“… dusty fields. A white sun above. All this road, going.” ~ Dorothee Lang

The line is a thread. The thread is a piece in a weft of fabric. The thread pushed forward and back by the bobbin, from a pin, from an implement that pushes the furrows and turns the field into rows and rows. Today I listened to the radio story on two sisters, factory pieceworkers in Bangladesh. How the older one was married off to a man chosen by her parents because they thought he would be able to provide. The reporter said she didn’t laugh anymore. She is maybe 23, has a daughter, 7 years old, cared for by others in the village. But she talks about not wanting to visit the family home because she is angry at her parents who have ruined her life. The reporter says I am sorry, I made you cry. The younger sister did not have to do the same thing— by the time she hit her teens, there was one other choice besides arranged marriage: go to work in the factory. I see in my mind’s eye hundreds of girls like her, thousands, washing in the commons behind the building, twisting their damp hair into knots. Think of shadows in the alleys interrupted by the fluttering flags of laundry hanging from tenement windows. The soot on the walls from their kerosene lamps, the meal they will share, sitting on their haunches on the floor. A curtain doubles as a door, doubles as a wall, a screen. But there is a TV. And a cellphone. They talk about how they make T-shirts: what stitches, what seams, how the collar must come to a point at the bottom of the V. Endless days like these. Like a road they hope will take them somewhere better. Every now and then a torn fingernail, close brush with the needle and the cutter. One of the girls thinks with a start of the thousand bodies folded and crushed, thin as cloth beneath stone. She was only thinking of the rhinestone earrings she bought at the market stall, of wearing it on the next free day, an outing at the coast.


In response to Via Negativa: Four Blogs from Germany.

Anne Boleyn

(Lord’s day). My head not very well, and my body out of order by last night’s drinking, which is my great folly. To church, and Mr. Mills made a good sermon; so home to dinner. My wife and I all alone to a leg of mutton, the sawce of which being made sweet, I was angry at it, and eat none, but only dined upon the marrow bone that we had beside.
To church in the afternoon, and after sermon took Tom Fuller’s Church History and read over Henry the 8th’s life in it, and so to supper and to bed.

My head is my great folly,
wife to a saw.
I was angry at it—
no marrow bone!
A full church
is Henry the 8th’s life.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 2 December 1660.


This morning, observing some things to be laid up not as they should be by the girl, I took a broom and basted her till she cried extremely, which made me vexed, but before I went out I left her appeased. So to Whitehall, where I found Mr. Moore attending for me at the Privy Seal, but nothing to do to-day.
I went to my Lord St. Albans lodgings, and found him in bed, talking to a priest (he looked like one) that leaned along over the side of the bed, and there I desired to know his mind about making the catch stay longer, which I got ready for him the other day. He seems to be a fine civil gentleman.
To my Lord’s, and did give up my audit of his accounts, which I had been then two days about, and was well received by my Lord. I dined with my Lord and Lady, and we had a venison pasty. Mr. Shepley and I went into London, and calling upon Mr. Pinkney, the goldsmith, he took us to the tavern, and gave us a pint of wine, and there fell into our company old Mr. Flower and another gentleman; who tell us how a Scotch knight was killed basely the other day at the Fleece in Covent Garden, where there had been a great many formerly killed. So to Paul’s Churchyard, and there I took the little man at Mr. Kirton’s and Mr. Shepley to Ringstead’s at the Star, and after a pint of wine I went home, my brains somewhat troubled with so much wine, and after a letter or two by the post I went to bed.

A girl took a broom to bed—
he looked like a fine gentleman.
His gold, old flower was a garden
where there had been many rains.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 1 December 1660.

Gary Barwin’s poem for Rob Ford

Is there anything that hasn’t already been said about the man whom mainstream media organizations now routinely refer to as “Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor”? Of course there is! On his excellent serif of nottingblog, the surrealist Canadian poet Gary Barwin recently posted “Dear Mayor.” It begins:

I imagine skinning you
and you romp around the city
guts only

we won’t save taxes
think of the costs
protecting your insides

dear Mayor we stretch your skin
a blanket around us
keeps us warm for winter

Rising sea level

(Office day). To the office, where Sir G. Carteret did give us an account how Mr. Holland do intend to prevail with the Parliament to try his project of discharging the seamen all at present by ticket, and so promise interest to all men that will lend money upon them at eight per cent., for so long as they are unpaid; whereby he do think to take away the growing debt, which do now lie upon the kingdom for lack of present money to discharge the seamen. But this we are troubled at as some diminution to us.
I having two barrels of oysters at home, I caused one of them and some wine to be brought to the inner room in the office, and there the Principal Officers did go and eat them.
So we sat till noon, and then to dinner, and to it again in the afternoon till night.
At home I sent for Mr. Hater, and broke the other barrel with him, and did afterwards sit down discoursing of sea terms to learn of him. And he being gone I went up and sat till twelve at night again to make an end of my Lord’s accounts, as I did the last night. Which at last I made a good end of, and so to bed.

The land is charging the sea
interest for the growing debt,
this diminution—
oysters in the office
the sea terms a bed.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 30 November 1660.