A Herald

“…& you too can be happy,
she’s sure of it—” ~ Mary Szybist

Inside, carefully lay
the colors just within the lines:
shades of periwinkle, fern, mushroom—

And if you nick
the skin of the outline,
in the box of 64, there is one

stick of gold, another
of silver, their wax base soft enough
to blend like a halo around everything—

Who ever guessed
there could be so many shades
for flesh? Blushing peach, honeyed coffee,

pale ivory bud of moon
milky in the sky, still new
as the year poised to flourish—

Faux pas

At the office all the morning and after that home, and not staying to dine I went out, and in Paul’s Church-yard I bought the play of “Henry the Fourth,” and so went to the new Theatre (only calling at Mr. Crew’s and eat a bit with the people there at dinner) and saw it acted; but my expectation being too great, it did not please me, as otherwise I believe it would; and my having a book, I believe did spoil it a little.
That being done I went to my Lord’s, where I found him private at cards with my Lord Lauderdale and some persons of honour. So Mr. Shepley and I over to Harper’s, and there drank a pot or two, and so parted. My boy taking a cat home with him from my Lord’s, which Sarah had given him for my wife, we being much troubled with mice.
At Whitehall inquiring for a coach, there was a Frenchman with one eye that was going my way, so he and I hired the coach between us and he set me down in Fenchurch Street. Strange how the fellow, without asking, did tell me all what he was, and how he had ran away from his father and come into England to serve the King, and now going back again.
Home and to bed.

I bought Henry the Fourth dinner,
but my expectation being too great,
it did not please him.
I drank a pot or two and parted.

A cat with one eye
was going my way.
“Strange fellow, tell me,
how is the king now?”

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 31 December 1660.

Year’s End

This entry is part 6 of 23 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2013-14


One thin cobweb dangles from the ceiling until I wind it away with a stick.

No gunshots here; it is quiet in the street whose one end faces the river.

The rain hits the window ledge poorly wrapped in metal; it makes a sound like tiny ball bearings on a tray.

I wanted to look for a bamboo water dipper, I wanted to carve a little well in the biggest stone I could find, and set it by the back door.

In a book, Lu Hsieh tells me the metaphor for the ideal poem is a bird.

No more wings, for the hour is late: nothing but the sound of distant propellers high in the sky.

But if I dream they will gather, shading the horizon with their soft white and gray.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Crisis of faith

(Lord’s day). Lay long in bed, and being up, I went with Will to my Lord’s, calling in at many churches in my way. There I found Mr. Shepley, in his Venetian cap, taking physique in his chamber, and with him I sat till dinner.
My Lord dined abroad and my Lady in her chamber, so Mr. Hetly, Child and I dined together, and after dinner Mr. Child and I spent some time at the lute, and so promising to prick me some lessons to my theorbo he went away to see Henry Laws, who lies very sick.
I to the Abby and walked there, seeing the great confusion of people that come there to hear the organs. So home, calling in at my father’s, but staid not, my father and mother being both forth.
At home I fell a-reading of Fuller’s Church History till it was late, and so to bed.

is an amber;
laws lie.
I walk in great confusion,
hear the organ
calling at
my father’s church.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 30 December 1660.

Skid Row

Within all the morning. Several people to speak with me; Mr. Shepley for 100l.; Mr. Kennard and Warren, the merchant, about deals for my Lord. Captain Robert Blake lately come from the Straights about some Florence Wine for my Lord, and with him I went to Sir W. Pen, who offering me a barrel of oysters I took them both home to my house (having by chance a good piece of roast beef at the fire for dinner), and there they dined with me, and sat talking all the afternoon-good company. Thence to Alderman Backwell’s and took a brave state-plate and cupp in lieu of the candlesticks that I had the other day and carried them by coach to my Lord’s and left them there. And so back to my father’s and saw my mother, and so to my uncle Fenner’s, whither my father came to me, and there we talked and drank, and so away; I home with my father, he telling me what bad wives both my cozen Joyces make to their husbands, which I much wondered at. After talking of my sister’s coming to me next week, I went home and to bed.

Wine and a barrel fire—
talking all afternoon
of bad wives.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 29 December 1660.

Mother’s little finger is fractured in the park

“How can we keep … from the harm this world can be [?]” – Ciaran Berry

She said The morning, it started out
so beautifully—
how she watered

the flowers in her new garden, pinks
and pitimini, poinsettia; then ate

her breakfast (from market she bought
round things for the New Year,

she said); did her dishes—
then decided to walk in the park

before going to church. But
the crowds, the swell of tourists

winding through the narrow sidewalks,
bent on having their fill of pleasure

before duty called again— And so the boy,
speeding on his bike and laughing

as he looked back over his shoulder
at his friends, did not see

her where she tried to cross the street—
And she held out her hand as if to ward off

a blow, frail shield before the body
made suddenly uncertain of its bearings—

Awaiting surgery, a wire to splice
the fragile bones back to themselves,

she sighs into the phone, into my ear—
Accident, who could have known

what this day brought to me? O
unforeseen that walks with and after

us, and almost as if from its own
impatience gets ahead and in the way—


Office day. There all the morning. Dined at home alone with my wife, and so staid within all the afternoon and evening; at my lute, with great pleasure, and so to bed with great content.

All alone
with my wife,
with my lute,
with great pleasure,
with great content.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 28 December 1660.


In the morning to Alderman Backwell’s again, where I found the candlesticks done, and went along with him in his coach to my Lord’s and left the candlesticks with Mr. Shepley. I staid in the garden talking much with my Lord, who do show me much of his love and do communicate his mind in most things to me, which is my great content.
Home and with my wife to Sir W. Batten’s to dinner, where much and good company. My wife not very well went home, I staid late there seeing them play at cards, and so home to bed.
This afternoon there came in a strange lord to Sir William Batten’s by a mistake and enters discourse with him, so that we could not be rid of him till Sir Arn. Breames and Mr. Bens and Sir W. Pen fell a-drinking to him till he was drunk, and so sent him away. About the middle of the night I was very ill — I think with eating and drinking too much — and so I was forced to call the maid, who pleased my wife and I in her running up and down so innocently in her smock, and vomited in the bason, and so to sleep, and in the morning was pretty well, only got cold, and so had pain in pissing as I used to have.

I found a garden in my mind,
and good company.
I stayed there
till I was ill and vomited,
and in the morning got cold
and had pain in pissing.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 27 December 1660.