Up betimes and among my workmen, and among them all the morning till noon, and then to my Lord Crew’s, and there dined alone with him, and among other things he do advise me by all means to keep my Lord Sandwich from proceeding too far in the business of Tangier. First, for that he is confident the King will not be able to find money for the building the Mole; and next, for that it is to be done as we propose it by the reducing of the garrison; and then either my Lord must oppose the Duke of York, who will have the Irish regiment under the command of Fitzgerald continued, or else my Lord Peterborough, who is concerned to have the English continued, and he, it seems, is gone back again merely upon my Lord Sandwich’s encouragement.
Thence to Mr. Wotton, the shoemaker’s, and there bought a pair of boots, cost me 30s., and he told me how Bird hath lately broke his leg, while he was fencing in “Aglaura,” upon the stage, and that the new theatre of all will be ready against term.
So to my brother’s, and there discoursed with him and Mr. Cooke about their journey to Tom’s mistress again, and I did speak with Mr. Croxton about measuring of silk flags.
So by water home and to my workmen, and so at night till late at my office, inditing a letter from Tom to his mistress upon his sending her a watch for a token, and so home and to supper, and to my lodgings and to bed.
It is my content that by several hands to-day I hear that I have the name of good-natured man among the poor people that come to the office.

alone in far Tangier
who will have me
a bird in a theater of flags

at night I send a token hand
among the poor

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 24 September 1662.

Las Californias, 1769

Up betimes and with my workmen, taking some pleasure to see my work come towards an end, though I am vexed every day enough with their delay.
We met and sat all the morning, dined at home alone, and with my workmen all the afternoon, and in the evening by water and land to Deptford to give order for things about my house, and came back again by coach with Sir G. Carteret and Sir W. Batten (who has been at a Pay to-day), and to my office and did some business, and so to supper and to my lodgings, and so to bed.
In our coming home Sir G. Carteret told me how in most cabaretts in France they have writ upon the walls in fair letters to be read, “Dieu te regarde,” as a good lesson to be in every man’s mind, and have also, as in Holland, their poor’s box; in both which places at the making all contracts and bargains they give so much, which they call God’s penny.

the land has been our home
they have walls

in every mind a box
they call God

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 23 September 1662. On 23 September 2015, Pope Francis canonized the Spanish friar Junípero Serra, who in 1769 founded the first mission to convert (and eventually enslave) the native people in what is now California.

After the Equinox

black-and-white photo of a partly filled wine glass on an outside table

(Sept. 2007) 
The sun is without warmth now,
but strong and low and
into your eyes,
on your skin,
and on the pale wine
in your glass. 

(Sept. 2015)
Eight autumns on, still needing
to remind yourself:
while it lasts!


Up betimes among my workmen, hastening to get things ready against my wife’s coming, and so with Sir J. M., Sir W. B., and Sir W. P., by coach to St. James’s, and there with the Duke. I did give him an account of all things past of late; but I stood in great pain, having a great fit of the colic, having catched cold yesterday by putting off my stockings to wipe my toes, but at last it lessened, and then I was pretty well again, but in pain all day more or less. Thence I parted from them and walked to Greatorex’s, and there with him did overlook many pretty things, new inventions, and have bespoke a weather glass of him. Thence to my Lord Crew’s, and dined with the servants, he having dined; and so, after dinner, up to him, and sat an hour talking with him of publique, and my Lord’s private businesses, with much content. So to my brother Tom’s, where Mr. Cooke expected me, and did go with me to see Mr. Young and Mr. Lull in Blackfryers, kindred of Tom’s mistress, where I was very well used, and do find things to go in the business to my good content. Thence to Mr. Townsend, and did there talk with Mr. Young himself also, and then home and to my study, and so to my lodgings and to bed.

Time as thin as pain,
yesterday lessened
and pretty,

we invent a bespoke
weather of the hour
and find things
to own and talk to.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 22 September 1662.


poem ending with lines from Dave Bonta’s “Among the living

Toward the end, it isn’t actually
the road we travel, but a hallway
reaching only from the bedroom
to the bath, and perhaps we will
require a companion for even this
small journey. Each step we take

becomes a victory. Some of us
brighten with delightful realization:
we are walking in the slippers
of our dearest dead: our fathers,
cousins, elders, heroines. We smile,
shuffle slowly, anticipate reunion.

They know we’re coming,
we’ve already written letters
to the dead and the mad.
They live all within
a door or two.


(Lord’s day). Got up betimes and walked to St. James’s, and there to Mr. Coventry, and sat an hour with him, talking of business of the office with great pleasure, and I do perceive he do speak his whole mind to me. Thence to the Park, where by appointment I met my brother Tom and Mr. Cooke, and there spoke about Tom’s business, and to good satisfaction. The Queen coming by in her coach, going to her chappell at St. James’s (the first time it hath been ready for her), I crowded after her, and I got up to the room where her closet is; and there stood and saw the fine altar, ornaments, and the fryers in their habits, and the priests come in with their fine copes and many other very fine things. I heard their musique too; which may be good, but it did not appear so to me, neither as to their manner of singing, nor was it good concord to my ears, whatever the matter was. The Queene very devout: but what pleased me best was to see my dear Lady Castlemaine, who, tho’ a Protestant, did wait upon the Queen to chappell. By and by, after mass was done, a fryer with his cowl did rise up and preach a sermon in Portuguese; which I not understanding, did go away, and to the King’s chappell, but that was done; and so up to the Queen’s presence-chamber, where she and the King was expected to dine: but she staying at St. James’s, they were forced to remove the things to the King’s presence; and there he dined alone, and I with Mr. Fox very finely; but I see I must not make too much of that liberty for my honour sake only, not but that I am very well received.
After dinner to Tom’s, and so home, and after walking a good while in the garden I went to my uncle Wight’s, where I found my aunt in mourning and making sad stories for the loss of her dear sister Nicholls, of which I should have been very weary but that pretty Mrs. Margaret Wight came in and I was much pleased with her company, and so all supper did vex my aunt talking in commendation of the mass which I had been at to-day, but excused it afterwards that it was only to make mirth. And so after supper broke up and home, and after putting my notes in order against to-morrow I went to bed.

The mind is a crowded altar.
I hear the music
of an owl in the garden
mourning the loss of all the notes.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 21 September 1662.

Among the living

Up betimes and to my office, where I found my brother Tom, who tells me that his mistress’s mother has wrote a letter to Mr. Lull of her full satisfaction about Tom, of which I was glad, and do think the business will take. All this morning we sat at the office, Sir J. Minnes and I. And so dined at home, and among my workmen all the afternoon, and in the evening Tom brought Mr. Lull to me, a friend of his mistress, a serious man, with whom I spoke, and he gives me a good account of her and of their satisfaction in Tom, all which pleases me well. We walked a good while in the garden together, and did give him a glass of wine at my office, and so parted.
So to write letters by the post and news of this to my father concerning Tom, and so home to supper and to my lodgings and to bed.
To-night my barber sent me his man to trim me, who did live in King Street in Westminster lately, and tells me that three or four that I knew in that street, tradesmen, are lately fallen mad, and some of them dead, and the others continue mad. They live all within a door or two one of another.

Rot is rot: full satisfaction
or the afternoon lull
at the office.

So write letters
to the dead and the mad.
They live all within
a door or two.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 20 September 1662. (Post title stolen from Anthrax.)


Does every goal seem more or less attainable
with a number attached to it, preferably
with many zeros? Pilgrims trek 2,640,000 feet

or roughly 500 miles on trails that wind from the French
border through Galician villages on the Camino de Santiago,
sleeping in farmhouses or inns along the way.

The journey can take anywhere from 20 days to a couple
of months, depending on one’s speed and how often
stops are taken. Labyrinth walkers, in comparison,

sketch a smaller compass: a little over a thousand
steps in silence, spiraling from the outside
to the center and then back again.

Most everyone I see nowadays wears a circlet
of rubber around one wrist, which counts out the time
spent walking, running, climbing stairs, sleeping;

the rate at which the heart’s hidden engine pulses
at work and at rest. And this weekend, my brother in law
is doing a performance walk, pushing a custom-made cart

filled with drawing supplies. Walking on Route 45 from Chicago
to Kankakee and on to Urbana, the end of his journey will be
at a gallery where he intends to begin a drawing marathon,

not stopping until he has filled all 128 pages of the notebooks
he has made by hand for this trip. The title of this duration
performance is If I Could Bring You Things You Never Had

through which I understand there is a kind of deconstruction
of the idea of both the journey and arrival. Rain has slowed
him down already; and the going is not made easy by encounters

with different kinds of surfaces, motorists, and I imagine
people who may not understand his purpose. At stops, he posts
pictures and updates: one of them about the quiet at 4 am,

another about the longing for someone to rub his aching feet.
Before he started, he told an interviewer the only incentive
that mattered in planning for a walk was that someone

or something was waiting for him when he arrived.
In World War II, when the Japanese Imperial army
rounded up men and forced them on the long march

to Bataan, 650 American prisoners of war and close to 10,000
Filipino males died before they reached their destination.
I don’t know the details of the stories, but in one of them,

my father was much younger than my brother in law, and lost
his left pinky fingernail on that walk. In this as in other
walks there is no one version of a finish line—

No one waiting with a wreath of laurels or a medal,
no one waiting in stands to cheer and wave banners.
Alone in a field, it might be possible to ask

Why am I here? How do I travel? There is no
universal stopwatch, no better or worse time
to completion— only the moment in which

the figure enters the landscape, adjusts
the straps or handlebars, puts one foot in front of
the other; willingly does so again, and again.


In response to From His Back Door to the Outhaus is 150 Miles.


Up betimes and to my office, and at 9 o’clock, none of the rest going, I went alone to Deptford, and there went on where they left last night to pay Woolwich yard, and so at noon dined well, being chief at the table, and do not see but every body begins to give me as much respect and honour as any of the rest. After dinner to Pay again, and so till 9 at night, my great trouble being that I was forced to begin an ill practice of bringing down the wages of servants, for which people did curse me, which I do not love. At night, after I had eaten a cold pullet, I walked by brave moonshine, with three or four armed men to guard me, to Redriffe, it being a joy to my heart to think of the condition that I am now in, that people should of themselves provide this for me, unspoke to. I hear this walk is dangerous to walk alone by night, and much robbery committed here. So from thence by water home, and so to my lodgings to bed.

at night a body begins to ring

I love a cold moon
it being dangerous to walk
on water

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 19 September 1662.