Tin soldier

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

To the Wardrobe, and there my Lord did enquire my opinion of Mr. Moore, which I did give to the best advantage I could, and by that means shall get him joined with Mr. Townsend in the Wardrobe business. He did also give me all Mr. Shepley’s and Mr. Moore’s accounts to view, which I am glad of, as being his great trust in me, and I would willingly keep up a good interest with him. So took leave of him (he being to go this day) and to the office, where they were just sat down, and I showed them yesterday’s discovery, and have got Sir R. Ford to be my enemy by it; but I care not, for it is my duty, and so did get his bill stopped for the present.
To dinner, and found Dr. Thos. Pepys at my house; but I was called from dinner by a note from Mr. Moore to Alderman Backwell’s, to see some thousands of my Lord’s crusados weighed, and we find that 3,000 come to about 530l. or 40 generally.
Home again and found my father there; we talked a good while and so parted.
We met at the office in the afternoon to finish Mr. Gauden’s accounts, but did not do them quite. In the evening with Mr. Moore to Backwell’s with another 1,200 crusados and saw them weighed, and so home and to bed.

I could join the war
glad as rust
I would go be the enemy
for an afternoon.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 5 June 1662.

Arguments with destiny: 6

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

The lark is mad
and the nightingale’s tongue
is shorn to silence it;

the tree whipping its hair
in the wind is no tree but a girl
frozen in her tracks, stunned

from a blow to the solar
plexus, disarmed by the sound
of the lock turning clock-

wise in the door, the whistle
of wind escaping from its cage.
Such flimsy power in the mouths

of the would-be gods; and the wreath
of their petty accusations, the spit
that shines and sours in the dark.


In response to Via Negativa: Blithe spirit.

Conquistador’s defeat

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up early, and Mr. Moore comes to me and tells me that Mr. Barnwell is dead, which troubles me something, and the more for that I believe we shall lose Mr. Shepley’s company.
By and by Sir W. Batten and I by water to Woolwich; and there saw an experiment made of Sir R. Ford’s Holland’s yarn (about which we have lately had so much stir; and I have much concerned myself for our ropemaker, Mr. Hughes, who has represented it as bad), and we found it to be very bad, and broke sooner than, upon a fair triall, five threads of that against four of Riga yarn; and also that some of it had old stuff that had been tarred, covered over with new hemp, which is such a cheat as hath not been heard of. I was glad of this discovery, because I would not have the King’s workmen discouraged (as Sir W. Batten do most basely do) from representing the faults of merchants’ goods, where there is any.
After eating some fish that we had bought upon the water at Falconer’s, we went to Woolwich, and there viewed our frames of our houses, and so home, and I to my Lord’s, who I find resolved to buy Brampton Manor of Sir Peter Ball, at which I am glad. Thence to White Hall, and showed Sir G. Carteret the cheat, and so to the Wardrobe, and there staid and supped with my Lady. My Lord eating nothing, but writes letters to-night to several places, he being to go out of town to-morrow. So late home and to bed.

Dead, we all lose water,
of which we have so much

and represent as
that old cheat of a discovery—

men who at war eat
nothing but places.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 4 June 1662.

Arguments with destiny: 5

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“I have a steadfast joy
and a joy that’s lost…” ~ “Riches,” Gabriela Mistral

When you were sick for a long time,
the ceiling tilted like a throat
drunk on the molasses of slow
fevered dreams. Marooned

on an island of sheets, you
were brought water, ice cubes,
bowls of broth, fruit plucked
from the tree and speckled

with night rain. The sun swelled
somewhere, in a different sky.
Yours was the cocoon of frog
songs, old ceremony of rice

grains poured into shallow dishes
to divine the blood’s chemical
repercussions. When finally
they led you into the steam

of a bath, you broke through
the surface: sacrificial lattice
of eucalyptus leaves dissolving
in a paroxysm of long-held breath.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up by four o’clock and to my business in my chamber, to even accounts with my Lord and myself, and very fain I would become master of 1000l., but I have not above 530l. toward it yet.
At the office all the morning, and Mr. Coventry brought his patent and took his place with us this morning. Upon our making a contract, I went, as I use to do, to draw the heads thereof, but Sir W. Pen most basely told me that the Comptroller is to do it, and so begun to employ Mr. Turner about it, at which I was much vexed, and begun to dispute; and what with the letter of the Duke’s orders, and Mr. Barlow’s letter, and the practice of our predecessors, which Sir G. Carteret knew best when he was Comptroller, it was ruled for me. What Sir J. Minnes will do when he comes I know not, but Sir W. Pen did it like a base raskall, and so I shall remember him while I live.
After office done, I went down to the Towre Wharf, where Mr. Creed and Shepley was ready with three chests of the crusados, being about 6000l., ready to bring to shore to my house, which they did, and put it in my further cellar, and Mr. Shepley took the key. I to my father and Dr. Williams and Tom Trice, by appointment, in the Old Bayly, to Short’s, the alehouse, but could come to no terms with T. Trice. Thence to the Wardrobe, where I found my Lady come from Hampton Court, where the Queen hath used her very civilly; and my Lady tells me is a most pretty woman, at which I am glad.
Yesterday (Sir R. Ford told me) the Aldermen of the City did attend her in their habits, and did present her with a gold Cupp and 1000l. in gold therein. But, he told me, that they are so poor in their Chamber, that they were fain to call two or three Aldermen to raise fines to make up this sum, among which was Sir W. Warren.
Home and to the office, where about 8 at night comes Sir G. Carteret and Sir W. Batten, and so we did some business, and then home and to bed, my mind troubled about Sir W. Pen, his playing the rogue with me to-day, as also about the charge of money that is in my house, which I had forgot; but I made the maids to rise and light a candle, and set it in the dining-room, to scare away thieves, and so to sleep.

Four o’clock
and I even accounts
with myself. Our heads roll
like ice on the shore
or the poor in
their warren. Where
is the house I forgot?
I light a room
to scare away sleep.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 3 June 1662.

Arguments with destiny: 4

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“O, to take what we love inside…” ~ Li-Young Lee

The day we looked for my mother
was the day she refused to be found.
And the week before that was a day
one of the women in their circle

walked into the surf as her husband
pleaded and threatened, brandishing
a gun— I was not there but I can see
the glint of their faces, the sharp

points of tears swallowed in the foam.
I don’t know what color the water was,
what it took, what it never gave back.
And so like a stunned general he hurried

down from his horse; in the middle of the day,
he brought a garment of unfamiliar remorse.
Please when we find her, he said:
Tell her. Tell her. You tell her.

Blithe spirit

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up early about business and then to the Wardrobe with Mr. Moore, and spoke to my Lord about the exchange of the crusados into sterling money, and other matters. So to my father at Tom’s, and after some talk with him away home, and by and by comes my father to dinner with me, and then by coach, setting him down in Cheapside, my wife and I to Mrs. Clarke’s at Westminster, the first visit that ever we both made her yet. We found her in a dishabille, intending to go to Hampton Court to-morrow. We had much pretty discourse, and a very fine lady she is. Thence by water to Salisbury Court, and Mrs. Turner not being at home, home by coach, and so after walking on the leads and supper to bed. This day my wife put on her slasht wastecoate, which is very pretty.

The lark is mad,
dishabille in a disco—
a fine lad, to court
in his ash coat.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 2 June 1662.

Arguments with destiny: 3

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“You whose name is aggressor and devourer.” ~ Czeslaw Milosz

You whose name is Eigengrau, intrinsic grey in perfect darkness,
intrinsic light made to wear a uniform of drab in the open-air—
When I heard you fumbling among the crates and boxes I hid
in sheets of newsprint, panicked at first I cowered

in my own darkness and muted my breath. When you took
me from myself I learned to adjust sight to the optic
edges, learned to gather pinpricks from among the softer
gradients. I don’t refute you, in the way one never

can refute the looming presence of that teacher,
the one who made you kneel on dry beans
on the dusty schoolroom floor, your punishment
for refusing to take to heart his lessons.

Anger addict

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). At church in the morning. A stranger made a very good sermon. Dined at home, and Mr. Spong came to see me; so he and I sat down a little to sing some French psalms, and then comes Mr. Shepley and Mr. Moore, and so we to dinner, and after dinner to church again, where a Presbyter made a sad and long sermon, which vexed me, and so home, and so to walk on the leads, and supper and to prayers and bed.

Anger made
a good home:
come to dinner vexed
and walk on lead.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 1 June 1662.

Arguments with destiny: 2

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“…you, who forever elude me” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

You will deny it, but the same bird echoes
through us mornings and evenings; and in the sultry
afternoons when pigeons and stray dogs scratch
the untranslatable into the hard baked mud

of the square. I can name so many things
that come to have the shape they have
by virtue of sheer repetition. The heart builds
one ring upon another; and the peeled-back bark’s

already healing even as the white sap
spirals down a groove into the waiting tin.
To live in the eloquent gaps of contradiction
which spurn and enchant at every turn: how

is one to survive? A voice calls,
and the body turns: its learned habits
of obligation. The body twitches each night,
before dropping into the ravine of sleep.