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Up and all the morning at the office, dined at home, and in the afternoon, and at night till two in the morning, framing my great letter to Mr. Hayes about the victualling of the fleete, about which there has been so much ado and exceptions taken by the Generalls.

at Home
the great letter H
about which
there has been so much
exception taken
by G

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 30 August 1666.

Ten Parts of an Expedition

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1. Some people joke about how immigrants can't tell the difference
between jokes and non-jokes.

2. They're always so serious, even when their co-workers
slap them on the shoulder and say I was only joking.

3. In our world we don't fool around with language; words
are like spells— once said, they cannot be unspoken.

4. According to one legend, the tree of heaven fell
into the earth; its branches, once heavy with sweet
oranges, snaked through rock as veins of gold.

5. A true map will show where hills have been leveled,
where plains are barren as sorrow; where soldiers
came with guns to finish off the livestock.

6. This is where ships with foreign flags first dropped
anchor in the bay; the shore, lined with rough grass,
was a mouth sealed shut, never speaking of El Dorado.

7. You probe through fissures in rock; as you go,
your body inching forward makes a tunnel.

8. The gods will not tell you if the roots of the tree
are in Kabayan or Kibungan.

9. One does not fool around with language; that
would be irresponsible. Listen instead for thunder.

10. You knew what was yours for as long as you can
remember; when someone takes your finger to make
a mark on paper, the taste of rusted metal
fixes in the air.


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Up betimes, and there to fit some Tangier accounts, and then, by appointment, to my Lord Bellasses, but about Paul’s thought of the chant paper I should carry with me, and so fain to come back again, and did, and then met with Sir W. Pen, and with him to my Lord Bellasses, he sitting in the coach the while, while I up to my Lord and there offered him my account of the bills of exchange I had received and paid for him, wherein we agree all but one 200l. bill of Vernatty’s drawing, wherein I doubt he hath endeavoured to cheate my Lord; but that will soon appear. Thence took leave, and found Sir W. Pen talking to Orange Moll, of the King’s house, who, to our great comfort, told us that they begun to act on the 18th of this month. So on to St. James’s, in the way Sir W. Pen telling me that Mr. Norton, that married Sir J. Lawson’s daughter, is dead. She left 800l. a year jointure, a son to inherit the whole estate. She freed from her father-in-law’s tyranny, and is in condition to helpe her mother, who needs it; of which I am glad, the young lady being very pretty.
To St. James’s, and there Sir W. Coventry took Sir W. Pen and me apart, and read to us his answer to the Generalls’ letter to the King that he read last night; wherein he is very plain, and states the matter in full defence of himself and of me with him, which he could not avoid; which is a good comfort to me, that I happen to be involved with him in the same cause. And then, speaking of the supplies which have been made to this fleete, more than ever in all kinds to any, even that wherein the Duke of Yorke himself was, “Well,” says he, “if this will not do, I will say, as Sir J. Falstaffe did to the Prince, ‘Tell your father, that if he do not like this let him kill the next Piercy himself,’” and so we broke up, and to the Duke, and there did our usual business.
So I to the Parke and there met Creed, and he and I walked to Westminster to the Exchequer, and thence to White Hall talking of Tangier matters and Vernatty’s knavery, and so parted, and then I homeward and met Mr. Povy in Cheapside, and stopped and talked a good while upon the profits of the place which my Lord Bellasses hath made this last year, and what share we are to have of it, but of this all imperfect, and so parted, and I home, and there find Mrs. Mary Batelier, and she dined with us; and thence I took them to Islington, and there eat a custard; and so back to Moorfields, and shewed Batelier, with my wife, “Polichinello,” which I like the more I see it; and so home with great content, she being a mighty good-natured, pretty woman, and thence I to the Victualling office, and there with Mr. Lewes and Willson upon our Victualling matters till ten at night, and so I home and there late writing a letter to Sir W. Coventry, and so home to supper and to bed.
No newes where the Dutch are. We begin to think they will steale through the Channel to meet Beaufort. We think our fleete sayled yesterday, but we have no newes of it.

where we agree
heat will soon appear

the comfort I married
is dead

you and I part
and the void is like
a cheap custard
with a great channel in it

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 29 August 1666.

After the Storm, the Neighbors Do Yard Work

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Here's the light back 
in the sky, with floodwaters
receded as if to say it isn't
time yet for the big obliteration.

Here are branches and other tree
debris thrown down by wind, all
the little nests remaindered
from spring or summer.

The sounds of leaf-blowers
rip through the quiet of morning;
rakes comb through lawns of green.
We are so eager to re-order our

small portion of this fading universe:
so eager to gather leaves for burning,
to plan next summer's holiday on
some island not yet under water.

Memory of Eating with Hands

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We were taught to eat with 
our hands, the whole hand; to scoop

rice and fish with all the fingers
and not just miserly thumb and index,

scrawny bird beak pecking through
gravel for leavings. A person

who knows how to eat like this
must be generous and forgiving,

no? Not afraid to get sauce
and grease on their fingers,

not ashamed to show who's boss
of their own circumstance

and lick the last traces
of honey and salt or garlic

oil. When I was a child afflicted
with blisters and allergies,

my mothers took turns coaxing
me to eat a little more.

While distracting me with stories,
they'd shape small cubes and pyramids

out of sticky rice, hide bits of meat
or vegetable inside like treasures

buried with the Pharaoh, who was
sometimes though rarely a woman—

Like Hatshepsut, who despite a chronic
skin condition built temples and monuments,

brought wealth of ivory and gold
from other lands. Sometimes she wore

a fake beard and man's kilt just because
she could. After she died, it's said her

stepson tried to erase all official memory
of her: doesn't he sound like a hater?

Whereas she's someone I can imagine
tearing the meat of fowl from a joint,

relishing fruit, washing everything
down with a generous gulp of wine.

Kitchen confidential

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Up, and in my new closet a good while doing business. Then called on Mrs. Martin and Burroughs of Westminster about business of the former’s husband. Which done, I to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon I, with my wife and Mercer, to Philpott Lane, a great cook’s shop, to the wedding of Mr. Longracke, our purveyor, a good, sober, civil man, and hath married a sober, serious mayde. Here I met much ordinary company, I going thither at his great request; but there was Mr. Madden and his lady, a fine, noble, pretty lady, and he, and a fine gentleman seems to be. We four were most together; but the whole company was very simple and innocent. A good-dinner, and, what was best, good musique. After dinner the young women went to dance; among others Mr. Christopher Pett his daughter, who is a very pretty, modest girle, I am mightily taken with her; and that being done about five o’clock, home, very well pleased with the afternoon’s work. And so we broke up mightily civilly, the bride and bridegroom going to Greenwich (they keeping their dinner here only for my sake) to lie, and we home, where I to the office, and anon am on a sudden called to meet Sir W. Pen and Sir W. Coventry at the Victualling Office, which did put me out of order to be so surprised. But I went, and there Sir William Coventry did read me a letter from the Generalls to the King, a most scurvy letter, reflecting most upon Sir W. Coventry, and then upon me for my accounts (not that they are not true, but that we do not consider the expence of the fleete), and then of the whole office, in neglecting them and the King’s service, and this in very plain and sharp and menacing terms. I did give a good account of matters according to our computation of the expence of the fleete. I find Sir W. Coventry willing enough to accept of any thing to confront the Generalls. But a great supply must be made, and shall be in grace of God! But, however, our accounts here will be found the true ones. Having done here, and much work set me, I with greater content home than I thought I should have done, and so to the office a while, and then home, and a while in my new closet, which delights me every day more and more, and so late to bed.

the cook’s whole dance
is with her clock

and we go to dinner
in order to be surprised

we do not consider
who is fleet enough
to supply our delight

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 28 August 1666.

The Body Considers Again How Thoughts Are Things

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Why is it so hard to empty oneself
of thoughts and things; to quiet

the foot that wants to tap all
throughout each TV commercial

or slow the hand that wants to dip
into the bowl until every single bit

of popcorn is gone? A girl in class
fingers the hem of her shirt, starting

from the front and going all around
to the back. At the grocery checkout

the man ahead in the line has lots
of beer and wine in his cart:

Hurricane supplies, he grins.
Which is sort of the same as your

pack of dumplings, can of wasabi
peas, boxes of Pocky. You remember

the last time this kind of thing
happened: they issued the evacuation

order, with no time to pack all but
a bag each. So much for your intention

to donate, downsize; then scan all
important documents. You put chairs

up on the dining table. You unplugged
appliances and touched your books.

You looked around, wondering what
would still be there on your return.


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Up, and to my new closett, which pleases me mightily, and there did a little business. Then to break open a window, to the leads’ side in my old closett, which will enlighten the room mightily, and make it mighty pleasant. So to the office, and then home about one thing or other, about my new closet, for my mind is full of nothing but that. So at noon to dinner, mightily pleased with my wife’s picture that she is upon. Then to the office, and thither come and walked an hour with me Sir G. Carteret, who tells me what is done about my Lord’s pardon, and is not for letting the Duke of Yorke know any thing of it beforehand, but to carry it as speedily and quietly as we can. He seems to be very apprehensive that the Parliament will be troublesome and inquisitive into faults, but seems not to value them as to himself.
He gone, I to the Victualling Office, there with Lewes and Willson setting the business of the state of the fleete’s victualling even and plain, and that being done, and other good discourse about it over, Mr. Willson and I by water down the River for discourse only, about business of the office, and then back, and I home, and after a little at my office home to my new closet, and there did much business on my Tangier account and my Journall for three days. So to supper and to bed.
We are not sure that the Dutch fleete is out. I have another memento from Sir W. Coventry of the want of provisions in the fleete, which troubles me, though there is no reason for it; but will have the good effect of making me more wary. So, full of thoughts, to bed.

to break open a window
will enlighten no one

the quiet will be gone
in will be out

new visions will have the effect
of making more thoughts

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 27 August 1666.


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*soul, vital energy, spirit (Ilocano)

To write on water, meaning
to understand a thing given form

as easily vanishes with the foam.
For instance, along the coast,

first they flay fish bodies then
string them with straw to hang

in the trees or spread on rooftops.
How is it such care is given

to preservation, meaning to deposit
thinned slivers in a jar of rice

and salt in order to ferment?
In catechism class years ago,

they taught about transubstantiation:
how a body distills from one material

state to another; how after form
is taken away, an essence remains.

How after the skins and pulp of fruit
are boiled, tears crystallize around

the vessel's rim and another body
thick as scent lingers in the room.


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(Lord’s day). Up betimes, and to the finishing the setting things in order in my new closett out of my old, which I did thoroughly by the time sermon was done at church, to my exceeding joy, only I was a little disturbed with newes my Lord Bruncker brought me, that we are to attend the King at White Hall this afternoon, and that it is about a complaint from the Generalls against us.
Sir W. Pen dined by invitation with me, his Lady and daughter being gone into the country. We very merry. After dinner we parted, and I to my office, whither I sent for Mr. Lewes and instructed myself fully in the business of the Victualling, to enable me to answer in the matter; and then Sir W. Pen and I by coach to White Hall, and there staid till the King and Cabinet were met in the Green Chamber, and then we were called in; and there the King begun with me, to hear how the victualls of the fleete stood. I did in a long discourse tell him and the rest (the Duke of Yorke, Lord Chancellor, Lord Treasurer, both the Secretarys, Sir G. Carteret, and Sir W. Coventry,) how it stood, wherein they seemed satisfied, but press mightily for more supplies; and the letter of the Generalls, which was read, did lay their not going or too soon returning from the Dutch coast, this next bout, to the want of victuals. They then proceeded to the enquiry after the fireships; and did all very superficially, and without any severity at all. But, however, I was in pain, after we come out, to know how I had done; and hear well enough. But, however, it shall be a caution to me to prepare myself against a day of inquisition.
Being come out, I met with Mr. Moore, and he and I an houre together in the Gallery, telling me how far they are gone in getting my Lord [Sandwich’s] pardon, so as the Chancellor is prepared in it; and Sir H. Bennet do promote it, and the warrant for the King’s signing is drawn. The business between my Lord Hinchingbroke and Mrs. Mallett is quite broke off; he attending her at Tunbridge, and she declaring her affections to be settled; and he not being fully pleased with the vanity and liberty of her carriage. He told me how my Lord has drawn a bill of exchange from Spayne of 1200l., and would have me supply him with 500l. of it, but I avoyded it, being not willing to embarke myself in money there, where I see things going to ruine. Thence to discourse of the times; and he tells me he believes both my Lord Arlington and Sir W. Coventry, as well as my Lord Sandwich and Sir G. Carteret, have reason to fear, and are afeard of this Parliament now coming on. He tells me that Bristoll’s faction is getting ground apace against my Lord Chancellor. He told me that my old Lord Coventry was a cunning, crafty man, and did make as many bad decrees in Chancery as any man; and that in one case, that occasioned many years’ dispute, at last when the King come in, it was hoped by the party grieved, to get my Lord Chancellor to reverse a decree of his. Sir W. Coventry took the opportunity of the business between the Duke of Yorke and the Duchesse, and said to my Lord Chancellor, that he had rather be drawn up Holborne to be hanged, than live to see his father pissed upon (in these very terms) and any decree of his reversed. And so the Chancellor did not think fit to do it, but it still stands, to the undoing of one Norton, a printer, about his right to the printing of the Bible, and Grammar, &c.
Thence Sir W. Pen and I to Islington and there drank at the Katherine Wheele, and so down the nearest way home, where there was no kind of pleasure at all. Being come home, hear that Sir J. Minnes has had a very bad fit all this day, and a hickup do take him, which is a very bad sign, which troubles me truly. So home to supper a little and then to bed.

old news is about me
all of it

superficial as I know
myself to be

my vanity and liberty
as drawn in the Times

my many bad years
grieved at or pissed upon

and any reverse
not fit to print

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 26 August 1666.