“Nothing gold can stay.” ~ Robert Frost
They wanted to know what set
the counters off, what made
the cells in his blood divide,
how it was they were wildly,
overly proliferating— And so
the doctors pulled from vein
or deep in the pith, sample
after sample. The last one
spoke of how it would feel
when the aspirating needle
punched through numbed layers:
like being tackled, like running
into the end of a pole. Fat then
muscle then bone, blunt surface
trauma paid as coin for entrance
into one dimly lit tunnel
of the body’s amphitheatre.
Within walls, fluids rush through
elaborate pipes, an architecture still
more or less the same as in medieval
times. Angled sight from peering down
a tiny scope: one end of the probe
tipped gold like a beacon, hook
upon which some meaning is meant
to return; and on a table,
quiet hum of the centrifuge.
In the morning to my office, where, after I had drank my morning draft at Will’s with Ethell and Mr. Stevens, I went and told part of the excise money till twelve o’clock, and then called on my wife and took her to Mr. Pierces, she in the way being exceedingly troubled with a pair of new pattens, and I vexed to go so slow, it being late. There when we came we found Mrs. Carrick very fine, and one Mr. Lucy, who called one another husband and wife, and after dinner a great deal of mad stir. There was pulling off Mrs. bride’s and Mr. bridegroom’s ribbons; with a great deal of fooling among them that I and my wife did not like. Mr. Lucy and several other gentlemen coming in after dinner, swearing and singing as if they were mad, only he singing very handsomely. There came in afterwards Mr. Southerne, clerk to Mr. Blackburne, and with him Lambert, lieutenant of my Lord’s ship, and brought with them the declaration that came out to-day from the Parliament, wherein they declare for law and gospel, and for tythes; but I do not find people apt to believe them.
After this taking leave I went to my father’s, and my wife staying there, he and I went to speak with Mr. Crumlum (in the meantime, while it was five o’clock, he being in the school, we went to my cozen Tom Pepys’ shop, the turner in Paul’s Churchyard, and drank with him a pot of ale); he gave my father directions what to do about getting my brother an exhibition, and spoke very well of my brother.
Thence back with my father home, where he and I spoke privately in the little room to my sister Pall about stealing of things as my wife’s scissars and my maid’s book, at which my father was much troubled.
Hence home with my wife and so to Whitehall, where I met with Mr. Hunt and Luellin, and drank with them at Marsh’s, and afterwards went up and wrote to my Lord by the post.
This day the Parliament gave order that the late Committee of Safety should come before them this day se’nnight, and all their papers, and their model of Government that they had made, to be brought in with them. So home and talked with my wife about our dinner on Thursday.
we call one another mad
like singing scissors
troubled by a committee of papers
and their mode of mad talk
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 24 January 1659/60. (See the original erasure.)
(Lord’s day). Up, after some talk with my wife, soberly, upon yesterday’s difference, and made good friends, and to church to hear Mr. Mills, and so home, and Mr. Moore and my brother Tom dined with me. My wife not being well to-day did not rise. In the afternoon to church again, and heard drowsy Mr. Graves, and so to see Sir W. Pen, who continues ill in bed, but grows better and better every day. Thence to Sir W. Batten’s, and there staid awhile and heard how Sir R. Ford’s daughter is married to a fellow without friends’ consent, and the match carried on and made up at Will Griffin’s, our doorkeeper’s. So to my office and did a little business, and so home and to bed.
I talked to my brother to-day, who desires me to give him leave to look after his mistress still; and he will not have me put to any trouble or obligation in it, which I did give him leave to do.
I hear to-day how old rich Audley is lately dead, and left a very great estate, and made a great many poor familys rich, not all to one. Among others, one Davis, my old schoolfellow at Paul’s, and since a bookseller in Paul’s Church Yard: and it seems do forgive one man 60,000l. which he had wronged him of, but names not his name; but it is well known to be the scrivener in Fleet Street, at whose house he lodged. There is also this week dead a poulterer, in Gracious Street, which was thought rich, but not so rich, that hath left 800l. per annum, taken in other men’s names, and 40,000 Jacobs in gold.
sober graves grow up
to look still
to leave a great family
among the wrong names
the riven street is rich
in other men’s gold
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 23 November 1662.
In the morning called out to carry 20l. to Mr. Downing, which I did and came back, and finding Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, I took him to the Axe and gave him his morning draft. Thence to my office and there did nothing but make up my balance. Came home and found my wife dressing of the girl’s head, by which she was made to look very pretty. I went out and paid Wilkinson what I did owe him, and brought a piece of beef home for dinner. Thence I went out and paid Waters, the vintner, and went to see Mrs. Jem, where I found my Lady Wright, but Scott was so drunk that he could not be seen. Here I staid and made up Mrs. Ann’s bills, and played a game or two at cards, and thence to Westminster Hall, it being very dark. I paid Mrs. Michell, my bookseller, and back to Whitehall, and in the garden, going through to the Stone Gallery I fell into a ditch, it being very dark. At the Clerk’s chamber I met with Simons and Luellin, and went with them to Mr. Mount’s chamber at the Cock Pit, where we had some rare pot venison, and ale to abundance till almost twelve at night, and after a song round we went home. This day the Parliament sat late, and resolved of the declaration to be printed for the people’s satisfaction, promising them a great many good things.
down came the axe and found my head
which made pretty beef
I stayed and played a white stone
being round and great
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 23 January 1659/60. (See the original erasure.)
Why is it the young are so convinced
we want to hold them back, keep them
from what they think they want the most
to do? In my time I was no different—
Little hot-head, little handful of matches
kept discreetly under the hood. Salt, saltpeter;
kegs of combustibles. Mistress of the discreet
ruse, the decorous alibi, tortured by sighs.
A field in love with the sea, a ship with land:
When finally you get to cross the threshold
and look back from the murky forest of middle
age, you laugh. How was it possible not to see?
With its window dressing, desire makes everything
under the sun look shiny, new again: original.
In response to Via Negativa: Conflicts of interest.
This morning, from some difference between my wife and Sarah, her maid, my wife and I fell out cruelly, to my great discontent. But I do see her set so against the wench, whom I take to be a most extraordinary good servant, that I was forced for the wench’s sake to bid her get her another place, which shall cost some trouble to my wife, however, before I suffer to be.
Thence to the office, where I sat all the morning, then dined; Mr. Moore with me, at home, my wife busy putting her furniture in order. Then he and I out, and he home and I to my cozen Roger Pepys to advise about treating with my uncle Thomas, and thence called at the Wardrobe on Mr. Moore again, and so home, and after doing much business at my office I went home and caused a new fashion knocker to be put on my door, and did other things to the putting my house in order, and getting my outward door painted, and the arch.
This day I bought the book of country dances against my wife’s woman Gosnell comes, who dances finely; and there meeting Mr. Playford he did give me his Latin songs of Mr. Deering’s, which he lately printed.
This day Mr. Moore told me that for certain the Queen-Mother is married to my Lord St. Albans, and he is like to be made Lord Treasurer.
Newes that Sir J. Lawson hath made up a peace now with Tunis and Tripoli, as well as Argiers, by which he will come home very highly honoured.
this cruel discontent
we take to be a good servant
forced for the sake of wardrobe and fashion
to put on other things
getting my war paint
and the arch book of dances
the play of bans like news
made up well
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 22 November 1662.
I went in the morning to Mr. Messum’s, where I met with W. Thurburn and sat with him in his pew. A very eloquent sermon about the duty of all to give good example in our lives and conversation, which I fear he himself was most guilty of not doing. After sermon, at the door by appointment my wife met me, and so to my father’s to dinner, where we had not been to my shame in a fortnight before. After dinner my father shewed me a letter from Mr. Widdrington, of Christ’s College, in Cambridge, wherein he do express very great kindness for my brother, and my father intends that my brother shall go to him.
To church in the afternoon to Mr. Herring, where a lazy poor sermon. And so home with Mrs. Turner and sitting with her a while we went to my father’s where we supt very merry, and so home. This day I began to put on buckles to my shoes, which I have bought yesterday of Mr. Wotton.
eloquent lives I fear:
the door to a college
the herring poor
my father’s buckle
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 22 January 1659/60. (See the original erasure.)
I’ve scored the skin
of the pomegranate,
sectioned and pulled
it apart from the center,
pith outward. Here
are the shining jewels.
Why not eat? They are
uncountable and sweet.
We’ll see each other
again on the other side.
In response to Via Negativa: Helpless.
Up early in finishing my accounts and writing to my Lord and from thence to my Lord’s and took leave of Mr. Sheply and possession of all the keys and the house. Thence to my office for some money to pay Mr. Sheply and sent it him by the old man. I then went to Mr. Downing who chid me because I did not give him notice of some of his guests failed him but I told him that I sent our porter to tell him and he was not within, but he told me that he was within till past twelve o’clock. So the porter or he lied. Thence to my office where nothing to do. Then with Mr. Hawly, he and I went to Mr. Crew’s and dined there. Thence into London, to Mr. Vernon’s and I received my 25l. due by bill for my troopers’ pay. Then back again to Steadman’s at the Mitre, in Fleet-street, in our way calling on Mr. Fage, who told me how the City have some hopes of Monk. Thence to the Mitre, where I drank a pint of wine, the house being in fitting for Banister to come hither from Paget’s. Thence to Mrs. Jem and gave her 5l.. So home and left my money and to Whitehall where Luellin and I drank and talked together an hour at Marsh’s and so up to the clerks’ room, where poor Mr. Cook, a black man, that is like to be put out of his clerk’s place, came and railed at me for endeavouring to put him out and get myself in, when I was already in a good condition. But I satisfied him and after I had wrote a letter there to my Lord, wherein I gave him an account how this day Lenthall took his chair again, and resolved a declaration to be brought in on Monday next to satisfy the world what they intend to do. So home and to bed.
all the keys failed
but tell me that a lock lied
or to have some hope
and talk together an hour
like clerks on a Monday
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 21 January 1659/60. (See the original erasure.)
Within all day long, helping to put up my hangings in my house in my wife’s chamber, to my great content. In the afternoon I went to speak to Sir J. Minnes at his lodgings, where I found many great ladies, and his lodgings made very fine indeed.
At night to supper and to bed: this night having first put up a spitting sheet, which I find very convenient. This day come the King’s pleasure-boats from Calais, with the Dunkirk money, being 400,000 pistols.
a great peak
at night is a pit
I find pleasure in pistols
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 21 November 1662.