August

"Oh body, old screen door." ~ Cecilia Woloch

Somewhere in the house, crickets
stridulating. When temperatures fall,
their song slows down or quiets
altogether. If you find them and

can cup them in glass, you can take
them outside so their voices can join
that greater symphony in the dark—

You don't see these bodies hidden
in the interstices, though you feel
their stretch and shape: almost close
enough to touch, to press against.

Love of enemies

Up and by coach with 100l. to the Exchequer to pay fees there. There left it, and I to St. James’s, and there with the Duke of Yorke. I had opportunity of much talk with Sir. W. Pen to-day (he being newly come from the fleete); and he do much undervalue the honour that is given to the conduct of the late business of Holmes in burning the ships and town saying it was a great thing indeed, and of great profit to us in being of great losse to the enemy, but that it was wholly a business of chance, and no conduct employed in it. I find Sir W. Pen do hold up his head at this time higher than ever he did in his life. I perceive he do look after Sir J. Minnes’s place if he dies, and though I love him not nor do desire to have him in, yet I do think [he] is the first man in England for it.
To the Exchequer, and there received my tallys, and paid my fees in good order, and so home, and there find Mrs. Knipp and my wife going to dinner. She tells me my song, of “Beauty Retire” is mightily cried up, which I am not a little proud of; and do think I have done “It is Decreed” better, but I have not finished it. My closett is doing by upholsters, which I am pleased with, but fear my purple will be too sad for that melancholy roome.
After dinner and doing something at the office, I with my wife, Knipp, and Mercer, by coach to Moorefields, and there saw “Polichinello,” which pleases me mightily, and here I saw our Mary, our last chamber-maid, who is gone from Mrs. Pierces it seems. Thence carried Knipp home, calling at the Cocke alehouse at the doore and drank, and so home, and there find Reeves, and so up to look upon the stars, and do like my glasse very well, and did even with him for it and a little perspective and the Lanthorne that shows tricks, altogether costing me 9l. 5s. 0d. So to bed, he lying at our house.

I value an enemy head
higher than his life

if he dies I love him for it
a no one who pierces like a thorn


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 22 August 1666.

Equinox

Acres of fire, forests disassembling.
A girl has just crossed the ocean
in a ship powered by solar panels
and hydro generators. Every Friday
when she conducts her Liebestraüme,
you can hear the cries of whales
and glaciers floating like placards
above the crowd; she is their standard-
bearer. Bankers peer from glass
towers, pretending they are merely
checking if food trucks have arrived
at the lobby. They click teaspoons
against cups secretaries bring
into the room. Light glances off
hundreds of panes of glass,
as well as off external elevators;
but can you see this brittle world
whorled in a snail's carapace?
I don't know how many varietals
of coffee there are in the Americas,
if we can still use words like
capsicum and salt and ferrous oxide.
Wading birds still come to the edge
of the river, though I can't
remember when it last rained.
In winter, ghosts of foxes streak
across the meadow: their pelts thin,
their voices rubbed like kindling.


Dream, With Rowboats and Stone Fruit

I dream of rowboats dry-docked 
in my garden, their oars clipped

like wings at their sides.
In the afternoons, where

chrysanthemums and clover grew,
how the quiet begins to thicken

as the light drops. Did we really
row all this way, and are we here

now after so many years? An owl
visits the same tree each night: why

doesn't it seem to have aged? What will
I do when the wood withers and night-

calls of birds rise above the wells
of human speech, when the plums

that were green can't hold their stones
anymore and just deepen into sweetness?

Spotted owl

Up, and to the office, where much business and Sir W. Coventry there, who of late hath wholly left us, most of our business being about money, to which we can give no answer, which makes him weary of coming to us. He made an experiment to-day, by taking up a heape of petitions that lay upon the table. They proved seventeen in number, and found them thus: one for money for reparation for clothes, four desired to have tickets made out to them, and the other twelve were for money. Dined at home, and sister Balty with us. My wife snappish because I denied her money to lay out this afternoon; however, good friends again, and by coach set them down at the New Exchange, and I to the Exchequer, and there find my business of my tallys in good forwardness. I passed down into the Hall, and there hear that Mr. Bowles, the grocer, after 4 or 5 days’ sickness, is dead, and this day buried. So away, and taking up my wife, went homewards. I ‘light and with Harman to my mercer’s in Lumbard Streete, and there agreed for, our purple serge for my closett, and so I away home. So home and late at the office, and then home, and there found Mr. Batelier and his sister Mary, and we sat chatting a great while, talking of witches and spirits, and he told me of his own knowledge, being with some others at Bourdeaux, making a bargain with another man at a taverne for some clarets, they did hire a fellow to thunder (which he had the art of doing upon a deale board) and to rain and hail, that is, make the noise of, so as did give them a pretence of undervaluing their merchants’ wines, by saying this thunder would spoil and turne them. Which was so reasonable to the merchant, that he did abate two pistolls per ton for the wine in belief of that, whereas, going out, there was no such thing. This Batelier did see and was the cause of to his profit, as is above said.
By and by broke up and to bed.

a who who to which
we can give no answer

the snappish owl
is dead and buried

we ward off witches and spirits
with the noise of profit


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 21 August 1666.

Pro rogue

Waked this morning, about six o’clock, with a violent knocking at Sir J. Minnes’s doore, to call up Mrs. Hammon, crying out that Sir J. Minnes is a-dying. He come home ill of an ague on Friday night. I saw him on Saturday, after his fit of the ague, and then was pretty lusty. Which troubles me mightily, for he is a very good, harmless, honest gentleman, though not fit for the business. But I much fear a worse may come, that may be more uneasy to me.
Up, and to Deptford by water, reading “Othello, Moore of Venice,” which I ever heretofore esteemed a mighty good play, but having so lately read “The Adventures of Five Houres,” it seems a mean thing.
Walked back, and so home, and then down to the Old Swan and drank at Betty Michell’s, and so to Westminster to the Exchequer about my quarter tallies, and so to Lumbard Streete to choose stuff to hang my new intended closet, and have chosen purple. So home to dinner, and all the afternoon till almost midnight upon my Tangier accounts, getting Tom Wilson to help me in writing as I read, and at night W. Hewer, and find myself most happy in the keeping of all my accounts, for that after all the changings and turnings necessary in such an account, I find myself right to a farthing in an account of 127,000l.. This afternoon I visited Sir J. Minnes, who, poor man, is much impatient by these few days’ sickness, and I fear indeed it will kill him.

this violent knocking
of an armless man
not fit for the business at Westminster

almost midnight
and we find all accounts
turning into a fart


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 20 August 1666.

Landscape of Always Burning

War is old, we're told; it's the oldest 
thing in the books. In that case the animals

have always fled deeper into the forest;
just when they cross someone lights a torch

and tosses it into the grove. In that case,
the lumad have always been on the run, wrapping

their betel nut boxes in cloth, tucking
their brass amulets under their waistbands,

in the folds of their hair. It's medicine we need
and can't squander, because who knows how long

this one will last. Ask the water to bless you.
Keep a pellet of earth under your tongue.

Who do you love? Whose hand do you take
as the sun goes dark? I count the heads

of my children as I push them out of the door.
We will be together until we can't anymore.

You With Your Dark Hair Unfurled Like A Banner

~ after "The Little Singer," Armando Valero


Dear heart, the deer and the oryxes
are a panic in the feathered meadow;

and the bird with a ruby-red eye
shielded by your arms is a ballad

convinced it will never sing again.
What is it they say about the lesson

that keeps repeating until it's learned?
You've stood in the middle of the field

before, roamed sleepless in the depths
of the wood. The sky was bright until

it waned with the light that left
to tryst with the moon. Your coat

bore stains from annatto seeds, tufted
stitches from crowns of weeds. If only

every tear you've shed could turn
into a pearl—— We'd sit down and sew

all through the day until our fingers ached
with the quiet milk of their gleaming.


Ritual

(Lord’s day). Up and to my chamber, and there began to draw out fair and methodically my accounts of Tangier, in order to shew them to the Lords. But by and by comes by agreement Mr. Reeves, and after him Mr. Spong, and all day with them, both before and after dinner, till ten o’clock at night, upon opticke enquiries, he bringing me a frame he closes on, to see how the rays of light do cut one another, and in a darke room with smoake, which is very pretty. He did also bring a lanthorne with pictures in glasse, to make strange things appear on a wall, very pretty. We did also at night see Jupiter and his girdle and satellites, very fine, with my twelve-foote glasse, but could not Saturne, he being very dark. Spong and I had also several fine discourses upon the globes this afternoon, particularly why the fixed stars do not rise and set at the same houre all the yeare long, which he could not demonstrate, nor I neither, the reason of. So, it being late, after supper they away home.
But it vexed me to understand no more from Reeves and his glasses touching the nature and reason of the several refractions of the several figured glasses, he understanding the acting part, but not one bit the theory, nor can make any body understand it, which is a strange dullness, methinks.
I did not hear anything yesterday or at all to confirm either Sir Thos. Allen’s news of the 10 or 12 ships taken, nor of the disorder at Amsterdam upon the news of the burning of the ships, that he should be fled to the Prince of Orange, it being generally believed that he was gone to France before.

the methodical clock
loses the light

dark things appear on a wall
the stars do not rise

touching can make a body
understand disorder


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 19 August 1666, and inspired by the documentary
Hail Satan?.

A Deterioration

Nightly I visit this book, this story,
wondering how it will end; it keeps

winding back to a group of frames,
to a time before the fruit in the tree

had not fallen and cracked open
like a wound on dark ground, to a time

after her lover's ghost took two sips
of coffee tainted with the poison of

certain death. Even the ghost of the cab
driver wondering who phoned the garage

at six every Friday evening keeps
coming back. How do they do it,

and not lose their minds? When she
finally entered the house again,

she'd twirl her wedding band
and engagement ring absently round

and round; loose even then, or
because she always had long, tapered

fingers. She liked to boast about
her tiny waistline, how she looked

in her wedding dress and there was no
mistaking they weren't doing it

because of a so-called accident. She grew
to like tapping the chiseled points of finger-

nails on the table whenever she was bored
or was allowed nothing more to say. But

she knew how to scream and moan: she'd work
herself into such a state that fainting was

always the logical next step. Thinking
of her now, I can only see that wound-up

energy with nowhere to go: the points
of her knees, the edge to her voice, all

of her youth and possessions lost, her mind
a skittish bird trapped in the fire.