Saturday, with rules of order

After the first twenty miles, the road narrowed unexpectedly.

In the median, yellow tractors were pulling out the last remnants of trees.

There was some consultation of the map in order to readjust the route.

The meeting room was in a lower level of the clubhouse; there were no windows.

Two coffee urns: black lid for regular, orange for decaf.

The sun shone where golfers braved the cold.

In the room, the president periodically asked people to speak louder.

At lunch, members were seated in random groups around soups and salads.

A woman took notes; some talk circled around the words contest and website and recuse.

Pink and yellow flyers were distributed.

Only one man from the local university left his on the table when the meeting adjourned.


In response to Via Negativa: Cooked.


Then up and to my office, where till noon and then to the ‘Change, and at the Coffee-house with Gifford, Hubland, the Master of the ship, and I read over and approved a charter-party for carrying goods for Tangier, wherein I hope to get some money. Thence home, my head akeing for want of rest and too much business. So to the office. At night comes, Povy, and he and I to Mrs. Bland’s to discourse about my serving her to helpe her to a good passage for Tangier. Here I heard her kinswoman sing 3 or 4 very fine songs and in good manner, and then home and to supper. My cook mayd Jane and her mistresse parted, and she went away this day. I vexed to myself, but was resolved to have no more trouble, and so after supper to my office and then to bed.

coffee for her headache
night comes for the cook

and her art is no more
after supper

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 2 February 1665.

Love Machine

This entry is part 12 of 19 in the series Une Semaine de Bonté


Page 12 from Max Ernst’s Une Semaine de Bonté

I wear your love like an edible medallion
into the bucolic valley of the shadow
among drowsy lambs, Kalashnikovs

and opium poppies. All my hos
are calling hosannas because there are
no more bees. Photos of the missing

haunt the backs of milk cartons.
Whose slaves are they now?
Will their bodies ever be found?

I generate my own buzz, a self-
pollinating brand ambassador
hustling fleurs du mal.

Do you smell it, too:
the marketing opportunity for bee-
sized drones? I halve and pit

a free-stone peach and peer at that
footprint of a brain surrounded
by sweetness. I bite in.

Work and life

How did you do it, asks the child
who issued from your body. She

herself now has a child who is sick,
has caught his first cold; and she

is sick with worry. You look back
at those times as through a window

streaked with rain or fog. Or you are
coaxing someone to believe

yes it is OK to cross
the glass bridge that spans

the terrifying chasm. You gave up
trying to avoid steamed buns

filled with pork and shredded cabbage,
sticky rice boiled in coconut milk,

the allure of green
mangos with salted shrimp.

When you were tired you ate
in order to trick sleep.

But you couldn’t give up taking
mental notes of what drifted

your way by earshot: talk
in elevators, tearful confessions

above white tablecloths
too proud of their freedom

from crumbs. Also, you wanted nothing
more than to finish stacks of half-

read novels. In college you’d come
across the phrase the life of the mind

No one told you then you couldn’t have it
without living in the body. This body.

How the bright thoughts came
like flashes of light through those

windows, while you chewed on a pencil
end. While the babies drowsed in your arms.

Urban pastoral

Lay long in bed, which made me, going by coach to St. James’s by appointment to have attended the Duke of Yorke and my Lord Bellasses, lose the hopes of my getting something by the hire of a ship to carry men to Tangier. But, however, according to the order of the Duke this morning, I did go to the ‘Change, and there after great pains did light of a business with Mr. Gifford and Hubland for bringing me as much as I hoped for, which I have at large expressed in my stating the case of the “King’s Fisher,” which is the ship that I have hired, and got the Duke of Yorke’s agreement this afternoon after much pains and not eating a bit of bread till about 4 o’clock. Going home I put in to an ordinary by Temple Barr and there with my boy Tom eat a pullet, and thence home to the office, being still angry with my wife for yesterday’s foolery. After a good while at the office, I with the boy to the Sun behind the Exchange, by agreement with Mr. Young the flag-maker, and there was met by Mr. Hill, Andrews, and Mr. Hubland, a pretty serious man. Here two very pretty savoury dishes and good discourse. After supper a song, or three or four (I having to that purpose carried Lawes’s book), and staying here till 12 o’clock got the watch to light me home, and in a continued discontent to bed. After being in bed, my people come and say there is a great stinke of burning, but no smoake. We called up Sir J. Minnes’s and Sir W. Batten’s people, and Griffin, and the people at the madhouse, but nothing could be found to give occasion to it. At this trouble we were till past three o’clock, and then the stinke ceasing, I to sleep, and my people to bed, and lay very long in the morning.

after great pain
eating a bit of bread in the sun

behind me the savory discourse
of people at the madhouse

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 1 February 1665.


Reincarnation happens here, Mister
Cottonwood. Do not discard any
candidates. All may be re-purposed.
Laura M. Kaminski, “Give Me Your Ravaged, Your Ruined

My grandmother saved every scrap.
She pieced coverlets from the remainders
of the clothes she sewed,
although she hated quilting.
For all I know,
she might have hated sewing.
But the Depression schooled her in the ways
of thrift, lessons that couldn’t be unlearned.

I still have the sock monkey that my mother
sewed for me, although he bleeds
my mother’s old pantyhose that she used
for stuffing. The fabric of his body is too frayed
to be repaired or repurposed.

I keep a box of clothes too worn
to wear and too stained to use
for fabric art. I have no need for dust rags,
since I use the high tech pads that trap
particles with static. I use
the rags to clean up spills or to oil the furniture.

I slide my hand into the sock
and think of a not-too-distant past,
cotton grown in vast fields, seeds separated
out, fibers spun, and then loomed
into cloth. I think of slaves
and industries that rely on them,
human histories woven in our every fiber.

We wonder if we may ever see our mothers again

is a lizard squirming”

~ Javier Zamora

In a box, we find some of the last
letters she wrote to us: thin paper
we called onion skin, blue inkblots
every few lines. She said sometimes
she wrote them at the post office,
standing at the counter: umbrella
in one hand, stamp at the ready.
We don’t get them anymore— tarsiers
with coffee bean eyes, a volcano’s
perfect cone; silhouettes of out-
rigger canoes at sunset. Where we walk
in this neighborhood, towering magnolias.
We remember the ones in the neighbor’s yard
across from our gate— how the eldest
daughter would bring some half-open
blooms to her, and she’d place them
in a bowl of water. In the morning,
their scent a heavy damask
over everything in the room.


In response to Via Negativa: Black site.


Up and with Sir W. Batten to Westminster, where to speak at the House with my Lord Bellasses, and am cruelly vexed to see myself put upon businesses so uncertainly about getting ships for Tangier being ordered, a servile thing, almost every day.
So to the ‘Change, back by coach with Sir W. Batten, and thence to the Crowne, a taverne hard by, with Sir W. Rider and Cutler, where we alone, a very good dinner. Thence home to the office, and there all the afternoon late. The office being up, my wife sent for me, and what was it but to tell me how Jane carries herself, and I must put her away presently. But I did hear both sides and find my wife much in fault, and the grounds of all the difference is my wife’s fondness of Tom, to the being displeased with all the house beside to defend the boy, which vexes me, but I will cure it. Many high words between my wife and I, but the wench shall go, but I will take a course with the boy, for I fear I have spoiled him already.
Thence to the office, to my accounts, and there at once to ease my mind I have made myself debtor to Mr. Povy for the 117l. 5s. got with so much joy the last month, but seeing that it is not like to be kept without some trouble and question, I do even discharge my mind of it, and so if I come now to refund it, as I fear I shall, I shall now be ne’er a whit the poorer for it, though yet it is some trouble to me to be poorer by such a sum than I thought myself a month since. But, however, a quiet mind and to be sure of my owne is worth all. The Lord be praised for what I have, which is this month come down to 1257l.. I staid up about my accounts till almost two in the morning.

getting high I fear
I have made myself
debtor to joy

like some question I discharge
into the quiet

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 31 January 1665.

Laundry Poem #10: Tailored to Fit

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series The Laundry Poems


recreate from these faults
and fears, fitter selves,
as lean years follow fat
from “Into a Rightness” by Teju Cole

Don’t get me wrong: I do believe
in elves. Just not the laundry-thieving
kind. The kind for which I’ve seen

the evidence with my own eyes, the ones
that live behind the laptop screen,
those whose existence is the busy

tailoring of the fabric of reality.
Virtual, that is. The ones they
call the -bots that wake each other

up to watch the moment I sign in,
who register each mouse-click, each
virtual location that I visit, who

read the poems as I’m typing them
and offer ads to fit. Once, I’d
considered ad-blocker, virtual

exterminator…but no more. Instead,
I am amused by their vigilance,
tenacity, perceptions, by the way

they work and the advertisements
that they show me. I do not click
to visit any of the ads or sites

suggested, but take time to appreciate
the talent evident in the selections.
Yesterday, comparing tables, laws,

and tax-charts. Two windows open:
2017 calculation for what portion
of social security is taxable. 2018

tax law bill to puzzle over the new
tables. I go a long time without
pressing any keyboard keys at all,

working the numbers on the calculator
trying to find any way to make
the money reach. I sigh, then bump

the mouse to wake up the screen
in time to catch a quarter-page ad
that’s sprung full-size from some

god’s forehead: the elves suggest:
I start to laugh and cannot stop,

then stand up in full salute. Indeed,
my elvish friends. Bravo! Indeed.
So lately I’ve been writing all these

poems about laundry. And the elves
are tearing strips from the fabric
of the universe and stitching them

together into the world of my dreams:
this morning, seven advertisements
for multi-packs of socks, an article picked

for me to read on ten ways to clean
my washer and dryer (THIS LIFE HACK

a local mechanic’s business card,
an advertisement for a yard sale.
Then more socks, and green detergents,

then more socks. And yes, you know.
Amen to this personal quilting
of the internet today, this tailored

vision of the world that I live in.
No more advertisements for cruises,
retirement communities, luxury SUVs.

No more airfare-deals, no more

No more ads for fitness programs, no
more miracle solutions, no more kale,
turmeric, and vinegar. Amen.

As in real-space, so in cyber. Live
on, small elves, keep tailoring, reminding
me that I can really

change the world
around me with no more than
words and washing.

Black site

This entry is part 11 of 19 in the series Une Semaine de Bonté


Page 11 from Max Ernst’s Une Semaine de Bonté

They say not to pull
the wings off angels
as a lesson to the rest
of the colony. They say
torture only leads
to bad information,
which must be why Satan
has always seemed so
terribly misguided.
But it’s a power trip,
isn’t it, and without
power, no light.
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it smoke
and smolder like the burnt
offering that it is,
adding emissions
to the atmosphere.
The earth has been
a bad mother—
so many tedious warnings
about putting our eyes out
or living beyond our means
and I’m tired
of being grounded.
Elon Musk appeared
to me in a dream
and he was looking crafty—
spacecrafty. Maybe
he will hire me when
The Boring Company
merges with SpaceX
and it’s time to start
excavating fresh hells
up on the moon.