Fast away

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and among other things Sir W. Warren came about some contract, and there did at the open table, Sir W. Batten not being there; openly defy him, and insisted how Sir W. Batten did endeavour to oppose him in everything that he offered. Sir W. Pen took him up for it, like a counterfeit rogue, though I know he was as much pleased to hear him talk so as any man there. But upon his speaking no more was said but to the business. At noon we broke up and I to the ‘Change awhile, and so home again to dinner, my head aching mightily with being overcharged with business. We had to dinner, my wife and I, a fine turkey and a mince pie, and dined in state, poor wretch, she and I, and have thus kept our Christmas together all alone almost, having not once been out, but to-morrow my vowes are all out as to plays and wine, but I hope I shall not be long before I come to new ones, so much good, and God’s blessing, I find to have attended them. Thence to the office and did several businesses and answered several people, but my head aching and it being my great night of accounts, I went forth, took coach, and to my brother’s, but he was not within, and so I back again and sat an hour or two at the Coffee [house], hearing some simple discourse about Quakers being charmed by a string about their wrists, and so home, and after a little while at my office, I home and supped, and so had a good fire in my chamber and there sat till 4 o’clock in the morning making up my accounts and writing this last Journall of the year. And first I bless God I do, after a large expense, even this month, by reason of Christmas, and some payments to my father, and other things extraordinary, find that I am worth in money, besides all my household stuff, or any thing of Brampton, above 800l., whereof in my Lord Sandwich’s hand, 700l., and the rest in my hand. So that there is not above 5l. of all my estate in money at this minute out of my hands and my Lord’s. For which the good God be pleased to give me a thankful heart and a mind careful to preserve this and increase it.
I do live at my lodgings in the Navy Office, my family being, besides my wife and I, Jane Gentleman, Besse, our excellent, good-natured cookmayde, and Susan, a little girle, having neither man nor boy, nor like to have again a good while, living now in most perfect content and quiett, and very frugally also; my health pretty good, but only that I have been much troubled with a costiveness which I am labouring to get away, and have hopes of doing it. At the office I am well, though envied to the devil by Sir William Batten, who hates me to death, but cannot hurt me. The rest either love me, or at least do not show otherwise, though I know Sir W. Pen to be a false knave touching me, though he seems fair.
My father and mother well in the country; and at this time the young ladies of Hinchingbroke with them, their house having the small-pox in it.
The Queene after a long and sore sicknesse is become well again; and the King minds his mistresse a little too much, if it pleased God! but I hope all things will go well, and in the Navy particularly, wherein I shall do my duty whatever comes of it.
The great talke is the designs of the King of France, whether against the Pope or King of Spayne nobody knows; but a great and a most promising Prince he is, and all the Princes of Europe have their eye upon him. My wife’s brother come to great unhappiness by the ill-disposition, my wife says, of his wife, and her poverty, which she now professes, after all her husband’s pretence of a great fortune, but I see none of them, at least they come not to trouble me.
At present I am concerned for my cozen Angier, of Cambridge, lately broke in his trade, and this day am sending his son John, a very rogue, to sea.
My brother Tom I know not what to think of, for I cannot hear whether he minds his business or not; and my brother John at Cambridge, with as little hopes of doing good there, for when he was here he did give me great cause of dissatisfaction with his manner of life. Pall with my father, and God knows what she do there, or what will become of her, for I have not anything yet to spare her, and she grows now old, and must be disposed of one way or other.
The Duchesse of York, at this time, sicke of the meazles, but is growing well again.
The Turke very far entered into Germany, and all that part of the world at a losse what to expect from his proceedings.
Myself, blessed be God! in a good way, and design and resolution of sticking to my business to get a little money with doing the best service I can to the King also; which God continue! So ends the old year.

like a counterfeit head
blessing no one
or a hand all out of hands

like a devil
who cannot touch
or a god of poverty

spare measle
ticking tin
so ends the old year

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 31 December 1663.

So ends the old year

When the water recedes we see
the sludge at the bottom: a crust
of gray matter and castoff wrappers,
a yellow plastic gallon container,
the skin from downed tree limbs
unravelling. When the tide rises
the surface looks clearer.
None of this is of any real
consequence to the small fleet
of white wading birds picking
through the shallows there.


In response to Via Negativa: Fast away.

Who knows how to begin

You may take your shoes off by the door
You may hang your coat on the rack
You may use the facilities
You may go upstairs and open
the first door on the left
You may lie on the sheets and cry
into the pillows
You may fall asleep and not
hear the bell for the evening meal
You may sit in the armchair
You may read and write by the window
and put a teakettle on the stove
You may draw the shades open
or you may keep them closed
You may open the door to the balcony
and sit on the wicker chair
You may cross out one line or rewrite
the same one ten times over
You may wrap yourself in a blanket
and go out to look at the stars
You may count down in silence
and around each letter of your name
You may sit in the warm bathwater
You may look at the ceiling
or close your eyes
You may listen as hard as you can
as frogs begin to sing in the ditch
You may leave with this last
note still ringing in your ears


In response to Via Negativa: Incipient.


Up betimes and by coach to my Lord Sandwich, who I met going out, and he did aske me how his cozen, my wife; did, the first time he hath done so since his being offended, and, in my conscience, he would be glad to be free with me again, but he knows not how to begin. So he went out, and I through the garden to Mr. Coventry, where I saw Mr. Ch. Pett bringing him a modell, and indeed it is a pretty one, for a New Year’s gift; but I think the work not better done than mine.
With him by coach to London, with good and friendly discourse of business and against Sir W. Batten and his foul dealings. So leaving him at the Guiny House I to the Coffee House, whither came Mr. Grant and Sir W. Petty, with whom I talked, and so did many, almost all the house there, about his new vessel, wherein he did give me such satisfaction in every point that I am almost confident she will prove an admirable invention.
So home to dinner, and after being upon the ‘Change awhile I dined with my wife, who took physique to-day, and so to my office, and there all the afternoon till late at night about office business, and so to supper and to bed.

who knows how to begin

through the garden
ringing and pretty

New Year’s is of use to whom

a new invention
a noon at night

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 30 December 1663.

The 10 best best-of lists of 2016

  1. Best and Worst Ads of 2016: The Things We Can’t Unsee (Wall Street Journal)
    Weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin has been targeting children with propaganda, and the WSJ thinks that’s just great.
  2. The best and biggest memes of 2016 (The Daily Dot)
    The Romans had bread and circuses; we have pizza and memes.
  3. Top 10 Food and Restaurant Trends of 2016 (Forbes)
    Not bullshit hipster fads like food trucks and artisanal salt, but actual trends.
  4. Best in Beer 2016: Readers’ Choice & Editors’ Picks (Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine)
    Holy hell, people. It’s just beer.
  5. The 20 games you shouldn’t miss in 2016 (Boing Boing)
    I don’t like playing video games, but I love reading about them.
  6. The Listening Chaos: Year-End Chaos, Part V (Indy Metal Vault)
    The five best metal albums of 2016 as chosen by a poet and English professor in Indianapolis.
  7. Best Books of 2016 (Goodreads)
    Some best-of lists stop at 25 or 100. Wimps! Here are the 1,154 best books published in 2016.
  8. The 11 Best Viral Videos of 2016 Out of the 12 I Knew About (Paste)
    “One thing that can be said about 2016 is: It had some viral videos in it.”
  9. The Best (and Worst) New Yorkers of 2016 (Village Voice)
    Subway Dog would’ve made such a great president. Sigh.
  10. Favorite poetry books of 2016: a crowd-sourced compendium (Via Negativa)
    Poetry lovers. We’re here, we’re sincere, get used to it.


~ after Remedios Varo, “Papilla Estelar (Star Slurry/Celestial Pablum),” 1958

My lonely office
is to climb the stairs

that stretch
from the domestic world

into a citadel among
the stars.

I have no child, I have
no parakeet and yet

am most maternal here:
one hand turns

the crank handle attached
to a grinding plate;

the other maneuvers
a long-handled spoon

to feed this thin gruel
of stars to the moon’s

pale crescent, shimmering
behind bars. We watch

each other carefully, each
movement lyric and precise:

should each one’s light
falter or dim— moon, woman,

sky— night’s silences
would ring the centuries.

Pride goeth

Up and to the office, where all the morning sitting, at noon to the ‘change, and there I found and brought home Mr. Pierse the surgeon to dinner. Where I found also Mr. Luellin and Mount, and merry at dinner, but their discourse so free about clap and other foul discourse that I was weary of them. But after dinner Luellin took me up to my chamber to give me 50l. for the service I did him, though not so great as he expected and I intended. But I told him that I would not sell my liberty to any man. If he would give me any thing by another’s hand I would endeavour to deserve it, but I will never give him himself thanks for it, not acknowledging the receiving of any, which he told me was reasonable. I did also tell him that neither this nor any thing should make me to do any thing that should not be for the King’s service besides. So we parted and left them three at home with my wife going to cards, and I to my office and there staid late.
Sir W. Pen came like a cunning rogue to sit and talk with me about office business and freely about the Comptroller’s business of the office, to which I did give him free answers and let him make the best of them. But I know him to be a knave, and do say nothing that I fear to have said again.
Anon came Sir W. Warren, and after talking of his business of the masts and helping me to understand some foul dealing in the business of Woods we fell to other talk, and particularly to speak of some means how to part this great familiarity between Sir W. Batten and Sir J. Minnes, and it is easy to do by any good friend of Sir J. Minnes to whom it will be a good service, and he thinks that Sir J. Denham will be a proper man for it, and so do I. So after other discourse we parted, and I home and to bed.

an urge to clap
but not to give a hand
to serve but never to service

like the woods we fell
familiar as any friend

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 29 December 1663.


Up and by coach to my Lord’s lodgings, but he was gone abroad, so I lost my pains, but, however, walking through White Hall I heard the King was gone to play at Tennis, so I down to the new Tennis Court; and saw him and Sir Arthur Slingsby play against my Lord of Suffolke and my Lord Chesterfield. The King beat three, and lost two sets, they all, and he particularly playing well, I thought. Thence went and spoke with the Duke of Albemarle about his wound at Newhall, but I find him a heavy dull man, methinks, by his answers to me. Thence to the King’s Head ordinary and there dined, and found Creed there, but we met and dined and parted without any thing more than “How do you?” After dinner straight on foot to Mr. Hollyard’s, and there paid him 3l. in full for his physic and work to my wife about her evill below; but whether it is cured for ever or no I cannot tell, but he says it will never come to anything, though it may be it may ooze now and then a little. So home and found my wife gone out with Will (whom she sent for as she do now a days upon occasion) to have a tooth drawn, she having it seems been in great pain all day, and at night came home with it drawn, and pretty well. This evening I had a stove brought me to the office to try, but it being an old one it smokes as much as if there was nothing but a hearth as I had before, but it may be great new ones do not, and therefore I must enquire further. So at night home to supper and to bed.
The Duchesse of York is fallen sicke of the meazles.

road lost in a field
lost in marl

a wound is my cure for anything
though it may ooze now and then

out with a tooth
having been in pain all day

I am raw
and old as the earth

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 28 December 1663.


What map unrolls at the touch of water,
or when a shadow crosses the street

ahead of its owner? Be careful
not to pluck a flower from the hedge,

not to put a stone in your pocket
just because it gleams like gold

in a tooth. The birds bring news
of the loneliness of angels.

Did you think they have no history,
no longing comparable to yours?

Fingers press up against the glass
to meet your own. Their weight

is barely noticeable, an eyelash
smudge left on the surface.

Time takes the harp of the moon away:
brings back islands, unfinished bridges.


In response to Via Negativa: Introspectator.


Up and to church alone and so home to dinner with my wife very pleasant and pleased with one another’s company, and in our general enjoyment one of another, better we think than most other couples do. So after dinner to the French church, but came too late, and so back to our owne church, where I slept all the sermon the Scott preaching, and so home, and in the evening Sir J. Minnes and I met at Sir W. Pen’s about ordering some business of the Navy, and so I home to supper, discourse, prayers, and bed.

one and one other
and one other other
evening prayers

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 27 December 1663.