Sailor’s wife

I lay long in bed, till Sir Williams both sent me word that we were to wait upon the Duke of York to-day; and that they would have me to meet them at Westminster Hall, at noon: so I rose and went thither; and there I understand that they are gone to Mr. Coventry’s lodgings, in the Old Palace Yard, to dinner (the first time I knew he had any); and there I met them two and Sir G. Carteret, and had a very fine dinner, and good welcome, and discourse; and so, by water, after dinner to White Hall to the Duke, who met us in his closet; and there he did discourse to us the business of Holmes, and did desire of us to know what hath been the common practice about making of forrayne ships to strike sail to us, which they did all do as much as they could; but I could say nothing to it, which I was sorry for. So indeed I was forced to study a lie, and so after we were gone from the Duke, I told Mr. Coventry that I had heard Mr. Selden often say, that he could prove that in Henry the 7th’s time, he did give commission to his captains to make the King of Denmark’s ships to strike to him in the Baltique.
From thence Sir W. Pen and I to the Theatre, but it was so full that we could hardly get any room, so he went up to one of the boxes, and I into the 18d. places, and there saw “Love at first sight,” a play of Mr. Killigrew’s, and the first time that it hath been acted since before the troubles, and great expectation there was, but I found the play to be a poor thing, and so I perceive every body else do. So home, calling at Paul’s Churchyard for a “Mare Clausum,” having it in my mind to write a little matter, what I can gather, about the business of striking sayle, and present it to the Duke, which I now think will be a good way to make myself known. So home and to bed.

A long word: wait.
I understand water
but not ships

or the poor body,
having it in mind to sail
my own bed.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 29 November 1661.


This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2014


Do you not sometimes want to just leave
the city you’re in, to push off

in a raft you have made of your daybed—
white cotton sheets to the rising wind,

the rope of your dreams loosening
mortise and tenon joints from the four-

legged anchor that fixed your berth
all these years: one same returning

address, the one always at home to pick up
the pieces, return them to the frame

from which they’ve fallen or come loose,
she who’s asked to pay ransom after ransom

for those who left a long time ago,
not always knowing how much it costs—


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Event horizon

For if the dust of everything, the particle
of every gesture and every moment

is always and already the very shimmer
and form of the here and now, then

the person you have always been
but think you are still trying to become

is right here trying to get your attention,
trying to turn you away from the asshole

who has just said something incredibly rude
or even cruel while standing next to you

in line, so that it causes you to forget
the sound of the music you carry inside,

it causes you to believe the falsehoods
inflicted by whoever brandishes the biggest

flame seething in the abyss of his un-
acknowledged fear or pain— But the past

is paradox, is both now and still
to happen; will never be fixed like stone

in burial ground. The scorch of summer
has opened its pores, incessant rains

have softened it for growing.
Not even the chill of coming winter

can alter the structure of what
the seed is/meant to be.


At home all the morning; at noon Will brought me from Whitehall, whither I had sent him, some letters from my Lord Sandwich, from Tangier; where he continues still, and hath done some execution upon the Turks, and retaken an Englishman from them, of one Mr. Parker’s, a merchant in Marke-lane. In the afternoon Mr. Pett and I met at the office; there being none more there than we two I saw there was not the reverence due to us observed, and so I took occasion to break up and took Mr. Gawdon along with me, and he and I (though it rained) were resolved to go, he to my Lord Treasurer’s and I to the Chancellor’s with a letter from my Lord to-day. So to a tavern at the end of Mark Lane, and there we stayed till with much ado we got a coach, and so to my Lord Treasurer’s and lost our labours, then to the Chancellor’s, and there met with Mr. Dugdale, and with him and one Mr. Simons, I think that belongs to my Lord Hatton, and Mr. Kipps and others, to the Fountain tavern, and there stayed till twelve at night drinking and singing, Mr. Simons and one Mr. Agar singing very well. Then Mr. Gawdon being almost drunk had the wit to be gone, and so I took leave too, and it being a fine moonshine night he and I footed it all the way home, but though he was drunk he went such a pace as I did admire how he was able to go. When I came home I found our new maid Sarah come, who is a tall and a very well favoured wench, and one that I think will please us. So to bed.

at noon an execution
the rain on my hat
all the way home

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 28 November 1661.


This morning our maid Dorothy and my wife parted, which though she be a wench for her tongue not to be borne with, yet I was loth to part with her, but I took my leave kindly of her and went out to Savill’s, the painter, and there sat the first time for my face with him; thence to dinner with my Lady; and so after an hour or two’s talk in divinity with my Lady, Captain Ferrers and Mr. Moore and I to the Theatre, and there saw “Hamlett” very well done, and so I home, and found that my wife had been with my aunt Wight and Ferrers to wait on my Lady to-day this afternoon, and there danced and were very merry, and my Lady very fond as she is always of my wife. So to bed.

My tongue
took me to dinner.
I eat, let it dance
as always.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 27 November 1661.


This entry is part 21 of 27 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2014


Last week, seven bags that I raked
of what the wind, the dark, the late
hour at this time of year detached
from trees that ring the backyard—

Today our small plot of earth
once more is carpeted end to end:
pine straw and layers of their thick,
wet pelt. It seems impossible

to keep up now with all the ruined
wealth they shed, to put a stop
to this red and gold display of their
indifference, reflected still in every

window— And I know it will not matter,
but anyway I gather my anguish back in, drag
the implement’s teeth across the ground;
blink back my tears in the cold, bright light.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


Not well in the morning and lay long in bed. At last rise and at noon with my wife to my Uncle Wights, where we met Mr. Cole, Mr. Rawlinson, Norbury and his wife and her daughter, and other friends to the Chine of beef that I sent them the other day, and eat and were merry. By and by I am called to the office, whither I went and there we sat late; and after the office done, Sir Wms both and I and Captain Cock and Mr. Bence (who being drunk, showed himself by his talk a bold foole, and so we were fain to put him off and get him away) we sat till 9 a-clock by ourselfs in the office, talking and drinking three or four bottles of wine. And so home and to bed. My wife and her mayde Dorothé falling out, I was troubled at it.

long in bed with
my fool self—
a bottle falling out

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 26 November 1661.


This entry is part 20 of 27 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2014


Here is a fingernail slice of bread, a curl
of butter that none of our lips will touch—

a shot glass of soup, hot spoonful of meat,
and one clementine still glowing in its

bright orange skin. Here on one plate
we arrange morse code of small offerings,

make space in our hearts for an envelope
of silence. This is what we try to send

at the same time each year from this
house where we live on the forest floor,

today carpeted with what leaves have shed—
And every now and then, flashes of light

sear through the canopy, bright distractions
from tracking thread through the labyrinth.



In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Better nature

To Westminster Hall in the morning with Captain Lambert, and there he did at the Dog give me and some other friends of his, his foy, he being to set sail to-day towards the Streights. Here we had oysters and good wine. Having this morning met in the Hall with Mr. Sanchy, we appointed to meet at the play this afternoon. At noon, at the rising of the House, I met with Sir W. Pen and Major General Massy, who I find by discourse to be a very ingenious man, and among other things a great master in the secresys of powder and fireworks, and another knight to dinner, at the Swan, in the Palace yard, and our meat brought from the Legg; and after dinner Sir W. Pen and I to the Theatre, and there saw “The Country Captain,” a dull play, and that being done, I left him with his Torys and went to the Opera, and saw the last act of “The Bondman,” and there found Mr. Sanchy and Mrs. Mary Archer, sister to the fair Betty, whom I did admire at Cambridge, and thence took them to the Fleece in Covent Garden, there to bid good night to Sir W. Pen who staid for me; but Mr. Sanchy could not by any argument get his lady to trust herself with him into the tavern, which he was much troubled at, and so we returned immediately into the city by coach, and at the Mitre in Cheapside there light and drank, and then set her at her uncle’s in the Old Jewry. And so he and I back again thither, and drank till past 12 at night, till I had drank something too much. He all the while telling me his intention to get a girl who is worth 1000l., and many times we had her sister Betty’s health, whose memory I love. At last parted, and I well home, only had got cold and was hoarse and so to bed.

The dog all afternoon
is master of the yard.
I play with
his trust, troubled
by love as art.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 25 November 1661.