By any other name

This morning I rose early, and my Lady Batten knocked at her door that comes into one of my chambers, and called me to know whether I and my wife were ready to go. So my wife got her ready, and about eight o’clock I got a horseback, and my Lady and her two daughters, and Sir W. Pen into coach, and so over London Bridge, and thence to Dartford. The day very pleasant, though the way bad. Here we met with Sir W. Batten, and some company along with him, who had assisted him in his election at Rochester; and so we dined and were very merry. At 5 o’clock we set out again in a coach home, and were very merry all the way. At Deptford we met with Mr. Newborne, and some other friends and their wives in a coach to meet us, and so they went home with us, and at Sir W. Batten’s we supped, and thence to bed, my head akeing mightily through the wine that I drank to-day.

This rose at her door
called me to know her,

the day very pleasant,
though the way bad

and I a newborn,
my head aching.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Frtiday 22 March 1660/61.

Full figure

Up very early, and to work and study in my chamber, and then to Whitehall to my Lord, and there did stay with him a good while discoursing upon his accounts. Here I staid with Mr. Creed all the morning, and at noon dined with my Lord, who was very merry, and after dinner we sang and fiddled a great while. Then I by water (Mr. Shepley, Pinkney, and others going part of the way) home, and then hard at work setting my papers in order, and writing letters till night, and so to bed.
This day I saw the Florence Ambassador go to his audience, the weather very foul, and yet he and his company very gallant. After I was a-bed Sir W. Pen sent to desire me to go with him to-morrow morning to meet Sir W. Batten coming from Rochester.

With a fiddle
I go part-
way home

and a bass,
go to bed.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 21 March 1660/61.


This entry is part 58 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


Earth tones—a term
no recent migrant from the tropics
would understand,

how a dormant earth
can come in moss-green, bark-gray
and a thousand browns—

umber, ochre, sienna—
and spring still a hollow gurgling
somewhere below.

The Buddha walks a mile

in her shoes at the local community college
for Women’s History Month. With the other men
who signed up for the event, he rummages through boxes
of women’s shoes looking for a pair that will fit.
You want socks with those, bro? asks the office
assistant, as he gingerly slips on a pair of open-toe
leopard print wedge platforms. He wiggles his foot around
a couple of times before he can slip it in; his bunion
always gives him trouble. They’re getting ready to walk
around the quad, past the student dorms and down
to the plaza in the middle of the mall, where a SAFE
counselor will hand out pamphlets with statistics
on how many women on college campuses get raped,
assaulted, victimized in domestic relationships.
The Buddha is disturbed by these stories. He cannot
fathom the hatred and the violence, the displaced
self-loathing that seeks its target in female
bodies, the suffering. He recalls the brothels
along the coast, the sad eyes of women in the windows;
the way, in his own hometown, there are still fathers
who think daughters don’t need to go to school,
households where girls are made to take their sleeping
pallet outside to the porch or behind the kitchen
when they have their period. He hitches his robe
a little higher around his ankles; he adjusts
his stride, determined not to wobble or fall.

You seem to be carrying a lot of guilt,

This entry is part 1 of 15 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2014


the therapist says to the Buddha ten minutes
into her first session. She sighs, tentatively
massaging the sides of the stress ball she has been given.
Is it that obvious? she asks, even if she knows
the answer. She thought she was doing a pretty good job
sitting still, holding her fears and anxieties in her mind
without judging, without undue attachment, without blame
(well, ok, trying). It is so difficult for the heart
to be in more than one place at any given time, more
if you are a mother: every hurt hurts, every flutter
ravages the surface on which the days must progress
with their sometimes terrible banality, with their small
and therefore acute reprieves of joy. Meanwhile, the hours
spread like a cowl, like the shadow of a cobra sitting
just a handspan away, its breath the breath of the eternal
that all these years passed mistakenly as merely a nagging
voice: parent hovering in the doorway of the impatient
child, gardener bent over a tray of new seeds; bird
nudging the fledgling closer to the end of the branch.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

The People’s Front

At the office all the morning, dined at home and Mr. Creed and Mr. Shepley with me, and after dinner we did a good deal of business in my study about my Lord’s accounts to be made up and presented to our office. That done to White Hall to Mr. Coventry, where I did some business with him, and so with Sir W. Pen (who I found with Mr. Coventry teaching of him upon the map to understand Jamaica). By water in the dark home, and so to my Lady Batten’s where my wife was, and there we sat and eat and drank till very late, and so home to bed.
The great talk of the town is the strange election that the City of London made yesterday for Parliament-men; viz. Fowke, Love, Jones, and … , men that are so far from being episcopall that they are thought to be Anabaptists; and chosen with a great deal of zeal, in spite of the other party that thought themselves very strong, calling out in the Hall, “No Bishops! no Lord Bishops!” It do make people to fear it may come to worse, by being an example to the country to do the same. And indeed the Bishops are so high, that very few do love them.

I made up a map
to understand water
in the dark home
where we drank—

a strange parliament
so far from thought,
calling people to fear
a worse country.

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

Waiting to launch

This entry is part 56 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


The first greens
out of the ground are rockets:
dame’s-rocket, garlic mustard,

winter cress where it’s wet.
Then come the wild onions
up at the wood’s edge—

but not yet. I stand watching
a dark spot in the field that fails
to turn into a bear.


We met at the office this morning about some particular business, and then I to Whitehall, and there dined with my Lord, and after dinner Mr. Creed and I to White-Fryars, where we saw “The Bondman” acted most excellently, and though I have seen it often, yet I am every time more and more pleased with Betterton’s action. From thence with him and young Mr. Jones to Penell’s in Fleet Street, and there we drank and talked a good while, and so I home and to bed.

We part, I and my cell.
And though I have seen it often,
I am more and more pleased
with the street—
a rank home and bed.

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

Spruce grove

This entry is part 55 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


A brown-striped breast feather
floats down from a high bough
in the spruce grove

where some hawk or owl
plucked a grouse. The outermost
trees rock in the wind.

I step carefully as a bridegroom
over each raised
threshold of root.