses, my Lord and Mr. Edward, Mr. Hetly and I, and three or four servants, and had a great deal of pleasure in riding. Among other things my Lord showed me a house that cost a great deal of money, and is built in so barren and inconvenient a place that my Lord calls it the fool’s house.
At last we came upon a very high cliff by the sea-side, and rode under it, we having laid great wagers, I and D. Mathews, that it was not so high as Paul’s; my Lord and Mr. Hetly, that it was. But we riding under it, my Lord made a pretty good measure of it with two sticks, and found it to be not above thirty-five yards high, and Paul’s is reckoned to be about ninety. From thence toward the barge again, and in our way found the people at Deal going to make a bonfire for joy of the day, it being the King’s birthday, and had some guns which they did fire at my Lord’s coming by. For which I did give twenty shillings among them to drink.
While we were on the top of the cliffe, we saw and heard our guns in the fleet go off for the same joy. And it being a pretty fair day we could see above twenty miles into France.
Being returned on board, my Lord called for Mr. Sheply’s book of Paul’s, by which we were confirmed in our wager. After that to supper and then to musique, and so to bed.
The pain that I have got last night by cold is not yet gone, but troubles me at the time of pissing.
This day, it is thought, the King do enter the city of London.

The birthday of desire.
My wife offered me a true horse
and I had great pleasure in riding:
a house built high with two sticks,
a bonfire of guns.
We go off for the same joy
and return for trouble.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 29 May 1660.


Called up at two in the morning for letters for my Lord from the Duke of York, but I went to bed again till 5. Trimmed early this morning.
This morning the Captain did call over all the men in the ship (not the boys), and give every one of them a ducat of the King’s money that he gave the ship, and the officers according to their quality. I received in the Captain’s cabin, for my share, sixty ducats. The rest of the morning busy writing letters. So was my Lord that he would not come to dinner.
After dinner to write again in order to sending to London, but my Lord did not finish his, so we did not send to London to-day.
A great part of the afternoon at nine-pins with my Lord and Mr. Hetley. I lost about 4s.
Supped with my Lord, and after that to bed.
This night I had a strange dream of bepissing myself, which I really did, and having kicked the clothes off, I got cold and found myself all muck-wet in the morning, and had a great deal of pain in making water which made me very melancholy.

At two in the morning,
the ship not the ship
and the ending no end,
on my lost bed
I dream of having clothes
of cold water.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 28 May 1660.


(Lord’s day).
Called up by John Goods to see the Garter and Heralds coat, which lay in the coach, brought by Sir Edward Walker, King at Arms, this morning, for my Lord.
My Lord hath summoned all the Commanders on board him, to see the ceremony, which was thus:
Sir Edward putting on his coat, and having laid the George and Garter, and the King’s letter to my Lord, upon a crimson cushion (in the coach, all the Commanders standing by), makes three congees to him, holding the cushion in his arms. Then laying it down with the things upon it upon a chair, he takes the letter, and delivers it to my Lord, which my Lord breaks open and gives him to read. It was directed to our trusty and well beloved Sir Edward Montagu, Knight, one of our Generals at sea, and our Companion elect of our Noble Order of the Garter. The contents of the letter is to show that the Kings of England have for many years made use of this honour, as a special mark of favour, to persons of good extraction and virtue (and that many Emperors, Kings and Princes of other countries have borne this honour), and that whereas my Lord is of a noble family, and hath now done the King such service by sea, at this time, as he hath done; he do send him this George and Garter to wear as Knight of the Order, with a dispensation for the other ceremonies of the habit of the Order, and other things, till hereafter, when it can be done.
So the herald putting the ribbon about his neck, and the Garter about his left leg, he salutes him with joy as Knight of the Garter, and that was all.
After that was done, and the Captain and I had breakfasted with Sir Edward while my Lord was writing of a letter, he took his leave of my Lord, and so to shore again to the King at Canterbury, where he yesterday gave the like honour to General Monk, who are the only two for many years that have had the Garter given them, before they had other honours of Earldom, or the like, excepting only the Duke of Buckingham, who was only Sir George Villiers when he was made Knight of the Garter.
A while after Mr. Thos. Crew and Mr. J. Pickering (who had staid long enough to make all the world see him to be a fool), took ship for London.
So there now remain no strangers with my Lord but Mr. Hetley, who had been with us a day before the King went from us.
My Lord and the ship’s company down to sermon. I staid above to write and look over my new song book, which came last night to me from London in lieu of that that my Lord had of me. The officers being all on board, there was not room for me at table, so I dined in my cabin, where, among other things, Mr. Drum brought me a lobster and a bottle of oil, instead of a bottle of vinegar, whereby I spoiled my dinner.
Many orders in the ordering of ships this afternoon. Late to a sermon. After that up to the Lieutenant’s cabin, where Mr. Sheply, I, and the Minister supped, and after that I went down to W. Howe’s cabin, and there, with a great deal of pleasure, singing till it was late. After that to bed.

The king, holding us
in his arms, laying
down on a chair,
breaks open
and gives us
his sons and countries,
his family, his ceremonies,
his neck and his left leg
like a ham made to do
in lieu of lobster.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 27 May 1660.


Were it not for the mind
that always wants to calculate the cost,
the heart and mouth that always want
to cram one more pleasure in,

there might be no call to separate
flesh from its limits, no need to make
apology for the noisy clapper sounds
made by attachment

after attachment— Is there hope?
I want to ask— Or, how long is this work
of endless cleaning, trimming,
pruning? In heat-hazed streets,

beggar children knock on car windows
opening their palms, offering grain-
sized buds they’ve threaded
into garlands. Help me, see

me, give me, say the ones who need
the most— How is it not possible to give
when even these blossoms, already dead,
cannot hold in their scent?


In response to Via Negativa: Dogged.


Thanks to God I got to bed in my own poor cabin, and slept well till 9 o’clock this morning. Mr. North and Dr. Clerke and all the great company being gone, I found myself very uncouth all this day for want thereof. My Lord dined with the Vice-Admiral to-day (who is as officious, poor man! as any spaniel can be; but I believe all to no purpose, for I believe he will not hold his place).
So I dined commander at the coach table to-day, and all the officers of the ship with me, and Mr. White of Dover. After a game or two at nine-pins, to work all the afternoon, making above twenty orders.
In the evening my Lord having been a-shore, the first time that he hath been a-shore since he came out of the Hope (having resolved not to go till he had brought his Majesty into England), returned on board with a great deal of pleasure.
I supped with the Captain in his cabin with young Captain Cuttance, and afterwards a messenger from the King came with a letter, and to go into France, and by that means we supped again with him at 12 o’clock at night.
This night the Captain told me that my Lord had appointed me 30l. out of the 1000 ducats which the King had given to the ship, at which my heart was very much joyed.
To bed.

Uncouth as a spaniel,
I work all afternoon at hope.
Pleasure me.
Let out the cat in my heart.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 26 May 1660.