We rose, and he about his business, and I to my house to look over my workmen; but good God! how I do find myself by yesterday’s liberty hard to be brought to follow business again, but however, I must do it, considering the great sweet and pleasure and content of mind that I have had since I did leave drink and plays, and other pleasures, and followed my business.
So to my office, where we sat till noon, and then I to dinner with Sir W. Pen, and while we were at it coming my wife to the office, and so I sent for her up, and after dinner we took coach and to the Duke’s playhouse, where we saw “The Duchess of Malfy” well performed, but Betterton and Ianthe to admiration. That being done, home again, by coach, and my wife’s chamber got ready for her to lie in to-night, but my business did call me to my office, so that staying late I did not lie with her at home, but at my lodgings.
Strange to see how easily my mind do revert to its former practice of loving plays and wine, having given myself a liberty to them but these two days; but this night I have again bound myself to Christmas next, in which I desire God to bless me and preserve me, for under God I find it to be the best course that ever I could take to bring myself to mind my business.
I have also made up this evening my monthly ballance, and find that, notwithstanding the loss of 30l. to be paid to the loyall and necessitous cavaliers by act of Parliament, yet I am worth about 680l., for which the Lord God be praised. My condition at present is this:—
I have long been building, and my house to my great content is now almost done. But yet not so but that I shall have dirt, which troubles me too, for my wife has been in the country at Brampton these two months, and is now come home a week or two before the house is ready for her.
My mind is somewhat troubled about my best chamber, which I question whether I shall be able to keep or no. I am also troubled for the journey which I must needs take suddenly to the Court at Brampton, but most of all for that I am not provided to understand my business, having not minded it a great while, and at the best shall be able but to make a bad matter of it, but God, I hope, will guide all to the best, and I am resolved to-morrow to fall hard to it. I pray God help me therein, for my father and mother and all our well-doings do depend upon my care therein.
My Lord Sandwich has lately been in the country, and very civil to my wife, and hath himself spent some pains in drawing a plot of some alterations in our house there, which I shall follow as I get money.
As for the office, my late industry hath been such, as I am become as high in reputation as any man there, and good hold I have of Mr. Coventry and Sir G. Carteret, which I am resolved, and it is necessary for me, to maintain by all fair means.
Things are all quiett, but the King poor, and no hopes almost of his being otherwise, by which things will go to rack, especially in the Navy.
The late outing of the Presbyterian clergy by their not renouncing the Covenant as the Act of Parliament commands, is the greatest piece of state now in discourse. But for ought I see they are gone out very peaceably, and the people not so much concerned therein as was expected.
My brother Tom is gone out of town this day, to make a second journey to his mistress at Banbury, of which I have good expectations, and pray God to bless him therein. My mind, I hope, is settled to follow my business again, for I find that two days’ neglect of business do give more discontent in mind than ten times the pleasure thereof can repair again, be it what it will.

how sweet an ink followed my pen
into a better night

how easily I revert to loving
the God of raised dirt

what a journey I take
suddenly under the sand

here things are all quiet
and go very peaceably out of mind

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 30 September 1662.

Ghost Currency

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2015


Beyond all boundaries, at memory’s undoing—
As when the dreamer sees and after the dream
The passion endures, imprinted on his being

Though he can’t recall the rest…

~ “Paradiso,” Dante Alighieri, trans. Robert Pinsky

Why now, why write again of that place
left behind, or resurrect the ghosts

that nearly languished in long hallways
of forgetting? We never thought

they’d last as long as they did,
keep prowling in the wings, waiting

patiently for their cue to re-enter
the scene. Is it that they haven’t quit

connections, still harbor appetite
for worldly things? I suspect we’ve been

no help, setting trays of sweets, bites
of food, cups of drink in front of their

framed portraits on the mantel— a way
of keeping the porch lights on. No wonder

they take their time, keep coming back,
reminding you of how they used to hurt,

of promises you haven’t kept. My Chinese
friends burn joss sticks, wads of paper

bills, paper houses, paper cars, paper
designer clothes to symbolize the wealth

they want to transfer and that their loved ones
on the other side will need or miss the most.

Even the dead, apparently, now are trendy:
among the paper retinue sent up in flames

are credit cards, paper Happy Meals and paper
vegan options; bicycles, Apple computers,

iPhones, Apple watches. And because paradise
or the ever after apparently is not a place

stripped of action or desire, there are paper
motels whose rooms have paper plasma TV screens.

In the lobby there are paper boxes of Viagra,
paper condoms and dispensers next to the ice

machine; and down a paper alley, paper beer
gardens where the beer is always on the house.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

In the park

(Michaelmas day). This day my oaths for drinking of wine and going to plays are out, and so I do resolve to take a liberty to-day, and then to fall to them again. Up and by coach to White Hall, in my way taking up Mr. Moore, and walked with him, talking a good while about business, in St. James’s Park, and there left him, and to Mr. Coventry’s, and so with him and Sir W. Pen up to the Duke, where the King came also and staid till the Duke was ready. It being Collarday, we had no time to talk with him about any business. They went out together. So we parted, and in the park Mr. Cooke by appointment met me, to whom I did give my thoughts concerning Tom’s match and their journey tomorrow, and did carry him by water to Tom’s, and there taking up my wife, maid, dog, and him, did carry them home, where my wife is much pleased with my house, and so am I fully. I sent for some dinner and there dined, Mrs. Margaret Pen being by, to whom I had spoke to go along with us to a play this afternoon, and then to the King’s Theatre, where we saw “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,” which I had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life. I saw, I confess, some good dancing and some handsome women, which was all my pleasure.
Thence set my wife down at Madam Turner’s, and so by coach home, and having delivered Pegg Pen to her father safe, went home, where I find Mr. Deane, of Woolwich, hath sent me the modell he had promised me; but it so far exceeds my expectations, that I am sorry almost he should make such a present to no greater a person; but I am exceeding glad of it, and shall study to do him a courtesy for it.
So to my office and wrote a letter to Tom’s mistress’s mother to send by Cooke to-morrow. Then came Mr. Moore thinking to have looked over the business of my Brampton papers against the Court, but my mind was so full of other matters (as it is my nature when I have been a good while from a business, that I have almost forgot it, I am loth to come to it again) that I could not set upon it, and so he and I past the evening away in discourse, and to my lodgings and to bed.

drinking wine in the park
the dog dancing as I look
over the paper

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 29 September 1662.

A pilgrim’s progress

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2015


Even when the clouds parted
I knew no gods would deliver

us from our troubles.
Having made do for so long,

I had only myself for counsel.
In a country where divorce

is not legal, no court-
appointed psychologist

would guarantee I was
afflicted most by the fevers

of irreconcilability.
Rain fell and fell, making

around our dwelling a kind
of moat. Does subsistence

signify an awning
spread over some kind

of life? I used to hide
part of my weekly paycheck

in a pillow slip. I gathered
children in my arms

and built a crossing
of grass and words. Now I dream

that angels with flaming swords
might still sweep down to clear

the way— Perhaps, they live
in the wood; perhaps they are

the ones who tint the skins
of leaves and make whole

groves of trees look lit: on fire,
the hour just before dusk.

~ after “Curious Isle,” Clive Hicks-Jenkins; oil pastel on paper


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


When I return, part of me too wants to fly
under the radar and never be found— wants
the anonymity of walking in streets

where faces give back neither my stare
nor my smile. I want to have breakfast
that will be of no consequence

to the weather but not vice-versa, to pull back
the dragonfruit’s crimson scales and find
a constellation of black dots

decorating a white sky, each one
identical and not identical to the others.
In my other life, I did as I was told:

put on the right shoe before the left,
waited until the telephone finished
speaking; pulled on the cord

that filled the emergency mattress with air.
Can I sit in the shade with the women
who peddle bottles of amber liquid

and packets of green betel leaf chew?
Their faces are old and lined but they know
what tinctures to drink for oblivion

from too much or too little love,
from too much crying; and they know when,
if needed, how to give you the finger.


In response to Via Negativa: Repeated dreams.

Inquire within

(Lord’s day). Waked early, and fell talking one with another with great pleasure of my house at Brampton and that here, and other matters. She tells me what a rogue my boy is, and strange things he has been found guilty of, not fit to name, which vexes, but most of all the unquiett life that my mother makes my father and herself lead through her want of reason.
At last I rose, and with Tom to the French Church at the Savoy, where I never was before — a pretty place it is — and there they have the Common Prayer Book read in French, and, which I never saw before, the minister do preach with his hat off, I suppose in further conformity with our Church.
So to Tom’s to dinner with my wife, and there came Mr. Cooke, and Joyce Norton do also dine there, and after dinner Cooke and I did talk about his journey and Tom’s within a day or two about his mistress. And I did tell him my mind and give him my opinion in it.
So I walked home and found my house made a little clean, and pleases me better and better, and so to church in the afternoon, and after sermon to my study, and there did some things against to-morrow that I go to the Duke’s, and so walked to Tom’s again, and there supped and to bed with good content of mind.

a rogue as unquiet
as a rose

never a book read
in never a church

the mind I found
in my mind

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 28 September 1662.

Repeated Dreams

Peanuts-style cartoon figure with sad face

loss and betrayal
in a town of dead-end streets
I wake with relief


with no enjoyment
I wake ashamed


bits of my body
weaken, fester and fall off
I wake in horror


outside looking in
the sash window slams down
I wake angry


neglected baby
dying in a back bedroom
I wake filled with guilt


a long-lost friend
denies me, turns away
I wake in tears


under the apple tree
dappled roleplay with my dolls
I wake to Autumn


Up betimes and among my workmen, and with great pleasure see the posts in the entry taken down beyond expectation, so that now the boy’s room being laid into the entry do make my coming in very handsome, which was the only fault remaining almost in my house.
We sat all the morning, and in the afternoon I got many jobbs done to my mind, and my wife’s chamber put into a good readiness against her coming, which she did at night, for Will did, by my leave to go, meet her upon the road, and at night did bring me word she was come to my brother’s, by my order. So I made myself ready and put things at home in order, and so went thither to her. Being come, I found her and her maid and dogg very well, and herself grown a little fatter than she was. I was very well pleased to see her, and after supper to bed, and had her company with great content and much mutual love, only I do perceive that there has been falling out between my mother and she, and a little between my father and she; but I hope all is well again, and I perceive she likes Brampton House and seat better than ever I did myself, and tells me how my Lord hath drawn a plot of some alteracions to be made there, and hath brought it up, which I saw and like well. I perceive my Lord and Lady have been very kind to her, and Captn. Ferrers so kind that I perceive I have some jealousy of him, but I know what is the Captain’s manner of carriage, and therefore it is nothing to me. She tells me of a Court like to be in a little time, which troubles me, for I would not willingly go out of town.

my hands all morning meet
to put things in order

grow fat with content
and love a falling out

like the lord and lady
of a nothing little town

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 27 September 1662.


Up betimes and among my workmen. By and by to Sir W. Batten, who with Sir J. M. are going to Chatham this morning, and I was in great pain till they were gone that I might see whether Sir John do speak any thing of my chamber that I am afraid of losing or no. But he did not, and so my mind is a little at more ease. So all day long till night among my workmen, and in the afternoon did cause the partition between the entry and the boy’s room to be pulled down to lay it all into one, which I hope will please me and make my coming in more pleasant.
Late at my office at night writing a letter of excuse to Sir G. Carteret that I cannot wait upon him to-morrow morning to Chatham as I promised, which I am loth to do because of my workmen and my wife’s coming to town to-morrow. So to my lodgings and to bed.

my hat is gone
that I might see
more night

the room
pulled down
to make more night

art cannot wait
upon hat or lodging

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 26 September 1662.

Container terminal

Up betimes and to my workmen, and then to the office, where we sat all the morning. So home to dinner alone and then to my workmen till night, and so to my office till bedtime, and so after supper to my lodgings and to bed.
This evening I sat awhile at Sir W. Batten’s with Sir J. Minnes, &c., where he told us among many other things how in Portugal they scorn to make a seat for a house of office, but they do shit all in pots and so empty them in the river.
I did also hear how the woman, formerly nurse to Mrs. Lemon (Sir W. Batten’s daughter), her child was torn to pieces by two doggs at Walthamstow this week, and is dead, which is very strange.

morning ice
where they shit in the river
a dog is dead

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 25 September 1662.