Despite

The dough will rise, 
sweetening in the pan. I pinch
my sadness into coils
dusted with powder of cassia bark,
cane syrups spun in a centrifuge until
they are the color of our skin.
Heat completes the arrangement of desire
overlaid by everything gathered
throughout history: who saw
the first clump of pink
peppercorns, knots of lemongrass,
startled deer receding
from slabs of salt still wet
with the tracing of their tongues?
Above the ashy ground,
shorthand of fiddlehead ferns.
Beneath the water where we can't go,
the sounds made by whales
crying for the mothers they
will never see again.







Pleasantries

Up to the office very betimes to draw up a letter for the Duke of Yorke relating to him the badness of our condition in this office for want of money. That being in good time done we met at the office and there sat all the morning. At noon home, where I find my wife troubled still at my checking her last night in the coach in her long stories out of Grand Cyrus, which she would tell, though nothing to the purpose, nor in any good manner. This she took unkindly, and I think I was to blame indeed; but she do find with reason, that in the company of Pierce, Knipp, or other women that I love, I do not value her, or mind her as I ought. However very good friends by and by, and to dinner, and after dinner up to the putting our dining room in order, which will be clean again anon, but not as it is to be because of the pictures which are not come home.
To the office and did much business, in the evening to Westminster and White Hall about business and among other things met Sir G. Downing on White Hall bridge, and there walked half an hour, talking of the success of the late new Act; and indeed it is very much, that that hath stood really in the room of 800,000l. now since Christmas, being itself but 1,250,000l.. And so I do really take it to be a very considerable thing done by him; for the beginning, end, and every part of it, is to be imputed to him.
So home by water, and there hard till 12 at night at work finishing the great letter to the Duke of Yorke against to-morrow morning, and so home to bed.
This day come home again my little girle Susan, her sicknesse proving an ague, and she had a fit soon almost as she come home.
The fleete is not yet gone from the Nore. The plague encreases in many places, and is 53 this week with us.

the badness
of our good morning
her long stories out of nothing

an unkind mind
to put in order
but not because of owning it

talking in the room of being
and every part of work
proving a plague


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 12 May 1666.

Extinction

In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead 
      sheep to slaughter, while its own life 
is spared; with scent

                      of estrus, will lure 
            other goats out from behind rock and scrub
                          so a helicopter rifle shot

can pick them out, one by one
      by one— A little world
within itself, wrote Darwin:

                             with pools where blue-
                     footed boobies come to wade, and
                      tortoises old as boulders. Once,

a neighbor told me of the family dog
      they had to give away 
when they moved;

                 how her new humans said 
        she limped back to the house they used to own,
                    and curled up under the laurel tree

to die. What do the leaves say
      when they move like mouths
as the light changes, as little buds of jasmine

                            continue to give up scent    
                 even as a different color takes over  
                       their pale ghost bodies?

All our dead come back to us
      in dreams so we can make apology.
They hold out sheets of our tears, 

                       so much silver warming
        the grass neatly clipped where we lie down
             to live out the rest of our days.

                             

Investigator

Up betimes, and then away with Mr. Yeabsly to my Lord Ashly’s, whither by and by comes Sir H. Cholmly and Creed, and then to my Lord, and there entered into examination of Mr. Yeabsly’s accounts, wherein as in all other things I find him one of the most distinct men that ever I did see in my life. He raised many scruples which were to be answered another day and so parted, giving me an alarme how to provide myself against the day of my passing my accounts. Thence I to Westminster to look after the striking of my tallys, but nothing done or to be done therein. So to the ‘Change, to speake with Captain Cocke, among other things about getting of the silver plates of him, which he promises to do; but in discourse he tells me that I should beware of my fellow-officers; and by name told me that my Lord Bruncker should say in his hearing, before Sir W. Batten, of me, that he could undo the man, if he would; wherein I think he is a foole; but, however, it is requisite I be prepared against the man’s friendship. Thence home to dinner alone, my wife being abroad. After dinner to the setting some things in order in my dining-room; and by and by comes my wife home and Mrs. Pierce with her, so I lost most of this afternoon with them, and in the evening abroad with them, our long tour by coach, to Hackney, so to Kingsland, and then to Islington, there entertaining them by candlelight very well, and so home with her, set her down, and so home and to bed.

the way I find life
is any day an art

how I look at things
in my room by candlelight


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 11 May 1666.

Electric

So up, and to the office, where all the morning. At noon home to dinner and there busy all the afternoon till past six o’clock, and then abroad with my wife by coach, who is now at great ease, her cheeke being broke inward. We took with us Mrs. Turner, who was come to visit my wife just as we were going out. A great deale of tittle tattle discourse to little purpose, I finding her, though in other things a very discreete woman, as very a gossip speaking of her neighbours as any body. Going out towards Hackney by coach for the ayre, the silly coachman carries us to Shoreditch, which was so pleasant a piece of simplicity in him and us, that made us mighty merry. So back again late, it being wondrous hot all the day and night and it lightning exceeding all the way we went and came, but without thunder. Coming home we called at a little ale-house, and had an eele pye, of which my wife eat part and brought home the rest. So being come home we to supper and to bed. This day come our new cook maid Mary, commended by Mrs. Batters.

tittle tattle
little lightning
without thunder coming
little eel


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 10 May 1666.

Thief of Moons

~ after "Ladrona de Lunas," Armando Valero

Half-moon blade, mezzaluna, edge
      I rock back and forth across  
the face of a wooden board: my best
      instrument, how I tune you according to
the tides. How my breasts float like two
      new planets above your central hollow,
veiled in the colors of sunrise. I am
      sharper than rock, more subtle
than steel. The sky and its collection
      of dead stars lies quiet around my
shoulders. I've lain my spine across
      your length: a birthing chair,
intimate with my blood and fluids.
      Every child I've brought into this
world comes through the two points
      of your smile. And at night,
I rest my chin in your dead center,
      both hands ready to pluck
what light I can before it steals away. 



Remnants

Up by five o’clock, which I have not a long time done, and down the river by water to Deptford, among other things to examine the state of Ironworke, in order to the doing something with reference to Downing that may induce him to returne me the 50 pieces. Walked back again reading of my Civill Law Book, and so home and by coach to White Hall, where we did our usual business before the Duke, and heard the Duke commend Deane’s ship “The Rupert” before “The Defyance,” built lately by Castle, in hearing of Sir W. Batten, which pleased me mightily. Thence by water to Westminster, and there looked after my Tangier order, and so by coach to Mrs. Pierces, thinking to have gone to Hales’s, but she was not ready, so away home and to dinner, and after dinner out by coach to Lovett’s to have forwarded what I have doing there, but find him and his pretty wife gone to my house to show me something. So away to my Lord Treasurer’s, and thence to Pierces, where I find Knipp, and I took them to Hales’s to see our pictures finished, which are very pretty, but I like not hers half so well as I thought at first, it being not so like, nor so well painted as I expected, or as mine and my wife’s are. Thence with them to Cornhill to call and choose a chimney-piece for Pierces closett, and so home, where my wife in mighty pain and mightily vexed at my being abroad with these women; and when they were gone called them whores and I know not what, which vexed me, having been so innocent with them. So I with them to Mrs. Turner’s and there sat with them a while, anon my wife sends for me, I come, and what was it but to scold at me and she would go abroad to take the ayre presently, that she would. So I left my company and went with her to Bow, but was vexed and spoke not one word to her all the way going nor coming, or being come home, but went up straight to bed. Half an hour after (she in the coach leaning on me as being desirous to be friends) she comes up mighty sicke with a fit of the cholique and in mighty pain and calls for me out of the bed; I rose and held her, she prays me to forgive her, and in mighty pain we put her to bed, where the pain ceased by and by, and so had some asparagus to our bed side for supper and very kindly afterward to sleepe and good friends in the morning.

among the thin
business of the corn

a chimney where
there was a home

a bed
of asparagus


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 9 May 1666.

System

~ The Thomasites were a group of 600 American 
teachers who travelled in 1901 from the United States 
to the newly annexed territory of the Philippines 
on the transport ship USS Thomas.  




Are we not yet            as good as
Perfectly pleated    cutouts of girls
and boys    with red and blue lines
Haven't we lisped       all the way
down the alphabet         B is for brick
and    baseball bat    H for the hammock
we wove     for the teacher      unused
to this heat      The ship has gone
away     Good morning!    Good-bye!
Under        acacia trees     we build    
our résumés   folding       our knees    
repeating and repeating      all day         

Self-portrait as snow globe

The day before the mobile
     X-ray van comes to our school,
the word that circulates is
     Drink a full glass of milk
in the morning,
to make sure
     the pictures taken of our lungs
are clear--- Meaning white, un-
     blemished, a veil of snow fallen  
over the thin, serrated branches
     of upside down trees inside
the cage of our ribs. How amazing
     it is, what we look for inside
the clasped silences of our bodies:
     how they tell us what to do
as we tap on the dome to watch
     its weathers materialize.