holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and with Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen to White Hall; but there finding the Duke gone to his lodgings at St. James’s for all together, his Duchesse being ready to lie in, we to him, and there did our usual business. And here I met the great newes confirmed by the Duke’s own relation, by a letter from Captain Allen. First, of our own loss of two ships, the Phoenix and Nonesuch, in the Bay of Gibraltar: then of his, and his seven ships with him, in the Bay of Cales, or thereabouts, fighting with the 34 Dutch Smyrna fleete; sinking the King Salamon, a ship worth a 150,000l. or more, some say 200,000l., and another; and taking of three merchant-ships. Two of our ships were disabled, by the Dutch unfortunately falling against their will against them; the Advice, Captain W. Poole, and Antelope, Captain Clerke: The Dutch men-of-war did little service. Captain Allen did receive many shots at distance before he would fire one gun, which he did not do till he come within pistol-shot of his enemy. The Spaniards on shore at Cales did stand laughing at the Dutch, to see them run away and flee to the shore, 34 or thereabouts, against eight Englishmen at most. I do purpose to get the whole relation, if I live, of Captain Allen himself. In our loss of the two ships in the Bay of Gibraltar, it is observable how the world do comment upon the misfortune of Captain Moone of the Nonesuch (who did lose, in the same manner, the Satisfaction), as a person that hath ill-luck attending him; without considering that the whole fleete was ashore. Captain Allen led the way, and Captain Allen himself writes that all the masters of the fleete, old and young, were mistaken, and did carry their ships aground. But I think I heard the Duke say that Moone, being put into the Oxford, had in this conflict regained his credit, by sinking one and taking another. Captain Seale of the Milford hath done his part very well, in boarding the King Salamon, which held out half an hour after she was boarded; and his men kept her an hour after they did master her, and then she sunk, and drowned about 17 of her men.
Thence to Jervas’s, my mind, God forgive me, running too much after some folly, but ‘elle’ not being within I away by coach to the ‘Change, and thence home to dinner. And finding Mrs. Bagwell waiting at the office after dinner, away she and I to a cabaret where she and I have eat before, and there I had her company ‘tout’ and had ‘mon plaisir’ of ‘elle’. But strange to see how a woman, notwithstanding her greatest pretences of love ‘a son mari’ and religion, may be ‘vaincue’. Thence to the Court of the Turkey Company at Sir Andrew Rickard’s to treat about carrying some men of ours to Tangier, and had there a very civil reception, though a denial of the thing as not practicable with them, and I think so too. So to my office a little and to Jervas’s again, thinking ‘avoir rencontrais’ Jane, ‘mais elle n’etait pas dedans’. So I back again and to my office, where I did with great content ‘ferais’ a vow to mind my business, and ‘laisser aller les femmes’ for a month, and am with all my heart glad to find myself able to come to so good a resolution, that thereby I may follow my business, which and my honour thereby lies a bleeding. So home to supper and to bed.

in the distance one gunshot
laughing men

the moon sinking
into a cabaret

I love any treat of a heart
able to bleed

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 23 January 1665.

Light of Heaven

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

A different year, a different state,
a different bar…this one called
Suds, and open early, from 8 AM
Laura M. Kaminski, Laundry Poem #4: Suds

A colleague at work owns a washing machine,
but he still goes to the laundromat for the social
interactions. His local washateria must be different
from the ones I remember.

In grad school, decades ago, we did our laundry in groups
so we could keep an eye on our clothes and the unsavory
types that wandered in and out of the harsh
lighting. Later we loaded our cars
to go to Suds, the place near campus
that charged the same hoping
we’d buy beers and play pool while we waited.

I still wash my clothes until they’re threadbare,
a grad school habit left from days when I could scrounge
together laundry money but not enough for a shirt,
not even from the Salvation Army thrift store.

Now I still wash laundry in the earliest
hours of the morning, but it’s a much quieter
event, no pool balls cracking,
no homeless man muttering about the light
of Heaven shimmering just above our heads.

Match maker

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up, leaving my wife in bed, being sick of her months, and to church. Thence home, and in my wife’s chamber dined very merry, discoursing, among other things, of a design I have come in my head this morning at church of making a match between Mrs. Betty Pickering and Mr. Hill, my friend the merchant, that loves musique and comes to me a’Sundays, a most ingenious and sweet-natured and highly accomplished person. I know not how their fortunes may agree, but their disposition and merits are much of a sort, and persons, though different, yet equally, I think, acceptable.
After dinner walked to Westminster, and after being at the Abbey and heard a good anthem well sung there, I as I had appointed to the Trumpett, there expecting when Jane Welsh should come, but anon comes a maid of the house to tell me that her mistress and master would not let her go forth, not knowing of my being here, but to keep her from her sweetheart. So being defeated, away by coach home, and there spent the evening prettily in discourse with my wife and Mercer, and so to supper, prayers, and to bed.

I sing the head of a match
that ingenious red tune

it merits a good anthem
sung to the trumpet

o wing of my being
sweet evening prayer

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 22 January 1665.

our name is mike

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

don’t worry about birth names
birthplaces or ethnic oddities
our name is mike, like it says
right above the pocket
in red embroidery on a white patch

our name is mike
so you know what to expect here
the hand and nail grime
is all you need to see
to know we take our work
as seriously as you take latte
maybe more, who knows

our name is mike
proudly displayed in the frame
on a certificate earned
five years ago. maybe ten
to let you know we took the class
put on by the people who made
whatever it is you’re driving

our name is mike
and if the problem is under the hood
it doesn’t really matter what make
what year, how many litres large
we will know how to cure it
if there’s time, we’ll also try
to explain it in simple terms
but there’s no easy translation
for things like torque converters
solonoids, catalytics, and flywheels

our name is mike
trust us. we are mechanics
of the first degree

In response to “What’s In a Name” by Laura Kaminski.

Laundry poem ending with lines from James Brush

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series The Laundry Poems


You have kept your treasures
sewn into your hemlines
Kristen Berkey-Abbott, Exercising Freedom

The 80-pound puppy’s been
following me from room
to room
licking the outer
seam of my jeans
just above the knee.
As the means of his investigation
slowly soaks in against
my thigh, I stop
to give him my attention
and thoughtfully consider
what exactly
he is doing.

He is not yet a full year
old, and doesn’t have a grasp
of personal space
or boundaries. (As far as
he’s concerned, we’d all do better
in this world if we stayed
glued together
at the hip.) And so, with no
inhibitions, he’s been reading
my diary, the moments
of my personal history
left out in the open
when I rinsed my hands too
briefly in the sink, then
wiped them on my jeans.

He’s reading cumin
and cilantro, pepper-bean-tomato-
and-zucchini tacos. He’s
been reading and, as young
readers do, letting what he’s reading
transport him
into an imaginary place
where dogs not only are
permitted in the kitchen, but
get to share in meals
prepared there, maybe even
their own chairs right
at the table.

Or maybe not. Perhaps
something gets lost in translation.
But, to facilitate moving
more easily through the day
I go ahead and wash
my hands again and change.

And now it’s time to tend
to laundry, and as I take each
item out of the hamper, turn
the pockets, I begin to look
at each more closely. (The puppy’s
right beside me, delighted
to be teaching this old
dog new tricks.) Together,
we examine closely a plaid shirt
my husband wore while working
on the neighbor’s barbed wire
fencing. It’s black-and-red-
and-gray plaid flannel,

not one to show much
surface evidence, but puppy
sniffs insistently at the cuff,
and so I stop and sit
down on the floor
to look more closely.

The family that reads together…
Never mind. What is this darker
stain that wasn’t there before?
It appears in splotches, something
that was wet and spread, then
dried. And here, a tear
along the sleeve I hadn’t seen.
Perhaps dried blood? The mister
has not said anything to me
about getting any injuries. We turn
the page, set that one into
the washer and extract the next:
an olive green bandana, one of those
he takes with him as handkerchiefs.

This has a dark patch on it
and tight creases, like a tie-dye
project, and puppy tastes
it briefly and whines a tiny
bit and turns his head away.
This one’s still a bit damp from
something and I sniff it, catch
the briefest whiff: steel? spinach?
iron? blood. Barbed-wire fencing.
A snag, a bleeding gash,
a staunching. A wound hidden,
left unmentioned. So here’s me:

sitting on the washroom floor,
also reading someone’s diary,
noticing things I’d never really
noticed about laundry. My old
jacket smells like
incense and french fries now.

We keep reading the news.

Closing lines are from “The Monotony of Ice” by James Brush. Read all the laundry poems here.

Cat Person

This entry is part 8 of 19 in the series Une Semaine de Bonté


Page 8 from Max Ernst’s Une Semaine de Bonté

Let me down one cat a time:

  • the cat that wakes me by sitting on my face
  • the cat that ignores me
  • the cat that pushes vases off of tables
  • the cat that was once magic but now just lies around and gets fat
  • the cat that kills birds out of irritation at their wings
  • and the cat that disappears in the middle of a sentence
    like a body flung from a bridge while the soul
    carries on, oblivious,
    yowling about the goddamn hunter’s moon.


At the office all the morning. Thence my Lord Brunker carried me as far as Mr. Povy’s, and there I ‘light and dined, meeting Mr. Sherwin, Creed, &c., there upon his accounts. After dinner they parted and Mr. Povy carried me to Somersett House, and there showed me the Queene-Mother’s chamber and closett, most beautiful places for furniture and pictures; and so down the great stone stairs to the garden, and tried the brave echo upon the stairs; which continues a voice so long as the singing three notes, concords, one after another, they all three shall sound in consort together a good while most pleasantly. Thence to a Tangier Committee at White Hall, where I saw nothing ordered by judgment, but great heat and passion and faction now in behalf of my Lord Bellasses, and to the reproach of my Lord Tiviott, and dislike as it were of former proceedings.
So away with Mr. Povy, he carrying me homeward to Mark Lane in his coach, a simple fellow I now find him, to his utter shame in his business of accounts, as none but a sorry foole would have discovered himself; and yet, in little, light, sorry things very cunning; yet, in the principal, the most ignorant man I ever met with in so great trust as he is.
To my office till past 12, and then home to supper and to bed, being now mighty well, and truly I cannot but impute it to my fresh hare’s foote. Before I went to bed I sat up till two o’clock in my chamber reading of Mr. Hooke’s Microscopicall Observations, the most ingenious book that ever I read in my life.

the morning light showed me
a fur on the air

I saw heat and passion as in a war
I discovered little light things

ignorant till then
of microscopic life

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 21 January 1665.

Life of the mind

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up and to Westminster, where having spoke with Sir Ph. Warwicke, I to Jervas, and there I find them all in great disorder about Jane, her mistress telling me secretly that she was sworn not to reveal anything, but she was undone. At last for all her oath she told me that she had made herself sure to a fellow that comes to their house that can only fiddle for his living, and did keep him company, and had plainly told her that she was sure to him never to leave him for any body else. Now they were this day contriving to get her presently to marry one Hayes that was there, and I did seem to persuade her to it. And at last got them to suffer me to advise privately, and by that means had her company and think I shall meet her next Sunday, but I do really doubt she will be undone in marrying this fellow. But I did give her my advice, and so let her do her pleasure, so I have now and then her company.
Thence to the Swan at noon, and there sent for a bit of meat and dined, and had my baiser of the fille of the house there, but nothing plus. So took coach and to my Lady Sandwich’s, and so to my bookseller’s, and there took home Hooke’s book of microscopy, a most excellent piece, and of which I am very proud.
So home, and by and by again abroad with my wife about several businesses, and met at the New Exchange, and there to our trouble found our pretty Doll is gone away to live they say with her father in the country, but I doubt something worse.
So homeward, in my way buying a hare and taking it home, which arose upon my discourse to-day with Mr. Batten, in Westminster Hall, who showed me my mistake that my hare’s foote hath not the joynt to it; and assures me he never had his cholique since he carried it about him: and it is a strange thing how fancy works, for I no sooner almost handled his foote but my belly began to be loose and to break wind, and whereas I was in some pain yesterday and t’other day and in fear of more to-day, I became very well, and so continue.
At home to my office a while, and so to supper, read, and to cards, and to bed.

a secret was her only company
that and her books

her doll is gone away to live
(they say) in the country

so buying a rose we mistake it
(strange fancy) for a bell

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 20 January 1665.

Laundry Poem #6: Spring Turning

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series The Laundry Poems


At the beginning of spring
gardening the snakes, indigenous
and invasive, the harmless
and the poisonous, they all emerge,
and in that half-hour before dinner
that’s reserved for washing up,
I join them, five-foot-long

python with my upper
body draped protectively
across the top of the open
washer drum. I hiss insistently
at my beloved resident hobbit
as he’s stripping off his garden-
muddy clothing: what has it got
in its pocketses?

We do this every evening, it’s
routine. And then he turns his pockets
out to check, and occasionally
I’m actually justified in asking.

This dark orange fungal mass
that he extracts looks decidedly
suspicious, but he explains
excitedly that that’s the magic
of it: some other mushroom,
lactarius or russula, inedible
on its own, gets invaded by this
other hypocreaceae fungus which
somehow eats up all the poison,
transforms the mushroom that might
have made you ill or killed you

into food. This parasitic hypocreaceae
fungus sort of cooks it, like it’s
boiling a lobster, and when it’s
orange-red all over, then you
know it’s safe to eat.

Ah. Okay, I did not know this,
and am feeling hungry, but more
so for the dinner that’s waiting on
the table than for a spongy orange
parasitic mass. Here, I’ll wrap
it in a napkin and put it on
your desk. We can continue
identification of weird things
from the garden after dinner.

And (to myself in silence as
I swaddle up the thing) I think:
so glad this bit of strangeness
didn’t wind up in the washing.

Inspired by Dave Bonta’s Lilium martagon. P.S. The lobster mushroom is a real entity.

Read the previous poems in the series.

To mother

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Though I might sit and supplicate beneath the tree in the yard, there is no spirit that comes to shake the leaves and gild them silver, no dress stitched together out of their purple undersides. No voice comes like a flutter of bird wings to soothe like cooled water, sugared or seeping from cane. No warm blue flame gathers at its base, in which to thrust cold chapped hands. All I want is someone to tell me sit down and eat, sit down and drink, lay you down on the sheets, shed your damp, sad clothes. Instead I’ll whittle another twig into a needle. I’ve learned to make such garments: two sleeves, a yoke, a body; a neck hole through which I can push my head as if arriving here again.