“There is nothing
but us together,
born to one another,
to settle against.” ~ D. Bonta

The fair’s over, the tickets
all sold: even the siamese twins
have gone to make children of their own
on a dusty farm. My clothes are in some
museum basement, mothballed and moldy,
impossibly old. I traded them in for a train
ticket, a trip up the coast, the chance
to stand by myself, bareheaded,
in an orchard reddened with fruit.
Not yours, you reminded
through a bullhorn; Now don’t get
any ideas
. What an echo you make
through the years; what a nag,
what a scold, what a miser, what a drag:
always talking tithe, always in your tower,
in surveillance mode. In other words,
dear: you haven’t changed.


In response to Via Negativa: Dyad.

Insomniac (2)

At noon my wife and I met at the Wardrobe, and there dined with the children, and after dinner up to my Lady’s bedside, and talked and laughed a good while. Then my wife end I to Drury Lane to the French comedy, which was so ill done, and the scenes and company and every thing else so nasty and out of order and poor, that I was sick all the while in my mind to be there. Here my wife met with a son of my Lord Somersett, whom she knew in France, a pretty man; I showed him no great countenance, to avoyd further acquaintance. That done, there being nothing pleasant but the foolery of the farce, we went home.

At war with the bed
and the scenes and company and everything
else in my mind, I count to one.
Here: be nothing
but the farce.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 30 August 1661.


This entry is part 8 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014


I have not seen stars being born
nor heard the sound the moon makes

to cast its shadow on the trees.
And I have not found the cipher

to the message insects
transmit all through the night;

nor have I understood the shapes
of countries drawn

by flagstones in the yard,
or the aftertaste of clove

that numbs my tongue. Together,
time and rain green

the fluted sides of the bird-
bath, and water smells

like salt or tears. When I
strike a match to light

the lantern, I startle
a papery cloud of wings.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


At the office all the morning, and at noon my father, mother, and my aunt Bell (the first time that ever she was at my house) come to dine with me, and were very merry. After dinner the two women went to visit my aunt Wight, &c., and my father about other business, and I abroad to my bookseller, and there staid till four o’clock, at which time by appointment I went to meet my father at my uncle Fenner’s. So thither I went and with him to an alehouse, and there came Mr. Evans, the taylor, whose daughter we have had a mind to get for a wife for Tom, and then my father, and there we sat a good while and talked about the business; in fine he told us that he hath not to except against us or our motion, but that the estate that God hath blessed him with is too great to give where there is nothing in present possession but a trade and house; and so we friendly ended. There parted, my father and I together, and walked a little way, and then at Holborn he and I took leave of one another, he being to go to Brampton (to settle things against my mother comes) tomorrow morning.
So I home.

On the clock,
by appointment, I talk
to God. There is nothing
but us together,
born to one another,
to settle against.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 29 August 1661.


you want
what you want,

having been fed
from youth

the milk of
personal choice—

open your mouth
and squeak the greasy

wheel: ask
for premium not

diesel, make the cart
tilt, the vehicle

wobble, say hey,
this here’s broken

and I won’t settle
not even if

everyone’s on
the same factory shift


In response to Via Negativa: Downsizers.

The cost of free thought

At home all the morning setting papers in order. At noon to the Exchange, and there met with Dr. Williams by appointment, and with him went up and down to look for an attorney, a friend of his, to advise with about our bond of my aunt Pepys of 200l., and he tells me absolutely that we shall not be forced to pay interest for the money yet. I do doubt it very much. I spent the whole afternoon drinking with him and so home. This day I counterfeited a letter to Sir W. Pen, as from the thief that stole his tankard lately, only to abuse and laugh at him.

In exchange for an absolute,
we pay interest on doubt.
I ink a letter to the thief
that stole a laugh.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 28 August 1661.

Food lovers

This morning to the Wardrobe, and there took leave of my Lord Hinchingbroke and his brother, and saw them go out by coach toward Rye in their way to France, whom God bless. Then I was called up to my Lady’s bedside, where we talked an hour about Mr. Edward Montagu’s disposing of the 5000l. for my Lord’s departure for Portugal, and our fears that he will not do it to my Lord’s honour, and less to his profit, which I am to enquire a little after.
Hence to the office, and there sat till noon, and then my wife and I by coach to my cozen, Thos. Pepys, the Executor, to dinner, where some ladies and my father and mother, where very merry, but methinks he makes but poor dinners for such guests, though there was a poor venison pasty.
Hence my wife and I to the Theatre, and there saw “The Joviall Crew,” where the King, Duke and Duchess, and Madame Palmer, were; and my wife, to her great content, had a full sight of them all the while. The play full of mirth. Hence to my father’s, and there staid to talk a while and so by foot home by moonshine.
In my way and at home, my wife making a sad story to me of her brother Balty’s condition, and would have me to do something for him, which I shall endeavour to do, but am afeard to meddle therein for fear I shall not be able to wipe my hands of him again, when I once concern myself for him. I went to bed, my wife all the while telling me his case with tears, which troubled me.

This is
the way
to my lady’s bed:
a pasty full
of fat, the moon
in my hands.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 27 August 1661.


This entry is part 7 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014


The fruits remaining on the tree
are numbered now, becoming smaller,
harder, and less plump;

the afternoon is hot,
but already carries undertones
of approaching winter—

And we hear
across pitched roofs
the toothed quarreling

of creatures,
their cries that tear
through the fabric of night.

In the shed, once,
bringing boxes and garden things
to store: six pairs of eyes

twitched in the dusk
of the interior and made us shut
the open door

quickly back upon itself.
And at the river’s edge,
the water sighs

for tufted bodies hovering
above the current, tendering notice
of their departure across the sky.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


This morning before I went out I made even with my maid Jane, who has this day been my maid three years, and is this day to go into the country to her mother. The poor girl cried, and I could hardly forbear weeping to think of her going, for though she be grown lazy and spoilt by Pall’s coming, yet I shall never have one to please us better in all things, and so harmless, while I live. So I paid her her wages and gave her 2s. 6d. over, and bade her adieu, with my mind full of trouble at her going.
Hence to my father, where he and I and Thomas together setting things even, and casting up my father’s accounts, and upon the whole I find that all he hath in money of his own due to him in the world is but 45l., and he owes about the same sum: so that I cannot but think in what a condition he had left my mother if he should have died before my uncle Robert. Hence to Tom Trice for the probate of the will and had it done to my mind, which did give my father and me good content.
From thence to my Lady at the Wardrobe and thence to the Theatre, and saw the “Antipodes,” wherein there is much mirth, but no great matter else. Hence with Mr. Bostock whom I met there (a clerk formerly of Mr. Phelps) to the Devil tavern, and there drank and so away. I to my uncle Fenner’s, where my father was with him at an alehouse, and so we three went by ourselves and sat talking a great while about a broker’s daughter that he do propose for a wife for Tom, with a great portion, but I fear it will not take, but he will do what he can. So we broke up, and going through the street we met with a mother and son, friends of my father’s man, Ned’s, who are angry at my father’s putting him away, which troubled me and my father, but all will be well as to that.
We have news this morning of my uncle Thomas and his son Thomas being gone into the country without giving notice thereof to anybody, which puts us to a stand, but I fear them not.
At night at home I found a letter from my Lord Sandwich, who is now very well again of his feaver, but not yet gone from Alicante, where he lay sick, and was twice let blood. This letter dated the 22nd July last, which puts me out of doubt of his being ill. In my coming home I called in at the Crane tavern at the Stocks by appointment, and there met and took leave of Mr. Fanshaw, who goes to-morrow and Captain Isham toward their voyage to Portugal. Here we drank a great deal of wine, I too much and Mr. Fanshaw till he could hardly go. So we took leave one of another.

The poor
shall never please us,
even in war.
The devil, our broker,
broke in the street, angry
at all the blood
we drank.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 26 August 1661.