This entry is part 29 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


Trees sway like drunks
in a sudden gust of wind—
the clacking of their branches.

The whole hillside
is in motion around me,
standing here with my head cold

almost gone.
How marvelous it is
just to breathe.

Courtly love

All the morning at the office, dined at home and my brother Tom with me, who brought me a pair of fine slippers which he gave me. By and by comes little Luellin and friend to see me, and then my coz Stradwick, who was never here before. With them I drank a bottle of wine or two, and to the office again, and there staid about business late, and then all of us to Sir W. Pen’s, where we had, and my Lady Batten, Mrs. Martha, and my wife, and other company, a good supper, and sat playing at cards and talking till 12 at night, and so all to our lodgings.

A fine lip the bottle had—
my lady
and her good night.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 20 February 1660/61.

Signal No. 3

This entry is part 21 of 23 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2013-14


After the first onslaught of wind, hail the size of golf balls, we heard the radio alert. Is there a safe room beneath the stairwell? Is it large enough to contain the plants seeded at all the children’s births? We would need to loose them under the light of a yellow moon, then anchor them with ivory amulets. Nothing in the dispatches tells you how you must learn to sit still, in the dark, until the mind grows quiet: until the eerie searchlights of danger diminish into soft two-note voices and the rain can be ordinary again.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Old snow

This entry is part 28 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


Melting snow reveals old secrets.
Two spots of blood
have reemerged in the yard.

Wrinkles appear—
long, dark faultlines
from differential settling.

I know you,
I mutter to myself.
We’ve been here before.


What worm leaves a trail of milk
on the undersides of leaves, what finger
traces indecipherable names on a plane
of frosted glass? O steady pulse

trickling like sand through perfect halves
of the hourglass— Stalks droop along
the weathered fence: memory of wisteria
where there is now no blue. No shrouds

of periwinkle fall: gorgeous veil
like shreds of indivisible water.
This is how we know something else
is coming: after the fever-burn,
the hands on the clock face start over.
The frozen world breaks into dew.


In response to Via Negativa: Thaw.


By coach to Whitehall with Colonel Slingsby (carrying Mrs. Turner with us) and there he and I up into the house, where we met with Sir G. Carteret: who afterwards, with the Duke of York, my Lord Sandwich, and others, went into a private room to consult: and we were a little troubled that we were not called in with the rest. But I do believe it was upon something very private. We staid walking in the gallery; where we met with Mr. Slingsby, that was formerly a great friend of Mons. Blondeau, who showed me the stamps of the King’s new coyne; which is strange to see, how good they are in the stamp and bad in the money, for lack of skill to make them. But he says Blondeau will shortly come over, and then we shall have it better, and the best in the world.
The Comptroller and I to the Commissioners of Parliament, and after some talk away again and to drink a cup of ale. He tells me, he is sure that the King is not yet married, as it is said; nor that it is known who he will have. To my Lord’s and found him dined, and so I lost my dinner, but I staid and played with him and Mr. Child, &c., some things of four parts, and so it raining hard and bitter cold (the first winter day we have yet had this winter), I took coach home and spent the evening in reading of a Latin play, the “Naufragium Joculare.” And so to bed.

I carry a private trouble on a walk:
a new coin, good in the stamp
and bad in the money.
I have my dinner with it—
hard and cold.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 19 February 1660/61.

from Ghost Blueprints


Will you not be a letter in flight, a bird,
long years morphing into sequences of gold?

Will you not be a pool unruffled by the suffering stone,
unmoved by the face that must stare to rival its own?

Will you not be a flowering spear, garden aroused
from slumber by sound, a rain-filled and viable day?

Will you not be the measure of shorn-away years multiplied
by the net of some larger ardor, unfathomable by the eye?

Will you not be the lever, the door, the moon; gauntlet
unthrown, unraveled thread that will lead to its source?


At the office all the morning, dined at home with a very good dinner, only my wife and I, which is not yet very usual. In the afternoon my wife and I and Mrs. Martha Batten, my Valentine, to the Exchange, and there upon a payre of embroydered and six payre of plain white gloves I laid out 40s. upon her. Then we went to a mercer’s at the end of Lombard Street, and there she bought a suit of Lutestring for herself, and so home. And at night I got the whole company and Sir Wm. Pen home to my house, and there I did give them Rhenish wine and sugar, and continued together till it was late, and so to bed.
It is much talked that the King is already married to the niece of the Prince de Ligne, and that he hath two sons already by her: which I am sorry to hear; but yet am gladder that it should be s o, than that the Duke of York and his family should come to the crown, he being a professed friend to the Catholiques.

Only love a bard
for the company and the wine,
as a king
is a ladder to the crown.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 18 February 1660/61.