Micturition

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Strange with what freedom and quantity I pissed this night, which I know not what to impute to but my oysters, unless the coldness of the night should cause it, for it was a sad rainy and tempestuous night. Soon as up I begun to have some pain in my bladder and belly, as usual, which made me go to dinner betimes, to fill my belly, and that did ease me, so as I did my business in the afternoon, in forwarding the settling of my house, very well. Betimes to bed, my wife also being all this day ill in the same manner. Troubled at my wife’s haire coming off so much. This day the Parliament met, and adjourned till Friday, when the King will be with them.

with what
freedom I piss
this rainy night


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 18 September 1666.

Souvenir, Monument

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

On a low dusty shelf is a trio
of Matryoshka dolls bought
from a sidewalk vendor in Leningrad,
a stone's throw from the Winter Palace
where a small crowd had gathered around
a young bear in chains: fur matted,
eyes glazed over, likely from some
sedative. Crossing a bridge guarded by four
stone lions, I entered a small bookstore
where I found a copy of The Great Gatsby
in Cyrillic and a blank journal
with a picture on its cover of the Church
of the Savior on Spilled Blood—
its jewel-encrusted onion domes built
after Alexander II was assassinated in 1881,
when a bomb was tossed into his carriage.
In the country where I was born, there are
many sites that pay similar homage
to the memory of some hero or martyr
whose blood trickled onto the street,
whose head landed on a pillow
of cobblestones, whose legs were torn
from their torsos when grenades exploded
during a rally or political debate.
A souvenir is what you take with you
after you've entered a space you might not
have been able to penetrate, had it not been
for the way foreign invasions opened up
faraway countries to the commerce
of the world. A monument is what marks
the scene where bodies falling
swung the pendulum of history,
or made a thousand compass needles
tremble violently awake.



Clarity

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes, and shaved myself after a week’s growth, but, Lord! how ugly I was yesterday and how fine to-day! By water, seeing the City all the way, a sad sight indeed, much fire being still in. To Sir W. Coventry, and there read over my yesterday’s work: being a collection of the particulars of the excess of charge created by a war, with good content. Sir W. Coventry was in great pain lest the French fleete should be passed by our fleete, who had notice of them on Saturday, and were preparing to go meet them; but their minds altered, and judged them merchant-men, when the same day the Success, Captain Ball, made their whole fleete, and come to Brighthelmstone, and thence at five o’clock afternoon, Saturday, wrote Sir W. Coventry newes thereof; so that we do much fear our missing them. Here come in and talked with him Sir Thomas Clifford, who appears a very fine gentleman, and much set by at Court for his activity in going to sea, and stoutness everywhere, and stirring up and down. Thence by coach over the ruines, down Fleete Streete and Cheapside to Broad Streete to Sir G. Carteret, where Sir W. Batten (and Sir J. Minnes, whom I had not seen a long time before, being his first coming abroad) and Lord Bruncker passing his accounts. Thence home a little to look after my people at work and back to Sir G. Carteret’s to dinner; and thence, after some discourse; with him upon our publique accounts, I back home, and all the day with Harman and his people finishing the hangings and beds in my house, and the hangings will be as good as ever, and particularly in my new closet. They gone and I weary, my wife and I, and Balty and his wife, who come hither to-day to helpe us, to a barrel of oysters I sent from the river today, and so to bed.

how ugly was yesterday
and how fine today

seeing with
our minds altered

and the bright sea stirring
up and down


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 17 September 1666.

Descartes’ Three Dreams

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
~"Est et non" (It is and it is not)


Write a dream, lose a reader,
a poetry teacher once proclaimed:
as if there were a difference between

story and dream, dream and poem, one
a train track cutting across the mountains
and the other the sound you hear as you turn,

restless in your sheets, close to morning.
There are plants that flower only a single
night of the year, ghostly as hallucinations:

and the stems out of which their creamy
throats rise, the scaffold that sometimes
,we call origin or history. Then

there are stories about philosophers
going to bed inside the oven of night
waking to a dream where a book lies

open on the table; words flickering
on the page become a dream dictation
they take with them back into the world

where problems spill beyond the edges
of chalkboards, with no solution in sight.
But the body of a dream is more

than a triangle or a cube, even if it is
less than a single thread of a whirlwind
that can spin you around on one foot

like a top; and the book of instruction
is a book of verse, out of which the warm
smell of ripe melons brings the body

back to itself. Therefore I can find
no difference between the ticket I buy
in the dream for going back to a country

I'll never see again, and the low
warning note that sounds as real trains
depart from the platform. There are so many

people in the dream station: magazines and
coffee in hand, checking time schedules;
crowding the counter for lost luggage.

Demagogue

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Lay with much pleasure in bed talking with my wife about Mr. Hater’s lying here and W. Hewer also, if Mrs. Mercer leaves her house. To the office, whither also all my people about this account, and there busy all the morning. At noon, with my wife, against her will, all undressed and dirty, dined at Sir W. Pen’s, where was all the company of our families in towne; but, Lord! so sorry a dinner: venison baked in pans, that the dinner I have had for his lady alone hath been worth four of it. Thence, after dinner, displeased with our entertainment, to my office again, and there till almost midnight and my people with me, and then home, my head mightily akeing about our accounts.

much pleasure
in talking hate

lying to the people
all undressed dirt

for our entertainment
my midnight head


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 16 September 1666.

A Sleeping Octopus Changes Colors While Dreaming

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
while a dolphin likes to keep one part of its brain 
and one eye open. Some sea birds are reputed
to spend so much time covering large distances,
that they've developed the ability to sleep
while flying. A sperm whale holds its breath
as it naps near the surface, while gangs
of meerkats like to sleep together, in pelted
heaps. As time wears on, I find it harder to fall
asleep especially after a long day at work;
I come home but my mind's still racing. I envy
bats and possums who can sleep through nearly
an entire day, waking only to go hunting;
or the walrus who, it's said, can sleep and swim
at the same time. But first I would need to learn
how to get over my fear of water, though I believe
it could be one of the most soothing mediums
in which to float. Recently I saw an ad
for a float tank in a spa, where you can climb
into a pod and lie back nearly weightless in salt
water the depth of a foot. Then, someone gently
pushes close the lid of the tank so all
goes dark and external stimulation fades away.
The only thing you'll hear is the distant
percussion of your heart and your slow, deep
breathing. I'm tempted to sign up and try it,
though ideally it's a solitary experience.
Personally, I like how sea otters have sometimes
been found holding hands while sleeping,
in order to keep from drifting apart.

Climate strike

still from climate strike

A haiku video using footage of my partner Rachel preparing for last Friday’s global climate strike—an event led by schoolchildren in which adults were also encouraged to participate.

Alive

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

All the morning at the office, Harman being come to my great satisfaction to put up my beds and hangings, so I am at rest, and followed my business all day. Dined with Sir W. Batten, mighty busy about this account, and while my people were busy, wrote near thirty letters and orders with my owne hand. At it till eleven at night; and it is strange to see how clear my head was, being eased of all the matter of all these letters; whereas one would think that I should have been dazed. I never did observe so much of myself in my life. In the evening there comes to me Captain Cocke, and walked a good while in the garden. He says he hath computed that the rents of houses lost by this fire in the City comes to 600,000l. per annum; that this will make the Parliament, more quiet than otherwise they would have been, and give the King a more ready supply; that the supply must be by excise, as it is in Holland; that the Parliament will see it necessary to carry on the warr; that the late storm hindered our beating the Dutch fleete, who were gone out only to satisfy the people, having no business to do but to avoid us; that the French, as late in the yeare as it is, are coming; that the Dutch are really in bad condition, but that this unhappinesse of ours do give them heart; that there was a late difference between my Lord Arlington and Sir W. Coventry about neglect in the last to send away an express of the other’s in time; that it come before the King, and the Duke of Yorke concerned himself in it; but this fire hath stopped it. The Dutch fleete is not gone home, but rather to the North, and so dangerous to our Gottenburgh fleete. That the Parliament is likely to fall foul upon some persons; and, among others, on the Vice-chamberlaine, though we both believe with little ground. That certainly never so great a loss as this was borne so well by citizens in the world; he believing that not one merchant upon the ‘Change will break upon it. That he do not apprehend there will be any disturbances in State upon it; for that all men are busy in looking after their owne business to save themselves. He gone, I to finish my letters, and home to bed; and find to my infinite joy many rooms clean; and myself and wife lie in our own chamber again. But much terrified in the nights now-a-days with dreams of fire, and falling down of houses.

so much life
in this storm
like an unborn world

I am terrified in the night
with dreams of falling


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 15 September 1666.

Short Course in Public Speaking

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
How easily the voices of others rise
to the prodding of whatever question,

eager to make reply or find solution.
All the while, the instruments

in the back make a quiet din
from their tuning, tightening

a peg to cut the stutter out
of a string. And it's taken me

years to learn to rein in the doubt
that makes an awkward wobble

in the throat, to fill the little balloons
of confidence and launch them

toward the ceiling. In any room, look
away from their round and pleasant

bobbing; try to see whose hands
are still stranded and fidgeting.