Two & One

two loves have I
and only one pocket

~ D. Bonta

Unseen witness to many
grownup fights, I flushed the first
time I overheard father say
Women are not to be trusted—
they have two mouths.

Decades later,
in a story, a writer said
Love is not a pie.

Two arms, two sleeves, two
pants legs, one right
shoe and one left— Two breasts,
two eyes, two nostrils, a pair
of lips. For decades I thought I

wanted to know who slipped what
into whose pockets. Sometimes now,
I think I don’t really want to know.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Looking back.

Looking back

(Lord’s day). Lay, being weary and not very well last night, long asleep. Anon, about 7 a-clock, the maid calls me, telling me that my Lady Batten had sent twice to invite me to go with them to Walthamstow to-day, Mrs. Martha being married already this morning to Mr. Castle, at this parish church. I could not rise soon enough to go with them, but got myself ready, and so to Games’s, where I got a horse and rode thither very pleasantly, only coming to make water I found a stopping, which makes me fearful of my old pain.
Being come thither, I was well received, and had two pair of gloves, as the rest, and walked up and down with my Lady in the garden, she mighty kind to me, and I have the way to please her.
A good dinner and merry, but methinks none of the kindness nor bridall respect between the bridegroom and bride, that was between my wife and I, but as persons that marry purely for convenience.
After dinner to church by coach, and there my Lady, Mrs. Turner, Mrs. Lemon, and I only, we, in spite to one another, kept one another awake; and sometimes I read in my book of Latin plays, which I took in my pocket, thinking to have walked it.
An old doting parson preached. So home again, and by and by up and homewards, calling in our way (Sir J. Minnes and I only) at Mr. Batten’s (who with his lady and child went in another coach by us), which is a very pretty house, and himself in all things within and without very ingenious, and I find a very fine study and good books.
So set out, Sir J. Minnes and I in his coach together, talking all the way of chymistry, wherein he do know something, at least, seems so to me, that cannot correct him, Mr. Batten’s man riding my horse, and so home and to my office a while to read my vows, then home to prayers and to bed.

night calls me to myself
an earful of old pain

two loves have I
and only one pocket

arson is a pretty house
with ingenious chemistry


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 5 July 1663, written while listening to Thrawsunblat’s new album, Metachthonia.

Brink

What is this compulsion to peer
into the cathedral formed
by the humid arms of trees?

Of course there is no way to count
the fruit before their prime.
They are so plain now,

only streaked a little
on the outside— faintest tinge
of plum beginning to verge on brown.

And the fireflies pulse, with their own
messages of ruse and subterfuge: warm
one moment, then cold, then gone.

Office worker blues

Up by 4 o’clock and sent him to get matters ready, and I to my office looking over papers and mending my manuscript by scraping out the blots and other things, which is now a very fine book.
So to St. James’s by water with Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten, I giving occasion to a wager about the tide, that it did flow through bridge, by which Sir W. Batten won 5s. of Sir J. Minnes.
At St. James’s we staid while the Duke made himself ready. Among other things Sir Allen Apsley showed the Duke the Lisbon Gazette in Spanish, where the late victory is set down particularly, and to the great honour of the English beyond measure. They have since taken back Evora, which was lost to the Spaniards, the English making the assault, and lost not more than three men.
Here I learnt that the English foot are highly esteemed all over the world, but the horse not so much, which yet we count among ourselves the best; but they abroad have had no great knowledge of our horse, it seems.
The Duke being ready, we retired with him, and there fell upon Mr. Creed’s business, where the Treasurer did, like a mad coxcomb, without reason or method run over a great many things against the account, and so did Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten, which the Duke himself and Mr. Coventry and my Lord Barkely and myself did remove, and Creed being called in did answer all with great method and excellently to the purpose (myself I am a little conscious did not speak so well as I purposed and do think I used to do, that is, not so intelligibly and persuasively, as I well hoped I should), not that what I said was not well taken, and did carry the business with what was urged and answered by Creed and Mr. Coventry, till the Duke himself did declare that he was satisfied, and my Lord Barkely offered to lay 100l. that the King would receive no wrong in the account, and the two last knights held their tongues, or at least by not understanding it did say what made for Mr. Creed, and so Sir G. Carteret was left alone, but yet persisted to say that the account was not good, but full of corruption and foul dealing. And so we broke up to his shame, but I do fear to the loss of his friendship to me a good while, which I am heartily troubled for.
Thence with Creed to the King’s Head ordinary; but, coming late, dined at the second table very well for 12d.; and a pretty gentleman in our company, who confirms my Lady Castlemaine’s being gone from Court, but knows not the reason; he told us of one wipe the Queen a little while ago did give her, when she came in and found the Queen under the dresser’s hands, and had been so long:
“I wonder your Majesty,” says she, “can have the patience to sit so long a-dressing?” — “I have so much reason to use patience,” says the Queen, “that I can very well bear with it.” He thinks that it may be the Queen hath commanded her to retire, though that is not likely.
Thence with Creed to hire a coach to carry us to Hide Park, to-day there being a general muster of the King’s Guards, horse and foot: but they demand so high, that I, spying Mr. Cutler the merchant, did take notice of him, and he going into his coach, and telling me that he was going to shew a couple of Swedish strangers the muster, I asked and went along with him.
Where a goodly sight to see so many fine horses and officers, and the King, Duke, and others come by a-horseback, and the two Queens in the Queen-Mother’s coach, my Lady Castlemaine not being there. And after long being there, I ‘light, and walked to the place where the King, Duke, &c., did stand to see the horse and foot march by and discharge their guns, to show a French Marquisse (for whom this muster was caused) the goodness of our firemen; which indeed was very good, though not without a slip now and then; and one broadside close to our coach we had going out of the Park, even to the nearness as to be ready to burn our hairs. Yet methought all these gay men are not the soldiers that must do the King’s business, it being such as these that lost the old King all he had, and were beat by the most ordinary fellows that could be.
Thence with much ado out of the Park, and I ‘lighted and through St. James’s down the waterside over, to Lambeth, to see the Archbishop’s corps (who is to be carried away to Oxford on Monday), but came too late, and so walked over the fields and bridge home (calling by the way at old George’s), but find that he is dead, and there wrote several letters, and so home to supper and to bed.
This day in the Duke’s chamber there being a Roman story in the hangings, and upon the standards written these four letters — S.P.Q.R., Sir G. Carteret came to me to know what the meaning of those four letters were; which ignorance is not to be borne in a Privy Counsellor, methinks, that a schoolboy should be whipt for not knowing.

looking over papers
my gaze is as lost

as a lost foot
on a road like a held tongue

a man can sit so long
he is a stranger to the light

show me a broadside
ready to burn down Monday

find me an F U C K
those four letters born in a whip


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 4 July 1663.

Hardcover

In a blue plastic tub is the hide
of some four-footed animal. I did not
flense its skin from sinew, do not
even know how it came to be the way
it is: pelt of dark brown, short
stubs of hair following the grain
of previous growth. Someone bought it
then forgot about it. Someone found it
and gave it to me, saying How many books
do you think this could cover?

 

In response to Via Negativa: Writer's folly.

Writer’s folly

Up and he home, and I with Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten by coach to Westminster, to St. James’s, thinking to meet Sir G. Carteret, and to attend the Duke, but he not coming we broke up, and so to Westminster Hall, and there meeting with Mr. Moore he tells me great news that my Lady Castlemaine is fallen from Court, and this morning retired. He gives me no account of the reason of it, but that it is so: for which I am sorry: and yet if the King do it to leave off not only her but all other mistresses, I should be heartily glad of it, that he may fall to look after business. I hear my Lord Digby is condemned at Court for his speech, and that my Lord Chancellor grows great again. Thence with Mr. Creed, whom I called at his chamber, over the water to Lambeth; but could not, it being morning, get to see the Archbishop’s hearse: so he and I walked over the fields to Southwark, and there parted, and I spent half an hour in Mary Overy’s Church, where are fine monuments of great antiquity, I believe, and has been a fine church. Thence to the Change, and meeting Sir J. Minnes there, he and I walked to look upon Backwell’s design of making another alley from his shop through over against the Exchange door, which will be very noble and quite put down the other two.
So home to dinner and then to the office, and entered in my manuscript book the Victualler’s contract, and then over the water and walked to see Sir W. Pen, and sat with him a while, and so home late, and to my viall. So up comes Creed again to me and stays all night, to-morrow morning being a hearing before the Duke. So to bed full of discourse of his business.

ink is the reason
a heart grows ears

the fields are a fine church
to look in the door of

I enter my manuscript
and stay all night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 3 July 1663.

Mind-altering

Up betimes to my office, and there all the morning doing business, at noon to the Change, and there met with several people, among others Captain Cox, and with him to a Coffee [House], and drank with him and some other merchants. Good discourse. Thence home and to dinner, and, after a little alone at my viol, to the office, where we sat all the afternoon, and so rose at the evening, and then home to supper and to bed, after a little musique. My mind troubled me with the thoughts of the difference between my wife and my father in the country.
Walking in the garden this evening with Sir G. Carteret and Sir J. Minnes, Sir G. Carteret told us with great contempt how like a stage-player my Lord Digby spoke yesterday, pointing to his head as my Lord did, and saying, “First, for his head,” says Sir G. Carteret, “I know what a calf’s head would have done better by half for his heart and his sword, I have nothing to say to them.” He told us that for certain his head cost the late King his, for it was he that broke off the treaty at Uxbridge. He told us also how great a man he was raised from a private gentleman in France by Monsieur Grandmont, and afterwards by the Cardinall, who raised him to be a Lieutenant-generall, and then higher; and entrusted by the Cardinall, when he was banished out of France, with great matters, and recommended by him to the Queen as a man to be trusted and ruled by: yet when he came to have some power over the Queen, he begun to dissuade her from her opinion of the Cardinal; which she said nothing to till the Cardinal was returned, and then she told him of it; who told my Lord Digby, “Eh bien, Monsieur, vous estes un fort bon amy donc:” but presently put him out of all; and then he was, from a certainty of coming in two or three years’ time to be Mareschall of France (to which all strangers, even Protestants, and those as often as French themselves, are capable of coming, though it be one of the greatest places in France), he was driven to go out of France into Flanders; but there was not trusted, nor received any kindness from the Prince of Conde, as one to whom also he had been false, as he had been to the Cardinal and Grandmont. In fine, he told us how he is a man of excellent parts, but of no great faith nor judgment, and one very easy to get up to great height of preferment, but never able to hold it.
So home and to my musique; and then comes Mr. Creed to me giving me an account of his accounts, how he has now settled them fit for perusal the most strict, at which I am glad. So he and I to bed together.

after a little music
my thoughts differ

like pointing at a sword
or coming to France to protest

capable of great trust
no false parts ever hold


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 2 July 1663.

Ambush

It’s early summer. Crows
land on the roof early mornings
in between passes at the fig tree
studded with fruit. Their footfalls,
if that’s what they can be called,
are heavier than the squirrels’—
and they are more garrulous,
calling to each other in the manner
of those who have staked a claim.
The brass bells we hung from a branch
in the center of the tree are of
no use. They barely peal in the wind,
only sway a little on their thin
wire links, describing small
circles. I hear the dark crew
at first light, before any alarm.
Most of the fruit is still green,
still hard. But after spasms
of heat alternating with rain,
soon they will soften, swell
with streaks of dark, glossy
purple: that same color I see
flash from the middle of a wing
as it flies defiantly by—

Morning light

This morning it rained so hard (though it was fair yesterday, and we thereupon in hopes of having some fair weather, which we have wanted these three months) that it wakened Creed, who lay with me last night, and me, and so we up and fell to discourse of the business of his accounts now under dispute, in which I have taken much trouble upon myself and raised a distance between Sir G. Carteret and myself, which troubles me, but I hope we have this morning light on an expedient that will right all, that will answer their queries, and yet save Creed the 500l. which he did propose to make of the exchange abroad of the pieces of eight which he disbursed. Being ready, he and I by water to White Hall, where I left him before we came into the Court, for fear I should be seen by Sir G. Carteret with him, which of late I have been forced to avoid to remove suspicion.
I to St. James’s, and there discoursed a while with Mr. Coventry, between whom and myself there is very good understanding and friendship.
And so to Westminster Hall, and being in the Parliament lobby, I there saw my Lord of Bristoll come to the Commons House to give his answer to their question, about some words he should tell the King that were spoke by Sir Richard Temple, a member of their House. A chair was set at the bar of the House for him, which he used but little, but made an harangue of half an hour bareheaded, the House covered.
His speech being done, he came out and withdrew into a little room till the House had concluded of an answer to his speech; which they staying long upon, I went away. And by and by out comes Sir W. Batten; and he told me that his Lordship had made a long and a comedian-like speech, and delivered with such action as was not becoming his Lordship. He confesses he did tell the King such a thing of Sir Richard Temple, but that upon his honour they were not spoke by Sir Richard, he having taken a liberty of enlarging to the King upon the discourse which had been between Sir Richard and himself lately; and so took upon himself the whole blame, and desired their pardon, it being not to do any wrong to their fellow-member, but out of zeal to the King.
He told them, among many other things, that as to his religion he was a Roman Catholique, but such a one as thought no man to have right to the Crown of England but the Prince that hath it; and such a one as, if the King should desire his counsel as to his own, he would not advise him to another religion than the old true reformed religion of this country, it being the properest of this kingdom as it now stands.
And concluded with a submission to what the House shall do with him, saying, that whatever they shall do, says he, “thanks be to God, this head, this heart, and this sword (pointing to them all), will find me a being in any place in Europe.”
The House hath hereupon voted clearly Sir Richard Temple to be free from the imputation of saying those words; but when Sir William Batten came out, had not concluded what to say to my Lord, it being argued that to own any satisfaction as to my Lord from his speech, would be to lay some fault upon the King for the message he should upon no better accounts send to the impeaching of one of their members.
Walking out, I hear that the House of Lords are offended that my Lord Digby should come to this House and make a speech there without leave first asked of the House of Lords. I hear also of another difficulty now upon him; that my Lord of Sunderland (whom I do not know) was so near to the marriage of his daughter as that the wedding-clothes were made, and portion and every thing agreed on and ready; and the other day he goes away nobody yet knows whither, sending her the next morning a release of his right or claim to her, and advice to his friends not to enquire into the reason of this doing, for he hath enough for it; but that he gives them liberty to say and think what they will of him, so they do not demand the reason of his leaving her, being resolved never to have her, but the reason desires and resolves not to give.
Thence by water with Sir W. Batten to Trinity House, there to dine with him, which we did; and after dinner we fell talking, Sir J. Minnes, Mr. Batten and I; Mr. Batten telling us of a late triall of Sir Charles Sydly the other day, before my Lord Chief Justice Foster and the whole bench, for his debauchery a little while since at Oxford Kate’s, coming in open day into the Balcone and showed his nakedness, acting all the postures of lust and buggery that could be imagined, and abusing of scripture and as it were from thence preaching a mountebank sermon from the pulpit, saying that there he had to sell such a powder as should make all the cunts in town run after him, 1000 people standing underneath to see and hear him.
And that being done he took a glass of wine and washed his prick in it and then drank it off, and then took another and drank the King’s health.
It seems my Lord and the rest of the judges did all of them round give him a most high reproof; my Lord Chief justice saying, that it was for him, and such wicked wretches as he was, that God’s anger and judgments hung over us, calling him sirrah many times. It’s said they have bound him to his good behaviour (there being no law against him for it) in 5000l. It being told that my Lord Buckhurst was there, my Lord asked whether it was that Buckhurst that was lately tried for robbery; and when answered Yes, he asked whether he had so soon forgot his deliverance at that time, and that it would have more become him to have been at his prayers begging God’s forgiveness, than now running into such courses again.
Upon this discourse, Sir J. Mennes and Mr. Batten both say that buggery is now almost grown as common among our gallants as in Italy, and that the very pages of the town begin to complain of their masters for it. But blessed be God, I do not to this day know what is the meaning of this sin, nor which is the agent and which is the patient. Thence home, and my clerks being gone by my leave to see the East India ships that are lately come home, I staid all alone within my office all the afternoon. This day I hear at dinner that Don John of Austria, since his flight out of Portugall, is dead of his wounds: so there is a great man gone, and a great dispute like to be ended for the crown of Spayne, if the King should have died before him. I received this morning a letter from my wife, brought by John Gower to town, wherein I find a sad falling out between my wife and my father and sister and Ashwell upon my writing to my father to advise Pall not to keep Ashwell from her mistress, or making any difference between them. Which Pall telling to Ashwell, and she speaking some words that her mistress heard, caused great difference among them; all which I am sorry from my heart to hear of, and I fear will breed ill blood not to be laid again.
So that I fear my wife and I may have some falling out about it, or at least my father and I, but I shall endeavour to salve up all as well as I can, or send for her out of the country before the time intended, which I would be loth to do.
In the evening by water to my coz. Roger Pepys’ chamber, where he was not come, but I found Dr. John newly come to town, and is well again after his sickness; but, Lord! what a simple man he is as to any public matter of state, and talks so sillily to his brother Dr. Tom. What the matter is I know not, but he has taken (as my father told me a good while since) such displeasure that he hardly would touch his hat to me, and I as little to him.
By and by comes Roger, and he told us the whole passage of my Lord Digby to-day, much as I have said here above; only that he did say that he would draw his sword against the Pope himself, if he should offer any thing against his Majesty, and the good of these nations; and that he never was the man that did either look for a Cardinal’s cap for himself, or any body else, meaning Abbot Montagu; and the House upon the whole did vote Sir Richard Temple innocent; and that my Lord Digby hath cleared the honour of his Majesty, and Sir Richard Temple’s, and given perfect satisfaction of his own respects to the House.
Thence to my brother’s, and being vexed with his not minding my father’s business here in getting his Landscape done, I went away in an anger, and walked home, and so up to my lute and then to bed.

this morning light
will right all

will make half a head
into a little room

and a whole
member into rope

will free a peach to debauch
a glass of wine

and give me a now
to be a patient of

this light like blood
in a simple lily


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 1 July 1663.

Fregata magnificens

“…up above the light
like a lost swallow” ~ “Beyond Belief,” D. Bonta

Absolution: that faint smudge
where the compass points north.

Buy your tickets here,
call the hawkers. Not cheap for

chance passengers, considering
the nature of accommodations.

Don’t you always get the joke
when the joke’s on you?

Economics simply means there are
more people than there are seats.

First class these days gets you a pack
of peanuts, maybe. Frigate birds

get more lift just from cloud-hopping.
Among the unwaterproofed horde,

how many have papers, how many
are undocumented? And yet they log

incomparable mileage. Their other skill:
purloining what’s heaved over as

jetsam. In other words,
working it so other birds throw up

krill and squid, flying fish,
plankton… We should be so

lucky: to be continuously aloft,
with only the briefest inter-

missions for food. After so long
a journey, who even recalls what

need or nightmare first
catapulted us here?

O to soar and soar, to enter through
warm white hems of cloud, have air fill

pneumatic bones, lighter than girdles
fused to the shoulder joint.

Quicksilver gloss on the belly;
everything else dark, mottled,

rustic as cyanotype. What bright gashes
of color! We’re prized for these, made

spectacular as bodies in a fair.
What do you have there in that

throat pouch shaded deep scarlet? Do you
have for me letters, loves, poems?

Uncountable miles have come between
me and the future, me and the past…

Veering ever onward, I try to shut
my ears to the tumult et cetera.

Will you glide a little way with me, ransack the dips
for freshwater? If these jaunts were through

xysts lined with trees— something
fragrant like linden— perhaps

yaw velocity might compute differently. Perhaps
the wandering body that’s forgotten what it’s like at

zero motion might at last locate a distant ring
of islands, a cliff of chalky white in the final mile.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Beyond Belief.