holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

I read some kinds of flowers,
crushed, are used to stain
the fingernails of girls;
that if the color stays
till winter, it means
they’ll find their love.
I never under a full moon
breathed the name of someone
whose love I wanted, nor looked
in the mirror at midnight
to catch sight of his face.
I walked the dark streets once,
I remember: a child growing
in my belly, my heart
no longer sure
of promises I’d made.
I knocked on the doors
of friends who took me in
and fed me, who said
nothing that I didn’t
need to hear.
When I went home
to take up my life again,
that kindness stayed
long past winter, past
the bloom that faded
from my hands.


In response to Via Negativa: Investor.


Up, and after doing something in order to the putting of my house in order now the joynery is done, I went by water to White Hall, where the Court full of waggons and horses, the King and Court going this day out towards the Bath, and I to St. James’s, where I spent an hour or more talking of many things to my great content with Mr. Coventry in his chamber, he being ready to set forth too with the Duke to-day, and so left him, and I meeting Mr. Gauden, with him to our offices and in Sir W. Pen’s chamber did discourse by a meeting on purpose with Mr. Waith about the victualling business and came to some issue in it.
So home to dinner, and Mr. Moore came and dined with me, and after dinner I paid him some money which evened all reckonings between him and me to this day, and for my Lord also I paid him some money, so that now my Lord owes me, for which I have his bond, just 700l..
After long discourse with him of the fitness of his giving me a receipt for this money, which I for my security think necessary and he otherwise do not think so, at last, after being a little angry, and I resolving not to let go my money without it, he did give me one.
Thence I took him, and he and I took a pleasant walk to Deptford and back again, I doing much business there. He went home and I home also, indoors to supper, being very glad to see my house begin to look like itself again, hoping after this is over not to be in any dirt a great while again, but it is very handsome, and will be more when the floors come to be of one colour.
So weary to bed.
Pleased this day to see Captain Hickes come to me with a list of all the officers of Deptford Yard, wherein he, being a high old Cavalier, do give me an account of every one of them to their reproach in all respects, and discovers many of their knaverys; and tells me, and so I thank God I hear every where, that my name is up for a good husband for the King, and a good man, for which I bless God; and that he did this by particular direction of Mr. Coventry.

in order to put my house in order
now the joy is all
in my issue

money giving me money for my money
like hands of one color
for every god

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 26 August 1663.

Industrial revolution

Up very early and removed the things out of my chamber into the dining room, it being to be new floored this day. So the workmen being come and falling to work there, I to the office, and thence down to Lymehouse to Phin. Pett’s about masts, and so back to the office, where we sat; and being rose, and Mr. Coventry being gone, taking his leave, for that he is to go to the Bath with the Duke to-morrow, I to the ‘Change and there spoke with several persons, and lastly with Sir W. Warren, and with him to a Coffee House, and there sat two hours talking of office business and Mr. Wood’s knavery, which I verily believe, and lastly he tells me that he hears that Captain Cocke is like to become a principal officer, either a Controller or a Surveyor, at which I am not sorry so either of the other may be gone, and I think it probable enough that it may be so.
So home at 2 o’clock, and there I found Ashwell gone, and her wages come to 50s., and my wife, by a mistake from me, did give her 20s. more; but I am glad that she is gone and the charge saved.
After dinner among my joyners, and with them till dark night, and this night they made an end of all; and so having paid them 40s. for their six days’ work, I am glad they have ended and are gone, for I am weary and my wife too of this dirt.
My wife growing peevish at night, being weary, and I a little vexed to see that she do not retain things in her memory that belong to the house as she ought and I myself do, I went out in a little seeming discontent to the office, and after being there a while, home to supper and to bed.
To-morrow they say the King and the Duke set out for the Bath.
This noon going to the Exchange, I met a fine fellow with trumpets before him in Leadenhall-street, and upon enquiry I find that he is the clerk of the City Market; and three or four men carried each of them an arrow of a pound weight in their hands. It seems this Lord Mayor begins again an old custome, that upon the three first days of Bartholomew Fayre, the first, there is a match of wrestling, which was done, and the Lord Mayor there and Aldermen in Moorefields yesterday: to-day, shooting: and to-morrow, hunting. And this officer of course is to perform this ceremony of riding through the city, I think to proclaim or challenge any to shoot. It seems that the people of the fayre cry out upon it as a great hindrance to them.

I spoke with coffee
like a dark ear of night

and went out
into the leaden street

men carried the weight of the fields
yesterday today and tomorrow
through the city

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 25 August 1663, written while listening to Godflesh’s classic album Streetcleaner.

30 MAI 1932 by Rene-Guy Cadou

30 MAI 1932 (text on image))

Just you and I in the attic,
My father.
The walls have collapsed.
Flesh has given way.
The debris of the blue sky tumbles all around.
I see your face more clearly.
You’re weeping.
Tonight we share the same age
Before these her remembered hands

10 o’ clock.
The wall clock striking
And blood recoiling.
Everyone’s gone.
House closed.
Far away the wind pushes at an early star.

No-one remains.
But you are there,
My father,
And like bindweed,
My arm tugging at yours,
You wipe away my tears,
hot across your fingers.

Il n’y a plus que toi et moi dans la mansarde

Mon père
Les murs sont écroulés
La chair s’est écroulée
Des gravats de ciel bleu tombent de tous côtés
Je vois mieux ton visage
Tu pleures
Et cette nuit nous avons le même âge
Au bord des mains qu’elle a laissées

Dix heures
La pendule qui sonne
Et le sang qui recule
Il n’y a plus personne
Maison fermée
Le vent qui pousse au loin une étoile avancée

Il n’y a plus personne
Et tu es là
Mon père
Et comme un liseron
Mon bras grimpe à ton bras
Tu effaces mes larmes
En te brûlant les doigts.

(René-Guy CADOU, Amis les Anges, 1943)

One can only do so much

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Before I left for school each day,
my parents liked to remind me
to straighten my spine or ribbon,

to tie my shoelace or tuck the edge
of my camisole back under my blouse.
And did I forget my science workbook,

the paper sack which held my snack,
the folding umbrella in case
it rained? Was there lead

in my pencil, and was it sharpened
to a point; enough ink in the plastic
barrel of my yellow ballpoint pen?

Did I know whom to call in case
of an emergency, did I have
that list of numbers more

valuable than gold? Each day when I
walked out the door and into
the world, I was taught

to rehearse for every dire
circumstance or happenstance
the future might or might not

hold: a car running me over
in the busy street, a fall
to knock me unconscious

under a bridge; a hand
to snatch me into a dim alley
from which I’d possibly never

emerge. But I was young
and fearless, still untried.
I never thought to take all

their dire pronouncements
too seriously; never guessed
the real extent of their fears.

Mark my words, you’ll see,
they cried: one day you too
will know what it’s like.


In response to Via Negativa: Human resources.

Rock art

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up very early, and my joyners came to work. I to Mr. Moore; from him came back home again, and drew up an account to my Lord, and that being done met him at my Lord Sandwich’s, where I was a good while alone with my Lord; and I perceive he confides in me and loves me as he used to do, and tells me his condition, which is now very well all I fear is that he will not live within compass, for I am told this morning of strange dotages of his upon the slut at Chelsea, even in the presence of his daughter, my Lady Jem, and Mrs. Ferrers, who took notice of it.
There come to him this morning his prints of the river Tagus and the City of Lisbon, which he measured with his own hand, and printed by command of the King. My Lord pleases himself with it, but methinks it ought to have been better done then by Iching. Besides I put him upon having some took off upon white sattin, which he ordered presently.
I offered my Lord my accounts, and did give him up his old bond for 500l. and took a new one of him for 700l., which I am by lending him more money to make up: and I am glad of it. My Lord would have had me dine with him, but I had a mind to go home to my workmen, and so took a kind good bye of him, and so with Creed to St. James’s, and, missing Mr. Coventry, walked to the New Exchange, and there drank some whey, and so I by water home, and found my closett at my office made very clean and neat to my mind mightily, and home to dinner, and then to my office to brush my books, and put them and my papers in order again, and all the afternoon till late at night doing business there, and so home to supper, and then to work in my chamber, making matters of this day’s accounts clear in my books, they being a little extraordinary, and so being very late I put myself to bed, the rest being long ago gone.

love used to live
in the presence of the river
red handprint

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 24 August 1663.

Planetary news

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up and to church without my wife, she being all dirty, as my house is. God forgive me, I looked about to see if I could spy Pembleton, but I could not, which did please me not a little. Home to dinner, and then to walk up and down in my house with my wife, discoursing of our family matters, and I hope, after all my troubles of mind and jealousy, we shall live happily still. To church again, and so home to my wife; and with her read “Iter Boreale,” a poem, made just at the King’s coming home; but I never read it before, and now like it pretty well, but not so as it was cried up. So to supper. No pleasure or discourse with Ashwell, with whom for her neglect and unconcernment to do any thing in this time of dirt and trouble in the house, but gadding abroad as she has been all this afternoon, I know not whither. After supper to prayers and to bed, having been, by a sudden letter coming to me from Mr. Coventry, been with Sir W. Pen, to discourse with him about sending 500 soldiers into Ireland. I doubt matters do not go very right there.

I look about to see
if I could hope

we live still
in a boreal poem

but now like a sudden letter
coming from a soldier

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 23 August 1663.

Human resources

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up by four o’clock to go with Sir W. Batten to Woolwich and Sir J. Minnes, which we did, though not before 6 or 7 by their laying a-bed. Our business was to survey the new wharf building there, in order to the giving more to him that do it (Mr. Randall) than contracted for, but I see no reason for it, though it be well done, yet no better than contracted to be.
Here we eat and drank at the Clerke of the Cheques, and in taking water at the Tower gate, we drank a cup of strong water, which I did out of pure conscience to my health, and I think is not excepted by my oaths, but it is a thing I shall not do again, hoping to have no such occasion. After breakfast Mr. Castle and I walked to Greenwich, and in our way met some gypsys, who would needs tell me my fortune, and I suffered one of them, who told me many things common as others do, but bade me beware of a John and a Thomas, for they did seek to do me hurt, and that somebody should be with me this day se’nnight to borrow money of me, but I should lend him none. She got ninepence of me. And so I left them and to Greenwich and so to Deptford, where the two knights were come, and thence home by water, where I find my closet done at my office to my mind and work gone well on at home; and Ashwell gone abroad to her father, my wife having spoken plainly to her. After dinner to my office, getting my closet made clean and setting some papers in order, and so in the evening home and to bed.
This day Sir W. Batten tells me that Mr. Newburne (of whom the nick-word came up among us for “Arise Tom Newburne”) is dead of eating Cowcoumbers, of which the other day, I heard another, I think Sir Nich. Crisps son.

in business to build order
all a contract I see no reason
for a conscience after breakfast

gypsies tell my fortune at the office
tell who among us
is dead of eating ink

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 22 August 1663.

To Glorious Failures

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Now that the season is turning,
how will the green fruit that never
ripened all summer on the vine—

hard, compact, practically snubbed
by the birds— ever make up
for their inability to perform?

Hurrying to meet an appointment,
how did we manage to wait that hot
length of time as an extended family

of geese began to cross the road?
I have daughters who call me almost
every day, to let me know

how they are doing— I had not,
until recently, seen one of them
for nearly 17 years. The other

is in her seventh year in school,
still trying to make it to that
finish line. I’ve watched them

with their struggles; and listen
as they pour out their woes
on the other end

of the telephone line.
Sometimes I hold my head
in my hands, or late at night

stare sleepless at the ceiling,
wondering if I have failed them
somehow. I heard someone speak

today about glorious failures—
about a long trail of little mistakes
scratching against the dark surface

before the one singular triumph
bursts forth as if in flame.
Edison once said, I now know

definitely over 9,000 ways
an electric lightbulb will not work
That kind of stamina the courage

required to make a fool of oneself—
not hiking the Himalayas barefoot,
nor skydiving without a parachute—Just

cheering every crossing from one ordinary
day to another, in spite of knowing each
comes to its conclusion without any help.

After the flood

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes and among my joyners, and to my office, where the joyners are also laying mouldings in the inside of my closet.
Then abroad and by water to White Hall, and there got Sir G. Carteret to sign me my last quarter’s bills for my wages, and meeting with Mr. Creed he told me how my Lord Teviott hath received another attaque from Guyland at Tangier with 10,000 men, and at last, as is said, is come, after a personal treaty with him, to a good understanding and peace with him.
Thence to my brother’s, and there told him how my girl has served us which he sent me, and directed him to get my clothes again, and get the girl whipped.
So to other places by the way about small businesses, and so home, and after looking over all my workmen, I went by water and land to Deptford, and there found by appointment Sir W. Batten, but he was got to Mr. Waith’s to dinner, where I dined with him, a good dinner and good discourse, and his wife, I believe, a good woman. We fell in discourse of Captain Cocke, and how his lady has lost all her fine linen almost, but besides that they say she gives out she had 3000l. worth of linen, which we all laugh at, and Sir W. Batten (who I perceive is not so fond of the Captain as he used to be, and less of her, from her slight receiving of him and his lady it seems once) told me how he should say that he see he must spend 700l. per ann. get it how he could, which was a high speech, and by all men’s discover, his estate not good enough to spend so much.
After dinner altered our design to go to Woolwich, and put it off to to-morrow morning, and so went all to Greenwich (Mrs. Waith excepted, who went thither, but not to the same house with us, but to her father’s, that lives there), to the musique-house, where we had paltry musique, till the master organist came, whom by discourse I afterwards knew, having employed him for my Lord Sandwich, to prick out something (his name Arundell), and he did give me a fine voluntary or two, and so home by water, and at home I find my girl that run away brought by a bedel of St. Bride’s Parish, and stripped her and sent her away, and a newe one come, of Griffin’s helping to, which I think will prove a pretty girl. Her name, Susan, and so to supper after having this evening paid Mr. Hunt 3l. for my viall (besides the carving which I paid this day 10s. for to the carver), and he tells me that I may, without flattery, say, I have as good a Theorbo viall and viallin as is in England. So to bed.

mold in my closet
and all my clothes lost
her fine linen green
as water
that run-away bride

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 21 August 1663.