Sea sickness

Up betimes, and with my salt eel went down in the parler and there got my boy and did beat him till I was fain to take breath two or three times, yet for all I am afeard it will make the boy never the better, he is grown so hardened in his tricks, which I am sorry for, he being capable of making a brave man, and is a boy that I and my wife love very well. So made me ready, and to my office, where all the morning, and at noon home, whither came Captain Holland, who is lately come home from sea, and has been much harassed in law about the ship which he has bought, so that it seems in a despair he endeavoured to cut his own throat, but is recovered it; and it seems whether by that or any other persuasion (his wife’s mother being a great zealot) he is turned almost a Quaker, his discourse being nothing but holy, and that impertinent, that I was weary of him. At last pretending to go to the Change we walked thither together, and there I left him and home to dinner, sending my boy by the way to enquire after two dancing masters at our end of the town for my wife to learn, of whose names the boy brought word.
After dinner all the afternoon fiddling upon my viallin (which I have not done many a day) while Ashwell danced above in my upper best chamber, which is a rare room for musique, expecting this afternoon my wife to bring my cozen Scott and Stradwick, but they came not, and so in the evening we by ourselves to Half-way house to walk, but did not go in there, but only a walk and so home again and to supper, my father with us, and had a good lobster intended for part of our entertainment to these people to-day, and so to cards, and then to bed, being the first day that I have spent so much to my pleasure a great while.

salt breath
will make a man love the sea

and in despair
cut his own throat

as a rare room for music
half-way to a lobster

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 24 April 1663.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

ταλάντατος talantatos ~ one “who has to bear much”

Twenty-six years after your death,
you still visit me in dreams,

holding out an empty bowl, gesturing
toward a tree whose branches keep

receding. I don’t know what these
visitations mean, don’t know what kind

of fruit continues to escape your reach.
I don’t know if this is a parable

about how desire is never sated, not even
in death— Your mouth opens and closes:

distraught fish, urgent semaphore. Bone-
white flash of light blinking its message

from the other side. When I was young
I wondered what it would feel like to be

pushed to the front of the line, to take
a turn offering a shoulder for the gods

to gnaw on. To stand in a pool of water,
thirsty for what I still can’t name.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Getting away from it all

St. George’s day and Coronacion, the King and Court being at Windsor, at the installing of the King of Denmark by proxy and the Duke of Monmouth.
I up betimes, and with my father, having a fire made in my wife’s new closet above, it being a wet and cold day, we sat there all the morning looking over his country accounts ever since his going into the country. I find his spending hitherto has been (without extraordinary charges) at full 100l. per annum, which troubles me, and I did let him apprehend it, so as that the poor man wept, though he did make it well appear to me that he could not have saved a farthing of it. I did tell him how things stand with us, and did shew my distrust of Pall, both for her good nature and housewifery, which he was sorry for, telling me that indeed she carries herself very well and carefully, which I am glad to hear, though I doubt it was but his doting and not being able to find her miscarriages so well nowadays as he could heretofore have done.
We resolve upon sending for Will Stankes up to town to give us a right understanding in all that we have in Brampton, and before my father goes to settle every thing so as to resolve how to find a living for my father and to pay debts and legacies, and also to understand truly how Tom’s condition is in the world, that we may know what we are like to expect of his doing ill or well.
So to dinner, and after dinner to the office, where some of us met and did a little business, and so to Sir W. Batten’s to see a little picture drawing of his by a Dutchman which is very well done.
So to my office and put a few things in order, and so home to spend the evening with my father. At cards till late, and being at supper, my boy being sent for some mustard to a neat’s tongue, the rogue staid half an hour in the streets, it seems at a bonfire, at which I was very angry, and resolve to beat him to-morrow.

on a wet cold day in the country
the poor appear far

I distrust nature
but not her miscarriages

living in the world
like a drawing of a tongue at a bonfire

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 23 April 1663.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Today, in a sudden
downpour, I run

through the parking lot.
My soaked shoes

and water-logged hems
dry out slowly

through the afternoon.
At my desk, I sit still

mostly. I think
of those who know

as if without a doubt,
those writing evidently

more important things
than I suspect I am

at this moment. I close
my eyes, remind myself:

once, I thought
I had no choice.


In response to Via Negativa: Senescence.


Up betimes and to my office very busy all the morning there, entering things into my Book Manuscript, which pleases me very much. So to the Change, and so to my uncle Wight’s, by invitation, whither my father, wife, and Ashwell came, where we had but a poor dinner, and not well dressed; besides, the very sight of my aunt’s hands and greasy manner of carving, did almost turn my stomach. After dinner by coach to the King’s Playhouse, where we saw but part of “Witt without mony,” which I do not like much, but coming late put me out of tune, and it costing me four half-crowns for myself and company. So, the play done, home, and I to my office a while and so home, where my father (who is so very melancholy) and we played at cards, and so to supper and to bed.

entering my manuscript
to change it and me

a poor dinner
easy in my stomach

in a king’s house
of melancholy cards

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 22 April 1663.

Best Practice

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“…if we play we lose
too much time” ~ D. Bonta

I used to keep
to myself each
instance of

injustice; wavered
between one indecision
and another, second-

guessed the rate
at which the bindweed
and ground ivy grew.

But now no longer—
I do all I can to disarm
the enemy at the door.


In response to Via Negativa: Driven.


Up betimes and to my office, where first I ruled with red ink my English “Mare Clausum,” which, with the new orthodox title, makes it now very handsome. So to business, and then home to dinner, and after dinner to sit at the office in the afternoon, and thence to my study late, and so home to supper to play a game at cards with my wife, and so to bed. Ashwell plays well at cards, and will teach us to play; I wish it do not lose too much of my time, and put my wife too much upon it.

I rule with red ink
sum with orthodox hands

dinner after dinner
at the office late

if we play we lose
too much time

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 21 April 1663.

For everything you are suspicious of

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Take off your shoes
at the door; socks
may be kept on.

Eat with your right
hand, clean yourself
with the left.

One nostril may be
pinched shut to guide
the breath out the other.

Imagine a sphere of light
traveling up from the soles
of your feet to the crown

of your head. What gives you
a raft of tribulations
may give you some more.

Before you step off
an edge, let birds fix
a string to your wrist.

Before you dig for stones
of forgiveness, let the rain
show you what is clean.


Up betimes as I use to do, and in my chamber begun to look over my father’s accounts, which he brought out of the country with him by my desire, whereby I may see what he has received and spent, and I find that he is not anything extravagant, and yet it do so far outdo his estate that he must either think of lessening his charge, or I must be forced to spare money out of my purse to help him through, which I would willing do as far as 20l. goes.
So to my office the remaining part of the morning till towards noon, and then to Mr. Grant’s. There saw his prints, which he shewed me, and indeed are the best collection of any things almost that ever I saw, there being the prints of most of the greatest houses, churches, and antiquitys in Italy and France and brave cutts. I had not time to look them over as I ought, and which I will take time hereafter to do, and therefore left them and home to dinner.
After dinner, it raining very hard, by coach to Whitehall, where, after Sir G. Carteret, Sir J. Minnes, Mr. Coventry and I had been with the Duke, we to the Committee of Tangier and did matters there dispatching wholly my Lord Teviott, and so broke up.
With Sir G. Carteret and Sir John Minnes by coach to my Lord Treasurer’s, thinking to have spoken about getting money for paying the Yards; but we found him with some ladies at cards: and so, it being a bad time to speak, we parted, and Sir J. Minnes and I home, and after walking with my wife in the garden late, to supper and to bed, being somewhat troubled at Ashwell’s desiring and insisting over eagerly upon her going to a ball to meet some of her old companions at a dancing school here in town next Friday, but I am resolved she shall not go. So to bed.
This day the little Duke of Monmouth was marryed at White Hall, in the King’s chamber; and tonight is a great supper and dancing at his lodgings, near Charing-Cross. I observed his coat at the tail of his coach he gives the arms of England, Scotland, and France, quartered upon some other fields, but what it is that speaks his being a bastard I know not.

her extravagant
collection of antiquities—
married to a bastard

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 20 April 1663.

No longer the same

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“walk into the city to be changed…” ~ D. Bonta

And you were, even before you packed
your bags: the fact of the matter
being that the ghost of a place
haunted you, sowed seeds that turned
into blooms you could not name—

In the garden, by the shed, the bees
make a home they still remember
after traveling through fields
and vines, looking for their own
kinds of sweet. Green rows

undulate like a sea in the sun—
in the country that keeps them,
they’ll never know the luminous script
of snow, the quiet sift when leaves
abandon the arms that held them.


In response to Via Negativa: Reinvention.