The scar is always
the understory: the wound,
its prior history.
The undertaker reads
the body’s cover, its husk
of grievances an inventory—
What did it want? How
could it not? Every desire
was more than just accessory.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.
(Lord’s day). To church in the morning, and so to dinner, and Sir W. Pen and daughter, and Mrs. Poole, his kinswoman, Captain Poole’s wife, came by appointment to dinner with us, and a good dinner we had for them, and were very merry, and so to church again, and then to Sir W. Pen’s and there supped, where his brother, a traveller, and one that speaks Spanish very well, and a merry man, supped with us, and what at dinner and supper I drink I know not how, of my own accord, so much wine, that I was even almost foxed, and my head aked all night; so home and to bed, without prayers, which I never did yet, since I came to the house, of a Sunday night: I being now so out of order that I durst not read prayers, for fear of being perceived by my servants in what case I was. So to bed.
I am the traveler,
what I drink, I know not—
a fox all night in fear
of being perceived.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 29 September 1661.
At the office in the morning, dined at home, and then Sir W. Pen and his daughter and I and my wife to the Theatre, and there saw “Father’s own Son,” a very good play, and the first time I ever saw it, and so at night to my house, and there sat and talked and drank and merrily broke up, and to bed.
Office at home—
the pen and I eat
the night up.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 28 September 1661.
By coach to Whitehall with my wife (where she went to see Mrs. Pierce, who was this day churched, her month of childbed being out). I went to Mr. Montagu and other businesses, and at noon met my wife at the Wardrobe; and there dined, where we found Captain Country (my little Captain that I loved, who carried me to the Sound), come with some grapes and millons from my Lord at Lisbon, the first that ever I saw any, and my wife and I eat some, and took some home; but the grapes are rare things. Here we staid; and in the afternoon comes Mr. Edwd. Montagu (by appointment this morning) to talk with my Lady and me about the provisions fit to be bought, and sent to my Lord along with him. And told us, that we need not trouble ourselves how to buy them, for the King would pay for all, and that he would take care to get them: which put my Lady and me into a great deal of ease of mind. Here we staid and supped too, and, after my wife had put up some of the grapes in a basket for to be sent to the King, we took coach and home, where we found a hampire of millons sent to me also.
Here, my love, is
that rare vision,
how to buy ease of mind:
a hamper of melons.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 27 September 1661.
“Thou foster-child of silence and slow time…” ~ John Keats
Make me a sweet to taste slow,
a honey with the aftertaste of meadow
in the hiatus after war.
Even before the tanks have rolled away,
take me like the winged congregation
storms rafters holding up the broken roofs,
like the ones who break from the ranks
to salvage makeshift nests in eye-sockets
of dictators’ blasted monuments.
Do not make of me an afterthought
that flickers before fire’s consuming,
and do not lay me in a frozen crypt
to arrest the worms’ furious
decoding. Because we’ll soon
in the river’s current follow,
tell me the tears we’ve shed have turned
into clean stones to lay in pairs on the faces
of all our dead; that there are sacraments we
can still burn in these dwindling days:
santalum reed and balsam, camphored breath
fluting through these hollow bones.
In response to Via Negativa: Time capsule.
older than the streets through which our dreams
go daily in search of sustenance, and nightly
return in search of what we used to be—
And in its hidden springs are crystals
with origins in the stars, their glimmer fraught
with effort of remembering— So then, in the distance
between thirst and its unintended forsaking,
the hinged collarbone becomes a cleft, a well—
When was the last time I felt
the imprint of your lips there, or traced
with fingertips the hidden moisture in your eyes
after our bodies kissed and we had parted ways?
In response to Via Negativa: Old Water.
At the office all the morning, so dined at home, and then abroad with my wife by coach to the Theatre to shew her “King and no King,” it being very well done. And so by coach, though hard to get it, being rainy, home. So to my chamber to write letters and the journal for these six last days past.
Morning and the road
get me to write letters—
an urn for the last days.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 26 September 1661.
The earth has water older than
the sun, scientists say. I’ll never
see rain the same way again,
or hear it tap on the roof
at 4:00 a.m. and not wonder
what other skies it has fallen from,
what other oceans it once also
returned to as if going home.
Scientists say they’re more certain
than ever that planets
throughout the cosmos harbor this
resident alien. And remembering
how many times the eye
has evolved on Earth alone,
I listen to the drumming
on the roof and imagine
that someday, sure as rain,
we’ll meet the watery gaze of beings
born under distant stars.
Maybe we’ll see enough of ourselves
to realize then that loneliness
has no cure—that we are all heirs
to drifting, interstellar ice.
Maybe we’ll offer them a drink.
Maybe we’ll weep.
In response to Scientific American: “Earth Has Water Older than the Sun“
By coach with Sir W. Pen to Covent Garden. By the way, upon my desire, he told me that I need not fear any reflection upon my Lord for their ill success at Argier, for more could not be done than was done. I went to my cozen, Thos. Pepys, there, and talked with him a good while about our country business, who is troubled at my uncle Thomas his folly, and so we parted; and then meeting Sir R. Slingsby in St. Martin’s Lane, he and I in his coach through the Mewes, which is the way that now all coaches are forced to go, because of a stop at Charing Cross, by reason of a drain there to clear the streets. To Whitehall, and there to Mr. Coventry, and talked with him, and thence to my Lord Crew’s and dined with him, where I was used with all imaginable kindness both from him and her. And I see that he is afraid that my Lord’s reputacon will a little suffer in common talk by this late success; but there is no help for it now.
The Queen of England (as she is now owned and called) I hear doth keep open Court, and distinct at Lisbon.
Hence, much against my nature and will, yet such is the power of the Devil over me I could not refuse it, to the Theatre, and saw “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” ill done. And that ended, with Sir W. Pen and Sir G. More to the tavern, and so home with him by coach, and after supper to prayers and to bed. In full quiet of mind as to thought, though full of business, blessed be God.
I fear reflection
more than folly.
Meeting the aches
of a cross with kindness
is against my nature.
Yet such is the power
of the wind, I end
with a prayer full of mind.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 25 September 1661.