Her majesty’s dog at Kew

Up betimes and to my chamber to do business, where the greatest part of the morning. Then out to the ‘Change to speake with Captain [Cocke], who tells me my silver plates are ready for me, and shall be sent me speedily; and proposes another proposition of serving us with a thousand tons of hempe, and tells me it shall bring me 500l., if the bargain go forward, which is a good word. Thence to Sir G. Carteret, who is at the pay of the tickets with Sir J. Minnes this day, and here I sat with them a while, the first time I ever was there, and thence to dinner with him, a good dinner. Here come a gentleman over from France arrived here this day, Mr. Browne of St. Mellos, who, among other things, tells me the meaning of the setting out of doggs every night out of the towne walls, which are said to secure the city; but it is not so, but only to secure the anchors, cables, and ships that lie dry, which might otherwise in the night be liable to be robbed. And these doggs are set out every night, and called together in every morning by a man with a home, and they go in very orderly.
Thence home, and there find Knipp at dinner with my wife, now very big, and within a fortnight of lying down. But my head was full of business and so could have no sport. So I left them, promising to return and take them out at night, and so to the Excise Office, where a meeting was appointed of Sir Stephen Fox, the Cofferer, and myself, to settle the business of our tallys, and it was so pretty well against another meeting.
Thence away home to the office and out again to Captain Cocke (Mr. Moore for company walking with me and discoursing and admiring of the learning of Dr. Spencer), and there he and I discoursed a little more of our matters, and so home, and (Knipp being gone) took out my wife and Mercer to take the ayre a little, and so as far as Hackney and back again, and then to bed.

with silver plates serving us sand
a gentleman tells me
the meaning of dog

walls secure the night
and call every fox
to take the air

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 25 May 1666.


~ in memoriam, Aurora Villaseñor Igloria

Say your mother is eyeing the last
piece of bread on the table:

instead of asking for it, she
might say Don't you want the last

pan de leche?
That way, if you
or anyone else wants it,

you could have it, and her little
longing might be tucked away.

Or say there is just so much rice
in the pot: so your grandparents

sing the praises of the smoky
and brittle crust at the bottom,

how it crumbles like a cracker
or a golden lattice. They'll say

What a lifetime of eating our fill
of the world
: mangos and sugar apples,

doughnuts and sponge cakes---so much
plenty, they don't need to be reminded.

Heat wave

Up very betimes, and did much business in my chamber. Then to the office, where busy all the morning. At noon rose in the pleasantest humour I have seen Sir W. Coventry and the whole board in this twelvemonth from a pleasant crossing humour Sir W. Batten was in, he being hungry, and desirous to be gone.
Home, and Mr. Hunt come to dine with me, but I was prevented dining till 4 o’clock by Sir H. Cholmly and Sir J. Bankes’s coming in about some Tangier business. They gone I to dinner, the others having dined. Mr. Sheply is also newly come out of the country and come to see us, whom I am glad to see. He left all well there; but I perceive under some discontent in my Lord’s behalfe, thinking that he is under disgrace with the King; but he is not so at all, as Sir G. Carteret assures me.
They gone I to the office and did business, and so in the evening abroad alone with my wife to Kingsland, and so back again and to bed, my right eye continuing very ill of the rheum, which hath troubled it four or five days.

I am in the oven
a whole month hungry

I hunt a new country under the ice
on my right eye

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 24 May 1666.


The man who builds furniture
comes to measure the space
where my father wants a glass
paneled cabinet and hutch:
so high, with drawer pulls
and knobs in the shape of
seahorses. In our town,
everything anyone might want
could be copied for a price---
imitation being the highest
form of flattery. So we have
a chandelier with teardrop
facets and copper wires;
a kitchen floor inlaid
with crazy-cut tile.
The cabinet will hold
plates, crystal footed ice
cream dishes, punch bowls
with scallops and serrated
edges made from the same
materials as the craftsman's
one artificial eye.

The Moment that Comes After Was Once the Future

It will follow you 
as you walk with your hand
in your mother's down the hill,
the pines towering in mid-
afternoon heat, their spires

waiting to be lit
later by the darker fire
shed by the sun going down:
that sense of the future
just waiting to pounce

on the moment
like the breath of a dog
snarling at your heels as you
pass the gate to which
its owner has tied it.

It's only a simple
errand: maybe to bring back
butter and a loaf of bread.
But she has put on a clean
dress, a pair of black

sling-back pumps, sprayed
a scent along her wrists
and neckline: something
like Jean Patou or Chanel
No. 5. Coming back, you look

in the window of every store.
She nods and smiles at the Indian
shopkeepers, Mr. Bheroomull,
Mr. Assandas; and the Chinese
manager of the dry goods

store. They bow back.
There are glass shelves
in the front with alarm
clocks and wristwatches
you need to wind every day

so they keep the correct
time. There are notions and
bolts of cloth in every color.
And the dog still chafes at his
chain as you make your way home.

Rage addict

Up by 5 o’clock and to my chamber settling several matters in order. So out toward White Hall, calling in my way on my Lord Bellassis, where I come to his bedside, and did give me a full and long account of his matters, how he left them at Tangier. Declares himself fully satisfied with my care: seems cunningly to argue for encreasing the number of men there. Told me the whole story of his gains by the Turky prizes, which he owns he hath got about 5000l. by. Promised me the same profits Povy was to have had; and in fine, I find him a pretty subtle man; and so I left him, and to White Hall before the Duke and did our usual business, and eased my mind of two or three things of weight that lay upon me about Lanyon’s salary, which I have got to be 150l. per annum. Thence to Westminster to look after getting some little for some great tallys, but shall find trouble in it. Thence homeward and met with Sir Philip Warwicke, and spoke about this, in which he is scrupulous. After that to talk of the wants of the Navy. He lays all the fault now upon the new Act, and owns his owne folly in thinking once so well of it as to give way to others’ endeavours about it, and is grieved at heart to see what passe things are like to come to. Thence to the Excise Office to the Commissioners to get a meeting between them and myself and others about our concernments in the Excise for Tangier, and so to the ‘Change awhile, and thence home with Creed, and find my wife at dinner with Mr. Cooke, who is going down to Hinchinbrooke. After dinner Creed and I and wife and Mercer out by coach, leaving them at the New Exchange, while I to White Hall, and there staid at Sir G. Carteret’s chamber till the Council rose, and then he and I, by agreement this morning, went forth in his coach by Tiburne, to the Parke; discoursing of the state of the Navy as to money, and the state of the Kingdom too, how ill able to raise more: and of our office as to the condition of the officers; he giving me caution as to myself, that there are those that are my enemies as well as his, and by name my Lord Bruncker, who hath said some odd speeches against me. So that he advises me to stand on my guard; which I shall do, and unless my too-much addiction to pleasure undo me, will be acute enough for any of them. We rode to and again in the Parke a good while, and at last home and set me down at Charing Crosse, and thence I to Mrs. Pierces to take up my wife and Mercer, where I find her new picture by Hales do not please her, nor me indeed, it making no show, nor is very like, nor no good painting. Home to supper and to bed, having my right eye sore and full of humour of late, I think, by my late change of my brewer, and having of 8s. beer.

a white weight lay upon me
but a war lay upon others

grieved at heart
like the one-inch rose
I went to the park of my enemies
to guard my addiction
to the cross and the sore

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 23 May 1666.


Up betimes and to my business of entering some Tangier payments in my book in order, and then to the office, where very busy all the morning. At noon home to dinner, Balty being gone back to sea and his wife dining with us, whom afterward my wife carried home. I after dinner to the office, and anon out on several occasions, among others to Lovett’s, and there staid by him and her and saw them (in their poor conditioned manner) lay on their varnish, which however pleased me mightily to see.
Thence home to my business writing letters, and so at night home to supper and to bed.

entering my book
where to be gone to

who among others to love
in their poor varnish

how to see at night

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 22 May 1666.


Early summer: such signs of labor
meaning the cycles begin again--

the earnest attempt to beat back
all sudden proliferation of green

bladed things. A woman breaks off
a sprig of confederate jasmine

and offers it to me: as if I need
more evidence the girl is back, back

from her tenure in the depths. We tie
a bandana around the bottom of our faces

and watch as trucks drive around
the block, spraying chemicals for

mosquitoes. In the canopy of the fig
whose limbs we trimmed in spring,

I stretch a hand up to feel for nubs
that will still grow heavy with sugar.

Wire Mother, Cloth Mother

In a famous experiment, the infant monkey
taken from its biological mother is given

a choice of two surrogates—a wire mother,
or one rigged of rubber and terry cloth.

Wire mother has the bottle dispensing milk,
and cloth mother has nothing but its soft,

nubby surface. It's easy to predict
the ways this story will be told;

so clear that the organizing principle here
is one assigning maternality to certain

traits assumed to naturally reside
in a female that has given birth to young.

If the mother, still anxious and groggy
from labor and lack of sleep, at first

pushes the tiny, rooting mouth away,
does it necessarily mean she'll have

no love to give? Years ago, preparing
to leave my children in the care of

relatives so I could go to graduate
school in America, I was called

selfish, self-centered. Even the man
on my fellowship interview committee

took one look at my information
and said, But you're a mother! as if

that should settle anything and every-
thing. Another colleague said, Mark

my words. It may not show now, but
there'll be an effect on them
. Meaning

something like those infant rhesus
monkeys after being left with a wire

surrogate: some stared at the ceiling
or circled their cage; some engaged

in self-mutilation or even wasted
away and died, after refusing to eat.  


Up between 4 and 5 o’clock and to set several papers to rights, and so to the office, where we had an extraordinary meeting. But, Lord! how it torments me to find myself so unable to give an account of my Victualling business, which puts me out of heart in every thing else, so that I never had a greater shame upon me in my owne mind, nor more trouble as to publique business than I have now, but I will get out of it as soon as possibly I can.
At noon dined at home, and after dinner comes in my wife’s brother Balty and his wife, he being stepped ashore from the fleete for a day or two.
I away in some haste to my Lord Ashly, where it is stupendous to see how favourably, and yet closely, my Lord Ashly carries himself to Mr. Yeabsly, in his business, so as I think we shall do his business for him in very good manner. But it is a most extraordinary thing to observe, and that which I would not but have had the observation of for a great deal of money.
Being done there, and much forwarded Yeabsly’s business, I with Sir H. Cholmly to my Lord Bellassis, who is lately come from Tangier to visit him, but is not within. So to Westminster Hall a little about business and so home by water, and then out with my wife, her brother, sister, and Mercer to Islington, our grand tour, and there eat and drank. But in discourse I am infinitely pleased with Balty, his deportment in his business of Muster-Master, and hope mighty well from him, and am glad with all my heart I put him into this business.
Late home and to bed, they also lying at my house, he intending to go away to-morrow back again to sea.

a lock torments me
unable to give
more than ash

where ash is ordinary as water
and infinite as hope
this lying sea

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 21 May 1666.