“Think of the trouble we go through
to see what will remain
of all our expectations.”
~ D. Bonta

Choose one,
said the farmer
and we picked
from among shapes
lying in the dust
of a watermelon field:
it was almost dark
and the penknife
nicked your finger
in severing fruit
from base of stem
and I thought, always
something is asked—
carve a door, find
the key, surrender
a tithe before you
sit to eat sweet
ruined flesh.


In response to Via Negativa: News junkie.

Cornish haiku

where the dog threw up
at the edge of the road
early morning gulls


the incoming tide
a ground beetle rotates
on its back


through a gap in the hedge
as we flash past
a partridge and her chicks


village museum
retired fishermen gaze
at their old nets


rain in the campground
a girl hops back to her tent
on one foot


the sun comes out
a tiny spider rappels
from the brim of my hat


over there by the car park
a band practices songs
from World War I


in the still forest
one limb is swaying
boys on a rope swing


evening cottage
the whippet’s thin hind leg
glows orange in the sunset


listening to an owl
pale magnolia blossoms
as big as our faces


After my singing-master had done with me this morning, I went to White Hall and Westminster Hall, where I found the King expected to come and adjourn the Parliament.
I found the two Houses at a great difference, about the Lords challenging their privileges not to have their houses searched, which makes them deny to pass the House of Commons’ Bill for searching for pamphlets and seditious books.
Thence by water to the Wardrobe (meeting the King upon the water going in his barge to adjourn the House) where I dined with my Lady, and there met Dr. Thomas Pepys, who I found to be a silly talking fellow, but very good-natured.
So home to the office, where we met about the business of Tangier this afternoon. That done, at home I found Mr. Moore, and he and I walked into the City and there parted. To Fleet Street to find when the Assizes begin at Cambridge and Huntingdon, in order to my going to meet with Roger Pepys for counsel.
So in Fleet Street I met with Mr. Salisbury, who is now grown in less than two years’ time so great a limner that he is become excellent, and gets a great deal of money at it. I took him to Hercules Pillars to drink, and there came Mr. Whore (whom I formerly have known), a friend of his to him, who is a very ingenious fellow, and there I sat with them a good while, and so home and wrote letters late to my Lord and to my father, and then to bed.

Singing to the king—
the lords.
Talking to a whore—
the Lord.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 30 July 1661.

Ursa Major

This morning we began again to sit in the mornings at the office, but before we sat down. Sir R. Slingsby and I went to Sir R. Ford’s to see his house, and we find it will be very convenient for us to have it added to the office if he can be got to part with it.
Then we sat down and did business in the office. So home to dinner, and my brother Tom dined with me, and after dinner he and I alone in my chamber had a great deal of talk, and I find that unless my father can forbear to make profit of his house in London and leave it to Tom, he has no mind to set up the trade any where else, and so I know not what to do with him.
After this I went with him to my mother, and there told her how things do fall out short of our expectations, which I did (though it be true) to make her leave off her spending, which I find she is nowadays very free in, building upon what is left to us by my uncle to bear her out in it, which troubles me much.
While I was here word is brought that my aunt Fenner is exceeding ill, and that my mother is sent for presently to come to her: also that my cozen Charles Glassecocke, though very ill himself, is this day gone to the country to his brother, John Glassecocke, who is a-dying there.

We see
a convenient part.
The great bear
has nowhere to fall
and a moth is present at his dying.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 29 July 1661.


(Lord’s day). This morning as my wife and I were going to church, comes Mrs. Ramsay to see us, so we sent her to church, and we went too, and came back to dinner, and she dined with us and was wellcome.
To church again in the afternoon, and then come home with us Sir W. Pen, and drank with us, and then went away, and my wife after him to see his daughter that is lately come out of Ireland. I staid at home at my book; she came back again and tells me that whereas I expected she should have been a great beauty, she is a very plain girl.
This evening my wife gives me all my linen, which I have put up, and intend to keep it now in my own custody.
To supper and to bed.

The pen went to see his book,
a plain wife.
“Give me a line to keep.”

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 28 July 1661.


In me your branches tingled with electric flames;
in me your roots have almost seeded vineyards—

on each limb your rafts of clustered orange,
bright as pain or epic love. I don’t wonder

anymore why each heart begins to bud
inside its flimsy paper cage: tender red,

berry for which you’ll tear at the garden’s
dark, its shaded network of veins.

Vertigo of bodies

~ After Octavio Paz’s “Proema”

Yes it is true, everything is vertigo:
vertigo of bodies so madly, rapidly vibrating.
We think they are merely standing still.
Vertigo of children spinning in the churchyard,
laughing because now the steeple looks
like it is about to fall—
Then there is the vertigo produced
by certain flowers crushed to a pulp—
Sh, I will tell you one more secret:
when mixed with water they release
a flotilla of bubbles into the air
and even the sky is vertigo.
I have no aphorisms or epithets for this,
I have no virtuoso solos. But I agree
wholeheartedly with you when you drag me to the edge
of the cliff and make your anguished pronouncements
about what we don’t know, which is mostly
the future; and the birds reel overhead,
a scattering of wild letters.

O tempore

~ After Octavio Paz’s “Between going and staying” (Entre irse quedarse)

When I came I thought I could leave after so many years,
but as time passed there was always something new

to tie me down: Oh obligation, how elusive your promise
that someday all debts will be erased, the horizon cleared:

for choice, for true passage. The lawyer sends a letter
every year. In the drawer, a folder of accountables.

On the table, the gleanings of what we’ve come
to truly prize: careful miniatures set in oval frames,

a book of names, a box with just one handful
of yellowed photographs. Bloodlines are

most stubborn of all pulses running through
our veins. On first arriving here, I marveled

that most ceilings had no fixtures for flooding rooms
with light. Now I understand: we carry our own lamps.

There is no way to live in time without a history.
Who are you? They ask again and again.

How often must I read it, write it?
We are. I am. We are.


In response to Via Negativa: Messenger.


To Westminster, where at Mr. Montagu’s chamber I heard a Frenchman play, a friend of Monsieur Eschar’s, upon the guitar, most extreme well, though at the best methinks it is but a bawble.
From thence to Westminster Hall, where it was expected that the Parliament was to have been adjourned for two or three months, but something hinders it for a day or two. In the lobby I spoke with Mr. George Montagu, and advised about a ship to carry my Lord Hinchingbroke and the rest of the young gentlemen to France, and they have resolved of going in a hired vessell from Rye, and not in a man of war. He told me in discourse that my Lord Chancellor is much envied, and that many great men, such as the Duke of Buckingham and my Lord of Bristoll, do endeavour to undermine him, and that he believes it will not be done; for that the King (though he loves him not in the way of a companion, as he do these young gallants that can answer him in his pleasures), yet cannot be without him, for his policy and service. From thence to the Wardrobe, where my wife met me, it being my Lord of Sandwich’s birthday, and so we had many friends here, Mr. Townsend and his wife, and Captain Ferrers lady and Captain Isham, and were very merry, and had a good venison pasty. Mr. Pargiter, the merchant, was with us also.
After dinner Mr. Townsend was called upon by Captain Cooke: so we three went to a tavern hard by, and there he did give us a song or two; and without doubt he hath the best manner of singing in the world. Back to my wife, and with my Lady Jem. and Pall by water through bridge, and showed them the ships with great pleasure, and then took them to my house to show it them (my Lady their mother having been lately all alone to see it and my wife, in my absence in the country), and we treated them well, and were very merry. Then back again through bridge, and set them safe at home, and so my wife and I by coach home again, and after writing a letter to my father at Brampton, who, poor man, is there all alone, and I have not heard from him since my coming from him, which troubles me. To bed.

The guitar spoke
of love and war, sand and water,
and showed the ships to my wife
in my absence.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 27 July 1661.


At home all the morning, and walking met with Mr. Hill of Cambridge at Pope’s Head Alley with some women with him whom he took and me into the tavern there, and did give us wine, and would fain seem to be very knowing in the affairs of state, and tells me that yesterday put a change to the whole state of England as to the Church; for the King now would be forced to favour Presbytery, or the City would leave him: but I heed not what he says, though upon enquiry I do find that things in the Parliament are in a great disorder.
Home at noon and there found Mr. Moore, and with him to an ordinary alone and dined, and there he and I read my uncle’s will, and I had his opinion on it, and still find more and more trouble like to attend it. Back to the office all the afternoon, and that done home for all night. Having the beginning of this week made a vow to myself to drink no wine this week (finding it to unfit me to look after business), and this day breaking of it against my will, I am much troubled for it, but I hope God will forgive me.

The pope’s head took
the air alone
and dined on ice.
Unfit to sin, it troubled God.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 26 July 1661.