In the morning at the office, and after that down to Whitehall, where I met with Mr. Creed, and with him and a Welsh schoolmaster, a good scholar but a very pedagogue, to the ordinary at the Leg in King Street. I got my certificate of my Lord’s and my being sworn. This morning my Lord took leave of the House of Commons, and had the thanks of the House for his great services to his country.
In the afternoon (but this is a mistake, for it was yesterday in the afternoon) Monsieur L’Impertinent and I met and I took him to the Sun and drank with him, and in the evening going away we met his mother and sisters and father coming from the Gatehouse; where they lodge, where I did the first time salute them all, and very pretty Madame Frances is indeed. After that very late home and called in Tower Street, and there at a barber’s was trimmed the first time. Home and to bed.
Agog at the morning mist,
I met the sun at the gate
where a barber trimmed me.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 25 July 1660.
To White Hall, where I did acquaint Mr. Watkins with my being sworn into the Privy Seal, at which he was much troubled, but put it up and did offer me a kinsman of his to be my clerk, which I did give him some hope of, though I never intend it. In the afternoon I spent much time in walking in White Hall Court with Mr. Bickerstaffe, who was very glad of my Lord’s being sworn, because of his business with his brother Baron, which is referred to my Lord Chancellor, and to be ended to-morrow. Baron hath got a grant beyond sea to come in before the Reversioners of the Privy Seal. This afternoon Mr. Mathews came to me, to get a certificate of my Lord’s and my being sworn, which I put in some forwardness, and so home and to bed.
Kin to the seal,
I walk beyond the version
of the sea I am.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 24 July 1660.
“…This life/ that hurts like a son of a bitch.” – Paul Guest, “Love in the Singular”
This tree that opens its arms to reveal a pattern of pencilled ribs.
This summer of restarts, of ebbs and flows among detritus of beach umbrellas.
This sky, metallic as a makeshift lantern in which holes have been punched with a nail.
This girl that sings in the yard with a voice to rival the edge of a rusty blade.
This grandmother who implores her to stop in the name of God else the chickens might die.
This mother-in-law who would marry her son if she could.
This man who bows his head and lets himself be led to the kitchen to eat with the slaves.
This mouth that slavers at the smell of cheese and bread despite its nine missing teeth.
This leg that jerks in the night from dreams of desert fires and limbless boys.
This morning full of the relentless whirring of cicadas in the trees.
This cup cracked at the bottom and the rim in which a Maid of Orleans jasmine buds.
This handful of salt at the bottom of the jar which gives itself to the broth.
This leaf which unseen insects chew into lace each night.
This purse that spends and spends itself until there is no more.
This appetite that’s never slaked.
This clean white suit and faded hat, these old but polished shoes.
This billfold with loose change.
This silver ring, this rosary, snapped in the middle to break the chain.
“Joy does all things without concern.” ~ Chuang Tzu
Did you bring me a sweet? Did you bring some bread? Are you here to rub my feet, braid my hair, massage warm oil on my head? It’s been so long since you were here last. You never answered the telephone. You never sent a letter back. The ivy has overgrown the fence and creeps under the deck. In the morning, my heart closes around the first bright thing it sees; at dusk I set the table and lay the silver on folded paper napkins. The little blue flames on the stove form a perfect ring; and how beautiful is the moon when it is nearly full.
This morning Mr. Barlow comes to me, and he and I went forth to a scrivener in Fenchurch Street, whom we found sick of the gout in bed, and signed and sealed our agreement before him.
He urged to have these words (in consideration whereof) to be interlined, which I granted, though against my will.
Met this morning at the office, and afterwards Mr. Barlow by appointment came and dined with me, and both of us very pleasant and pleased. After dinner to my Lord, who took me to Secretary Nicholas, and there before him and Secretary Morris, my Lord and I upon our knees together took our oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy; and the Oath of the Privy Seal, of which I was much glad, though I am not likely to get anything by it at present; but I do desire it, for fear of a turn- out of our office. That done and my Lord gone from me, I went with Mr. Cooling and his brother, and Sam Hartlibb, little Jennings and some others to the King’s Head Tavern at Charing Cross, where after drinking I took boat and so home, where we supped merrily among ourselves (our little boy proving a droll) and so after prayers to bed.
This day my Lord had heard that Mr. Barnwell was dead, but it is not so yet, though he be very ill.
I was troubled all this day with Mr. Cooke, being willing to do him good, but my mind is so taken up with my own business that I cannot.
We dine on our knees
and drink to my dead cook,
my mind taken up
with my own sin.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 23 July 1660.
Harbor at sunset.
A boy fires his air gun
into the water.
A bus and car
squeeze past each other
at the standing stone.
A fat herring gull walks
between the tents.
to eagle, bell to bell
in the great carillon
where one sound
silvers and multiplies
into a choir of tongues:
at the end, make me tender
from having lived the lessons;
give back the frayed
me to myself
just as the measure
loops firmly back
In response to Via Negativa: Visitant.
It’s beautiful this way, isn’t it?
Look at how cobalt swirls define
the snapped green outlines of continents,
the red of territories where cities crackle
with intermittent light or gunfire. Line up
the edges of the clear acrylic cage so they
resemble markings on a turtle shell. Set it
on the shelf, or on an antique rolltop desk
inlaid with gold from melted teeth. Ransoms
have been paid for loveliness less than this.
We’ve brought war to countless flea-ridden
villages harboring dark wells of oil, beaches
mottled with the dust of diamonds. In return,
see all the trade that journeys back to us
in ochre and blue container vessels, the bills
of lading penned in more than a dozen foreign
tongues. The diners in the inner room
are cataloguing artifacts before their
disappearance: smoked foam of fungi
gathered in thunderstorms, sleek
bodies of eels entombed in blocks
of marbled tofu, ortolans drowned
in Armagnac… For let it not be said
our love is shabby, or lacking for display.
~ (after Peter Eudenbach)
In response to Via Negativa: The Inward Park.
Lord’s day. All this last night it had rained hard. My brother Tom came this morning the first time to see me, and I paid him all that I owe my father to this day. Afterwards I went out and looked into several churches, and so to my uncle Fenner’s, whither my wife was got before me, and we, my father and mother, and all the Joyces, and my aunt Bell, whom I had not seen many a year before. After dinner to White Hall (my wife to church with K. Joyce), where I find my Lord at home, and walked in the garden with him, he showing me all the respect that can be. I left him and went to walk in the Park, where great endeavouring to get into the inward Park, but could not get in; one man was basted by the keeper, for carrying some people over on his back through the water.
Afterwards to my Lord’s, where I staid and drank with Mr. Sheply, having first sent to get a pair of oars. It was the first time that ever I went by water on the Lord’s day. Home, and at night had a chapter read; and I read prayers out of the Common Prayer Book, the first time that ever I read prayers in this house. So to bed.
I look for joy and find a garden,
walk in the park endeavoring
to get into the inward park,
carry people over
through the common bed.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 22 July 1660.
This morning Mr. Barlow had appointed for me to bring him what form I would have the agreement between him and me to pass, which I did to his lodgings at the Golden Eagle in the new street between Fetter Lane and Shoe Lane, where he liked it very well, and I from him went to get Mr. Spong to engross it in duplicates.
To my Lord and spoke to him about the business of the Privy Seal for me to be sworn, though I got nothing by it, but to do Mr. Moore a kindness, which he did give me a good answer to. Went to the Six Clerks’ office to Mr. Spong for the writings, and dined with him at a club at the next door, where we had three voices to sing catches. So to my house to write letters and so to Whitehall about business of my Lord’s concerning his creation, and so home and to bed.
A golden eagle in the street
between Fetter Lane and Shoe Lane.
Six clerks sing to it about Creation.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 21 July 1660.