Sun worshipper

Up, but weary, and to the office, where we sat all the morning. Before I went to the office there came Bagwell’s wife to me to speak for her husband. I liked the woman very well and stroked her under the chin, but could not find in my heart to offer anything uncivil to her, she being, I believe, a very modest woman. At noon with Mr. Coventry to the African house, and to my Lord Peterborough’s business again, and then to dinner, where, before dinner, we had the best oysters I have seen this year, and I think as good in all respects as ever I eat in my life. I eat a great many. Great, good company at dinner, among others Sir Martin Noell, who told us the dispute between him, as farmer of the Additional Duty, and the East India Company, whether callicos be linnen or no; which he says it is, having been ever esteemed so: they say it is made of cotton woole, and grows upon trees, not like flax or hempe. But it was carried against the Company, though they stand out against the verdict.
Thence home and to the office, where late, and so home to supper and to bed, and had a very pleasing and condescending answer from my poor father to-day in answer to my angry discontentful letter to him the other day, which pleases me mightily.

I could not find my heart
to offer to her
she being an oven

I have seen great trees
like an answer to the day

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 27 February 1663/64.


When I read that the first
all-female soccer team from Tibet

who were to lead the opening day
parade at the Cotton Bowl Stadium

then play for the Dallas Cup—
the first sports team of any sex

to represent Tibet in a tournament
on American soil— have been denied

visas by the US Embassy who declared they
“have no good reason to visit the US,”

I want to get people together to kick something
really hard, send it sailing into a clearly marked

target rimmed in orange at the end of a field,
and score and score and score and score.


Up, and after dressing myself handsomely for riding, I out, and by water to Westminster, to Mr. Creed’s chamber, and after drinking some chocolate, and playing on the vyall, Mr. Mallard being there, upon Creed’s new vyall, which proves, methinks, much worse than mine, and, looking upon his new contrivance of a desk and shelves for books, we set out from an inne hard by, whither Mr. Coventry’s horse was carried, and round about the bush through bad ways to Highgate. Good discourse in the way had between us, and it being all day a most admirable pleasant day, we, upon consultation, had stopped at the Cocke, a mile on this side Barnett, being unwilling to put ourselves to the charge or doubtful acceptance of any provision against my Lord’s coming by, and there got something and dined, setting a boy to look towards Barnett Hill, against their coming; and after two or three false alarms, they come, and we met the coach very gracefully, and I had a kind receipt from both Lord and Lady as I could wish, and some kind discourse, and then rode by the coach a good way, and so fell to discoursing with several of the people, there being a dozen attending the coach, and another for the mayds and parson. Among others talking with W. Howe, he told me how my Lord in his hearing the other day did largely tell my Lord Peterborough and Povy (who went with them down to Hinchinbrooke) how and when he discarded Creed, and took me to him, and that since the Duke of York has several times thanked him for me, which did not a little please me, and anon I desiring Mr. Howe to tell me upon occasion this discourse happened, he desired me to say nothing of it now, for he would not have my Lord to take notice of our being together, but he would tell me another time, which put me into some trouble to think what he meant by it. But when we came to my Lord’s house, I went in; and whether it was my Lord’s neglect, or general indifference, I know not, but he made me no kind of compliment there; and, methinks, the young ladies look somewhat highly upon me. So I went away without bidding adieu to anybody, being desirous not to be thought too servile. But I do hope and believe that my Lord do yet value me as high as ever, though he dare not admit me to the freedom he once did, and that my Lady is still the same woman. So rode home and there found my uncle Wight. ‘Tis an odd thing as my wife tells me his caressing her and coming on purpose to give her visits, but I do not trouble myself for him at all, but hope the best and very good effects of it. He being gone I eat something and my wife. I told all this day’s passages, and she to give me very good and rational advice how to behave myself to my Lord and his family, by slighting every body but my Lord and Lady, and not to seem to have the least society or fellowship with them, which I am resolved to do, knowing that it is my high carriage that must do me good there, and to appear in good clothes and garbe.
To the office, and being weary, early home to bed.

a chocolate horse
carried all the way home
odd to eat it now

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 26 February 1663/64.


Up and to the office, where we sat, and thence with Mr. Coventry by coach to the glasshouse and there dined, and both before and after did my Lord Peterborough’s accounts. Thence home to the office, and there did business till called by Creed, and with him by coach (setting my wife at my brother’s) to my Lord’s, and saw the young ladies, and talked a little with them, and thence to White Hall, a while talking but doing no business, but resolved of going to meet my Lord tomorrow, having got a horse of Mr. Coventry to-day. So home, taking up my wife, and after doing something at my office home, God forgive me, disturbed in my mind out of my jealousy of my wife tomorrow when I am out of town, which is a hell to my mind, and yet without all reason. God forgive me for it, and mend me. So home, and getting my things ready for me, weary to bed.

O ass
my other white horse
forgive my jealousy

I am out of hell
and all ready for wear

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 25 February 1663/64.


It’s noon— You hold
in your hand a golden apple
or blood orange, benign
yellow sickle of a banana.

You peel ruffled fronds off
a head of lettuce and slice
an heirloom tomato into
irregular rounds. The thick-

slab bacon you’ve crisped
to go into your sandwich
has traveled from the belly
of an animal you did not see

hang from a hook with others
on a conveyor belt. Neither
did you see who slit it
down the middle, fanned

its insides open like pages
of a book, hosed it down
with water from a long,
dark hose. Someone

had to clean the blood
off the abattoir floor, yes?
Someone had to pick dark
olives off the trees, press

their bodies to a pulp to render
their oil. Nothing you do on a regular
basis compares to what it takes to bring
you such convenience. When next you stoop

to tie a shoelace, imagine hours bent
to the ground like this, every day for months
and years. Imagine nothing else except
the labors no one else wants to do.


(Ash-Wednesday). Up and by water, it being a very fine morning, to White Hall, and there to speak with Sir Ph. Warwicke, but he was gone out to chappell, so I spent much of the morning walking in the Park, and going to the Queene’s chappell, where I staid and saw their masse, till a man came and bid me go out or kneel down: so I did go out. And thence to Somerset House; and there into the chappell, where Monsieur d’Espagne used to preach. But now it is made very fine, and was ten times more crouded than the Queene’s chappell at St. James’s; which I wonder at. Thence down to the garden of Somerset House, and up and down the new building, which in every respect will be mighty magnificent and costly. I staid a great while talking with a man in the garden that was sawing of a piece of marble, and did give him 6d. to drink. He told me much of the nature and labour of the worke, how he could not saw above 4 inches of the stone in a day, and of a greater not above one or two, and after it is sawed, then it is rubbed with coarse and then with finer and finer sand till they come to putty, and so polish it as smooth as glass. Their saws have no teeth, but it is the sand only which the saw rubs up and down that do the thing.
Thence by water to the Coffee-house, and there sat with Alderman Barker talking of hempe and the trade, and thence to the ‘Change a little, and so home and dined with my wife, and then to the office till the evening, and then walked a while merrily with my wife in the garden, and so she gone, I to work again till late, and so home to supper and to bed.

the war crowd talking
smooth as glass

their saws have no teeth
but only rub and bark

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 24 February 1663/64.

Mardi Gras

Up, it being Shrove Tuesday, and at the office sat all the morning, at noon to the ‘Change and there met with Sir W. Rider, and of a sudden knowing what I had at home, brought him and Mr. Cutler and Mr. Cooke, clerk to Mr. Secretary Morrice, a sober and pleasant man, and one that I knew heretofore, when he was my Lord’s secretary at Dunkirke. I made much of them and had a pretty dinner for a sudden. We talked very pleasantly, and they many good discourses of their travels abroad. After dinner they gone, I to my office, where doing many businesses very late, but to my good content to see how I grow in estimation every day more and more, and have things given more oftener than I used to have formerly, as to have a case of very pretty knives with agate shafts by Mrs. Russell. So home and to bed.
This day, by the blessing of God, I have lived thirty-one years in the world; and, by the grace of God, I find myself not only in good health in every thing, and particularly as to the stone, but only pain upon taking cold, and also in a fair way of coming to a better esteem and estate in the world, than ever I expected. But I pray God give me a heart to fear a fall, and to prepare for it!

Shrove Tuesday rider
give me pretty knives
with agate shafts

cold world
give me a heart to pare

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 23 February 1663/64.

Triptych: Talismans

If I wrap this belt of bells
around my hips, each step
I take will sound the radius
of a warding-off spell. Come then,
hair of noble, bounding horses;
come, phalanx of brass hawk bells
heated in the mouth of fire.


At the height of summer, I stood
in front of ancient double doors
carved with a frieze of saints
and angels. But now they are our own,
all their blond curls and garments
plinthed in darkest wood— narra,
santol, acacia, yakan, almon


The sentinel led us out through cool
marble hallways, past massive curving
staircases and doorways to ornate salons.
For every stone, I counted the invisible
pulse. For every pillar, a catalog of names
erased. Beneath a tower, tongues knell
the surplus of what history costs.