Age of extinction

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up and to the office all the morning, and dined alone with my wife at noon, and then to my office all the afternoon till night, putting business in order with great content in my mind. Having nothing now in my mind of trouble in the world, but quite the contrary, much joy, except only the ending of our difference with my uncle Thomas, and the getting of the bills well over for my building of my house here, which however are as small and less than any of the others. Sir W. Pen it seems is fallen very ill again.
So to my arithmetique again to-night, and so home to supper and to bed.

with no night
in the world

how small
the others seem

fallen again
to arithmetic

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 3 January 1662/63.

Indio Lindo

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

How long is the wait to get on a list?

Are we able to verify that everyone on the reservation
was actually repatriated?

While it is true we know of at least two
brain specimens kept in jars and sent away for further study,
what has been done with the other body parts?

What of the heart, the ankle joint, the fingers
that beat the brass gongs?

How many (real, not acted out) funerals were held on the fairgrounds,
which fairgoers marveled at for their verisimilitude?

Are you tired of my questions? I ask the same ones,
only changing the approach.

Don’t tell me the one about how 300 lbs. of dog meat
were ordered daily from the pound.

Exhibit A: I brought back a pair of mother of pearl earrings, etched
with geometric designs, carefully beaded. They look contemporary.

Exhibit B: The intricate weave in this fabric is impossible
to reduce to mere algorithm.

No one handed out 3D glasses back then, to be recycled after viewing.
Hell yes, every one you gawked at there was real.


In response to Via Negativa: Late love song.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Lay long in bed, and so up and to the office, where all the morning alone doing something or another. So dined at home with my wife, and in the afternoon to the Treasury office, where Sir W. Batten was paying off tickets, but so simply and arbitrarily, upon a dull pretence of doing right to the King, though to the wrong of poor people (when I know there is no man that means the King less right than he, or would trouble himself less about it, but only that he sees me stir, and so he would appear doing something, though to little purpose), that I was weary of it. At last we broke up, and walk home together, and I to see Sir W. Pen, who is fallen sick again. I staid a while talking with him, and so to my office, practising some arithmetique, and so home to supper and bed, having sat up late talking to my poor wife with great content.

in bed all morning
the thin little ear
of my wife

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 2 January 1662/63.

Song for Turning

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Here’s a videopoem we made as a sort of New Year’s card to Via Negativa readers, similar to the solstice-themed videopoem we made last year. The footage is all stuff I shot since arriving in London in December (including the hardy soul swimming in the pond at Hampstead Heath—brrr!). I compiled it in rough form and Luisa wrote the following text to go along with it:

Song for Turning

What does the orphan
bird know, picking through the years’ detritus?

And what do worms know of melting glaciers,
as they burrow deeper beneath the last republics of trees?

And in the pond, glassy and riddled with green,
how will the fish translate the water’s

churning clockwork, the cities’ flimsy
defenses against the wind?

A line of buoys marks the space
where arms made windmills in summer.

Sometimes, the sun has the effulgence
of a bride in the middle of winter.

Luisa A. Igloria, 1 January 2016

The music is part of a track called “London in Winter” by The Passion HiFi, licensed Attribution-only under the Creative Commons.

Here’s wishing all who read here a healthy, happy, and creatively rewarding New Year.

Fine Print

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Whatever you do on this day
provides the tentacles for the year.
Whoosh whoosh, whooee. They’ll glow

like a spoked carnival ride, furnish each
porthole-shaped suction cup with embroidered
versions of your face. Take care to make

thoughtful life choices therefore. Linen
is eminently more breathable than pleather.
Whatever you use to bulk up the clam chowder,

understand that the base must still be clams.
Buying more stuff for the recently vacated
shelves makes the oceans sad. How many piano

keys have traveled to some distant salt flat?
Time is always running out, like a slice
of delicious cake everyone wants to taste.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

My curtains flutter.
The cat licks itself in the doorway
and a box of silverware clatters
to the floor.

Who is raising that cloud of dust
in the distance, who is riding
hard on the road whose end is here
and whose beginning is there?

Tell the sick roses to think
of what they love best— what made
the sweetness in the nectary
before any bud burst from green.


In response to Via Negativa: The Sick Rose.

The sick rose

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Lay with my wife at my Lord’s lodgings, where I have been these two nights, till 10 o’clock with great pleasure talking, then I rose and to White Hall, where I spent a little time walking among the courtiers, which I perceive I shall be able to do with great confidence, being now beginning to be pretty well known among them.
Then to my wife again, and found Mrs. Sarah with us in the chamber we lay in. Among other discourse, Mrs. Sarah tells us how the King sups at least four or [five] times every week with my Lady Castlemaine; and most often stays till the morning with her, and goes home through the garden all alone privately, and that so as the very centrys take notice of it and speak of it.
She tells me, that about a month ago she quickened at my Lord Gerard’s at dinner, and cried out that she was undone; and all the lords and men were fain to quit the room, and women called to help her.
In fine, I find that there is nothing almost but bawdry at Court from top to bottom, as, if it were fit, I could instance, but it is not necessary; only they say my Lord Chesterfield, groom of the stole to the Queen, is either gone or put away from the Court upon the score of his lady’s having smitten the Duke of York, so as that he is watched by the Duchess of York, and his lady is retired into the country upon it. How much of this is true, God knows, but it is common talk.
After dinner I did reckon with Mrs. Sarah for what we have eat and drank here, and gave her a crown, and so took coach, and to the Duke’s House, where we saw “The Villaine” again; and the more I see it, the more I am offended at my first undervaluing the play, it being very good and pleasant, and yet a true and allowable tragedy. The house was full of citizens, and so the less pleasant, but that I was willing to make an end of my gaddings, and to set to my business for all the year again tomorrow. Here we saw the old Roxalana in the chief box, in a velvet gown, as the fashion is, and very handsome, at which I was glad.
Hence by coach home, where I find all well, only Sir W. Pen they say ill again. So to my office to set down these two or three days’ journall, and to close the last year therein, and so that being done, home to supper, and to bed, with great pleasure talking and discoursing with my wife of our late observations abroad.

the rose we know
is in every garden
privately undone

as if it were fit to put
a true but common tragedy
in a box velvet as ash

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 1 January 1662/63.