Introspectator

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up and walked forth first to the Minerys to Brown’s, and there with great pleasure saw and bespoke several instruments, and so to Cornhill to Mr. Cades, and there went up into his warehouse to look for a map or two, and there finding great plenty of good pictures, God forgive me! how my mind run upon them, and bought a little one for my wife’s closett presently, and concluded presently of buying 10l. worth, upon condition he would give me the buying of them. Now it is true I did still within me resolve to make the King one way or other pay for them, though I saved it to him another way, yet I find myself too forward to fix upon the expense, and came away with a resolution of buying them, but do hope that I shall not upon second thoughts do it without a way made out before I buy them to myself how to do [it] without charge to my main stock. Thence to the Coffee-house, and sat long in good discourse with some gentlemen concerning the Roman Empire. So home and found Mr. Hollyard there, and he stayed and dined with us, we having a pheasant to dinner. He gone, I all the afternoon with my wife to cards, and, God forgive me! to see how the very discourse of plays, which I shall be at liberty to see after New Year’s Day next, do set my mind upon them, but I must be forced to stint myself very strictly before I begin, or else I fear I shall spoil all.
In the evening came my aunt Wight’s kinswoman to see how my wife do, with a compliment from my aunt, which I take kindly as it is unusual for her to do it, but I do perceive my uncle is very kind to me of late.
So to my office writing letters, and then to read and make an end of Rushworth, which I did, and do say that it is a book the most worth reading for a man of my condition or any man that hopes to come to any publique condition in the world that I do know.
So home to supper and to bed.

there is a map of my mind

I resolve to find myself on it
but no second thoughts

my coffee is an empire
my car the very end

of the world that I know


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 26 December 1663.

Before the Hit, They Removed my Leash

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

~ afterRight Before The Hit, They Removed My Leash,” acrylic on paper by Ulysses Duterte Jr. (2016); scroll midway down the linked page to view an image of this painting.

~ especially for every child victim in Philippine extrajudicial killings/the “drug war”

An ordinary sky is the hypothesis
at the edge of a blue window riddled
with holes. I am every child that crawled

unassuming into a bandanna of light,
seeing only the smooth beveled heel
of a slingshot, a trampoline of mud

mixed with runoff from the gutter.
I did not fear the mastiff transfixed
on its leather halter, the marble glaze

in its eyes. How should we put the rest
of the equation together— the M-16’s
watery shadow as though affixed

to no hands, the tank idling on the corner?
Still we rise to the foreground, whom you
have the audacity to call innocents.

Let me undo every expectation of what’s meant
as a target. Watch me explode again and again
through each scene’s tearable fabric,

the milk around my mouth not yet dry:
unseen forces tethering me in the crosshairs,
taut as a laser pointed directly at my heart.

*

Endings

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Let us not spend
these remaining days being experimental
and eating nothing
Luisa A. Igloria, “If these are the last days

Is this the end of days
or simply the end of the year?
Either way, we behave
the same: for breakfast, we eat
cookies full of butter and nuts.
We begin home repair projects unlikely
to be finished. We eat salad
for lunch, because we may survive
and need some nutrients.
In the afternoon, we meet friends
for tea and conversations that deepen
in the gathering dusk. During the evening lit
only by the table-top trees, we eat
the last of the cookies and await
the final answers.

Review

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Christmas day). Lay long talking pleasantly with my wife, but among other things she begun, I know not whether by design or chance, to enquire what she should do if I should by any accident die, to which I did give her some slight answer; but shall make good use of it to bring myself to some settlement for her sake, by making a will as soon as I can.
Up and to church, where Mr. Mills made an ordinary sermon, and so home and dined with great pleasure with my wife, and all the afternoon first looking out at window and seeing the boys playing at many several sports in our back yard by Sir W. Pen’s, which reminded me of my own former times, and then I began to read to my wife upon the globes with great pleasure and to good purpose, for it will be pleasant to her and to me to have her understand these things.
In the evening at the office, where I staid late reading Rushworth, which is a most excellent collection of the beginning of the late quarrels in this kingdom, and so home to supper and to bed, with good content of mind.

if I should die I shall use it
as an ordinary window

seeing the boys playing
in our back yard

on a pleasant evening
at the beginning of a quarrel


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 25 December 1663.

Day of Grace

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

My friend bags oranges and bananas,
adds a couple of bottles of water

whenever she heads out the door to work.
Sometimes a muffin, sometimes half

a loaf of bread— She’ll give this
to the man who stands with a sign

often at the intersection, begging
for work, for anything to tide

him over. The tide is high, and it
keeps rising. How many of us

will it take to keep it from coming
and obliterating us all? Meanwhile

the dumpsters fill with residue
of wrapping paper, boxes, gift

tags, ribbons. It is the day of grace
or the day after. On the sidewalk,

a tree lies on its side, dry, brown,
needling the air for lost ornaments.

A dog sniffs at the branches. A street away,
two fire trucks pull up to a yellow house.

From darkness

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

We go through the days, their
cracked bowls and coffee cups,
parades of them from table to sink
to cupboard and back again. We eat
the bread before it grows stale,
we peel and slice the precious fruit
before it blackens, rots, or turns
to mush. Forgive our little economies,
our hard to break habits from living
so long without. We want to see
that day bereft of suffering,
a night spangled with the bearable
light of stars, no longer made
long by sacrifice or sorrow.

Solace

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes; and though it was a most foggy morning, and cold, yet with a gally down to Eriffe, several times being at a loss whither we went. There I mustered two ships of the King’s, lent by him to the Guiny Company, which are manned better than ours at far less wages. Thence on board two of the King’s, one of them the “Leopard,” Captain Beech, who I find an able and serious man. He received me civilly, and his wife was there, a very well bred and knowing woman, born at Antwerp, but speaks as good English as myself, and an ingenious woman. Here was also Sir G. Carteret’s son, who I find a pretty, but very talking man, but good humour.
Thence back again, entertaining myself upon my sliding rule with great content, and called at Woolwich, where Mr. Chr. Pett having an opportunity of being alone did tell me his mind about several things he thought I was offended with him in, and told me of my kindness to his assistant. I did give him such an answer as I thought was fit and left him well satisfied, he offering to do me all the service, either by draughts or modells that I should desire. Thence straight home, being very cold, but yet well, I thank God, and at home found my wife making mince pies, and by and by comes in Captain Ferrers to see us, and, among other talke, tells us of the goodness of the new play of “Henry VIII.,” which makes me think [it] long till my time is out; but I hope before I go I shall set myself such a stint as I may not forget myself as I have hitherto done till I was forced for these months last past wholly to forbid myself the seeing of one.
He gone I to my office and there late writing and reading, and so home to bed.

foggy morning
I find myself alone
with a cold pie


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 24 December 1663.

To a hammer, everything looks like a nail—

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

It wants to pound out demands
for answers, to drive a point
into the wood’s knotted core.

Facets of stone may be blistered,
a force delivered in one blow or
in several. A sheet of metal

may be peened. But who wants
to be at the receiving end
of only one motion, to catch

the downstroke after the swing?
There are those who’ve learned
the art of mortising joints together

without metal, those who’ve mastered
a hundred ways to fold paper, to ink
with a brush the equivalent of a blow.

Gentrified

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes and my wife; and being in as mourning a dress as we could, at present, without cost, put ourselves into, we by Sir W. Pen’s coach to Mrs. Turner’s, at Salisbury Court, where I find my Lord’s coach and six horses. We staid till almost eleven o’clock, and much company came, and anon, the corps being put into the hearse, and the scutcheons set upon it, we all took coach, and I and my wife and Auditor Beale in my Lord Sandwich’s coach, and went next to Mrs. Turner’s mourning coach, and so through all the City and Shoreditch, I believe about twenty coaches, and four or five with six and four horses.
Being come thither, I made up to the mourners, and bidding them a good journey, I took leave and back again, and setting my wife into a hackney out of Bishopsgate Street, I sent her home, and I to the ‘Change and Auditor Beale about his business.
Did much business at theChange, and so home to dinner, and then to my office, and there late doing business also to my great content to see God bless me in my place and opening honest ways, I hope to get a little money to lay up and yet to live handsomely. So to supper and to bed. My wife having strange fits of the toothache, some times on this, and by and by on that side of her tooth, which is not common.

in as mourning a dress
as a clock or an auditor

we mourn the city
and we mourn the street

the change of a great place
into money

some strange fit
of tooth on tooth


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 23 December 1663.

Close call

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up and there comes my she cozen Angier, of Cambridge, to me to speak about her son. But though I love them, and have reason so to do, yet, Lord! to consider how cold I am to speak to her, for fear of giving her too much hopes of expecting either money or anything else from me besides my care of her son. I let her go without drinking, though that was against my will, being forced to hasten to the office, where we sat all the morning, and at noon I to Sir R. Ford’s, where Sir R. Browne (a dull but it seems upon action a hot man), and he and I met upon setting a price upon the freight of a barge sent to France to the Duchess of Orleans. And here by discourse I find them greatly crying out against the choice of Sir J. Cutler to be Treasurer for Paul’s upon condition that he give 1500l. towards it, and it seems he did give it upon condition that he might be Treasurer for the work, which they say will be worth three times as much money, and talk as if his being chosen to the office will make people backward to give, but I think him as likely a man as either of them, or better.
The business being done we parted, Sir R. Ford never inviting me to dine with him at all, and I was not sorry for it.
Home and dined. I had a letter from W. Howe that my Lord hath ordered his coach and six horses for me to-morrow, which pleases me mightily to think that my Lord should do so much, hoping thereby that his anger is a little over.
After dinner abroad with my wife by coach to Westminster, and set her at Mrs. Hunt’s while I about my business, having in our way met with Captain Ferrers luckily to speak to him about my coach, who was going in all haste thither, and I perceive the King and Duke and all the Court was going to the Duke’s playhouse to see “Henry VIII.” acted, which is said to be an admirable play. But, Lord! to see how near I was to have broken my oathe, or run the hazard of 20s. losse, so much my nature was hot to have gone thither; but I did not go, but having spoke with W. Howe and known how my Lord did do this kindly as I would have it, I did go to Westminster Hall, and there met Hawley, and walked a great while with him. Among other discourse encouraging him to pursue his love to Mrs. Lane, while God knows I had a roguish meaning in it.
Thence calling my wife home by coach, calling at several places, and to my office, where late, and so home to supper and to bed.
This day I hear for certain that my Lady Castlemaine is turned Papist, which the Queene for all do not much like, thinking that she do it not for conscience sake.
I heard to-day of a great fray lately between Sir H. Finch’s coachman, who struck with his whip a coachman of the King’s to the losse of one of his eyes; at which the people of the Exchange seeming to laugh and make sport with some words of contempt to him, my Lord Chamberlin did come from the King to shut up the ‘Change, and by the help of a justice, did it; but upon petition to the King it was opened again.

too much dull freight
will make people think like horses

I play to play
but how near I was to have broken

like the loss of words
to a shut pen


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 22 December 1663.