A child when grown is to thatch
a roof over his old parents' heads,
is to weave a shawl across the thin
skin holding in their shoulders.
A child is to stay ghost-like and serve
in the final years leading to their deaths.
In winter, rare sight of a wading bird
anchored against the frozen tide
by one bent leg--- She is an ideogram
of go and stay, sweet water and salt.
I can't read the current that swirls
underneath the cold surface.
Up, and set my people to work in copying Tangier accounts, and I down the river to Greenwich to the office to fetch away some papers and thence to Deptford, where by agreement my Lord Bruncker was to come, but staid almost till noon, after I had spent an houre with W. Howe talking of my Lord Sandwich’s matters and his folly in minding his pleasures too much now-a-days, and permitting himself to be governed by Cuttance to the displeasing of all the Commanders almost of the fleete, and thence we may conceive indeed the rise of all my Lord’s misfortunes of late. At noon my Lord Bruncker did come, but left the keys of the chests we should open, at Sir G. Carteret’s lodgings, of my Lord Sandwich’s, wherein Howe’s supposed jewells are; so we could not, according to my Lord Arlington’s order, see them today; but we parted, resolving to meet here at night: my Lord Bruncker being going with Dr. Wilkins, Mr. Hooke, and others, to Colonell Blunts, to consider again of the business of charriots, and to try their new invention. Which I saw here my Lord Bruncker ride in; where the coachman sits astride upon a pole over the horse, but do not touch the horse, which is a pretty odde thing; but it seems it is most easy for the horse, and, as they say, for the man also. Thence I with speede by water home and eat a bit, and took my accounts and to the Duke of Albemarle, where for all I feared of Norwood he was very civill, and Sir Thomas Ingram beyond expectation, I giving them all content and I thereby settled mightily in my mind, for I was weary of the employment, and had had thoughts of giving it over. I did also give a good step in a business of Mr. Hubland’s, about getting a ship of his to go to Tangier, which during this strict embargo is a great matter, and I shall have a good reward for it, I hope. Thence by water in the darke down to Deptford, and there find my Lord Bruncker come and gone, having staid long for me. I back presently to the Crowne taverne behind the Exchange by appointment, and there met the first meeting of Gresham College since the plague. Dr. Goddard did fill us with talke, in defence of his and his fellow physicians going out of towne in the plague-time; saying that their particular patients were most gone out of towne, and they left at liberty; and a great deal more, &c. But what, among other fine discourse pleased me most, was Sir G. Ent about Respiration; that it is not to this day known, or concluded on among physicians, nor to be done either, how the action is managed by nature, or for what use it is. Here late till poor Dr. Merriot was drunk, and so all home, and I to bed.
the river is too much
to be governed by art or order
unsettled as a crow
in plague time
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 22 January 1666.
I love the upturned hand nestled inside
a psalm; can't hate the smell
of a body still clinging to its corpse.
It takes two days before a coffin
can be found-- in the meantime he lies
on an unmade bed, formal in
repose, dressed in his best suit,
good silk tie and polished shoes.
Aftershocks rattle the windowpanes, send
piano octaves across the floor.
Tremors around the base of trees unearth
small bones and lost mosaics
of tile. On the third day, a hummingbird
flies through the porch slats;
its wings, bright as wounds, move faster
than sight, trying to break the spell.
(Lord’s day). Lay almost till noon merrily and with pleasure talking with my wife in bed. Then up looking about my house, and the roome which my wife is dressing up, having new hung our bedchamber with blue, very handsome. After dinner to my Tangier accounts and there stated them against to-morrow very distinctly for the Lords to see who meet tomorrow, and so to supper and to bed.
till noon talking
with my wife in bed
then looking out—
the new-hung blue
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 21 January 1666.
~ "One eye sees, the other feels." (Paul Klee)
We threw down sticks to shape
a rune and counted numbers
burned into six-sided cubes
of bone. Adding them up,
we looked for guidance
from stars that were
no longer there, except for
telegrams of light they tried
to send from out of their
aftermath. We asked
how long we have to live
inside this temple of war;
how many more weeks
we'll wander without
food or sleep or shade. On one side
of a wall, willows droop with names
of missing children. On the other, flares
sputter; flies hover over fetid pools of rain.
To the office, where upon Mr. Kinaston’s coming to me about some business of Colonell Norwood’s, I sent my boy home for some papers, where, he staying longer than I would have him, and being vexed at the business and to be kept from my fellows in the office longer than was fit, I become angry, and boxed my boy when he came, that I do hurt my thumb so much, that I was not able to stir all the day after, and in great pain. At noon to dinner, and then to the office again, late, and so to supper and to bed.
out in woods I stay
longer than ice
longer than hurt
not able to stir all afternoon
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 20 January 1666.
youth might return to their bodies
a peach flush a glow in their cheeks
they don't fight for the love of a man
anymore they're tender with each
other poison under wet tongues
women have come and gone they know
in the same bed they lie with fingers
entwined when one dies the other is hollow
whose face remains who dreams who slips away
hair loosened they used to keep each other's
rings and garments pulse and jealous fire
secrets breathing inside
Up and ready, called on by Mr. Moone, my Lord Bellases’ secretary, who and I good friends though I have failed him in some payments. Thence with Sir J. Minnes to the Duke of Albemarle’s, and carried all well, and met Norwood but prevented him in desiring a meeting of the Commissioners for Tangier. Thence to look for Sir H., but he not within, he coming to town last night. It is a remarkable thing how infinitely naked all that end of the towne, Covent-Garden, is at this day of people; while the City is almost as full again of people as ever it was. To the ‘Change and so home to dinner and the office, whither anon comes Sir H. Cholmley to me, and he and I to my house, there to settle his accounts with me, and so with great pleasure we agreed and great friends become, I think, and he presented me upon the foot of our accounts for this year’s service for him 100l., whereof Povy must have half. Thence to the office and wrote a letter to Norwood to satisfy him about my nonpayment of his bill, for that do still stick in my mind. So at night home to supper and to bed.
called by bell
I ring within
how infinitely naked is an ear
to the night
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 19 January 1666.
~ after Armando Valero, “Serenade“
My love sings to me
clothed as if ready to leave
in the morning for war, as if
the boat on which we ride
did not go both forward
and back to a shore we
only think we can abandon.
And the sea is a rough beast
whose waters we are always
trying to carve into scales,
whose rhythms we are always
trying to match to the pulse
in our wrists. My love, she
with a brave blue banner
emblazoned with the sign
of a creature who might live
on land and water and air.
My love, with no provisions
other than rebellious song
he pushes into the wind:
what foolishness to dress
in the purest linen and a jacket
sewn of summer’s extravagant
blooms. But what else, what else
could we do under this slate-blue sky.
In response to Via Negativa: In Winter.
Up before day and thence rode to London before office time, where I met a note at the doore to invite me to supper to Mrs. Pierces because of Mrs. Knipp, who is in towne and at her house. To the office, where, among other things, vexed with Major Norwood’s coming, who takes it ill my not paying a bill of Exchange of his, but I have good reason for it, and so the less troubled, but yet troubled, so as at noon being carried by my Lord Bruncker to Captain Cocke’s to dinner, where Mrs. Williams was, and Mrs. Knipp, I was not heartily merry, though a glasse of wine did a little cheer me. After dinner to the office. Anon comes to me thither my Lord Bruncker, Mrs. Williams, and Knipp. I brought down my wife in her night-gowne, she not being indeed very well, to the office to them and there by and by they parted all and my wife and I anon and Mercer, by coach, to Pierces; where mighty merry, and sing and dance with great pleasure; and I danced, who never did in company in my life, and Captain Cocke come for a little while and danced, but went away, but we staid and had a pretty supper, and spent till two in the morning, but got home well by coach, though as dark as pitch, and so to bed.
at the door to the woods
I exchange reason for heart
my life for a little dance
pretty as pitch
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 18 January 1666.