holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

When a stitch burns
in my side, I pray
to the fates who hold
the keys to life.

I remember a dream in which
white flowers open after a year
of shutting themselves in.
In a drawer, a double string

of red beads. When I undo
the mouth that holds the two ends
together, their falling repeats
the syllables of rice or rain.


Up and to my office all the morning. At noon dined at home; then abroad by coach to buy for the office “Herne upon the Statute of Charitable Uses,” in order to the doing something better in the Chest than we have done, for I am ashamed to see Sir W. Batten possess himself so long of so much money as he hath done. Coming home, weighed, my two silver flaggons at Stevens’s. They weigh 212 oz. 27 dwt., which is about 50l., at 5s. per oz., and then they judge the fashion to be worth above 5s. per oz. more — nay, some say 10s. an ounce the fashion. But I do not believe, but yet am sorry to see that the fashion is worth so much, and the silver come to no more.
So home and to my office, where very busy late. My wife at Mercer’s mother’s, I believe, W. Hewer with them, which I do not like, that he should ask my leave to go about business, and then to go and spend his time in sport, and leave me here busy. To supper and to bed, my wife coming in by and by, which though I know there was no hurt in it; I do not like.

I am ashamed to possess
so much I judge to be ash

but am sorry to see
no more of it

like the sport
I know as hurt

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 19 October 1664.

But does the water love us back

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

~ a partly found poem

Rainwater is best collected as it’s falling out in the open: not running through a gutter or a drain.

Water from a creek or river might seem ok, until you think of laundry and soap, villagers bathing at one end.

The wealthy pay to have a drill go straight down to the water table; then they lay pipes, devise connections to tanks in their fenced-in backyards.

To render water safe, we collect what we can in bottles, in pails, in metal drums.

The women improvise filters: squares of cloth cut from cotton undershirts.

In any case, we always boil the water on the stove.


I remember having a flush toilet in our home only after I turned 3.

It took a few years until all the glazed bathroom tile was put in.

Before that, the nakedness of cemented cinderblock walls; a high window with bars.

When grandfather brought a sow from his farm to fatten for a birthday, they penned it in the unfinished shower stall.

Years later, rushing in to wash off meconium stains late in my first pregnancy, I thought of that pig and its wet grunting through the night.


Traveling in foreign countries, I’m warned not to drink the water.

To keep the mouth shut, standing underneath the shower stream.

Not to swallow the residue in the mouth after brushing.

In St. Petersburg, they also said not to drink the water.

The only thing I could find was mineral.

Order Coke or Sprite, suggested my mother; no ice.


Dorado: Spanish, from the past participle of dorar (to gild); Latin, deaurare, from de- + aurum (gold).


In Dorado, Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of hurricane Maria.

They’ve fixed a broken fence, secured an exposed spigot, and put up a sign saying Peligro – Danger.

Before that, how many had already drawn the toxic water for bathing, washing, drinking?

The well at Maguayo #4 is part of the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Superfund site.

The US Environmental Protection Agency previously marked the site as toxic; it warned of the presence of industrial chemicals, including tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, known to have serious impacts on health including damage to the liver and increased risk of cancer.


Here are some of the most expensive waters in the world:

Acqua di Cristallo Tributo a Modigliani – $60,000 per 750 ml
This is probably the most expensive bottled water in the world. Costing €60,000 for a bottle of 750 ml, this ought to quench your thirst and empty your pockets. The water is from France and Fiji. The bottle is 24 carat solid gold and was designed by Fernando Altamirano of Tequila Ley, who is also credited with the design of the Cognac Dudognon Heritage Henri IV, thought to be the most expensive bottle of cognac in the world.

Kona Nigari – $402 per 750 ml
Kona Nigari is a bottled water sold in Japan. It is collected from a spring around 2,000 metres under the sea off the coast of the island of Hawaii and is said to have health benefits.

Fillico – $219 per 750 ml
The bottles are made to look like chess pieces, in particular the king and queen. This is because Fillico water bottles are topped with golden crowns associated with royalty.

Bling H2O – $40 per 750 ml
The bottle is made out of Swarovski crystals and corked like a bottle of champagne. The price actually seems rather low, when compared to some of the other waters we’ve seen.

Veen 5 – $23 per 750 ml
Veen water is from Finland and arguably the purest water in the world.

10 Thousand BC – $14 per 750 ml
The water comes from a far-off and exotic place off the coast of Canada, so far that it would take a few days to get to the location the water is bottled.

AquaDeco – $12 per 750 ml
The name alone suggests that this water is heavily invested in style. But this is not a case of style over substance. In fact, in 2007 it won the gold medal for that year’s best non-carbonated spring water.

Lauquen Artes Mineral Water – $6 per 750 ml
It comes from an aquifer 1,500 feet deep in a remote part of the South American Andes. Another water that uses the purity and cleanliness of its source of origin as a stand-out feature.

Tasmanian Rain – $5 per 750 ml
As the name says, this water is sourced from the rain of Tasmania, the island off the south of the Australian mainland. What makes it unusual is that it’s collected in the bottle straight out of the sky.

Fine – $5 per 750 ml
From a spring in Japan, on the slopes of Mount Fuji, one of the most beautiful places in the world. The spring is located 600 metres below the mountain belt and the water is particularly pure.


In the story, Midas is the guy who asks that everything he touches be turned to gold.

Golf courses of gold, La-Z-Boy loungers in gold, golden statues of naked boys and women.

Gold leaves in the garden, gold furniture in a golden house, gold crap in the toilet.

All the sudden bling, rooms of high culture and kitsch: gold paintings, beaver hats, condoms.

He is so mindlessly happy he hugs his golden-haired daughter, teetering in gold stilettos.

And then he sits down to eat and drink.


In response to Via Negativa: Harvester.


Up and to the office, where among other things we made a very great contract with Sir W. Warren for 3,000 loade of timber. At noon dined at home. In the afternoon to the Fishery, where, very confused and very ridiculous, my Lord Craven’s proceedings, especially his finding fault with Sir J. Collaton and Colonell Griffin’s report in the accounts of the lottery-men. Thence I with Mr. Gray in his coach to White Hall, but the King and Duke being abroad, we returned to Somersett House. In discourse I find him a very worthy and studious gentleman in the business of trade, and among-other things he observed well to me, how it is not the greatest wits, but the steady man, that is a good merchant: he instanced in Ford and Cocke, the last of whom he values above all men as his oracle, as Mr. Coventry do Mr. Jolliffe. He says that it is concluded among merchants, that where a trade hath once been and do decay, it never recovers again, and therefore that the manufacture of cloath of England will never come to esteem again; that, among other faults, Sir Richard Ford cannot keepe a secret, and that it is so much the part of a merchant to be guilty of that fault that the Duke of Yoke is resolved to commit no more secrets to the merchants of the Royall Company; that Sir Ellis Layton is, for a speech of forty words, the wittiest man that ever he knew in his life, but longer he is nothing, his judgment being nothing at all, but his wit most absolute. At Somersett House he carried me in, and there I saw the Queene’s new rooms, which are most stately and nobly furnished; and there I saw her, and the Duke of Yorke and Duchesse were there. The Duke espied me, and came to me, and talked with me a very great while about our contract this day with Sir W. Warren, and among other things did with some contempt ask whether we did except Polliards, which Sir W. Batten did yesterday (in spite, as the Duke I believe by my Lord Barkely do well enough know) among other things in writing propose.
Thence home by coach, it raining hard, and to my office, where late, then home to supper and to bed.
This night the Dutch Embassador desired and had an audience of the King. What the issue of it was I know not. Both sides I believe desire peace, but neither will begin, and so I believe a warr will follow. The Prince is with his fleet at Portsmouth, and the Dutch are making all preparations for warr.

a raven on the road
studious in the business of decay

the secret to life is being
no use at all

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 18 October 1664.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

In a class on multicultural literature a boy in the front row
says he imagines coconuts falling in my voice.

It’s winter in the midwest. It’s warm in the classroom,
but not like the tropics. I like the hush of snow
but only from behind glass. I wonder, does he

actually know what it sounds like when coconuts
fall to the ground? Their meat is sweet; the water

sweeter. Every part useful beyond itself, beyond the moment
something detached it from its nest, whether by accident
or design. Sugar and oil. Rope and fiber. A husk

with which to buff a wooden floor. Occasionally I have
trouble with some words— where does the accent fall again?

The lapses happen, I think, as an effect of bad timing:
when the mind hasn’t quite expected the gap it must leap over
to get to the other language. And then it’s just there.

Iambic Pen.TA.meter. PEN.ta.meter? Books say
this is the closest approximation to meter, if everyday

human speech were scanned. PRO.so.dy. Pro.SO.dy? I
was amazed to overhear two women in the hallway figure out
what exact part of Canada each was from just from listening

to the way the other spoke. When the British writer
came to teach at my university for a week, everyone

was charmed by her pixie haircut, her obviously
British accent. When I wrote about the river, she said,
I took long, looping walks; I’d stop to look at a bridge,

the architecture, the vegetation. It seemed the perfect
structuring device— you make a digression, you come back

to the main theme. Exactly what I’ve been talking about,
I said triumphantly to my writing class. Only, one student offered,
she said it so much more clearly than you. Would you like the analysis

in French deconstructionist parlance, or postcolonial theory? The builder
leaves but the hammering continues. The flags of the old order continue

to fly, even when, supposedly, they’ve been pulled down. Violent
hierarchies: the signified over the signifier; speech over writing.
The family of dual oppositions eternally replenishing itself.

Watch my mind leap in the open, delighting at what it finds.
The day I earned my graduate degree, four nurses, one

greying accountant, and one policeman from the community
came to stand in presence for every person in my family,
living or dead, that could not be there. At parties,

the accountant and his wife, who were from another
province, liked to ask: How do you say this in your language

up north? Or they told stories of the war, when they crept
out of their bombed homes to forage in the fields at night.
They ate whatever they could find, skin and substance—

The mouth opens in its own efficient way to take in the world.
Overripe bananas. Frogs singing in the ditch after rain.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Crowded beach

Rose very well and not weary, and with Sir W. Batten to St. James’s; there did our business. I saw Sir J. Lawson since his return from sea first this morning, and hear that my Lord Sandwich is come from Portsmouth to town. Thence I to him, and finding him at my Lord Crew’s, I went with him home to his house and much kind discourse. Thence my Lord to Court, and I with Creed to the ‘Change, and thence with Sir W. Warren to a cook’s shop and dined, discoursing and advising him about his great contract he is to make tomorrow, and do every day receive great satisfaction in his company, and a prospect of a just advantage by his friendship. Thence to my office doing some business, but it being very cold, I, for fear of getting cold, went early home to bed, my wife not being come home from my Lady Jemimah, with whom she hath been at a play and at Court to-day.

sea and sand
I come out to find change
but get Coldplay

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 17 October 1664.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Tonight let the tips of fingers touch
together in the shape of a bud;
think of a slender wheel revolving
above your head, pouring radiance

straight down to the tired hollows
of your feet. How many times today
did the clapper sound its notes
in your chest, or your heart flutter

like an electrified bird? How often
did the bones that lie across the shoulders
think they might break from the very thought
of flight? Little fork, little trowel,

the curve of water on the shore reflects
the curve of the moon. You used to think
it might be enough to write down a list of all
you still needed to do. You used to believe

a hand skimmed lightly over a surface could be
a version of love: how you wanted to touch without
injury, wanting only to lay a quiet finger
over the places most likely to fold.


In response to Via Negativa: Meeting.


(Lord’s day). It raining, we set out, and about nine o’clock got to Hatfield in church-time; and I ‘light and saw my simple Lord Salsbury sit there in his gallery. Staid not in the Church, but thence mounted again and to Barnett by the end of sermon, and there dined at the Red Lyon very weary again, but all my weariness yesterday night and to-day in my thighs only, the rest of my weariness in my shoulders and arms being quite gone. Thence home, parting company at my cozen Anth. Joyce’s, by four o’clock, weary, but very well, to bed at home, where I find all well. Anon my wife came to bed, but for my ease rose again and lay with her woman.

at church
red on a shoulder—
one rose

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 16 October 1664.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“…What can
it mean, significance minus
meaning?” ~ J. Allyn Rosser

At dusk, as if it were a question
of life or death or the first
paragraph in an existential novel,
moths hurl their soft bodies against
the storm door. Lit up by porch lamps,
it glows like an electric field,
pulsing bars the color of melted
honey. Even the small checkerboard
beetles that usually sit like red
and yellow enamel pins on the siding
want to edge closer to this brightness.
The last time I tapped the lantern’s
glass cup upside down to clean it,
a dry rain of papery wings unfastened
—so many acts of significance or
insignificance, depending on how
you look at it. Like that day
in a high school literature class
when, to teach about metaphor,
the teacher made us file one by one
to the front of the room and look
at a poorly drawn watercolor pressed
under glass on her desk. Some girls
gushed about the strength and longevity
of rock; only one said it was just
a picture of mountains and trees.


My father and I up and walked alone to Hinchingbroke; and among the other late chargeable works that my Lord hath done there, we saw his water-works and the Ora which is very fine; and so is the house all over, but I am sorry to think of the money at this time spent therein. Back to my father’s (Mr. Sheply being out of town) and there breakfasted, after making an end with Barton about his businesses, and then my mother called me into the garden, and there but all to no purpose desiring me to be friends with John, but I told her I cannot, nor indeed easily shall, which afflicted the poor woman, but I cannot help it. Then taking leave, W. Joyce and I set out, calling T. Trice at Bugden, and thence got by night to Stevenage, and there mighty merry, though I in bed more weary than the other two days, which, I think, proceeded from our galloping so much, my other weariness being almost all over; but I find that a coney skin in my breeches preserves me perfectly from galling, and that eating after I come to my Inne, without drinking, do keep me from being stomach sick, which drink do presently make me.
We lay all in several beds in the same room, and W. Joyce full of his impertinent tricks and talk, which then made us merry, as any other fool would have done. So to sleep.

out in the garden
I cannot help the bug
in my stomach

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 15 October 1664.