Missed appointment

This morning Sir G. Carteret came down to the yard, and there we mustered over all the men and determined of some regulations in the yard, and then to dinner, all the officers of the yard with us, and after dinner walk to Portsmouth, there to pay off the Success, which we did pretty early, and so I took leave of Sir W. Pen, he desiring to know whither I went, but I would not tell him. I went to the ladies, and there took them and walked to the Mayor’s to show them the present, and then to the Dock, where Mr. Tippets made much of them, and thence back again, the Doctor being come to us to their lodgings, whither came our supper by my appointment, and we very merry, playing at cards and laughing very merry till 12 o’clock at night, and so having staid so long (which we had resolved to stay till they bade us be gone), which yet they did not do but by consent, we bade them good night, and so past the guards, and went to the Doctor’s lodgings, and there lay with him, our discourse being much about the quality of the lady with Mrs. Pierce, she being somewhat old and handsome, and painted and fine, and had a very handsome maid with her, which we take to be the marks of a bawd. But Mrs. Pierce says she is a stranger to her and met by chance in the coach, and pretends to be a dresser. Her name is Eastwood. So to sleep in a bad bed about one o’clock in the morning.
This afternoon after dinner comes Mr. Stephenson, one of the burgesses of the town, to tell me that the Mayor and burgesses did desire my acceptance of a burgess-ship, and were ready at the Mayor’s to make me one. So I went, and there they were all ready, and did with much civility give me my oath, and after the oath, did by custom shake me all by the hand. So I took them to a tavern and made them drink, and paying the reckoning, went away. They having first in the tavern made Mr. Waith also a burgess, he coming in while we were drinking. It cost me a piece in gold to the Town Clerk, and 10s. to the Bayliffes, and spent 6s.

Morning came
to the yard but not
to the doctor, night
having stayed to guard
the doctor’s lodgings:
an old, painted dresser,
a bad bed, a clock
ready to shake.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 30 April 1662.

Gacela, with a line from Lorca

Who has not seen the gypsies,
dream and bronze,
their heads held high,
their hooded eyes?

I heard them early today,
coming through the streets,
bringing news of the most
recent apocalypse—

In their hands the smell
of leveled mountains,
and in their hair the blue
persistence of dreams.

Night clung to the folds
of their sleeves, and green
forest burr. In their mouths,
the names of those too soon

surrendered. I was not afraid
and I held a window open: I called
though I knew they would not spare
my friend. They were us and I

was them, riding hard beneath
the olive ripple of leaves,
a sorrowful psalm of clouds,
the sun’s hook of trembling gold.

~ in memoriam, Rhodora Montemayor Palinar


In response to Via Negativa: Killing Lorca.

Urban renewal

At the pay all the morning, and so to dinner; and then to it again in the afternoon, and after our work was done, Sir G. Carteret, Sir W. Pen and I walked forth, and I spied Mrs. Pierce and another lady passing by. So I left them and went to the ladies, and walked with them up and down, and took them to Mrs. Stephens, and there gave them wine and sweetmeats, and were very merry; and then comes the Doctor, and we carried them by coach to their lodging, which was very poor, but the best they could get, and such as made much mirth among us. So I appointed one to watch when the gates of the town were ready to be shut, and to give us notice; and so the Doctor and I staid with them playing and laughing, and at last were forced to bid good night for fear of being locked into the town all night. So we walked to the yard, designing how to prevent our going to London tomorrow, that we might be merry with these ladies, which I did. So to supper and merrily to bed.

Our work was art,
we gave meat to the poor

but the best gates of the town shut
for fear of the town—

a design to prevent tomorrow,
that we might err.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 29 April 1662.

Killing Lorca

The Doctor and I begun philosophy discourse exceeding pleasant. He offers to bring me into the college of virtuosoes and my Lord Brouncker’s acquaintance, and to show me some anatomy, which makes me very glad; and I shall endeavour it when I come to London. Sir W. Pen much troubled upon letters came last night. Showed me one of Dr. Owen’s to his son, whereby it appears his son is much perverted in his opinion by him; which I now perceive is one thing that hath put Sir William so long off the hooks. By coach to the Pay-house, and so to work again, and then to dinner, and to it again, and so in the evening to the yard, and supper and bed.

The gun, a virtuoso in anatomy,
makes an end to much
bled-upon letters

as night appears
in one thin hook.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 28 April 1662.

Little Studies: 3 (Mule)

A mule is the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey.

A female mule that has estrus cycles and thus, in theory, could carry a fetus, is called a “molly” or “molly mule,” though the term is sometimes used to refer to female mules in general. Pregnancy is rare, but can occasionally occur naturally as well as through embryo transfer.

A mule is also any kind of shoe or slipper into which the foot may willingly be eased, without need for stays or zippers or laces. It is easy to kick off a mule when one is tired of wearing it on the foot.

In Indonesia, in a jail cell, a Filipina maid awaits her execution tonight. She will be shot. She will face a firing squad of no less than twelve. So far no intervention has succeeded in staying the order for her death.

She is referred to as a mule in news reports. In some, she is called a dupe mule.

Is a mule that is duped more or less a dupe or more or less a mule?

But a mule is also someone that is made to carry or transport illegal drugs.

Her name is Mary Jane, and she is the mother of two children. In another news report her sister holds up a scarf that Mary Jane knitted and gave to her as a gift.

Why would a mule want to knit?

Why would she who once barely escaped rape at the hands of a former employer, want to be a mule?

What I want to know is, what happened to the woman who lured her, duped her into carrying an extra suitcase when she was put on a plane that was supposed to take her to her new job?

Where is she tonight, as Mary Jane waits in her cell and listens to the ticking of the hours?

I look at her photograph and I think: she does not have the face of a mule.

When I read of Java I used to think of puppets in shadow plays, their long slim fingers painted gold, their heads trembling beneath the weight of filigree, beneath the dulled light of a moon on strings.

But now in the town of Cilacap near Nusakambangan island, coffins have been hewn and made ready, each with a cloth, a shade of white.

I want to know: why white? why the shade of bathroom tile, why the color of the commode whose surfaces she must have scrubbed and bleached each week, only for others to defile?

As if the protocols could make the lie pristine.


Update on Mary Jane Veloso: last minute reprieve on her execution granted

Little Studies: 2

“Before the mouth,
who owned me?” ~ D. Bonta

The sea.
The salt I drank
in my mother’s womb.
The dark I climbed,
round and round,
one handhold
at a time.
Somewhere in the middle,
it dimpled. Light broke
in the middle, somewhere.
One handhold
round and round
in the dark I climbed,
womb of my mother’s
salt I drank:
the sea.


In response to Via Negativa: Stewardship.


(Sunday). Sir W. Pen got trimmed before me, and so took the coach to Portsmouth to wait on my Lord Steward to church, and sent the coach for me back again. So I rode to church, and met my Lord Chamberlain upon the walls of the garrison, who owned and spoke to me. I followed him in the crowd of gallants through the Queen’s lodgings to chappell; the rooms being all rarely furnished, and escaped hardly being set on fire yesterday. At chappell we had a most excellent and eloquent sermon. And here I spoke and saluted Mrs. Pierce, but being in haste could not learn of her where her lodgings are, which vexes me. Thence took Ned Pickering to dinner with us, and the two Marshes, father and Son, dined with us, and very merry. After dinner Sir W. Batten and I, the Doctor, and Ned Pickering by coach to the Yard, and there on board the Swallow in the dock hear our navy chaplain preach a sad sermon, full of nonsense and false Latin; but prayed for the Right Honourable the principal officers. After sermon took him to Mr. Tippets’s to drink a glass of wine, and so at 4 back again by coach to Portsmouth, and then visited the Mayor, Mr. Timbrell, our anchor-smith, who showed us the present they have for the Queen; which is a salt-sellar of silver, the walls christall, with four eagles and four greyhounds standing up at the top to bear up a dish; which indeed is one of the neatest pieces of plate that ever I saw, and the case is very pretty also.
This evening came a merchantman in the harbour, which we hired at London to carry horses to Portugall; but, Lord! what running there was to the seaside to hear what news, thinking it had come from the Queen. In the evening Sir George, Sir W. Pen and I walked round the walls, and thence we two with the Doctor to the yard, and so to supper and to bed.

Before the mouth,
who owned me?

We set fire to the marsh
and to the swallow,

full of false Latin.
Our anchor is a salt-cellar.

At evening in the harbor,
horses run to the sea.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 27April 1662.

Little Studies: 1

The music is slow: a tango
filled with rain and lamplight,
a stem clenched in a woman’s teeth.
It makes me want to gather the darkest
red in my hands: thick paste of pounded
bleeding-heart flowers, gumamela the prize
we climb a barbed wire fence to pluck—
Disaster always its own remedy
except when the hum starts again
and the string forgets there ever was a time
it did not know what it meant to be rendered.

Cemetery tourist

Sir George and I, and his clerk Mr. Stephens, and Mr. Holt our guide, over to Gosport; and so rode to Southampton. In our way, besides my Lord Southampton’s parks and lands, which in one view we could see 6,000l. per annum, we observed a little church-yard, where the graves are accustomed to be all sowed with sage. At Southampton we went to the Mayor’s and there dined, and had sturgeon of their own catching the last week, which do not happen in twenty years, and it was well ordered. They brought us also some caveare, which I attempted to order, but all to no purpose, for they had neither given it salt enough, nor are the seedes of the roe broke, but are all in berryes. The towne is one most gallant street, and is walled round with stone, &c., and Bevis’s picture upon one of the gates; many old walls of religious houses, and the key, well worth seeing. After dinner to horse again, being in nothing troubled but the badness of my hat, which I borrowed to save my beaver. Home by night and wrote letters to London, and so with Sir W. Pen to the Dock to bed.

A little churchyard:
graves tempt
with stone and gates,
old walls
and seeing nothing.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 26 April 1662.