Open road

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

…which I did, and by water betimes to the Tower and so home, where I shifted myself, being to dine abroad, and so being also trimmed, which is a thing I have very seldom done of late, I set to my office and then met and sit all the morning, and at noon we all to the Trinity House, where we treated, very dearly, I believe, the officers of the Ordnance; where was Sir W. Compton and the rest and the Lieutenant of the Tower.
We had much and good music, which was my best entertainment. Sir Wm. Compton I heard talk with great pleasure of the difference between the fleet now and in Queen Elisabeth’s days; where, in 88, she had but 36 sail great and small, in the world; and ten rounds of powder was their allowance at that time against the Spaniard. After Sir W. Compton and Mr. Coventry, and some of the best of the rest were gone, I grew weary of staying with Sir Williams both, and the more for that my Lady Batten and her crew, at least half a score, come into the room, and I believe we shall pay size for it; but ‘tis very pleasant to see her in her hair under her hood, and how by little and little she would fain be a gallant; but, Lord! the company she keeps about her are like herself, that she may be known by them what she is. Being quite weary I stole from them and to my office, where I did business till 9 at night, and so to my lodgings to bed.

the road is a thing
I seldom sit on

where I hear the difference
between fleet and gone

weary of staying
to pay for air

how little I would keep
like an office at night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 4 September 1662.

Buddha’s Missing Eyelid

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury—
From fear of being called poor actors, some make no sound;

instead, observe how others build their soundless artifice
then call it art, something that struts and makes the sounds

that real hearts make, but without the suspect sound of old-
fashioned sincerity. The smallest sound that seems to cloy

is banned. Instead, a meta-sound’s encouraged, a way
to avoid having to make the sound of the cry itself,

avoid having to sound much too sincere, much too trusting
in the world’s ability to volley back a sound that says

We hear the sound you make in the night, in solitude:
sound that leaks out from close shuttered rooms,

sound of trains, of surf churned in the wake of vessels seeking harbor;
sound that issued from the throats of those now face-down in the sand.

sand in throats
that harbor seeking,

the shuttered
solitude
in you

says that a world’s too
much itself to avoid

instead seems
suspect, struts
artifice


A reverse erasure from “Sound and Fury: a Sonnenizio” by Luisa A Igloria.

After Trakl

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes, but now the days begin to shorten, and so whereas I used to rise by four o’clock, it is not broad daylight now till after five o’clock, so that it is after five before I do rise. To my office, and about 8 o’clock I went over to Redriffe, and walked to Deptford, where I found Mr. Coventry and Sir W. Pen beginning the pay, it being my desire to be there to-day because it is the first pay that Mr. Coventry has been at, and I would be thought to be as much with Mr. Coventry as I can. Here we staid till noon, and by that time paid off the Breda, and then to dinner at the tavern, where I have obtained that our commons is not so large as they used to be, which I am glad to see. After dinner by water to the office, and there we met and sold the Weymouth, Successe, and Fellowship hulkes, where pleasant to see how backward men are at first to bid; and yet when the candle is going out, how they bawl and dispute afterwards who bid the most first.
And here I observed one man cunninger than the rest that was sure to bid the last man, and to carry it; and inquiring the reason, he told me that just as the flame goes out the smoke descends, which is a thing I never observed before, and by that he do know the instant when to bid last, which is very pretty. In our discourse in the boat Mr. Coventry told us how the Fanatiques and the Presbyters, that did intend to rise about this time, did choose this day as the most auspicious to them in their endeavours against monarchy: it being fatal twice to the King, and the day of Oliver’s death. But, blessed be God! all is likely to be quiet, I hope.
After the sale I walked to my brother’s, in my way meeting with Dr. Fairbrother, of whom I enquired what news in Church matters. He tells me, what I heard confirmed since, that it was fully resolved by the King’s new Council that an indulgence should be granted the Presbyters; but upon the Bishop of London’s speech (who is now one of the most powerful men in England with the King), their minds were wholly turned. And it is said that my Lord Albemarle did oppose him most; but that I do believe is only in appearance. He told me also that most of the Presbyters now begin to wish they had complied, now they see that no Indulgence will be granted them, which they hoped for; and that the Bishop of London hath taken good care that places are supplied with very good and able men, which is the only thing that will keep all quiet.
I took him in the tavern at Puddle dock, but neither he nor I drank any of the wine we called for, but left it, and so after discourse parted, and Mr. Townsend not being at home I went to my brother’s, and there heard how his love matter proceeded, which do not displease me, and so by water to White Hall to my Lord’s lodgings, where he being to go to Hinchingbroke to-morrow morning, I staid and fiddled with Will. Howe some new tunes very pleasant, and then my Lord came in and had much kind talk with him, and then to bed with Mr. Moore there alone. So having taken my leave of my Lord before I went to bed, I resolved to rise early and be gone without more speaking to him

Now the days begin to shorten
and when the candle is going out

the smoke descends
like a mind turned quiet

and we hear love take leave
without speaking…


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 3 September 1662.

All of it, I say

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“O loveliness. O lucky beauty.” ~ Ellen Bass

when I’m asked if I remember— Which implies that I place
full trust in memory, that faulty, falling-down piece

of machinery that sits in a dirty garage among plastic
tubs and boxes of stuff no one wants to keep in the house
anymore and yet can’t bear to junk for good. Which is to say,

after all, I’m a creature of attachments: forever aspiring
toward that state of imagined rapture or transcendence but
never quite evolved enough to lift off the scales completely

as light. But I like to think I try— Every day,
I turn a fragment this way and that; in mindful
scrutiny, I wrap myself around it to investigate

what kind of joy it might have given me. Release, release,
is the instruction I am supposed to learn, though there are
days when it is impossible to sever the beauty from the pain.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Grownup.

Until You Left

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“Until I left anew,
I did not know what depth of sadness possessed me”
~ Luisa Igloria

until you left i did not know
that the mountain’s stillness had a name,
that this name derived from its
stoic watchfulness as tree after dignified tree
is felled and becomes “more useful”:
bench back scratcher fat fat buddha
of prosperity for taiwanese shops
decorative bulol for landscaped homes
varnished chess boards
for balikbayan relatives

sometimes the mountain caves in,
buries even the innocents,
whoever stands in its way,
angered by mining companies’
intrusions into its innards
and the improbable high-rise
rentals rising out of a quake belt

until you left i did not know
that places we love
we also in the end leave

your lesson is noted:
learn not to look back
like Lot’s wife


In response to Via Negativa: Prodigal Lyric.

Sound and Fury: a Sonnenizio

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury—
From fear of being called poor actors, some make no sound;

instead, observe how others build their soundless artifice
then call it art, something that struts and makes the sounds

that real hearts make, but without the suspect sound of old-
fashioned sincerity. The smallest sound that seems to cloy

is banned. Instead, a meta-sound’s encouraged, a way
to avoid having to make the sound of the cry itself,

avoid having to sound much too sincere, much too trusting
in the world’s ability to volley back a sound that says

We hear the sound you make in the night, in solitude:
sound that leaks out from close shuttered rooms,

sound of trains, of surf churned in the wake of vessels seeking harbor;
sound that issued from the throats of those now face-down in the sand.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Diner.

Appearance

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes and got myself ready alone, and so to my office, my mind much troubled for my key that I lost yesterday, and so to my workmen and put them in order, and so to my office, and we met all the morning, and then dined at Sir W. Batten’s with Sir W. Pen, and so to my office again all the afternoon, and in the evening wrote a letter to Mr. Cooke, in the country, in behalf of my brother Tom, to his mistress, it being the first of my appearing in it, and if she be as Tom sets her out, it may be very well for him. So home and eat a bit, and so to my lodging to bed.

mind troubled
for my key that I lost—
the first pear


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 2 September 1662.

Grownup

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes at my lodging and to my office and among my workmen, and then with Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen by coach to St. James’s, this being the first day of our meeting there by the Duke’s order; but when we come, we found him going out by coach with his Duchess, and he told us he was to go abroad with the Queen to-day (to Durdans, it seems, to dine with my Lord Barkeley, where I have been very merry when I was a little boy); so we went and staid a little at Mr. Coventry’s chamber, and I to my Lord Sandwich’s, who is gone to wait upon the King and Queen today. And so Mr. Paget being there, Will Howe and I and he played over some things of Locke’s that we used to play at sea, that pleased us three well, it being the first music I have heard a great while, so much has my business of late taken me off from all my former delights.
By and by by water home, and there dined alone, and after dinner with my brother Tom’s two men I removed all my goods out of Sir W. Pen’s house into one room that I have with much ado got ready at my house, and so I am to be quit of any further obligation to him. So to my office, but missing my key, which I had in my hand just now, makes me very angry and out of order, it being a thing that I hate in others, and more in myself, to be careless of keys, I thinking another not fit to be trusted that leaves a key behind their hole. One thing more vexes me: my wife writes me from the country that her boy plays the rogue there, and she is weary of him, and complains also of her maid Sarah, of which I am also very sorry.
Being thus out of temper, I could do little at my office, but went home and eat a bit, and so to my lodging to bed.

When I was a boy we used to play
at sea, that first music.
So has business taken me
from all my former delights.

I am quit of any obligation
to my missing key.
My hand writes me from
the country of temper.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 1 September 1662.

Dream of Flight, with Bus Attendant

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“Kharon: Take the oar and push her to. Now pay your fare and go.”
~ Aristophanes, “Frogs”

Like all the other girls at the ticket counter,
this one’s young, smartly dressed in red and yellow.

Her jaunty cap, aslant, dips slightly below
the brow. You wonder if she’d be better

off walking an aircraft’s narrow aisles,
pushing carts of water, soda, coffee, tea,

foil-wrapped peanuts, crackers, cheese—
than listing left and right as the express

bus lumbers down the mountain road. It’s raining hard
and the cracked window gaskets leak, so she stoops

every few rows to apply a layer of old newspapers
under our feet. She comes back shortly, still

smiling: old-fashioned one hole ticket punch
in hand, settling us in for the six hour ride.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Refugee's prayer.