Street culture

All the morning at my office; then to the Exchange (with my Lord Bruncker in his coach) at noon, but it was only to avoid Mr. Chr. Pett’s being invited by me to dinner. So home, calling at my little mercer’s in Lumbard Streete, who hath the pretty wench, like the old Queene, and there cheapened some stuffs to hang my roome, that I intend to turn into a closett. So home to dinner, and after dinner comes Creed to discourse with me about several things of Tangier concernments and accounts, among others starts the doubt, which I was formerly aware of, but did wink at it, whether or no Lanyon and his partners be not paid for more than they should be, which he presses, so that it did a little discompose me; but, however, I do think no harm will arise thereby. He gone, I to the office, and there very late, very busy, and so home to supper and to bed.

street like the queen
a cheap creed to wink at

whether or not we think
harm will arise there


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 18 August 1666.

Shoal

“Why take more than we need? Because we can.”
- Richard Siken



You say something in a conversation
that goes unacknowledged; then, a couple
of beats later, someone says virtually
the same thing and everyone is like Yeah!
or That’s brilliant! The price of halfway
accommodation is invisibility and vice-
versa. Or the price of declaring your
intentions is the naturalization of
your place in the scheme of things.
In the Museum of Natural History,
once you found your way to a basement
depository where tagged and numbered
specimens of fish were suspended
in large gray vats. You looked at
the ink-stained ledgers, the dates,
the sites of capture: Palumbanes
Islands, Luzon; Mindoro, up and down
the archipelago and its straits. Blue-
green and silver, coral-red, bituminous.
Try to scoop up a handful of minnows
and they shimmer away, indignant.


 

Poachers

Up and betimes with Captain Erwin down by water to Woolwich, I walking alone from Greenwich thither, making an end of the “Adventures of Five Hours,” which when all is done is the best play that ever I read in my life. Being come thither I did some business there and at the Rope Yarde, and had a piece of bride-cake sent me by Mrs. Barbary into the boate after me, she being here at her uncle’s, with her husband, Mr. Wood’s son, the mast-maker, and mighty nobly married, they say, she was, very fine, and he very rich, a strange fortune for so odd a looked mayde, though her hands and body be good, and nature very good, I think.
Back with Captain Erwin, discoursing about the East Indys, where he hath often been. And among other things he tells me how the King of Syam seldom goes out without thirty or forty thousand people with him, and not a word spoke, nor a hum or cough in the whole company to be heard. He tells me the punishment frequently there for malefactors is cutting off the crowne of their head, which they do very dexterously, leaving their brains bare, which kills them presently. He told me what I remember he hath once done heretofore: that every body is to lie flat down at the coming by of the King, and nobody to look upon him upon pain of death. And that he and his fellows, being strangers, were invited to see the sport of taking of a wild elephant, and they did only kneel, and look toward the King. Their druggerman did desire them to fall down, for otherwise he should suffer for their contempt of the King. The sport being ended, a messenger comes from the King, which the druggerman thought had been to have taken away his life; but it was to enquire how the strangers liked the sport. The druggerman answered that they did cry it up to be the best that ever they saw, and that they never heard of any Prince so great in every thing as this King. The messenger being gone back, Erwin and his company asked their druggerman what he had said, which he told them. “But why,” say they, “would you say that without our leave, it being not true?” — “It is no matter for that,” says he, “I must have said it, or have been hanged, for our King do not live by meat, nor drink, but by having great lyes told him.”
In our way back we come by a little vessel that come into the river this morning, and says he left the fleete in Sole Bay, and that he hath not heard (he belonging to Sir W. Jenings, in the fleete) of any such prizes taken as the ten or twelve I inquired about, and said by Sir W. Batten yesterday to be taken, so I fear it is not true.
So to Westminster, and there, to my great content, did receive my 2000l. of Mr. Spicer’s telling, which I was to receive of Colvill, and brought it home with me [to] my house by water, and there I find one of my new presses for my books brought home, which pleases me mightily. As, also, do my wife’s progresse upon her head that she is making.
So to dinner, and thence abroad with my wife, leaving her at Unthanke’s ; I to White Hall, waiting at the Council door till it rose, and there spoke with Sir W. Coventry, who and I do much fear our Victuallers, they having missed the fleete in their going. But Sir W. Coventry says it is not our fault, but theirs, if they have not left ships to secure them. This he spoke in a chagrin sort of way, methought. After a little more discourse of several businesses, I away homeward, having in the gallery the good fortune to see Mrs. Stewart, who is grown a little too tall, but is a woman of most excellent features.
The narrative of the late expedition in burning the ships is in print, and makes it a great thing, and I hope it is so.
So took up my wife and home, there I to the office, and thence with Sympson the joyner home to put together the press he hath brought me for my books this day, which pleases me exceedingly. Then to Sir W. Batten’s, where Sir Richard Ford did very understandingly, methought, give us an account of the originall of the Hollands Bank, and the nature of it, and how they do never give any interest at all to any person that brings in their money, though what is brought in upon the public faith interest is given by the State for.
The unsafe condition of a Bank under a Monarch, and the little safety to a Monarch to have any; or Corporation alone (as London in answer to Amsterdam) to have so great a wealth or credit, it is, that makes it hard to have a Bank here. And as to the former, he did tell us how it sticks in the memory of most merchants how the late King (when by the war between Holland and France and Spayne all the bullion of Spayne was brought hither, one-third of it to be coyned; and indeed it was found advantageous to the merchant to coyne most of it), was persuaded in a strait by my Lord Cottington to seize upon the money in the Tower, which, though in a few days the merchants concerned did prevail to get it released, yet the thing will never be forgot.
So home to supper and to bed, understanding this evening, since I come home, that our Victuallers are all come in to the fleete, which is good newes.
Sir John Minnes come home tonight not well, from Chatham, where he hath been at a pay, holding it at Upnor Castle, because of the plague so much in the towne of Chatham. He hath, they say, got an ague, being so much on the water.

whichever king or malefactor
kills a wild elephant

they take his life
like a never-heard river

an ungoing
ungrown narrative
of a thing they do in the sticks

when the war is all here
holding us


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 17 August 1666.

Poetry Blog Digest 2019: Week 34

Poetry Blogging Network

A personal selection of posts from the Poetry Blogging Network and beyond. Although I tend to quote my favorite bits, please do click through and read the whole posts. This week found bloggers returning from vacation, looking for ways to resume creative or other work, and reacting to the increasingly dire world news, among other things. And three or four people who haven’t blogged in a while were posting again, which is always a good sign.


I’m off in the Austrian Alps for a couple weeks on vacation. It’s beautiful. Before I left a number of people asked ‘where do you go on vacation when you live in paradise?’ I know Barcelona has a lot going for it but I am much more a mountain than a sea person. And any city eventually leaves you begging for a break. In the Alps, even when the slopes are slurried in cloud it looks like heaven. We rented a house in a quiet area with views in every direction. I wouldn’t call it a village, there are so few homes around. This morning there’s a thick fog that lets only the outline of trees and mountaintop show through, and it’s a mercy.

I’ve been reading Jeff Vandermeer’s “Borne,” but otherwise packed a pile of books I haven’t touched. With departure set for Friday, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Though I’ve left work-work behind, I’m trying to write an introduction for my book in the form of an artist’s statement. Help! And I’m trying to design the cover. It’s wonderful that I get to do it myself. I do hope it turns out alright.

Sarah Sloat, Merciful fog

Okay, I know I should have gone back to typing up my novel as soon as we got home, but coming back off holiday to sit down at the laptop … well, it just didn’t appeal. We’ve had a lovely time camping in Norfolk, avoiding most of the bad weather that has affected other areas, and dealing with it when it affected us! We don’t use a mobile. We don’t take the tablet or the laptop with us. We don’t have an electric hook-up. It’s back to basics and I love it.

So, on our return I was browsing through an old novel, looking for a phrase to kick start something, when I came across It was a strange collection. It seemed to take hold, but not in terms of generating new writing. Instead, it led me to create the mixed media piece above. Somehow, it’s so much easier to take time making beautiful things like this than to tackle the hard work of writing. Also, I know that when writing feels like hard work, it’s not usually very good. So, I’ll content myself with having created this assemblage over the last few days – and it has pretty much taken up every day, I can tell you. All the items I’ve used are found objects, and the tray is one I’ve recycled (and painted and collaged). Oh, the joy of small things! [Click through to view.]

Julie Mellor, It was a strange collection …

You mention that these are primarily hybrid pieces. How do you define hybrid writing? 

I think of hybrid writing as an octopus in a glass jar, it’s a piece of living lyric text temporarily housed in a trojan horse mechanic, borrowed from other modes of writing in order to surprise, or delight, or make the heart of the poem beat visibly. The octopus can unscrew the lid from the inside, so the reader knows the structure is only temporary. It’s a matter of how soon it will happen, how cleverly she maneuvers, how beautiful her escape. It’s a kind of transcendence.

How do you decide which form to use when you approach a new piece of poetry or prose?

Usually it’s a matter of noticing where the piece seems to want to go. It was easy with the Field Guides, because the structure helped highlight the very particular habitat where I grew up — not just the physical place, but the emotional/impossible to really catalog grandparentland. I naturally veer towards cataloging, even though I hated that part of library school. At the time I despaired of finding the right “weight” to give each subject heading, but the great thing about poetry is how much you can/should trust the reader to gather meaning. As with any poetic form, if the structure I’m using doesn’t add to the meaning of the poem, or is too distracting, I revise it back out. Sometimes I’ve put a piece in hybrid form, and realized it was more of a brain teaser than a poem. It’s like a dropped stitch in knitting. The whole thing has to be remade or the work could unravel.

Andrea Blythe, Poet Spotlight: Sarah Ann Winn on reclaimed fairy tales and the octopus in the jar

I’m drawing: small charcoals that would like to become big ones. This work feels like my bastion against what’s going on in the world: this week we’ve heard about an Icelandic funeral for their first glacier to disappear; the forest fires in Brazil, devastating the rain forest, the lungs of our planet; and the insulting suggestion of buying Greenland, which may in fact be exploited in the future by the U.S. or Russia. The heat and the extreme weather in many parts of the world this summer are part of all of this.

But underpinning these catastrophes are the male aggressiveness, bravado, greed, competitiveness, and desire for domination at all costs that have driven our world since the beginning. I feel like I’ve been in mourning all summer. In July I re-read Tolstoy’s War and Peace, in which he despairs about the human carnage and destruction caused by the Napoleonic wars, showing us, through masterful depictions of human lives, how characters of differing personalities deal with being caught up in war. I followed that with Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay on Tolstoy’s theories of history, “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” I’ve also been thinking deeply about the Iliad, and Susan Sontag’s essay about it titled “The Poem of Force,” as I draw and paint places where the ancient Greeks once lived. My thoughts are starting to coalesce.

Beth Adams, Nonviolence

Bolsonaro sets fire to us all and Koch is dead: Taiga,
my Taiga is burning bright. Here Trump calls himself
the King of the Jews and how I said it was coming—
so many of us said this was all coming. Memory slips,
and time, too: witches are not well-moored in time
and my mothers grieve their own slide while feeding me
steak I eat with full knowledge, tears pressing the back
of my throat. The Inquisition burns.

JJS, August 2019: burning

Like blood on the hands of a policeman, like the screams of a beaten prisoner; a cat cries out in the night. It is the sound of my life spreading out in the darkness. It is the sound that says, “Now. At last” I cannot swallow midnight with my mouth bound by a gag. I cannot breathe from behind this choke-hold. The cat cries out again and again. The night drags on like a jail sentence.

James Lee Jobe, prose poem – ‘Like blood on the hands of a policeman’

In the depths of despair, it’s tempting to think of all the writing rejections as the whale that tells us that we’ve taken the wrong direction.  But the life of the prophet reminds us that failure is part of the process–and the life of Jonah reminds us that even when we get with the program, when people accept us, we might still pout.

Jungian psychologists would not be surprised by this process.  One of the ideas that I found most comforting from our recent journaling time is that our culture tells us that as we get older, life should get easier because we’ve got it all figured out–but that’s not the way it is at all.  Failure is part of the process.

To be called to be oneself in one’s historical moment is never easy–even though we look at the life of the great humans and think they always knew exactly where they were going.  But it’s the essential task of every human.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott, The Whale and the Ticket

Drive all night if you need to across these united states of change. Never mind the speed or distance to get to where you’re going. Leave all hates, all seizing fears and sorrows in the rearview mirror. Pedal to the metal until everything is spiraling and miraculous, the whole of nature arranged in a brilliant golden ratio. When you reach sunrise, it’ll be as blazing and beautiful as a congregation of Mojave angels. Don’t let off the gas. Drive faster, abandon darkness, propel deeper into day. Quench your craving for light in the authentic air.

Rich Ferguson, United States of Change

Here is something I read in The Guardian: an article about the work of David Shariatmadari about language. The article said, summarizing some of what Shariatmadari is thinking: Language is “a medium that is formed as it is used…a road that is paved at the same time as we walk it.”

I think of the Antonio Machado quote: “Caminante, no hay camino,/se hace camino al andar” which I’ve seen translated in many wonderful ways, but is roughly, “Walker, there is no way, the way is made by walking.”

I write and in writing, if I’m open enough, I can learn what I’m thinking and why, and then I can write toward writing it. I speak and in speaking stumble over all the ways to miscommunicate, to hurt inadvertently, to confuse, to be thoughtless, or to be thoughtful, to be funny, insightful, or astoundingly dumb, and go on to speak again, ideally having learned something (to hold my tongue, perhaps). […]

I have a literary crush on Robert MacFarlane. His prose unscrolls and rolls in wonderful rhythms and sound. I am now reading The Old Ways, his book of walking ancient paths. Here he is thinking about the word landscape. “Landscape is still often understood as a noun connoting fixity, scenery, and immobile painterly decorum. I prefer to think of the word as a noun containing a hidden verb: landscape scapes, it is dynamic and commotion causing, it sculpts and shapes us not only over the courses of our lives but also instant by instant, incident by incident.”

Marilyn McCabe, Talk Amongst Yourselves; or, Language and Learning, Words and Way

Sudden hawk.
A universe

opens
in its flash.

Another
closes.

You hold
your breath.

Tom Montag, SUDDEN HAWK

I wasn’t expecting this to be the type of summer that got one big end-of-season post, but here we are. Even if one experiences a temporarily happy moment these days, coming to social media–and a shared news cycle–tells us that things are very much awry in the world, and in particular in the United States. How do we use these spaces we’ve created? For affirmation? For protest? For the quotidian? We struggle, in the moment, whether we should use them at all. Sometimes it is all we can do to shut up, and to take in the changing colors of the water around us. 

This was a small-scale summer, which I needed after beginning the year in Ireland. I traveled to Tampa for teaching; my husband and I did an overnight getaway to Charlottesville, stopping off to visit Virginia Center for Creative Arts in tandem; and I just returned from running a few seminars in Delaware, as part of the Lewes Creative Writers’ Conference. Otherwise I stayed very much anchored to home. […]

I’ve been planting things. That is partially a literal observation–I’ve redone all the succulents inside the house, and I’ve flipped many of the patio containers that get challenged by the brightest of suns and the strongest of winds and, on the 9th floor, a lack of natural pollinators. They are hanging in thanks to daily watering. 

The planting has been going on figuratively, too. I am leaving the summer with a nonfiction manuscript of lyric essays in hand, as the wheels turn on the next poetry collection. The fall is teeming with teaching responsibilities.

Sandra Beasley, August, August

I cannot recall ever assisting her with canning; but from the time I was a very small child, I would sit beside her on a wooden bench or chair and “help” her shell peas or snap the ends from green beans. I suppose I prattled to her, because I recall her distracted “Mmmm Hmmm” responses. After awhile, however, I’d get quiet and daydreamy just opening the green pods and slipping the fresh, round peas out with my finger over and over, listening to the plunk as they dropped into the bowl in my lap. It was soothing.
~
I remembered that long-ago activity today as I shelled black beans from their dry, tan husks: two or three pounds of them! My shelling created a crackly noise that intrigued our kitten, who has otherwise been drowsy from the heat. I’ve been freezing green beans, cooking tomato sauce, and harvesting pears and black beans for days in the humid August heat–but not non-stop (I have a day job, and the students have returned to campus!).

So for me, the potential boredom of the repetitive task gets replaced by a rather Zen attitude. Be here now, shelling the beans, stirring the pear butter. Appreciate bounty and what the earth has given us. Remember childhood. Daydream awhile. Think about poems.
~
In this case, repetition means abundance. New poems as autumn arrives.

Ann E. Michael, Repetition

I’m feeling a little guilty for not keeping up with this space, but now that I’m settled I have the time. So I’m planning on posting weekly. My guilt is outweighed by having an astounding spring book tour! I went to places I really wanted to go, and not a dud in the bunch. I had fun everywhere I went. There were a few venues not on the tour originally, such a a visit to Nigeria (!) and the Salem Poetry Seminar/Salem Arts Fest.

Reader, I have to tell you, I am shocked I was able to do so many events this spring. Couldn’t do it without lots of help at home, and two understanding children.

I said yes to almost everything. I made it work. 😉

This past weekend we were at the Mississippi Book Festival, and while my books never showed up, we had a terrific time at the event.

Now I’m at this residency for nine months, and next week teaching MFA students. This glorious, beautiful space. The hope is to have a book or two finished by the end of my time. I’m feeling quite lucky and blessed these little poems continue to take me where I least expect it.

January Gill O’Neil, Proof of Life

Summers are usually my time for letting work lie fallow. Summers are for hanging out with my kids. Summers are for family trips and family reunions. Summers are for swimming in really cold water. Summers are for campfires and marshmallows flaming at the end of pointy sticks.

Then, every year, inevitably, summer begins to draw to an end. Lately a few of my friends have remarked on their sense of fall already in the air, but this morning was the first morning I really noticed it for myself. It wasn’t raining this morning, the sky was blue. But there was a nip in the air. I turned on the heater in my cabin (just for a minute!) before I settled down to write. On my forest walk, I picked up a scarlet leaf.

This year is also, I remarked to my husband, the first late summer of many (since 1998!) that we have not been sending one of our own children off to school. No new paper or pens, no new backbacks, no pleading (from already fully kitted-out daughters) for “new school clothes.”

Maybe you’re the sort of person who greedily jumps straight back into a writing project, without hesitation. But if you, like me, have some difficulty re-entering a project (for me, it’s more like having to carve my own battering ram and then break down the door), here are 17 suggestions: [Click through to read them.]

Bethany Reid, 17 Ways to Break Back into Your Writing Project

Happy to have my new review of Lee Ann Roripaugh’s excellent and timely Tsunami vs the Fukushima 50 up at The Rumpus today. Check it out! Sneak peek:

“In Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50, a book that crackles with imaginative language and mythological retellings that represent real-life disaster, Roripaugh offers the audience a new way to think about nuclear and natural disasters and the remnants and ghosts that remain in their wake. Worth a close reading just for the sonic skills displayed, this book manages to weave a larger message for the reader inside poems that are at once playful, plaintive, and foreboding.”

[…]

The fun of having a kind of crappy immune system is that one day you feel fine – see above re: socializing, and the picture of me enjoying some sunshine and flowers at the edge of Lake Washington – and the next, you’ll have to cancel all your appointments and are forced to take some unexpected downtime and go to the doctor instead of doing something “useful.” That was the case for me this week when I caught one of the stomach bugs going around. Mostly it meant lying around groaning (I’m not good with stomach stuff, though I’m pretty tough at this point about most health things) and extra sleep while playing classic movies in the background (the news was much too terrible to contemplate even on a very empty stomach) and it reminded me again that we have to appreciate the good days when they happen, and be gentle on ourselves on the bad days. I used the downtime to order a new Yoko Ogawa novel and peruse some poetry journals which had been lying next to the bed, and decide to grade Audrey Hepburn movies from best to worst (My favorites remain Sabrina and Paris When It Sizzles because writer satire on the latter and Paris featuring in both, plus I would definitely date William Holden and marry Humphrey Bogart.) Funny Face is a distant third, only because Fred Astaire just didn’t seem to have good chemistry with Audrey, but at least it has some nice scenes in a bookstore.

Our society really pounds in the point that we’re only to be valued if we are of use, and that is a negative lesson. Human beings – including myself – have value even if they’re not being “productive” or “turning a profit” or “making widgets.” One thing poetry does is teach people to slow down and evaluate their world (and worldview.) If the news says the world is burning, it may be, and what does that mean? And what can we do about it? That’s why the kind of poetry book I reviewed (link at the beginning of the post) is important – not just that it examines a huge cultural and environmental catastrophe of our time, but that it really makes us thing hard about why these things happen and how we are involved. And maybe even more valuable than the things you plan to do is the unplanned downtime that gives you time to ponder. Even if that downtime is the kind that leaves you moaning in bed.

Jeannine Hall Gailey, My New Review up on The Rumpus, Spending Time with Poet Friends, and Unexpected Downtime

In your last years
you joined the ranks
of little old ladies

who let the beauty shop
wash and style.
Like your mother used to.

I always thought
they needed the bowl dryers
to set their curls.

I never understood
it was because arms
couldn’t reach anymore, or

ports or open wounds
couldn’t safely handle
the sluice of a shower.

I’d give anything
to talk over the hum
of your blowdryer again.

Rachel Barenblat, Hair

leaning on his stick of sorrows
the shadow-man old as Earth
waits for the bus

listening to your ear
I hear rain creating a canopy
for Mendelssohn

Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Midsummer Scene /Midsommerscene

Pinched

Up, having slept well, and after entering my journal, to the office, where all the morning, but of late Sir W. Coventry hath not come to us, he being discouraged from the little we have to do but to answer the clamours of people for money. At noon home, and there dined with me my Lady Pen only and W. Hewer at a haunch of venison boiled, where pretty merry, only my wife vexed me a little about demanding money to go with my Lady Pen to the Exchange to lay out. I to the office, where all the afternoon and very busy and doing much business; but here I had a most eminent experience of the evil of being behindhand in business. I was the most backward to begin any thing, and would fain have framed to myself an occasion of going abroad, and should, I doubt, have done it, but some business coming in, one after another, kept me there, and I fell to the ridding away of a great deale of business, and when my hand was in it was so pleasing a sight to [see] my papers disposed of, and letters answered, which troubled my book and table, that I could have continued there with delight all night long, and did till called away by my Lady Pen and Pegg and my wife to their house to eat with them; and there I went, and exceeding merry, there being Nan Wright, now Mrs. Markham, and sits at table with my Lady. So mighty merry, home and to bed.
This day Sir W. Batten did show us at the table a letter from Sir T. Allen, which says that we have taken ten or twelve ships (since the late great expedition of burning their ships and towne), laden with hempe, flax, tarr, deales, &c. This was good newes; but by and by comes in Sir G. Carteret, and he asked us with full mouth what we would give for good newes. Says Sir W. Batten, “I have better than you, for a wager.” They laid sixpence, and we that were by were to give sixpence to him that told the best newes. So Sir W. Batten told his of the ten or twelve ships Sir G. Carteret did then tell us that upon the newes of the burning of the ships and towne the common people a Amsterdam did besiege De Witt’s house, and he was force to flee to the Prince of Orange, who is gone to Cleve to the marriage of his sister. This we concluded all the best newest and my Lord Bruncker and myself did give Sir G. Carteret our sixpence a-piece, which he did give Mr. Smith to give the poor. Thus we made ourselves mighty merry.

I slept backward
in a thin framed self

my hand bled

my book and table continued
all night to exceed me

my bed laden
as a full mouth

what would we give
for good news
for the poor


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 16 August 1666.

In the Death Republic

 


The half of a half beat before or after, the rest
and the slide up and down the scale. The doubling

back to recover, except for the unrecoverable.
A madman who's president wants the sentence

revoked, the ransacker turned out of his cell
and back into the fold. Whose ghosts roam

the fields, their hands outstretched? A girl's
gold limbs that wintered in an abandoned van;

lamp or lyre, a child's body strung over
a cesspool. Aphids turn trees into factories

of sugar before they damage and die. Mark my words:
that is to say, the blister that replaces bliss.


Recall a moment of great upheaval

or violence: the moment a bridge 

collapses from a blast, the moment
when students thronging the streets,

a million strong with banners and clenched
fists, approach the president's palace

and guards rush toward the gates. That
moment when the candidate steps up

to a podium and hand grenades explode
in the middle of a crowded plaza. After,

along with the dead and wounded, they
will count broken cantilevers, sheared

abutments; do inventory of Molotov
cocktail parts, pore over the astonishment

of pictures showing how one man stood
facing the oncoming tanks, how laser

pointers wove a thirty-mile mesh of blue
and green to scramble facial recognition

cameras. But what of the stillness
before the surge, those inscrutable

minutes before the senator in a white suit
starts moving toward the door of the plane,

the seconds before he's pushed from behind
and shot, and he lands face-down on the tarmac?

The space of a heartbeat fills much too quickly
with history, small as the cry of the child

in Book Six of The Iliad: afraid of the man
decked out in armor, then momentarily appeased.

His father lays down his plumed helmet, and
he is again only a mortal among other mortals.



Day tripper

Mighty sleepy; slept till past eight of the clock, and was called up by a letter from Sir W. Coventry, which, among other things, tells me how we have burned one hundred and sixty ships of the enemy within the Fly. I up, and with all possible haste, and in pain for fear of coming late, it being our day of attending the Duke of Yorke, to St. James’s, where they are full of the particulars; how they are generally good merchant ships, some of them laden and supposed rich ships. We spent five fire-ships upon them. We landed on the Schelling (Sir Philip Howard with some men, and Holmes, I think; with others, about 1000 in all), and burned a town; and so come away. By and by the Duke of Yorke with his books showed us the very place and manner, and that it was not our design or expectation to have done this, but only to have landed on the Fly, and burned some of their store; but being come in, we spied those ships, and with our long boats, one by one, fired them, our ships running all aground, it being so shoal water. We were led to this by, it seems, a renegado captain of the Hollanders, who found himself ill used by De Ruyter for his good service, and so come over to us, and hath done us good service; so that now we trust him, and he himself did go on this expedition. The service is very great, and our joys as great for it. All this will make the Duke of Albemarle in repute again, I doubt, though there is nothing of his in this. But, Lord! to see what successe do, whether with or without reason, and making a man seem wise, notwithstanding never so late demonstration of the profoundest folly in the world.
Thence walked over the Parke with Sir W. Coventry, in our way talking of the unhappy state of our office; and I took an opportunity to let him know, that though the backwardnesses of all our matters of the office may be well imputed to the known want of money, yet, perhaps, there might be personal and particular failings; and that I did, therefore, depend still upon his promise of telling me whenever he finds any ground to believe any defect or neglect on my part, which he promised me still to do; and that there was none he saw, nor, indeed, says he, is there room now-a-days to find fault with any particular man, while we are in this condition for money. This, methought, did not so well please me; but, however, I am glad I have said this, thereby giving myself good grounds to believe that at this time he did not want an occasion to have said what he pleased to me, if he had had anything in his mind, which by his late distance and silence I have feared. But then again I am to consider he is grown a very great man, much greater than he was, and so must keep more distance; and, next, that the condition of our office will not afford me occasion of shewing myself so active and deserving as heretofore; and, lastly, the muchness of his business cannot suffer him to mind it, or give him leisure to reflect on anything, or shew the freedom and kindnesse that he used to do. But I think I have done something considerable to my satisfaction in doing this; and that if I do but my duty remarkably from this time forward, and not neglect it, as I have of late done, and minded my pleasures, I may be as well as ever I was.
Thence to the Exchequer, but did nothing, they being all gone from their offices; and so to the Old Exchange, where the towne full of the good newes, but I did not stay to tell or hear any, but home, my head akeing and drowsy, and to dinner, and then lay down upon the couch, thinking to get a little rest, but could not. So down the river, reading “The Adventures of Five Houres,” which the more I read the more I admire. So down below Greenwich, but the wind and tide being against us, I back again to Deptford, and did a little business there, and thence walked to Redriffe; and so home, and to the office a while. In the evening comes W. Batelier and his sister, and my wife, and fair Mrs. Turner into the garden, and there we walked, and then with my Lady Pen and Pegg in a-doors, and eat and were merry, and so pretty late broke up, and to bed. The guns of the Tower going off, and there being bonefires also in the street for this late good successe.

I slept till a fly landed on me
and walked over that ground
this ground
in silence

I must keep more distance
from my pleasures
aching down down down
into the bone


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 15 August 1666.

Elegy, with Burning Rainforest

 

 

 

Tonight let the rainstick down
from the wall; cradle a pod

shaker in your hand, an ocarina
in the shape of a turtle or bird

that your aunt brought back for you
from her travels. Make the reed

pipes carry the oily breath of god back
into the mountains, where the green

roof of the world is burning.
The Boiling River opens its fevered

throat and all the glass frogs
and Jesus Lizards join the potoos

in stampede. Poor-me-poor-me-poor-me,
they cry. Close your eyes; the sound

they make crackles through the wood,
like thousands of lost children.


 

In response to Via Negativa: Book Curator.




Boxman

(Thanksgiving day.) Up, and comes Mr. Foley and his man, with a box of a great variety of carpenter’s and joyner’s tooles, which I had bespoke, to me, which please me mightily; but I will have more. Then I abroad down to the Old Swan, and there I called and kissed Betty Michell, and would have got her to go with me to Westminster, but I find her a little colder than she used to be, methought, which did a little molest me. So I away not pleased, and to White Hall, where I find them at Chappell, and met with Povy, and he and I together, who tells me how mad my letter makes my Lord Peterborough, and what a furious letter he hath writ to me in answer, though it is not come yet. This did trouble me; for though there be no reason, yet to have a nobleman’s mouth open against a man may do a man hurt; so I endeavoured to have found him out and spoke with him, but could not. So to the chappell, and heard a piece of the Dean of Westminster’s sermon, and a special good anthemne before the king, after a sermon, and then home by coach with Captain Cocke, who is in pain about his hempe, of which he says he hath bought great quantities, and would gladly be upon good terms with us for it, wherein I promise to assist him. So we ‘light at the ‘Change, where, after a small turn or two, taking no pleasure now-a-days to be there, because of answering questions that would be asked there which I cannot answer; so home and dined, and after dinner, with my wife and Mercer to the Beare-garden, where I have not been, I think, of many years, and saw some good sport of the bull’s tossing of the dogs: one into the very boxes. But it is a very rude and nasty pleasure. We had a great many hectors in the same box with us (and one very fine went into the pit, and played his dog for a wager, which was a strange sport for a gentleman), where they drank wine, and drank Mercer’s health first, which I pledged with my hat off; and who should be in the house but Mr. Pierce the surgeon, who saw us and spoke to us. Thence home, well enough satisfied, however, with the variety of this afternoon’s exercise; and so I to my chamber, till in the evening our company come to supper. We had invited to a venison pasty Mr. Batelier and his sister Mary, Mrs. Mercer, her daughter Anne, Mr. Le Brun, and W. Hewer; and so we supped, and very merry. And then about nine o’clock to Mrs. Mercer’s gate, where the fire and boys expected us, and her son had provided abundance of serpents and rockets; and there mighty merry (my Lady Pen and Pegg going thither with us, and Nan Wright), till about twelve at night, flinging our fireworks, and burning one another and the people over the way. And at last our businesses being most spent, we into Mrs. Mercer’s, and there mighty merry, smutting one another with candle grease and soot, till most of us were like devils. And that being done, then we broke up, and to my house; and there I made them drink, and upstairs we went, and then fell into dancing (W. Batelier dancing well), and dressing, him and I and one Mr. Banister (who with his wife come over also with us) like women; and Mercer put on a suit of Tom’s, like a boy, and mighty mirth we had, and Mercer danced a jigg; and Nan Wright and my wife and Pegg Pen put on perriwigs. Thus we spent till three or four in the morning, mighty merry; and then parted, and to bed.

with a box of carpenter’s tools
I will make many boxes

one for serpents
another devils
and one like a suit I might dance in


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 14 August 1666.