(Lord’s day). At church in the morning, and dined at home alone with my wife very comfortably, and so again to church with her, and had a very good and pungent sermon of Mr. Mills, discoursing the necessity of restitution.
Home, and I found my Lady Batten and her daughter to look something askew upon my wife, because my wife do not buckle to them, and is not solicitous for their acquaintance, which I am not troubled at at all.
By and by comes in my father (he intends to go into the country to-morrow), and he and I among other discourse at last called Pall up to us, and there in great anger told her before my father that I would keep her no longer, and my father he said he would have nothing to do with her. At last, after we had brought down her high spirit, I got my father to yield that she should go into the country with my mother and him, and stay there awhile to see how she will demean herself. That being done, my father and I to my uncle Wight’s, and there supped, and he took his leave of them, and so I walked with [him] as far as Paul’s and there parted, and I home, my mind at some rest upon this making an end with Pall, who do trouble me exceedingly.
a pungent necessity:
to look askew,
to call up an anger spirit,
to yield to the mother
of all trouble.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 25 August 1661.
At the office all the morning and did business; by and by we are called to Sir W. Batten’s to see the strange creature that Captain Holmes hath brought with him from Guiny; it is a great baboon, but so much like a man in most things, that though they say there is a species of them, yet I cannot believe but that it is a monster got of a man and she-baboon. I do believe that it already understands much English, and I am of the mind it might be taught to speak or make signs.
Hence the Comptroller and I to Sir Rd. Ford’s and viewed the house again, and are come to a complete end with him to give him 200l. per an. for it.
Home and there met Capt. Isham inquiring for me to take his leave of me, he being upon his voyage to Portugal, and for my letters to my Lord which are not ready. But I took him to the Mitre and gave him a glass of sack, and so adieu, and then straight to the Opera, and there saw “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” done with scenes very well, but above all, Betterton did the prince’s part beyond imagination.
Hence homeward, and met with Mr. Spong and took him to the Sampson in Paul’s churchyard, and there staid till late, and it rained hard, so we were fain to get home wet, and so to bed.
We are called
to see yet
A baboon might
be taught to speak
in a glass church.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 24 August 1661.
Names misspelled, assumptions
triggered before the facts.
Folded cot or makeshift bed,
lunchpail oozing with suggestive
smells. Unreadable map of origins
beneath veiled eyes, slight bow
to obviate the need to offer up
the callused palm. Stations lined
with wayfarers: quiet under a row
of clocks ticking out world time,
clothing the same shade as boxes
at their feet, secured with twine.
This morning I went to my father’s, and there found him and my mother in a discontent, which troubles me much, and indeed she is become very simple and unquiet. Hence he and I to Dr. Williams, and found him within, and there we sat and talked a good while, and from him to Tom Trice’s to an alehouse near, and there sat and talked, and finding him fair we examined my uncle’s will before him and Dr. Williams, and had them sign the copy and so did give T. Trice the original to prove, so he took my father and me to one of the judges of the Court, and there we were sworn, and so back again to the alehouse and drank and parted.
Dr. Williams and I to a cook’s where we eat a bit of mutton, and away, I to W. Joyce’s, where by appointment my wife was, and I took her to the Opera, and shewed her “The Witts,” which I had seen already twice, and was most highly pleased with it.
So with my wife to the Wardrobe to see my Lady, and then home.
In a tent I become
simple and quiet
with rice, unoriginal
and worn as a wit
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 23 August 1661.
In the night
something listless flies
from the shoulder of the goddess:
pilgrim heart, it wants to find
the hollow from which it first was
taken: wants to know what ticks
beneath the marbled shoulder
of the goddess, listless
even in composure,
in the night.
In response to Via Negativa: Owl.
The Doctor insists
there is no longer
any promised land—
insists it is a myth,
inflated fable chased
across the dust
by the dispossessed,
who have forgotten
where they’re from
and what they’re doing
here. And whose fault
is that? asks
the automaton with
the marble eye,
and the soldiers for hire
dropped into the deserts
of middle earth,
and the maids whose hands
have become detachable
at the wrists—
interchangeable as all
the other trafficked
body parts that move
the indifferent machine
farther and farther
from any living source.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.
To the Privy Seal, and sealed; so home at noon, and there took my wife by coach to my uncle Fenner’s, where there was both at his house and the Sessions, great deal of company, but poor entertainment, which I wonder at; and the house so hot, that my uncle Wight, my father and I were fain to go out, and stay at an alehouse awhile to cool ourselves. Then back again and to church, my father’s family being all in mourning, doing him the greatest honour, the world believing that he did give us it: so to church, and staid out the sermon, and then with my aunt Wight, my wife, and Pall and I to her house by coach, and there staid and supped upon a Westphalia ham, and so home and to bed.
The sea is great company
but poor entertainment.
We go out
all in mourning,
believing it a sermon and a pall.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 22 August 1661.
It’s been less than three weeks since I returned from Cornwall, but already the alembic of memory is distilling the random incidents of that trip into stories fit for re-telling. One such story I’ve begun to think of as the Mystery of the Dead Hand. Continue reading “The Mystery of the Dead Hand”
If the brown dog lies
panting in the sun,
do you think that means
it’s hot? If the skies
are overcast, do you think
we’ll see the once-in-a-lifetime
alignment of the stars? If
there are villages three
days’ hike away but reachable only
through trails that hug the cliffs,
should we go to the trouble
of a costly expedition? Isn’t it all
the same to make up names
and numbers, invent a history
for those poor people huddled there,
one they couldn’t after all read?
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.