Autopsy

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up before day, and wrote some letters to go to my Lord, among others that about W. Howe, which I believe will turn him out, and so took horse for Nonesuch, with two men with me, and the ways very bad, and the weather worse, for wind and rayne. But we got in good time thither, and I did get my tallys got ready, and thence, with as many as could go, to Yowell, and there dined very well, and I saw my Besse, a very well-favoured country lass there, and after being very merry and having spent a piece I took horse, and by another way met with a very good road, but it rained hard and blew, but got home very well. Here I find Mr. Deering come to trouble me about business, which I soon dispatched and parted, he telling me that Luellin hath been dead this fortnight, of the plague, in St. Martin’s Lane, which much surprised me.

such weather we get in our country being so dead is a surprise


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 20 November 1665.

Poet Bloggers Revival Digest: Week 47

poet bloggers revival tour 2018

poet bloggers revival tour 2018 A few quotes + links (please click through!) from the Poet Bloggers Revival Tour, plus occasional other poetry bloggers in my feed reader. If you’ve missed earlier editions of the digest, here’s the archive.

Poetry bloggers weren’t at a loss for words this week, despite the occurrence of a major American holiday (or perhaps because of it?) but I didn’t see too many common themes, so I’ve presented the posts in a completely random order. Topics include dreams, writing as exploration, Gaia Holmes, the origins of wonder, Bethany Reid, Streetcake magazine, whether there’s any difference between prose poems and flash fiction, poetry gift recommendations, the chapbook as a specialized art form, the consequences of anger, why “eminently publishable” poems suck, epistle as writing practice, horror and the dilemma of female power, and how working with another poet or source material changes one’s writing. That sort of thing.

I used to not dream or
remember my dreams
but last night
when time hung in the belly
of the moon I dreamt of a yard
where the yard was the mind
where the mind was playing
tricks where tricks were not
fun and fun was not paid.
Crystal Ignatowski, To Turn To Daybreak To Turn To Dawn

*

Q~How would you describe your style?

A~Poetry happens in a moment of collision between myself and the world. On occasion, I strike sparks. If I’m lucky, I have words at hand for kindling, but still I’m scrabbling, reaching for anything that might sustain the flame, and anything goes, stylistically speaking. Some of my poems are strongly narrative; others revel in fragment and elliptical movement. I’ll go months avoiding first-person and then embrace it wholeheartedly. Poetry as distillation. Poetry as outpouring. I’m drawn to the freewheeling, associative mode of renga, each verse linking only to the previous, as much as I am drawn to the complex code of rules that dictate the appearance of motifs and seasonal references in a classical renga’s hundred verses. I struggle to describe my style since the formal aspects of my writing continually shift from poem to poem.

Writing poetry for me is a mode of exploration, of reaching out and often struggling to find out even what it is I’m grasping for. I’m often guided by the physicality of language when I get lost–the sound of the words, the cadence of the line, how the text exists on the page as a visual field. I know I value openness. I want the reader to have a place to enter into the work. I once heard a poem described as a full and laden table except for a single empty seat–that’s the space for the reader to sit down. I love that image, the idea of the reader sitting down and partaking, of us somehow going from strangers to friends at the table of poetry.
Not This / an interview with poet Hyejung Kook (Bekah Steimel’s blog)

*

Jane Draycott talks about the point where a poem detonates. Gaia [Holmes]’ poems often put me in mind of Chemistry lessons in the blissfully pre-Health and Safety 1950’s, when to demonstrate the meaning of the word crepitation a teacher would toss a slack handful of crystals (potassium?) into a sinkful of water and stand well back. So many poems in Where the road runs out detonate in line after line, like dangerous Rice Krispies. But because many of her poems are about separation and loss of love or lovers, and in this collection, of a father…..sometimes tender and sometimes vengeful, sometimes wistful and sometimes heartbreaking…….. they also take a reader into dark woods and lose her. […]

I hope that, like me, you’re snagged and reeled in by listening to frost, understanding its cold, lacquering glamour, and being out in the bright, dumb dark; a folktale world of snow and lost girls, and chickens that make me think of Baba Yaga and her house on hen’s legs. There’s a lot of ice (and also stars, and milk and fire) in Gaia’s poems ; there’s even an Ice Hotel in an earlier collection. There’s the cold of loneliness and love gone wrong, and broken things that might be hearts or dreams which make you think twice about walking in bare feet. There’s the orphan voice of a narrator who sees things that no-one seems to notice her seeing.
[Click through to read a number of sample poems.]
John Foggin, Gaia Holmes’ “Where the road runs out”: a labour of love

*

Wonder, it turns out, is a mystery word; its origins unclear, but many Germanic languages have a version of it — wundor, wundrian, wunder. So that got me thinking about some synonyms.

Amaze is from the OE amasian meaning stupefy or stun but may have had an original sense of being knocked on the head unconscious (those Old Norse roustabouts). This word actually led to the word maze, rather than the other way around, but which started as a word describing a state of mind — dazed, delusional — and then became a structure to effect that end.

Astonish, astound and that ilk came from extondre, meaning leave someone thuderstruck, from the Latin verb to thunder, tonare, which, traced back, apparently just means noise.

And I think of those days when the sky is dark and low, foreboding of precipitation, and suddenly you hear beneath the chatter of the day, that noise, thunder.

So as I write I must listen for the noise under the noise, the thunder of what’s coming or what’s happening behind those clouds of words on the page.
Marilyn McCabe, Hmm; or, A Little More on Wonder

*

As many of you know, I moved back to Portland last summer and in an either brilliant or insane move purchased a 1947 home which was in need of some major renovations. Today this blog is being written from my new office. Outside my office window my contractor is jackhammering away the basement foundation in order to install an egress window. It is noisy. It is dirty. I am hoping the house does not collapse and the new earthquake retrofit holds. In the meantime, I am visualizing a beautiful finished basement that is light-filled and has a second bathroom.

Also during this time, a family member died, another family member had colon-cancer surgery, and an adult child moved back home. I had something die in the chimney and for a week flies flew out of the fireplace like bats from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin.

And while I haven’t been writing much, I did travel to Iceland and Ireland, have been invited to poetry readings to read from my new book, and I organized a poetry event in the small town where I graduated from high school and invited Finnish poet Gary Anderson to come read with me.

Last week I hiked seven miles up the Salmon River trail on the southwestern flank of Mt. Hood with old friends, and I’ve been reading and cooking more than usual—all things that anchor me during this fallow writing port-of-call.

So while my world is being disassembled and reconstructed I have complete faith the one thing that will remain intact (even if it is silent for now) is my poetry, because I can feel the seeds beginning to germinate, and a gentle push of green carrying a word or a line up through the dark with a story to tell.

But for now I am reading the poetry of Bethany Reid, who is a poet friend from Edmonds, Washington. Her new collection Body My House (Goldfish Press Seattle) is a collection that as author Priscilla Long so aptly conveys: are poems to read and reread, and to savor. I recommend you check her out.
Carey Taylor, Jackhammer Days

*

I’m over the moon to be in Streetcake again, the online journal of experimental writing. The editors (Trini Decombe and Nikki Dudley) took a found poem of mine earlier this year. This time they’ve taken a cut-up (I mean the actual collage of cut-up texts – see example below). Usually I produce the collage then type the poem and send the typed copy out. In this case, I sent the ‘raw’ version. To add to the excitement, the Streetcake team have an incredibly highspeed turn around between submission, acceptance and publication that makes you feel as though you’re part of something very contemporary, and with an amazing potential to shape the future of writing. I’m full of admiration for the editors who are prepared to take such risks with what they publish and it’s a real boost for me because let’s face it, poetry is a niche market, so to be experimental within this small field really narrows down the options when it comes to sending work out. In the current issue, I’ve really enjoyed encountering Kate Gillespie’s poem ‘Diversification’ (take a look at it and you’ll see why I say encounter rather than read). It’s given me another idea about how experimental writing might appear on the page/ screen.
Julie Mellor, Streetcake – grab your bite

*

Every emerging writer dreams of finding herself in a conversation with the editor of an esteemed literary magazine. For the new writer, especially, there are hundreds of unanswered questions about the submission process. So you can imagine my excitement when I found myself speaking with Ralph Hamilton, the editor of RHINO Poetry. During the course of our conversation, he was kind enough to offer some insights into the publishing world. In the process of discussing the typical type of submission that Rhino receives, Mr. Hamilton acknowledged an odd disparity. For whatever the reason, writers generally submit higher quality prose poems than flash fiction.

Our conversation was long over before I thought to ask the obvious question. What exactly is the difference between prose poems and flash fiction. To be honest, I’m guilty of submitting the same piece of writing as both. For the most part, the call for submissions determines how I submit the piece. If a magazine calls for flash, I’ll submit it as a flash. If a magazine calls for a prose poem, I’ll submit my piece as a prose poem.

Suddenly panicked, and convinced that I had been making a fool of myself by consistently submitting the wrong genre, I decided that it was time to do some research. If flash fiction and prose poems were different, the question remained. Why?
“Prose Poem or Flash Fiction – What’s the Difference?” – guest blog post by Jessica Terson (Trish Hopkinson’s blog)

*

I try not to be too commercial, but buying a book from a small press or even just leaving an Amazon review can make a giant difference in a writer’s outlook.

So, if you are interested in getting a signed copy from me of PR for Poets, or Field Guide to the End of the World, or any of my books, follow these links. And I will really appreciate it and try to include a little something extra in there (and am happy to sign to a special someone.)

Looking for a few more poetry book recommendations? Here’s a list of more new books I think would make great gifts!

Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumuathil from Copper Canyon Press – a wonderful collection that celebrates nature, diversity, and I can’t think of anyone who would hate this book.

Barbie Chang by Victoria Chang from Copper Canyon Press. Victoria Chang takes on the difficult subjects of race and class in America through the lens of Barbie and Jane Austen in a really smart, fun way.

A Nation (Imagined) by Natasha K. Moni Floating Bridge Press – Super timely exploration of what being the child of immigrants in America means right now and how it is to be part of the world and simultaneously an outside observer.

Electrical Theories of Femininity (from Black Radish Books) by Sarah Mangold – Feminism, science and computers? You had me at hello.
Jeannine Hall Gailey, Holiday Shopping Suggestions – Writers, Artists, Zoo and Museum Memberships and More Ideas!

*

Did you know that Laura Madeline Wiseman hosts a wonderful website called “The Chapbook Interview: Talking all things chapbook”? I recently did an interview with Wiseman which is published on her site, here. If you are a chapbook aficionado you will want to spend some time reading her scores of interviews with like-minded chapbook fans- writers, editors, publishers. I have published three poetry chapbooks, and am an editor at Headmistress Press, a press that primarily publishes chapbooks, but oddly, I don’t think I had spent much time prior to this interview thinking about the chapbook as a specialized art form, not just a short book. It definitely is, and I was grateful for the opportunity to have a conversation with Wiseman about it!
Risa Denenberg, Sunday Morning Muse with Thoughts of Chapbooks, New Work, and a Survey

*

One task I completed just before the trip was a residency application for 2020 (!), which gave me cause to reflect on where my poetry has been and where it’s going. I knew midlife had been a big topic in recent years, but I realized more clearly just how much of my poetry has also been about anger, more specifically women’s anger. Now I’m thinking about the consequences of anger, how it can be useful but also harmful, so my poems seem to concern healing and metamorphosis. My new magazine publications contain some of each–poems from a complete ms, in which I’m coming to terms with being middle-aged in the middle of nowhere in an especially messed-up part of a messed-up country, and from a newer ms, just taking shape, that I feel superstitious about describing yet (except in grant/ residency applications, in which you basically have to act like you know EXACTLY what you’ll be writing for the next two years).
Lesley Wheeler, The ending’s beginning

*

For the past month, I have been rereading some poetry reviews by David Orr that appeared in Poetry magazine in 2001. Orr is a tough critic. Much like Dorothy Parker. Not afraid to say: ‘Antony and Cleopatra travel on the Nile on a barge, and the barge sank.’ Orr makes me a bit nervous. In one review, he considers the mundane and the concept of what is publishable; that is, poems that are thoughtful, polished, and unsurprising. Unsurprising = competent = in his words ’eminently publishable.’ I continue reading and realize his point is not all published poems deserve to be collected into a volume of poetry. He detests ‘wise’ poems and prefers short lyrics. He wants verbal facility, but sneers at poetry professionals. He thinks these poets and their wholly publishable poems are foolish; at best offering the reader a metaphorical muddle, rather than something that moves beyond its gesture. Orr seems to be quickly bored by the perfected endings. Most often, couplets, which aren’t incompetent, and most often are effective and moving, but have become the poet’s formula– the “Wait, for it, big ending.” Obviously, in 2001, he was hell bent on putting the spotlight on the seven steps to writing the essential “Workshop Lyric Poem.” He had had enough of the same old, same old life lessons. He wants something more.
M.J. Iuppa, Poetry (re) Views . . .17 years later . . .

*

Before I assigned in-class letter-writing, I asked whether any of them ever writes letters. Not one hand went up. I withdrew from my tote bag a clutch of old correspondence (yes, of course I would be that person who keeps the letters people write to me). After flourishing an envelope–with a 29-cent stamp–I disclosed the contents, a ten-page, handwritten letter from a dear friend. The students audibly gasped. “How long did that take to write?” “Did you read all of that?” Sure! When long-distance phone calls were expensive, letters were social media. We couldn’t just snapchat a photo of ourselves standing on a pile of snow and caption it “Snow!” We’d have to send a photo. Or we’d have to describe without the visual–and this is a practice my students have almost never had to employ.

Lack of informal writing practice translates into lack of writing practice, period.

I even read passages from three letters aloud, and the students were impressed with the vivid writing…writing by “non-writers.” “You could write like this, too,” I told them. “You just haven’t needed to do it, and therefore you think you can’t do it.” Then I asked them to think of a person, a specific person, and come up with a reason or purpose to write to that person, and then just write. The response was amazing. Some of these students wrote more in 15 minutes than they ever have for an in-class assignment. Most of them enjoyed it! One student even said that “this old style of long form texting intrigues me” and plans to start writing letters to a sibling once a week.

Success!
Ann E. Michael, Epistle as writing practice

*

You recently published your debut collection of poetry, Basement Gemini (Hyacinth Girl Press). Tell us a bit about the chapbook and how it came into being.

Well, I wrote Basement Gemini at a time when I was thinking very extensively about The Ring. I think it’s a fascinating movie, and no, I haven’t seen the original Japanese version. I’m a straight-up American Ring poseur. Anyways, The Ring is really interesting to me because of the ambiguity of its message. The takeaway is essentially that a little girl has been abused and ultimately murdered, but the twist is that she was presumably inherently evil the whole time, and you end up with this weird message/ethical dilemma about misplaced empathy, feminine power, and nature vs. nurture. At the end of the day, though, no matter how evil and powerful she was, Samara couldn’t get herself out of that well.

I remember watching it at age twelve when it came out. I was a total tomboy and actively discouraged being perceived as feminine, but lots of horror movies (think The Ring, Carrie, and even Psycho, in a deferred kind of way) reinforce that femininity can be dangerous, which is problematic, obviously, but also weirdly empowering. Basement Gemini was kind of born out of that idea — the simultaneous, seemingly-contradictory-but-not-really victimization, vilification, and empowerment of women that’s encountered so often in horror. I was also reading Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover around the time I was writing the chapbook, which provides a pretty interesting critical look at the genre.

I love the way Basement Gemini explores female agency and voice through horror movie tropes. What draws you to horror?

I’ve always been a big fan of horror — particularly the supernatural variety. I’m an atheist and a devout nonbeliever in all things superstitious, but at the same time, the paranormal and/or demonic makes for some very compelling metaphors. My ideal horror movie involves a house, a ghost, and something unsavory that’s been repressed or glossed over. The idea that there could exist repercussions for abuse/violence/suffering that transcend societal action (or inaction) is kind of a satisfying notion, isn’t it? I’m thinking What Lies Beneath — you’re a young woman, you get murdered by your professor/lover, you come back as a ghost and exact vengeance with the help of his wife. Suddenly you’ve got a level of agency that goes way beyond being a thing that violence is done upon. It’s a fantasy of cosmic justice, or a cautionary tale with the message “don’t kill women,” depending on how you look at it.

That being said, I’ve watched a lot of very bad horror films with immense enjoyment. My favorites are probably The Manitou and Frozen in Fear, aka The Flying Dutchman. Sometimes I just like the performance and spectacle of putting together these tropes and seeking a quick buck. It can be kind of charming. Fitting the same tropes horror films utilize into poetry was a fun time, and I also realized I actually had a lot to say through them.
Poet Spotlight: Chelsea Margaret Bodnar on horror and the dilemma of female power (Andrea Blythe’s blog)

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Q~Your two most recent works are a collaborative book and a collection of erasure poems. How does working with another poet or source material change your writing?

A~Working collaboratively with Laura Madeline Wiseman on our collection Every Girl Becomes the Wolf (Finishing Line Press) and other projects has strengthened my writing. During our collaboration sessions, I find there’s a tug and pull, in which I am simultaneously offering up space in a piece in order to allow Madeline’s voice into the poem while also claiming room for my own voice. Our poems are written together and then jointly edited, so that our voices become layered over each other to the point that in some completed poems, I can’t tell where her words begin and mine end. Throughout it all, I’m continually surprised by Madeline’s skill in choosing words and editing for clarity. It’s an intimate education in another person’s method of writing, which has provided me with new tools to approach my own writing.

In the act of creating erasure poetry presents an interesting restriction. Rather than the infinite possibilities of the blank page, I’m confronted with an existing text (in the case of my collection A Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch, I was working with the product descriptions in Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyers). The puzzle of striking out words to find the poem left behind stretches me into new directions — Can I siphon out a new meaning from these words? Are there enough of them to complete a particular thought? Do I need to modify the direction of the poem because the available words are steering me another way? It’s resulted in some surprising, surreal turns that I might not have taken in a standard free verse poem. It’s a kind of freedom nested within the restrictions, which can in turn empower me to explore more playfully when I approach an empty page.
Ursula / an interview with poet Andrea Blythe (Bekah Steimel’s blog)

Outworn

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up, and after being trimmed, alone by water to Erith, all the way with my song book singing of Mr. Lawes’s long recitative song in the beginning of his book. Being come there, on board my Lord Bruncker, I find Captain Cocke and other company, the lady not well, and mighty merry we were; Sir Edmund Pooly being very merry, and a right English gentleman, and one of the discontented Cavaliers, that think their loyalty is not considered. After dinner, all on shore to my Lady Williams, and there drank and talked; but, Lord! the most impertinent bold woman with my Lord that ever I did see. I did give her an account again of my business with my Lord touching W. Howe, and she did give me some more information about it, and examination taken about it, and so we parted and I took boat, and to Woolwich, where we found my wife not well of them, and I out of humour begun to dislike her paynting, the last things not pleasing me so well as the former, but I blame myself for my being so little complaisant. So without eating or drinking, there being no wine (which vexed me too), we walked with a lanthorne to Greenwich and eat something at his house, and so home to bed.

alone with my song
I find on the shore
an old boat
like the last drinking horn
green and thin


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 19 November 1665.

Distance

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

is what you learn about stars:
how they burn themselves out,
long before you ever get
the messages they’re sending
through light. One day you lift

your head, and it is many years
later: twenty, thirty. You feel so far
away from where you started,
can barely retrace the exact
steps it took to get here. If so
many things have changed, how

come others continue to expect
the opposite? You look at pictures
of yourself from another time: girl
in blue pleated skirt and white
blouse, girl with a white veil.
There are people you haven’t

spoken to in ages, still going to
the same corner bakery for bread
rolls in the morning, still
bickering over who gets the biggest
share of anything. All that too,
you want to put time and space

between. There was a time you thought
you might be able to change old wood
for new, chart a different course
for others. A mistake: each thing
must spend itself until all its light
is gone, even if it doesn’t know it.

Stand-in

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

About nine of the clock, I went on shore, there (calling by the way only to look upon my Lord Bruncker) to give Mrs. Williams an account of her matters, and so hired an ill-favoured horse, and away to Greenwich to my lodgings, where I hear how rude the souldiers have been in my absence, swearing what they would do with me, which troubled me, but, however, after eating a bit I to the office and there very late writing letters, and so home and to bed.

the clock
I hear in my absence

I owe it a letter


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 18 November 1665.

Amnion

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

I may have been born
with my hair in an old
lady bun, my hands buried
deep in the pockets
of a skirt too long for me;
with my feet in socks
wrapped and layered
to cover the peeling scabs.
I may have been born with
a stray tooth sown
in the bed of my gum,
a penchant for blinking
furiously until tears came.
The walls of my father’s
house were full of women’s
secrets: with whispering
above piles of laundry,
and clouds of dirty blood
dissolving in the water.
Someone shook
condensation out
from inside the rice
pot’s lid, and a few
drops touched my cheek.
I came to know how salt
cradles the body in warm
waters at birth, and
how we carry its taste
with us into our afterlife.

Instruction

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Sailed all night, and got down to Quinbrough water, where all the great ships are now come, and there on board my Lord, and was soon received with great content. And after some little discourse, he and I on board Sir W. Pen; and there held a council of Warr about many wants of the fleete, but chiefly how to get slopps and victuals for the fleete now going out to convoy our Hambro’ ships, that have been so long detained for four or five months for want of convoy, which we did accommodate one way or other, and so, after much chatt, Sir W. Pen did give us a very good and neat dinner, and better, I think, than ever I did see at his owne house at home in my life, and so was the other I eat with him. After dinner much talke, and about other things, he and I about his money for his prize goods, wherein I did give him a cool answer, but so as we did not disagree in words much, and so let that fall, and so followed my Lord Sandwich, who was gone a little before me on board the Royall James. And there spent an houre, my Lord playing upon the gittarr, which he now commends above all musique in the world, because it is base enough for a single voice, and is so portable and manageable without much trouble. That being done, I got my Lord to be alone, and so I fell to acquaint him with W. Howe’s business, which he had before heard a little of from Captain Cocke, but made no great matter of it, but now he do, and resolves nothing less than to lay him by the heels, and seize on all he hath, saying that for this yeare or two he hath observed him so proud and conceited he could not endure him. But though I was not at all displeased with it, yet I prayed him to forbear doing anything therein till he heard from me again about it, and I had made more enquiry into the truth of it, which he agreed to. Then we fell to publique discourse, wherein was principally this: he cleared it to me beyond all doubt that Coventry is his enemy, and has been long so. So that I am over that, and my Lord told it me upon my proposal of a friendship between them, which he says is impossible, and methinks that my Lord’s displeasure about the report in print of the first fight was not of his making, but I perceive my Lord cannot forget it, nor the other think he can. I shewed him how advisable it were upon almost any terms for him to get quite off the sea employment. He answers me again that he agrees to it, but thinks the King will not let him go off: He tells me he lacks now my Lord Orrery to solicit it for him, who is very great with the King. As an infinite secret, my Lord tells me, the factions are high between the King and the Duke, and all the Court are in an uproare with their loose amours; the Duke of Yorke being in love desperately with Mrs. Stewart. Nay, that the Duchesse herself is fallen in love with her new Master of the Horse, one Harry Sidney, and another, Harry Savill. So that God knows what will be the end of it. And that the Duke is not so obsequious as he used to be, but very high of late; and would be glad to be in the head of an army as Generall; and that it is said that he do propose to go and command under the King of Spayne, in Flanders. That his amours to Mrs. Stewart are told the King. So that all is like to be nought among them.
That he knows that the Duke of Yorke do give leave to have him spoken slightly of in his owne hearing, and doth not oppose it, and told me from what time he hath observed this to begin. So that upon the whole my Lord do concur to wish with all his heart that he could with any honour get from off the imployment. After he had given thanks to me for my kind visit and good counsel, on which he seems to set much by, I left him, and so away to my Bezan againe, and there to read in a pretty French book, “La Nouvelle Allegorique,” upon the strife between rhetorique and its enemies, very pleasant. So, after supper, to sleepe, and sayled all night, and came to Erith before break of day.

above all music
is a voice in my head

that said to go under
like light into a hole

or a heart into a book

or enemies to sleep


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 17 November 1665.

Feast day

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and fitted myself for my journey down to the fleete, and sending my money and boy down by water to Eriffe, I borrowed a horse of Mr. Boreman’s son, and after having sat an houre laughing with my Lady Batten and Mrs. Turner, and eat and drank with them, I took horse and rode to Eriffe, where, after making a little visit to Madam Williams, who did give me information of W. Howe’s having bought eight bags of precious stones taken from about the Dutch Vice-Admirall’s neck, of which there were eight dyamonds which cost him 60,000l. sterling, in India, and hoped to have made 2000l. here for them. And that this is told by one that sold him one of the bags, which hath nothing but rubys in it, which he had for 35s.; and that it will be proved he hath made 125l. of one stone that he bought. This she desired, and I resolved I would give my Lord Sandwich notice of. So I on board my Lord Bruncker; and there he and Sir Edmund Pooly carried me down into the hold of the India shipp, and there did show me the greatest wealth lie in confusion that a man can see in the world. Pepper scattered through every chink, you trod upon it; and in cloves and nutmegs, I walked above the knees; whole rooms full. And silk in bales, and boxes of copper-plate, one of which I saw opened.
Having seen this, which was as noble a sight as ever I saw in my life, I away on board the other ship in despair to get the pleasure-boat of the gentlemen there to carry me to the fleet. They were Mr. Ashburnham and Colonell Wyndham; but pleading the King’s business, they did presently agree I should have it. So I presently on board, and got under sail, and had a good bedd by the shift, of Wyndham’s; and so, …

I eat a horse
making it all into one sandwich

a man can pepper every love
and nutmeg whole rooms
full of despair


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 16 November 1665.

Madre Paradójica

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Orphan: from Late Latin orphanus, from Ancient Greek ὀρφανός (orphanós, “without parents, fatherless”), from Proto-Indo-European*h₃órbʰos. Cognate with Sanskrit अर्भ (árbha), Latin orbus (“orphaned”), Old High German erbi, arbi (German Erbe (“heir”), Old English ierfa (“heir”)

Is there a name for the condition of having
always known you don’t own the body you come into,

from the moment you’re lifted out of the tunnel
and held up by the ankles to make that first,

long-drawn-out wail? The hands of the midwife,
the hands of the nurse taking the body’s measure,

counting the number of fingers and toes, testing
the apparatus of the ears— It doesn’t seem

important whose names are typed into the form
if one can substitute for another, if the body

from which you’ve recently been cleaved was,
after all, surrogate for another. What name,

if any, will you be able to call her? And,
as you grow, how will she be able to staunch

the heavy pull and pain as the body stops
producing the milk, as the walls of the womb

shrink back into themselves and everyone
carries on as if nothing happened? And the new

body to which you are assigned, the one
you are instructed to give the name “mother:”

how does it manage the work of rearing and housing
what is and isn’t part of her? In sleep, in dreams,

all of us reach for the other. Awake, all of us
stand in the circle of our perfect solitude.