Rice that’s fed to the gods must be allowed to sweeten in
a gourd: they like best the foam of its intoxicating ferment.
Oh most golden fruit, unblemished skin of melon or pear: meanwhile
we cook the rinds and boast about their notes of complex ferment.
An offering’s a gift: largesse, windfall, the best willingly
given up. No seed pearls that sour, then soon ferment.
And children sing in any tongue their mouths know how to give
shape to: what joy in that honey, before bitterness or its ferment.
Mornings, more often now, in the winter-bare trees, the birds bring
their small, brightly colored racket: I love that startling ferment.
I’ll lie down in my bed at night and pull you close as a sheet,
to dream of bees buzzing in the hive, their ambering ferment.
In response to thus: small stone (265).
(Friday). A full office all this morning, and busy about answering the Commissioners of Parliament to their letter, wherein they desire to borrow two clerks of ours, which we will not grant them.
After dinner into London and bought some books, and a belt, and had my sword new furbished. To the alehouse with Mr. Brigden and W. Symons and drank together. At night home. So after a little music to bed, leaving my people up getting things ready against to-morrow’s dinner.
Ice is an answer
to desire we will
not grant. I don
new fur, den up
against tomorrow’s din.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 1 February 1660/61.
Children in the woods:
at first I mistake their distant yelps
When did I stop climbing trees?
Views are best when seasoned
with a little terror.
Once I found a dead cicada,
stuck half-way out
of its former self.
Where I wanted to go, years ago, seemed so far away:
a dream, a fantasy even, in the blue distance.
Not now what might be purchased, what comes with
a ticket, that place of no return in the blue distance.
All that glitters isn’t a rhinestone seam on a fishnet
stocking: the long hallway beckons in the blue distance.
And the hills will be there, but that city to which
you dedicate songs has receded in the blue distance.
This is the way it is for exiles, for poets, for lovers
who want to keep something pure in the blue distance.
For instance: that parapet where you leant as a child
to watch boats in the harbor, in the blue distance.
Spirits distilled from the lowly potato, the unassuming
birch: waters that have traveled from a blue distance.
Have you changed? and how? ask compatriots. What they mean,
really, is: have I also traversed the same blue distance?
On the eve of the lunar year I walked about with a saucer of salt,
a handful of augurs— Talismans to ground me in this blue distance.
In response to Via Negativa: Lay of the land.
This morning with Mr. Coventry at Whitehall about getting a ship to carry my Lord’s deals to Lynne, and we have chosen the Gift. Thence at noon to my Lord’s, where my Lady not well, so I eat a mouthfull of dinner there, and thence to the Theatre, and there sat in the pit among the company of fine ladys, &c.; and the house was exceeding full, to see Argalus and Parthenia, the first time that it hath been acted: and indeed it is good, though wronged by my over great expectations, as all things else are. Thence to my father’s to see my mother, who is pretty well after her journey from Brampton. She tells me my aunt is pretty well, yet cannot live long. My uncle pretty well too, and she believes would marry again were my aunt dead, which God forbid. So home.
We have chosen the gift of heat
and a pit fine and full.
The first time it is good, though wronged
by my over-great expectations,
as all things are.
I cannot believe in a dead God.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 31 January 1660/61.
Let us bid a fond farewell to January. With its low-angled light and unpredictable conditions, it’s always the best time of year for spotting oddities. Icicles, for example, can grow feet from walking on the water. (more…)
The long, low ridges
in the blue distance are edged
with bands of yellow.
Otherwise, the clouds
are heavy as an old
I pull the shades for a nap,
a wakeful woodchuck thumping
under my floor.