(Lord’s day). Up and ready, and all the morning in my chamber looking over and settling some Brampton businesses. At noon to dinner, where the remains of yesterday’s venison and a couple of brave green geese, which we are fain to eat alone, because they will not keepe, which troubled us.
After dinner I close to my business, and before the evening did end it with great content, and my mind eased by it. Then up and spent the evening walking with my wife talking, and it thundering and lightning all the evening, and this yeare have had the most of thunder and lightning they say of any in man’s memory, and so it is, it seems, in France and everywhere else. So to prayers and to bed.

a couple of green geese we are
alone with the evening light

thunder and lightning it seems
everywhere else

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 3 July 1664.


I know you have layers like cake—
pink speckled, blue agate, white

like a heat or cold we’ve never imagined.
When I scrub around my ankle, flakes

fall off like little pieces of parchment.
But you never show your heart even after

all that abrasion. When I was a girl,
I wanted to lay your cool grey shard

across my tongue and be transformed
into a flying goddess. Perhaps I am

not yet worthy. Perhaps I must learn
to throw myself harder yet lighter

across the surface, leaving a wide
reverb of rings in my wake.


Up and to the office, where all the morning. At noon to the ‘Change, and there, which is strange, I could meet with nobody that I could invite home to my venison pasty, but only Mr. Alsopp and Mr. Lanyon, whom I invited last night, and a friend they brought along with them. So home and with our venison pasty we had other good meat and good discourse. After dinner sat close to discourse about our business of the victualling of the garrison of Tangier, taking their prices of all provisions, and I do hope to order it so that they and I also may get something by it, which do much please me, for I hope I may get nobly and honestly with profit to the King. They being gone came Sir W. Warren, and he and I discoursed long about the business of masts, and then in the evening to my office, where late writing letters, and then home to look over some Brampton papers, which I am under an oathe to dispatch before I spend one half houre in any pleasure or go to bed before 12 o’clock, to which, by the grace of God, I will be true. Then to bed.
When I came home I found that to-morrow being Sunday I should gain nothing by doing it to-night, and to-morrow I can do it very well and better than to-night. I went to bed before my time, but with a resolution of doing the thing to better purpose to-morrow.

a change to my past
is the price of visions

one long look under the bed
will be true tomorrow

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 2 July 1664.

Sympathetic magic

banana fritter
or sardine or
uncut smoked

egg fried
or soft or
(never scrambled)

One more
egg fried
or soft or
(never scrambled)

To be eaten
thus: all items
in order to make
a perfect
test score

Its long shadow

Every year since 1990,
on the 16th of July we float

paper offerings and flower boats
on the lake and ring the church

bells at half past 4, remembering
the earthquake that struck

our mountain city in the north—
how in its aftermath we pulled

the dead out of fallen buildings
and stacked them three deep

on the roadsides, how the only two
funeral parlors in town ran out

of coffins. We counted my father among
the dead, though it was his heart

that succumbed a few days after
the temblors. No matter what

the cause— pinned under broken
hotel pillars, buried in a bus

under a mountain avalanche, crushed
in the ordinary rubble of our damaged

homes— we knew Death as a mouth
that yawned awake in the bowels

of the earth and then went foraging.
For days and days, we followed

the stench of where it was last
seen. Flies led rescue parties down

to sightless pockets where bodies
slumped beyond the reach of trackers

and machines. We saved what could be
saved, hoisted the living back into

the world— until it tired of us and left,
its shadow dark as buzzard wing.

Small bladder blues

Up and within all the morning, first bringing down my Tryangle to my chamber below, having a new frame made proper for it to stand on. By and by comes Dr. Burnett, who assures me that I have an ulcer either in the kidneys or bladder, for my water, which he saw yesterday, he is sure the sediment is not slime gathered by heat, but is a direct pusse. He did write me down some direction what to do for it, but not with the satisfaction I expected.
Dr. Burnett’s advice to mee.
The Originall is fyled among my letters.
Take of ye Rootes of Marsh-Mallows foure ounces, of Cumfry, of Liquorish, of each two ounces, of ye Mowers of St. John’s Wort two Handsfull, of ye Leaves of Plantan, of Alehoofe, of each three handfulls, of Selfeheale, of Red Roses, of each one Handfull, of Cynament, of Nutmegg, of each halfe an ounce. Beate them well, then powre upon them one Quart of old Rhenish wine, and about Six houres after strayne it and clarify it with ye white of an Egge, and with a sufficient quantity of sugar, boyle it to ye consistence of a Syrrup and reserve it for use.
Dissolve one spoonefull of this Syrrup in every draught of Ale or beere you drink.
Morning and evening swallow ye quantity of an hazle-nutt of Cyprus Terebintine.
If you are bound or have a fit of ye Stone eate an ounce of Cassia new drawne, from ye poynt of a knife.
Old Canary or Malaga wine you may drinke to three or 4 glasses, but noe new wine, and what wine you drinke, lett it bee at meales.
I did give him a piece, with good hopes, however, that his advice will be of use to me, though it is strange that Mr. Hollyard should never say one word of this ulcer in all his life to me.
He being gone, I to the ‘Change, and thence home to dinner, and so to my office, busy till the evening, and then by agreement came Mr. Hill and Andrews and one Cheswicke, a maister who plays very well upon the Spinette, and we sat singing Psalms till 9 at night, and so broke up with great pleasure, and very good company it is, and I hope I shall now and then have their company. They being gone, I to my office till towards twelve o’clock, and then home and to bed.
Upon the ‘Change, this day, I saw how uncertain the temper of the people is, that, from our discharging of about 200 that lay idle, having nothing to do, upon some of our ships, which were ordered to be fitted for service, and their works are now done, the towne do talk that the King discharges all his men, 200 yesterday and 800 to-day, and that now he hath got 100,000l. in his hand, he values not a Dutch warr. But I undeceived a great many, telling them how it is.

O my bladder
strain to reserve one
spoonful of beer

morning and evening
you are a new-drawn knife

old canary
you never sing till night
a great discharging

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 1 July 1664.


Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon home to dinner, Mr. Wayth with me, and by and by comes in Mr. Falconer and his wife and dined with us, the first time she was ever here. We had a pretty good dinner, very merry in discourse, sat after dinner an hour or two, then down by water to Deptford and Woolwich about getting of some business done which I was bound to by my oath this month, and though in some things I have not come to the height of my vow of doing all my business in paying all my petty debts and receipt of all my petty monies due to me, yet I bless God I am not conscious of any neglect in me that they are not done, having not minded my pleasure at all, and so being resolved to take no manner of pleasure till it be done, I doubt not God will forgive me for not forfeiting the 10l. promised.
Walked back from Woolwich to Greenwich all alone, save a man that had a cudgell in his hand, and, though he told me he laboured in the King’s yarde, and many other good arguments that he is an honest man, yet, God forgive me! I did doubt he might knock me on the head behind with his club. But I got safe home. Then to the making up my month’s accounts, and find myself still a gainer and rose to 951l., for which God be blessed. I end the month with my mind full of business and some sorrow that I have not exactly performed all my vowes, though my not doing is not my fault, and shall be made good out of my first leisure.
Great doubts yet whether the Dutch wary go on or no. The Fleet ready in the Hope, of twelve sayle. The King and Queenes go on board, they say, on Saturday next.
Young children of my Lord Sandwich gone with their mayds from my mother’s, which troubles me, it being, I hear from Mr. Shepley, with great discontent, saying, that though they buy good meate, yet can never have it before it stinks, which I am ashamed of.

I have come to the height of neglect
the not-done not minded at all

give me a knock on the head
with a rose full of sorrow

my not-doing is made
out of hope and shame

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 30 June 1664.

Small Town

In which the streets are never named
Willow, or Oak, or Pine, or Magnolia—
only Laperal, or General Luna, or Gibraltar.

In which the sea is more of a rumor
than frost or fog or flood, and ringing
bells still roof the hills.

In which rust-colored shacks
cluster around the swamp, bravely
standing up to rising water.

In which the bread- and dumpling-
makers have been replaced by coffee
shops and shawarma joints.

Small Town

In which the girl that used to count
my weekly pay deposits has become
a general’s wife.

In which the fishmonger’s son has turned
real estate person and is buying up
all remaining land.

In which the fourth mayor’s daughter came home
from a failed career in the city, and broke windows
of parked cars each time the moon was high.

In which the lawyer’s widow bought pastries
every shade of pink, dusted with sugar—
to eat in the park under a willow tree.