All the morning with my workmen with great pleasure to see them near coming to an end. At noon Mr. Moore and I went to an Ordinary at the King’s Head in Towre Street, and there had a dirty dinner. Afterwards home and having done some business with him, in comes Mr. Sheply and Pierce the surgeon, and they and I to the Mitre and there staid a while and drank, and so home and after a little reading to bed.

A great ear on
an ordinary head
had some business
with the urge to be.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 25 April 1661.

Spring appetites

This entry is part 80 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


I eat my enemies by the handful:
spicy leaves of the invasive
garlic mustard.

Back home, I strip
in front of the mirror,
checking for ticks.

A squirrel walks past the window
with bulging cheeks,
carrying one of her young.


Everything reduces to one country, one town, one night
in a rain that falls on the grass like a halo of quills.

Think of it: how blades of grass, their green, their lush
underlining are no match for a bed like a halo of quills.

Confess through the shadowed grille of your deepest heart:
there are wounds not yet healed of their halo of quills.

In gold-leafed scrolls and triptychs, trace with your finger
the figures of saints and martyrs with their halo of quills.

Just before I drop off to sleep, a tremor shakes my frame—
as if my leg or hand brushed against a halo of quills.

Enter my dreams like rain, like the tipped echo
of an echo deflecting from points in a halo of quills.


In response to Via Negativa: In hepatica time.

Insomniac’s to-do list

Waked in the morning with my head in a sad taking through the last night’s drink, which I am very sorry for; so rose and went out with Mr. Creed to drink our morning draft, which he did give me in chocolate to settle my stomach. And after that I to my wife, who lay with Mrs. Frankelyn at the next door to Mrs. Hunt’s.
And they were ready, and so I took them up in a coach, and carried the ladies to Paul’s, and there set her down, and so my wife and I home, and I to the office.
That being done my wife and I went to dinner to Sir W. Batten, and all our talk about the happy conclusion of these last solemnities.
After dinner home, and advised with my wife about ordering things in my house, and then she went away to my father’s to lie, and I staid with my workmen, who do please me very well with their work.
At night, set myself to write down these three days’ diary, and while I am about it, I hear the noise of the chambers, and other things of the fire-works, which are now playing upon the Thames before the King; and I wish myself with them, being sorry not to see them.
So to bed.

  • Wake in the night to drink chocolate.
  • Settle next door.
  • Read and be happy.
  • Order a fat lie and write about it.
  • Hear the noise of other works.
  • Wish myself not to see the bed.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 24 April 1661.

Return of the warblers

This entry is part 79 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


Mayapples are coming up:
green parasols shedding
the soil as they open.

A coyote trots across the road,
looking back
over its shoulder.

Above the trembling surface
of the vernal pond,
the first warblers’ buzzy songs.

A dove calls and calls,

This entry is part 7 of 15 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2014


but its mate remains hidden.

Clouds cast their shade,
dimming the pond’s surface.

Each leaf turns a calendar page,
fast-forwards from spring to summer.

Gardenias flood cisterns with scent,
hang their skirts along the tops of fences.

I can’t decide which is most
jewel-like: fields with their florid

kabala of scents, flotilla of
lightning bugs cutting paths at dusk.

My palms itch from an old memory of sunlight;
no one sees when I lay lay them

open on the sill as if in an attitude of
prayer. What stories are not sown with

quicksilver rain? A kind of language
passed patiently through

sleeves of cheesecloth: its message being
Take time, take time.

Unpin the cotton and linens from the line.
Vinyl records let you listen to the needle

work the music from their grooves—
Xiphoid notes drawn by hand on music sheets,

yellowed like old ivory. Watch how in a
zoetrope, shadows tell a whole story.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Coronation day

Coronacian day.
… about 4 I rose and got to the Abbey, where I followed Sir J. Denham, the Surveyor, with some company that he was leading in. And with much ado, by the favour of Mr. Cooper, his man, did get up into a great scaffold across the North end of the Abbey, where with a great deal of patience I sat from past 4 till 11 before the King came in. And a great pleasure it was to see the Abbey raised in the middle, all covered with red, and a throne (that is a chair) and footstool on the top of it; and all the officers of all kinds, so much as the very fidlers, in red vests.
At last comes in the Dean and Prebends of Westminster, with the Bishops (many of them in cloth of gold copes), and after them the Nobility, all in their Parliament robes, which was a most magnificent sight. Then the Duke, and the King with a scepter (carried by my Lord Sandwich) and sword and mond before him, and the crown too.
The King in his robes, bare-headed, which was very fine. And after all had placed themselves, there was a sermon and the service; and then in the Quire at the high altar, the King passed through all the ceremonies of the Coronacon, which to my great grief I and most in the Abbey could not see. The crown being put upon his head, a great shout begun, and he came forth to the throne, and there passed more ceremonies: as taking the oath, and having things read to him by the Bishop; and his lords (who put on their caps as soon as the King put on his crown) and bishops come, and kneeled before him.
And three times the King at Arms went to the three open places on the scaffold, and proclaimed, that if any one could show any reason why Charles Stewart should not be King of England, that now he should come and speak.
And a Generall Pardon also was read by the Lord Chancellor, and meddalls flung up and down by my Lord Cornwallis, of silver, but I could not come by any.
But so great a noise that I could make but little of the musique; and indeed, it was lost to every body. But I had so great a list to pisse, that I went out a little while before the King had done all his ceremonies, and went round the Abbey to Westminster Hall, all the way within rayles, and 10,000 people, with the ground covered with blue cloth; and scaffolds all the way. Into the Hall I got, where it was very fine with hangings and scaffolds one upon another full of brave ladies; and my wife in one little one, on the right hand.
Here I staid walking up and down, and at last upon one of the side stalls I stood and saw the King come in with all the persons (but the soldiers) that were yesterday in the cavalcade; and a most pleasant sight it was to see them in their several robes. And the King came in with his crown on, and his sceptre in his hand, under a canopy borne up by six silver staves, carried by Barons of the Cinque Ports, and little bells at every end.
And after a long time, he got up to the farther end, and all set themselves down at their several tables; and that was also a brave sight: and the King’s first course carried up by the Knights of the Bath. And many fine ceremonies there was of the Heralds leading up people before him, and bowing; and my Lord of Albemarle’s going to the kitchin and eat a bit of the first dish that was to go to the King’s table.
But, above all, was these three Lords, Northumberland, and Suffolk, and the Duke of Ormond, coming before the courses on horseback, and staying so all dinner-time, and at last to bring up the King’s Champion, all in armour on horseback, with his spear and targett carried before him. And a Herald proclaims “That if any dare deny Charles Stewart to be lawful King of England, here was a Champion that would fight with him;” and with these words, the Champion flings down his gauntlet, and all this he do three times in his going up towards the King’s table. At last when he is come, the King drinks to him, and then sends him the cup which is of gold, and he drinks it off, and then rides back again with the cup in his hand.
I went from table to table to see the Bishops and all others at their dinner, and was infinitely pleased with it. And at the Lords’ table, I met with William Howe, and he spoke to my Lord for me, and he did give me four rabbits and a pullet, and so I got it and Mr. Creed and I got Mr. Michell to give us some bread, and so we at a stall eat it, as every body else did what they could get.
I took a great deal of pleasure to go up and down, and look upon the ladies, and to hear the musique of all sorts, but above all, the 24 violins.
About six at night they had dined, and I went up to my wife, and there met with a pretty lady (Mrs. Frankleyn, a Doctor’s wife, a friend of Mr. Bowyer’s), and kissed them both, and by and by took them down to Mr. Bowyer’s. And strange it is to think, that these two days have held up fair till now that all is done, and the King gone out of the Hall; and then it fell a-raining and thundering and lightening as I have not seen it do for some years: which people did take great notice of; God’s blessing of the work of these two days, which is a foolery to take too much notice of such things.
I observed little disorder in all this, but only the King’s footmen had got hold of the canopy, and would keep it from the Barons of the Cinque Ports, which they endeavoured to force from them again, but could not do it till my Lord Duke of Albemarle caused it to be put into Sir R. Pye’s hand till tomorrow to be decided.
At Mr. Bowyer’s, a great deal of company, some I knew, others I did not. Here we staid upon the leads and below till it was late, expecting to see the fire-works, but they were not performed to-night: only the City had a light like a glory round about it with bonfires.
At last I went to Kingstreet, and there sent Crockford to my father’s and my house, to tell them I could not come home tonight, because of the dirt, and a coach could not be had.
And so after drinking a pot of ale alone at Mrs. Harper’s I returned to Mr. Bowyer’s, and after a little stay more I took my wife and Mrs. Frankleyn (who I proffered the civility of lying with my wife at Mrs. Hunt’s to-night) to Axe-yard, in which at the further end there were three great bonfires, and a great many great gallants, men and women; and they laid hold of us, and would have us drink the King’s health upon our knees, kneeling upon a faggot, which we all did, they drinking to us one after another. Which we thought a strange frolique; but these gallants continued thus a great while, and I wondered to see how the ladies did tipple.
At last I sent my wife and her bedfellow to bed, and Mr. Hunt and I went in with Mr. Thornbury (who did give the company all their wine, he being yeoman of the wine-cellar to the King) to his house; and there, with his wife and two of his sisters, and some gallant sparks that were there, we drank the King’s health, and nothing else, till one of the gentlemen fell down stark drunk, and there lay spewing; and I went to my Lord’s pretty well. But no sooner a-bed with Mr. Shepley but my head began to hum, and I to vomit, and if ever I was foxed it was now, which I cannot say yet, because I fell asleep and slept till morning. Only when I waked I found myself wet with my spewing. Thus did the day end with joy every where; and blessed be God, I have not heard of any mischance to any body through it all, but only to Serjt. Glynne, whose horse fell upon him yesterday, and is like to kill him, which people do please themselves to see how just God is to punish the rogue at such a time as this; he being now one of the King’s Serjeants, and rode in the cavalcade with Maynard, to whom people wish the same fortune.
There was also this night in King-street, [a woman] had her eye put out by a boy’s flinging a firebrand into the coach.
Now, after all this, I can say that, besides the pleasure of the sight of these glorious things, I may now shut my eyes against any other objects, nor for the future trouble myself to see things of state and show, as being sure never to see the like again in this world.

Pleasure is a red throne
and all the fiddlers in red.
Come to me as if
to the ground,
as if walking up and down
or going to the kitchen.
Eat the first dish
on the king’s table
and give me music of all sorts—
but above all, a kiss.

And we stayed till the city
had a light like a glory
round about it
and a great many men and women
laid hold of us, drinking to us
one after another—
a strange frolic. At last
to bed, and I found myself
wet with joy, body
like a put-out fire.
I shut my eyes against any other world.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 23 April 1661.

In hepatica time

This entry is part 78 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


It’s cold. Mid-day
and the hepatica flowers are still
only half-open, nodding

on their thin stalks.
My mother tallies them up—
stroke-marks in her notebook.

At the top of a hemlock tree,
a porcupine sleeps in a sunlit
halo of quills.

In the ear, echo of rain:

hollow into which the years pour
petal after petal of reproach—
How far have you walked from home?
What will you find on your return?
I do not believe destiny only leads
to one end. Rain silvers the roofs.
Streets gleam with a dull shimmer.
Koi swim from the depths as if from the past.
Streets gleam with a dull shimmer.
To what end does rain silver the roofs?
I do not believe destiny only leads.
What will you find on your return?
How far have you walked from home?
Petal after petal of reproach,
hollow into which the years pour
in the ear; echo of rain.


In response to Via Negativa: Under an Umbrella.