November 2016

Pipe not a pipe, angel not an angel.

Maybe snipers. Shovels aloft in the crowd.

Protesters close ranks, close ranks:

the tighter the better not to let

manic soldiers mow bodies down

with their army-issue trucks.

By the time the journalists arrive

there is red on the tires. The dead

want to abandon their graves. 30 years ago

we thought we were done. What kind of shit

is that formaldehyde, and what have they

buried in stealth? Wax mannikin, effigy

crawling with interior worms. Its widow

makes a scene, plastering the glass

with kisses. Drones circle overhead.

Was called up by a messenger from Sir W. Pen to go with him by coach to White Hall. So I got up and went with him, and by the way he began to observe to me some unkind dealing of mine to him a weeke or two since at the table, like a coxcomb, when I answered him pretty freely that I would not think myself to owe any man the service to do this or that because they would have it so (it was about taking of a mulct upon a purser for not keeping guard at Chatham when I was there), so he talked and I talked and let fall the discourse without giving or receiving any great satisfaction, and so to other discourse, but I shall know him still for a false knave. At White Hall we met the Duke in the Matted Gallery, and there he discoursed with us; and by and by my Lord Sandwich came and stood by, and talked; but it being St. Andrew’s, and a collar-day, he went to the Chappell, and we parted. From him and Sir W. Pen and I back again and ‘light at the ‘Change, and to the Coffee-house, where I heard the best story of a cheate intended by a Master of a ship, who had borrowed twice his money upon the bottomary, and as much more insured upon his ship and goods as they were worth, and then would have cast her away upon the coast of France, and there left her, refusing any pilott which was offered him; and so the Governor of the place took her and sent her over hither to find an owner, and so the ship is come safe, and goods and all; they all worth 500l., and he had one way or other taken 3000l.. The cause is to be tried to-morrow at Guildhall, where I intend to be.
Thence home to dinner, and then with my wife to her arithmetique. In the evening came W. Howe to see me, who tells me that my Lord hath been angry three or four days with him, would not speak to him; at last did, and charged him with having spoken to me about what he had observed concerning his Lordship, which W. Howe denying stoutly, he was well at ease; and continues very quiett, and is removing from Chelsy as fast as he can, but, methinks, both by my Lord’s looks upon me to-day, or it may be it is only my doubtfulness, and by W. Howe’s discourse, my Lord is not very well pleased, nor, it may be, will be a good while, which vexes me; but I hope all will over in time, or else I am but ill rewarded for my good service.
Anon he and I to the Temple and there parted, and I to my cozen Roger Pepys, whom I met going to his chamber; he was in haste, and to go out of town tomorrow. He tells me of a letter from my father which he will keep to read to me at his coming to town again. I perceive it is about my father’s jealousys concerning my wife’s doing ill offices with me against him only from the differences they had when she was there, which he very unwisely continues to have and troubles himself and friends about to speak to me in, as my Lord Sandwich, Mr. Moore, and my cozen Roger, which vexes me, but I must impute it to his age and care for my mother and Pall and so let it go.
After little discourse with him I took coach and home, calling upon my bookseller’s for two books, Rushworth’s and Scobell’s Collections. I shall make the King pay for them. The first I spent some time at the office to read and it is an excellent book. So home and spent the evening with my wife in arithmetique, and so to supper and to bed.
I end this month with my mind in good condition for any thing else, but my unhappy adventuring to disoblige my Lord by doing him service in representing to him the discourse of the world concerning him and his affairs.

called to observe like a guard at a gallery
the art refusing to be quiet

I look over it all and let it go
my books collect time

my mind in good condition
for venturing into the world


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 30 November 1663.

(Lord’s day). This morning I put on my best black cloth suit, trimmed with scarlett ribbon, very neat, with my cloake lined with velvett, and a new beaver, which altogether is very noble, with my black silk knit canons I bought a month ago.
I to church alone, my wife not going, and there I found my Lady Batten in a velvet gown, which vexed me that she should be in it before my wife, or that I am able to put her into one, but what cannot be, cannot be. However, when I came home I told my wife of it, and to see my weaknesse, I could on the sudden have found my heart to have offered her one, but second thoughts put it by, and indeed it would undo me to think of doing as Sir W. Batten and his Lady do, who has a good estate besides his office. A good dinner we had of boeuf a la mode, but not roasted so well as my wife used to do it. So after dinner I to the French Church, but that being too far begun I came back to St. Dunstan’s by six and heard a good sermon, and so home and to my office all the evening making up my accounts of this month, and blessed be God I have got up my crumb again to 770l., the most that ever I had yet, and good clothes a great many besides, which is a great mercy of God to me.
So home to supper and to bed.

I put on my best black
trimmed with black
silk on velvet gown

but O if I could have found my heart
that blessed crumb


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 29 November 1663.

We’d walk down the hill and pass
the orchid-sellers, the hawkers
of small, brightly colored birds
caught in traps deep in the mountains.
At the corner of Chanum, the dentist’s
shiny polished Chevy Del Ray parked
in his driveway. In the market,
the slime of fish guts underfoot
and the vivid green of seaweed
in sellers’ baskets. Pressing
deeper in, past the stalls displaying
tiers of sausages and the dry goods
section, eventually we’d come upon
the currency changers. We bought
bars of Hershey’s chocolate there,
or small expensive cans of Spam
and potato chips. Coming back
we took our time, circling the man-
made lake and the rowboats lazy
on its surface— this world
small as the hollow of a teacup,
the rare sound of a chopper overhead.
In every yard at dusk, the brittle
tines of brooms sweeping over stones.

Up and at the office sat all the morning, and at noon by Mr. Coventry’s coach to the ‘Change, and after a little while there where I met with Mr. Pierce, the chyrurgeon, who tells me for good newes that my Lord Sandwich is resolved to go no more to Chelsy, and told me he believed that I had been giving my Lord some counsel, which I neither denied nor affirmed, but seemed glad with him that he went thither no more, and so I home to dinner, and thence abroad to Paul’s Church Yard, and there looked upon the second part of Hudibras, which I buy not, but borrow to read, to see if it be as good as the first, which the world cry so mightily up, though it hath not a good liking in me, though I had tried by twice or three times reading to bring myself to think it witty. Back again home and to my office, and there late doing business and so home to supper and to bed. I have been told two or three times, but to-day for certain I am told how in Holland publickly they have pictured our King with reproach. One way is with his pockets turned the wrong side outward, hanging out empty; another with two courtiers picking of his pockets; and a third, leading of two ladies, while others abuse him; which amounts to great contempt.

tell me
which neither denied nor affirmed hit
not to see

which good times to bring myself
to think of at a public hanging


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 28 November 1663.

Is it irony or truth when you break
the fortune cookie open and find
an unmarked strip of paper?
What did you expect, the toenail
of a frog or the heart of a cow?
And when it says Every flower blooms
in its own sweet time
, does it mean
the lottery for sure in spring?
Pick up the fork that falls to the floor
from the dinner table, try to push
the yellow from the broken yolk back
into its envelope of white. Good news
will be brought to you by mail. Happiness
will bring you luck. Happy life is just
in front of you.
In case it’s true,
quick— take the fish off the line
and throw it back into the water.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Ledgers in file cabinets, receipt books yellow with age. Letters on thin blue aerogrammes. In 1977, what was the cost of a bottle of ink, a ream of paper, a brush? a one-way plane ticket? a winter coat? Starlings make dark liquid swirls across the skyline, and then begin again— each speck an accumulation of years, each shimmering gap the sum of things we packed into our pockets, our carry-ons, our check-ins. In the playground, the children find all manner of things in the sand: blue plastic hair comb, bent spoon, marble with a dusky orange flame still trapped inside. The moon gleams and the tide tugs gently at each boat’s anchor line.

What is the character for life pausing
at the threshold, wondering who will signal
when it’s time to slip out of the harbor?

 

In response to Via Negativa: Winter Harbor.

Up and to my office, where busy with great delight all the morning, and at noon to the ‘Change, and so home to dinner with my poor wife, and with great content to my office again, and there hard at work upon stating the account of the freights due to the King from the East India Company till late at night, and so home to supper and to bed. My wife mightily pleased with my late discourse of getting a trip over to Calais, or some other port of France, the next summer, in one of the yachts, and I believe I shall do it, and it makes good sport that my mayde Jane dares not go, and Besse is wild to go, and is mad for joy, but yet will be willing to stay if Jane hath a mind, which is the best temper in this and all other things that ever I knew in my life.

ice busy with light
freights the yachts

my wild joy at this
other life


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 27 November 1663.

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and at noon I to the ‘Change, and there met with Mr. Cutler the merchant, who would needs have me home to his house by the Dutch Church, and there in an old but good house, with his wife and mother, a couple of plain old women, I dined a good plain dinner, and his discourse after dinner with me upon matters of the navy victualling very good and worth my hearing, and so home to my office in the afternoon with my mind full of business, and there at it late, and so home to supper to my poor wife, and to bed, myself being in a little pain in one of my testicles, by a stroke I did give it in pulling up my breeches yesterday over-eagerly, but I will lay nothing to it till I see whether it will cease of itself or no.
The plague, it seems, grows more and more at Amsterdam; and we are going upon making of all ships coming from thence and Hambrough, or any other infected places, to perform their Quarantine (for thirty days as Sir Rd. Browne expressed it in the order of the Council, contrary to the import of the word, though in the general acceptation it signifies now the thing, not the time spent in doing it) in Holehaven, a thing never done by us before.

who needs his hearing so full of nothing
we are all infected

quarantine the word in a hole


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 26 November 1663.

“…And then you will find every pain and every pleasure, every friend and every enemy, every hope and every error, every blade of grass and every ray of sunshine once more, and the whole fabric of things which make up your life.” ~ Notes on the Eternal Recurrence, Friedrich Nietzsche

In a crowded room, a cafeteria perhaps;
a gallery, school hallway, hospital corridor.

The nave of a church as people press
toward the exit, dipping their fingertips

in the holy water before they go— I feel
your eyes on me before I turn to meet you,

before I even learn your name. What if someone
told the cheerful birds whose notes tumble

out of their throats against a backdrop
of trees and water and sky: time, like love

and death, knows no bounds. Whether or not
I trimmed my hair or nails, or crossed

the street or washed my hair before bed:
I do not think I could revise anything,

even if I tried. A musky smell precedes rain;
everything glitters after it has fallen.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.