Mole people

Up and by coach with Sir John Minnes and Sir W. Batten to White Hall to the Duke’s chamber, where, as is usual, my Lord Sandwich and all of us, after his being ready, to his closett, and there discoursed of matters of the Navy, and here Mr. Coventry did do me the great kindness to take notice to the Duke of my pains in making a collection of all contracts about masts, which have been of great use to us. Thence I to my Lord Sandwich’s, to Mr. Moore, to talk a little about business; and then over the Parke (where I first in my life, it being a great frost, did see people sliding with their skeates, which is a very pretty art), to Mr. Coventry’s chamber to St. James’s, where we all met to a venison pasty, and were very merry, Major Norwood being with us, whom they did play upon for his surrendering of Dunkirk.
Here we staid till three or four o’clock; and so to the Council Chamber, where there met the Duke of York, Prince Rupert, Duke of Albemarle, my Lord Sandwich, Sir Wm. Compton, Mr. Coventry, Sir J. Minnes, Sir R. Ford, Sir W. Rider, myself, and Captain Cuttance, as Commissioners for Tangier. And after our Commission was read by Mr. Creed, who I perceive is to be our Secretary, we did fall to discourse of matters: as, first, the supplying them forthwith with victualls; then the reducing it to make way for the money, which upon their reduction is to go to the building of the Mole; and so to other matters, ordered as against next meeting.
This done we broke up, and I to the Cockpitt, with much crowding and waiting, where I saw “The Valiant Cidd” acted, a play I have read with great delight, but is a most dull thing acted, which I never understood before, there being no pleasure in it, though done by Betterton and by Ianthe, And another fine wench that is come in the room of Roxalana nor did the King or queen once smile all the whole play, nor any of the company seem to take any pleasure but what was in the greatness and gallantry of the company.
Thence to my Lord’s, and Mr. Moore being in bed I staid not, but with a link walked home and got thither by 12 o’clock, knocked up my boy, and put myself to bed.

the life of a mole
this crowding and waiting

where light is dull
and we take
pleasure in ink

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

Adagio with wings

The sound ice cubes make falling
to the floor of the catch tray

frightens the birds. They nudge the doors
of their wire cages open and fly

straight to the hills, though it is well known
there are nights when hunters lie in wait

with bonfires and their hundred feet of netting.
But the city makes them jittery: steam rises

in sad columns from factory sweatshops,
lost shoes dangle by their laces from electric

wires; window after window adorned
with mannequins’ molded faces, days

stampeding into each other. Some birds
wear cowls around their faces. Some

have tufted beards. In the lowland markets,
it is possible to find the smallest of them

trapped in woven rush baskets,
their plumage unnatural in forced neon.

Those are some of the saddest ones. They die
after a few days, all memory of song erased.

To the Lady of Good Voyage

Cloak of pale blue painted over a frock
of muddy white, like some vintage 1950s
Red Cross volunteer uniform— except

there are pinpoint flecks of gold
in her hair, describing a tiara. I have her
still, on the nightstand next to the radio

alarm: small enough to fit in my palm,
fired clay figure of the Virgen de Antipolo,
Lady of Good Voyage my mother picked up

after a pilgrimage to her shrine.
When I left my children for a few years
in her care, she closed my fingers around

the bell shape of its skirt, saying
Keep her always with you. Sometimes
I wonder if instead, it should have been

my daughters— if I could have found
a way to carefully fold and carry
their childhoods as I crossed the sea

into our unfamiliar future; and then, if I
could have set them down and dusted the ordeals
of travel gently from their shoulders.


In response to Via Negativa: Marking Time.


The women of the Apostolate had fallen in love
with the Belgian priest: his copper curls,

his porcelain blue eyes. They vied
with each other to bring him treats: fish

and fruit, native cakes sticky with coconut
milk and sugar. They formed a choir and practiced

twice a week in the rectory. Their husbands
were not jealous, or they did not show it—

How could they? If this man was their conductor
to the afterlife, surely he, too, could be bribed.


In response to Via Negativa: Skylark.