I want to know: what keeps you
stirring up the liquid in the tray;

again and again, plunging your hand
to the shallow bottom to unsettle

sediment, just when the water
is so close to clear? Today began

in fog: not even the outlines of trees
emerged until the sun was past its prime.

In the end, however gradually,
everything delivers itself from need.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


the house was empty when they woke
the absence a tangible thing, a raw place
where a comfortable companionship

sat content last night between them
borrowing a bit the corner of her afghan,
reading unobtrusively over his shoulder

but it slipped out before the dawn, left
the length of the breakfast table longer,
two glasses of cold orange juice, apart

in silence, they pulled on shoes, light
jackets, went down to the beach, reset
the timing of their heartbeats

to the metronome of breaking waves
returned together to together

Laura M Kaminski
12 02 2014
in response to/inspired by “Ocean view

Ocean view

To Savill the painter’s, but he not being well I could do nothing there, and so I returned home, and in my way met Mr. Moore and took him with me home; where we staid and talked all the morning, and he dined with me, and after dinner went away to the Privy Seal, this being our first day this month. By and by called on by Mr. Sanchy and his mistress, and with them by coach to the Opera, to seeThe Mad Lover,” but not much pleased with the play. That done home all to my house, where they staid and supped and were merry, and at last late bid good night and so we to bed.

To paint the sea is to see
the mad lover,
not the house where we
at last bid good night.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 2 December 1661.


do not tell her how to be
or how to feel, what turns to take
along a road you have not traveled —
she is walking ground as yet uncharted
hold your tongue

steady her steps

she can no longer tolerate
the travel for the harvest celebration,
the winter gathering of family —
the cutting, dragging in, the trimming
of the tree

too symbolic

she no longer opens holiday
letters, doesn’t slit the envelopes
to set warm wishes, peace to swirl —
the air around her chills, she is loosening
her tethers

Laura M Kaminski
12 02 2014
in response to/inspired by Dave Bonta’s “Morale-building exercise” and Luisa A. Igloria’s “Instructions for the long march

Morale-building exercise

(Lord’s day). In the morning at church and heard Mr. Mills. At home dined and with me by appointment Mr. Sanchy, who should have brought his mistress, Mrs. Mary Archer, of Cambridge, but she could not come, but we had a good dinner for him. And so in the afternoon my wife went to church, and he and I stayed at home and drank and talked, and he stayed with me till night and supped with me, when I expected to have seen Jack Cole and Lem. Wagstaffe, but they did not come.
We this day cut a brave collar of brawn from Winchcombe which proves very good, and also opened the glass of girkins which Captain Cocke did give my wife the other day, which are rare things.
So at night to bed.
There hath lately been great clapping up of some old statesmen, such as Ireton, Moyer, and others, and they say, upon a great plot, but I believe no such thing; but it is but justice that they should be served as they served the poor Cavaliers; and I believe it will oftentimes be so as long as I live, whether there be cause or no.
This evening my brother Tom was with me, and I did talk again to him about Mr. Townsend’s daughter, and I do intend to put the business in hand. I pray God give a good end to it.

In the morning mill,
who but the brawn and glass

captain clapping?
They serve the poor

a long, no-brother talk
about business and God.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 1 December 1661.

Instructions for the long march

You will not need all that clothing
lying in heaps on the shelves,
hanging like skins gathered in
a different season.

And you will have to do
certain tasks that used to be
fulfilled by others, or that you
only read about in manuals

for long-term care. But
in all things, you must learn
gentleness— which is a little
like but more than just

dimming the lights to soften
the glare, or reaching around
the body to unhook stays
that bind or support.

Give yourself to what will sustain
the most, what will boost the quality
of breath in the most interior room.
When everything without

grows fuller and more crowded with noise,
discard all unnecessary furniture. Watch
the landscape expand with what you
remember of water and light and air.

Unreal estate

In the morning to the Temple, Mr. Philips and Dr. Williams about my several law matters, and so to the Wardrobe to dinner, and after dinner stole away, my Lady not dining out of her chamber, and so home and then to the office all the afternoon, and that being done Sir W. Batten and I and Captain Cock got a bottle of sack into the office, and there we sat late and drank and talked, and so home and to bed.
I am this day in very good health, only got a little cold. The Parliament has sat a pretty while. The old condemned judges of the late King have been brought before the Parliament, and like to be hanged. I am deep in Chancery against Tom Trice, God give a good issue; and myself under great trouble for my late great expending of money vainly, which God stop for the future. This is the last day for the old State’s coyne to pass in common payments, but they say it is to pass in publique payments to the King three months still.

The law stole my home—
that batten of here and pretty
like a chance god
or the last state’s coin.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 30 November 1661.

Making the bed

Lie in the bed you’ve made,
I was told: shorthand for all
that we supposedly could not

take back: the word or pledge
that others came to witness,
after which a cake was cut

with one beribboned knife,
and mouths were stuffed
to gagging with sugary

crumbs amid laughter
and drunken cheers.
Later, when the bed

was sheathed in anger
and hot tears, I tried
to figure out how virtue

lay in waiting for what
might not ever change.
Every morning I sought

to tuck the corners in
as tight as I was able—
By then I had daughters.

By then I could not
afford to wait for some
questionable deliverance.


In response to Via Negatia: Sailor's wife.


When the land of day is burning
and I’m cornered by the flames, choking
on the smoke of excess obligations,

I flee to the ocean’s edge and fling
myself upon the mattress-raft, unmoor
myself from the hard continent

set the sheets and trim the angle
of the pillows, lift anchor, free myself
to float, let helm spin where it will.

It does not matter whether I cross
from the wave of wakefulness to sleep,
only that I loosen my grip upon

the wheel, let the sail of my mind
swing free until she fills with dreams
again, until I’ve found the sextant

and the compass, stood again upon
the deck, sighted a star, the dog
a porpoise drifting near the hull.

Laura M Kaminski
12 01 2014
in response to/inspired by Dave Bonta’s “Sailor’s Wife” and Luisa A. Igloria’s “Harbor” on Via Negativa