January 2016

There is a saying: the smallest hurt
lodged in the smallest crevice
of the body is broadcast

throughout its constitution— wisdom
teeth crowding the walls of the mouth,
an ingrown toenail inflaming

the angled groove of the nail bed. Where
does it not hurt right now? Pale
follicles of hair seeded in rows

all over the scalp. The fringe formed
of eyelashes, their hinged movement
barely raising a current of air.

A solemn fast for the King’s murther, and we were forced to keep it more than we would have done, having forgot to take any victuals into the house.
I to church in the forenoon, and Mr. Mills made a good sermon upon David’s heart smiting him for cutting off the garment of Saul.
Home, and whiled away some of the afternoon at home talking with my wife. So to my office, and all alone making up my month’s accounts, which to my great trouble I find that I am got no further than 640l. But I have had great expenses this month. I pray God the next may be a little better, as I hope it will. In the evening my manuscript is brought home handsomely bound, to my full content; and now I think I have a better collection in reference to the Navy, and shall have by the time I have filled it, than any of my predecessors. So home and eat something such as we have, bread and butter and milk, and so to bed.

in the heart of noon
making up my accounts

God may be
little better than bread


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 30 January 1662/63

We should be close now,
but then again it could be
another decade or two.

Handhold after handhold,
we learn by touch the longest
part of a minute, the bluest

edges of a shadow.
Inside each cell, there is
either breathing or not

breathing. Soft grey
is the color of certain
parts of earliest

morning. Noon is always
overhead, a chandelier
whose sounds reflect

circles struck by birds
when they’ve returned
to the river.

The moon appears
only as reminder: it’s time
to fold your sleeve into a pillow.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Landmark.

I envision the room where you spend those
other days, the ones you don’t believe. Does
it hold a sofa, sink-holes straddled by blue
plaid cushions, red lines of Murray of Atholl
tartan diagramming equations from the theory
of relativity?

If it does, invite me.

I would much like to migrate into such
a living room,
perch on the edge of space-time,
compliment the contents of the empty
frames displaying nothing on the wall.


In response to Dave Bonta’s “Believer.” Title drawn from a quotation by Hermann Minkowski.

Lay chiding, and then pleased with my wife in bed, and did consent to her having a new waistcoate made her for that which she lost yesterday. So to the office, and sat all the morning. At noon dined with Mr. Coventry at Sir J. Minnes his lodgings, the first time that ever I did yet, and am sorry for doing it now, because of obliging me to do the like to him again. Here dined old Captn. Marsh of the Tower with us. So to visit Sir W. Pen, and then to the office, and there late upon business by myself, my wife being sick to-day. So home and to supper and to bed.

lost
all morning in a marsh
the tower with us


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 29 January 1662/63

When someone curses
you and your stars, switch
to the tarot deck. Cast
your runes to approach
the future in a different way.

The stars reveal The Future
only to a select few,
which is why we had to invent
these other ways to divine
our ever present ancestor,
The Future. We squint
to see what it holds
in its wrinkled hands.

The Future, mysterious and hooded,
prefers the shadows, the galaxies
hidden to our casual eyes.
Very few of us want to know.
We prefer the icy sparkle, the knowledge
in our stars kept light years away.

But if you listen, you can hear
our destinies in every insect song.
Every butterfly sighting reveals
our future: the crawling
creature cocooned
until a moment of brief
beauty, the rush skyward,
the descent into the dust
that will reclaim us all.


Inspired by Laura M. Kaminski’s Ghazal with lines from The Book of Flight and Luisa A. Igloria’s Trusting the process.

Do you never want to sleep again
on the ground floor because once
a flood rose in the night to pull
whole towns into the sea?

Do you think every time you wince
in that hollow beneath your ribs,
it means you have forgotten how joy
can fill the belly as well as pain?

Do you think only a cascade of hot
tears can melt the hard little chips
that lodge in the unsuspecting
corners of the day?

Do you think, because you sliced one
of two glowing persimmons open only to find
it puckered your tongue, that the other
won’t continue to quietly ripen?

 

In response to Via Negativa: Believer.

Up and all the morning at my office doing business, and at home seeing my painters’ work measured. So to dinner and abroad with my wife, carrying her to Unthank’s, where she alights, and I to my Lord Sandwich’s, whom I find missing his ague fit to-day, and is pretty well, playing at dice (and by this I see how time and example may alter a man; he being now acquainted with all sorts of pleasures and vanities, which heretofore he never thought of nor loved, nor, it may be, hath allowed) with Ned Pickering and his page Laud. Thence to the Temple to my cozen Roger Pepys, and thence to Serjt. Bernard to advise with him and retain him against my uncle, my heart and head being very heavy with the business. Thence to Wotton’s, the shoemaker, and there bought another pair of new boots, for the other I bought my last would not fit me, and here I drank with him and his wife, a pretty woman, they broaching a vessel of syder a-purpose for me. So home, and there found my wife come home, and seeming to cry; for bringing home in a coach her new ferrandin waistecoate, in Cheapside, a man asked her whether that was the way to the Tower; and while she was answering him, another, on the other side, snatched away her bundle out of her lap, and could not be recovered, but ran away with it, which vexes me cruelly, but it cannot be helped.
So to my office, and there till almost 12 at night with Mr. Lewes, learning to understand the manner of a purser’s account, which is very hard and little understood by my fellow officers, and yet mighty necessary. So at last with great content broke up and home to supper and bed.

the morning road
where she alights

and I who never loved
my heart a heavy shoe

cannot understand a purse
which is little yet mighty


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 28 January 1662/63

What am I hiding in my left
palm? in my right? If you guessed
a freckled blue stone, you are only
partly right and you will need
to pry the artifact from its
reluctant container. A needle
rests half in, half out of the linen
stretched across an embroidery hoop.
See how neatly you can form
the letters of your name
because a circle has been drawn
so tightly around as a frame.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Among royals.