The Buddha wanders into the wilderness

river in November light between bare woods and mountain

that is the downtown mall, and enters
a cookery store to look for an inexpensive
dutch oven wherein he might attempt to recreate
his mother’s boeuf bourguignon recipe, slow-
simmered and rich with the flavor of beef
braised in red wine, caramelized onions,
garlic, bacon, mushrooms, and a bouquet
garni. Looking through a shelf of enamel-
glazed French cast iron casseroles and
surreptitiously fingering the three-digit
price tags, he is hailed by a sales clerk
with a bountiful head of curls. Her name
tag reads “Artemis,” and she offers
little paper cup samples of flavored coffee
brewed from individual pods dropped in a chrome-
fitted machine vaguely resembling a tabletop
silo. He restrains himself from asking
where her hunting dogs are, and her fierce
handmaidens; and how it has come to pass
that she has wound up in this sad position
instead of calling the shots in the glade,
ordering a wall of bristling spears raised
around the sacred pool in which she bathes…
Instead he bows and takes the proffered sip,
thanks her, and decides: rather than meat,
he will have something raw and fresh
for dinner— perhaps a salad of greens
with slices of crisp, tart fruit;
nothing animal that might have writhed
in the agony of the chase before the kill.


To the Wardrobe and there, with my Lord, went into his new barge to try her, and found her a good boat, and like my Lord’s contrivance of the door to come out round and not square as they used to do. Back to the Wardrobe with my Lord, and then with Mr. Moore to the Temple, and thence to Greatorex, who took me to Arundell-House, and there showed me some fine flowers in his garden, and all the fine statues in the gallery, which I formerly had seen, and is a brave sight, and thence to a blind dark cellar, where we had two bottles of good ale, and so after giving him direction for my silver side-table, I took boat at Arundell stairs, and put in at Milford and there behind the door of the stairs shit, there being a house of office there.
So home and found Sir Williams both and my Lady going to Deptford to christen Captain Rooth’s child, and would have had me with them, but I could not go.
To the office, where Sir R. Slingsby was, and he and I into his and my lodgings to take a view of them, out of a desire he has to have mine of me to join to his, and give me Mr. Turner’s.
To the office again, where Sir G. Carteret came and sat a while, he being angry for Sir Williams making of the maisters of this fleet upon their own heads without a full table. Then the Comptroller and I to the Coffee House, and there sat a great while talking of many things.
So home and to bed.
This day, I hear, the Parliament have ordered a bill to be brought in for the restoring the Bishops to the House of Lords; which they had not done so soon but to spite Mr. Prin, who is every day so bitter against them in his discourse in the House.

The contrivance
of the door—square
and blind—and behind
the door the air
of office or lodgings
take a view of desire
and turn it into order,
which is so bitter
a house.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 30 May 1661.

Feast day

(King’s birth-day). Rose early and having made myself fine, and put six spoons and a porringer of silver in my pocket to give away to-day, Sir W. Pen and I took coach, and (the weather and ways being foul) went to Walthamstowe; and being come there heard Mr. Radcliffe, my former school fellow at Paul’s (who is yet a mere boy), preach upon “Nay, let him take all, since my Lord the King is returned,” &c. He reads all, and his sermon very simple, but I looked for new matter. Back to dinner to Sir William Batten’s; and then, after a walk in the fine gardens, we went to Mrs. Browne’s, where Sir W. Pen and I were godfathers, and Mrs. Jordan and Shipman godmothers to her boy. And there, before and after the christening; we were with the woman above in her chamber; but whether we carried ourselves well or ill, I know not; but I was directed by young Mrs. Batten. One passage of a lady that eat wafers with her dog did a little displease me. I did give the midwife 10s. and the nurse 5s. and the maid of the house 2s. But for as much I expected to give the name to the child, but did not (it being called John), I forbore then to give my plate till another time after a little more advice.
All being done, we went to Mrs. Shipman’s, who is a great butter-woman, and I did see there the most of milk and cream, and the cleanest that ever I saw in my life. After we had filled our bellies with cream, we took our leaves and away. In our way, we had great sport to try who should drive fastest, Sir W. Batten’s coach, or Sir W. Pen’s chariott, they having four, and we two horses, and we beat them. But it cost me the spoiling of my clothes and velvet coat with dirt.
Being come home I to bed, and give my breeches to be dried by the fire against to-morrow.

I put six spoons
of silver in my pocket
and looked for dinner
in the garden and on my plate
till a great butter-woman
filled our bellies
with horses and with dirt.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 29 May 1661.


This morning to the Wardrobe, and thence to a little alehouse hard by, to drink with John Bowles, who is now going to Hinchinbroke this day.
Thence with Mr. Shepley to the Exchange about business, and there, by Mr. Rawlinson’s favour, got into a balcone over against the Exchange; and there saw the hangman burn, by vote of Parliament, two old acts, the one for constituting us a Commonwealth, and the others I have forgot.
Which still do make me think of the greatness of this late turn, and what people will do tomorrow against what they all, through profit or fear, did promise and practise this day.
Then to the Mitre with Mr. Shepley, and there dined with D. Rawlinson and some friends of his very well. So home, and then to Cheapside about buying a piece of plate to give away to-morrow to Mrs. Browne’s child. So to the Star in Cheapside, where I left Mr. Moore telling 5l. out for me, who I found in a great strait for my coming back again, and so he went his way at my coming.
Then home, where Mr. Cook I met and he paid me 30s., an old debt of his to me. So to Sir W. Pen’s, and there sat alone with him till ten at night in talk with great content, he telling me things and persons that I did not understand in the late times, and so I home to bed. My cozen John Holcroft (whom I have not seen many years) this morning came to see me.

The war, the exchange
and the hangman, constituting
a commonwealth,
make a profit on a cheap
piece of star.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 28 May 1661.

Ab ovo

To the Wardrobe, and from thence with my Lords Sandwich and Hinchinbroke to the Lords’ House by boat at Westminster, and there I left them. Then to the lobby, and after waiting for Sir G. Downing’s coming out, to speak with him about the giving me up of my bond for my honesty when I was his clerk, but to no purpose, I went to Clerke’s at the Legg, and there I found both Mr. Pierces, Mr. Rolt, formerly too great a man to meet upon such even terms, and there we dined very merry, there coming to us Captain Ferrers, this being the first day of his going abroad since his leap a week ago, which I was greatly glad to see. By water to the office, and there sat late, Sir George Carteret coming in, who among other things did inquire into the naming of the maisters for this fleet, and was very angry that they were named as they are, and above all to see the maister of the Adventure (for whom there is some kind of difference between Sir W. Pen and me) turned out, who has been in her last.
The office done, I went with the Comptroller to the Coffee house, and there we discoursed of this, and I seem to be fond of him, and indeed I find I must carry fair with all as far as I see it safe, but I have got of him leave to have a little room from his lodgings to my house, of which I am very glad, besides I do open him a way to get lodgings himself in the office, of which I should be very glad.
Home and to bed.

I broke an egg
and found therein
a broad water, a fleet,
a little room of which
I am very glad.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 27 May 1661.


They took the animals
out with a noose—
a mother and her two
babies. We heard them
first two weeks ago,
scrabbling atop
the shingled roof.
They made their way
through the rotted
floorboards of the shed,
where they made paper
shavings out of old
magazines we’d stacked
in boxes. In the early
hours, from the kitchen
window, I’ve seen crows
come to the branches
of the sycamore.
A mole burrows across
the property line, and
the nearby crop
of dandelions gets
sidewinded. Out
one day plotting
where we might set
a rain-collecting barrel
and a pebble walk, we sense
eyes looking us over
from the leafy underbelly
of the hedges.


When the air, thick
as a towel, wraps around
just-washed hair

When the wind makes
myths you don’t
want to follow

When the days
drop their quota
of dailiness

and you want
every thought
to be a cleaver


In response to thus: The wind wraps a thick-corded hand.


(Lord’s day). Lay long in bed. To church and heard a good sermon at our own church, where I have not been a great many weeks. Dined with my wife alone at home pleasing myself in that my house do begin to look as if at last it would be in good order.
This day the Parliament received the communion of Dr. Gunning at St. Margaret’s, Westminster.
In the afternoon both the Sir Williams came to church, where we had a dull stranger. After church home, and so to the Mitre, where I found Dr. Burnett, the first time that ever I met him to drink with him, and my uncle Wight and there we sat and drank a great deal, and so I to Sir W. Batten’s, where I have on purpose made myself a great stranger, only to get a high opinion a little more of myself in them. Here I heard how Mrs. Browne, Sir W. Batten’s sister, is brought to bed, and I to be one of the godfathers, which I could not nor did deny. Which, however, did trouble me very much to be at charge to no purpose, so that I could not sleep hardly all night, but in the morning I bethought myself, and I think it is very well I should do it.
Sir W. Batten told me how Mr. Prin (among the two or three that did refuse to-day to receive the sacrament upon their knees) was offered by a mistake the drink afterwards, which he did receive, being denied the drink by Dr. Gunning, unless he would take it on his knees; and after that by another the bread was brought him, and he did take it sitting, which is thought very preposterous. Home and to bed.

Alone at home,
I begin to look at a gun.
I burn, a stranger
to myself and to God.
I could not sleep all night,
and I think I should receive
the sacrament of the gun
in bed.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 26 May 1661.