Aphoristic

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning. The waters so high in the roads, by the late rains, that our letters come not in till to-day, and now I understand that my father is got well home, but had a painful journey of it.
At noon with Lord Bruncker to St. Ellen’s, where the master of the late Pope’s Head Taverne is now set up again, and there dined at Sir W. Warren’s cost, a very good dinner. Here my Lord Bruncker proffered to carry me and my wife into a play at Court to-night, and to lend me his coach home, which tempted me much; but I shall not do it. Thence rose from table before dinner ended, and homewards met my wife, and so away by coach towards Lovett’s (in the way wondering at what a good pretty wench our Barker makes, being now put into good clothes, and fashionable, at my charge; but it becomes her, so that I do not now think much of it, and is an example of the power of good clothes and dress), where I stood godfather. But it was pretty, that, being a Protestant, a man stood by and was my Proxy to answer for me. A priest christened it, and the boy’s name is Samuel. The ceremonies many, and some foolish. The priest in a gentleman’s dress, more than my owne; but is a Capuchin, one of the Queene-mother’s priests. He did give my proxy and the woman proxy (my Lady Bills, absent, had a proxy also) good advice to bring up the child, and, at the end, that he ought never to marry the child nor the godmother, nor the godmother the child or the godfather: but, which is strange, they say that the mother of the child and the godfather may marry. By and by the Lady Bills come in, a well-bred but crooked woman. The poor people of the house had good wine, and a good cake; and she a pretty woman in her lying-in dress. It cost me near 40s. the whole christening: to midwife 20s., nurse 10s., mayde 2s. 6d., and the coach 5s. I was very well satisfied with what I have done, and so home and to the office, and thence to Sir W. Batten’s, and there hear how the business of buying off the Chimney-money is passed in the House; and so the King to be satisfied some other way, and the King supplied with the money raised by this purchasing off of the chimnies. So home, mightily pleased in mind that I have got my bills of imprest cleared by bills signed this day, to my good satisfaction. To supper, and to bed.

water in the road
the rains carry me home

*

a rose becomes a good answer
to a crooked chimney


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 18 October 1666.

Poetry Blog Digest 2019: Week 43

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: “discontent, joy, / resignation, rekindling” to quote Lynne Rees, one of two newcomers to the digest (the other being Robin Houghton). I was happy to find some Halloweenish posts in my feed, but disappointed not to find any about Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights which is being celebrated right now in the north London neighborhood where I’m staying with lots of things that go explody-boom. I guess that falls under “rekindling.”


Standing by the river Neva, wanting to compose poetry in St Petersburg, I couldn’t hear beyond the lines of great poets – Akhmatova, Blok, Tsvetaeva, Mandelstam. History dominates voice, especially in Russia. The Revolution, Stalin’s terrors, the siege, all produced that great heroic resistance. We’re not in the same history. We’re in a vertiginous whirl, a global mess – oy! We stare, fixated, single-minded, stuck in one voice, while the river rushes in its own voices.

I like a multiplicity of voices, both full of critique and full of observation of humble objects that affirm our reality. So in Russia, who will write about young designers, scattering autumn leaves in its planked floor to show their rough hemp and peasant dresses? A hipster cafe by the canal, millet with pumpkin and pumpkin seeds? Restaurants that serve persimmon and yuzu over tuna.

Jill Pearlman, Petersburg’s Fresh Waters

I’ve stopped listening to the urgent voices of my friends discussing
The news that I brought from Paris
On both sides of the train close by or along the banks of
The distant valley
The forest is there watching me unsettling me enticing me like
a mummy’s mask
I watch back
Never the flicker of an eye.

Some poems by Blaise Cendrars translated by Dick Jones

Deaf Republic swiftly vacillates between death/violence to sex/love and back again. This is jarring both in a good way and a bad way: the love poems save us from the war in the streets; the war poems devastate us more on account of understanding the love that’s being stolen/interrupted. It continues. The brutality accumulates. [Ilya] Kaminsky succeeds in making everything feel precarious. There is horror everywhere. It exists alongside personal tenderness. These poems create a fear in me, not of a world that’s possible but of a world that is. […]

There are several very powerful devices deployed in the collection, including the illustrations of signs (as in sign language), portrayal of the town/setting as a character (“Vasenka watches us watch…”) and the presence of puppets (not a metaphor). It took me a while to “get” the puppets. Having just finished the collection this evening, I am still absorbing all of it, but at the moment, for me, the puppets serve as a foil for the humans. Kaminsky practices great restraint in using this device. It could easily be overdone. Instead, the puppets are there as echoes of humans. Their simple presence (which isn’t overstated at all) sets up an inherent contrast with humans. And yet, humans can also be silent and lack volition. And this can be self-preservation. And we can hate them for it.

Carolee Bennett, “why did you allow all this?”

As we close in on the height of spooky season, it seems appropriate that some of the exquisite damage series is getting a little bit of airplay (see some of it here, here, and here.) It being devoted most singularly to a certain kind of middle class fear and anxiety as glimpsed through horror movies. In some ways, it was a project I was mostly just futzing around with last spring, that is, until we went to the slasher convention at DePaul and something started take shape during the keynote speech–a comment about how, as people became more and more securely middle class, they started to seek out ways to get an adrenaline rush from the sensation of being unsafe.  I imagine, if you were starving, at war, or much less comfortable, further scaring yourself wouldn’t be at the top of the list.   You see it in the golden age of gothic novels–in the audience of predominantly women, predominantly secure in their homes. In the late 70’s, surely that middle class comfort level spawned slasher movies.  You, there, in your house, while outside, any number of killers could be watching you from the bushes outside. Growing up in the 80’s was both a time of immense freedom and immense fear.  Yes, we could disappear for hours from our parents and come back at dusk, but everyone warned us of stranger danger, of the man in the creepy white van. When I was a pre-teen, there was a very high profile case of a teenager who’d gone missing from a park, her face plastered on billboards all over the area. A year or so later, they found her body in a forest preserve.

Kristy Bowen, middle class horror & american anxiety

Are there words
to stitch up the cuts?
If I hold a pebble
against my gum, will it
put down roots, and bud?

PF Anderson, (untitled)

But this taught me that it is ok for me to say I can’t do this right now, and it is ok for me Not to cry. When I am at the hospital, I am there to listen, to learn, to talk to doctors and understand so I can make smart choices for my daughter. It isn’t the place for weeping, not at all moments anyway. If I don’t want to weep that day, they’ve got no place prying at me until they find the right phrase that makes me weep. It is ok for me to preserve whatever walls I need there so that I can best advocate for my daughter.

I also learned to never, ever read poetry to social workers.

Renee Emerson, I can’t

Autumn plays us like this: discontent, joy,
resignation, rekindling. While darkness moves
closer each day we find comfort in the season’s shift:
a palette of bronze leaves, wood-smoke, a coin
found in the pocket of a heavy coat.

Lynne Rees, Rewards

– Here, around Sacramento, California, it’s a time for poets to grieve; we lost three from our ranks, all in a row. James Moose, Jane Blue, and Dennis Schmitz. Fine poets, fine people. They will be missed.

– I live in Davis, 11 miles west of downtown Sacramento. In our local newspaper, The Davis Enterprise, I do a monthly feature, a poem of the month. The mayor wanted me to do this as part of being the poet laureate. This month I am featuring a poem by James Moose on loss.

– As a young man I spent some time as a hermit. An urban hermit, but a hermit nonetheless. I would go to a new city, rent a small room, and keep to myself. It was very monk-like (monkish?), my existence. What did I do? Study poetry, mostly. Oh, I’d have a job, and go out into the world, but I kept to myself as much as I could. I was alone, but I was not lonely. I liked it.

– A number of older family members died while I was an urban hermit. Sometimes it would be months before I found out.

– Through the window above my desk I can see the leaves changing color. Why does autumn feel like Death to me? Is it the leaves?

James Lee Jobe, journal – 21 Oct 2019

At a Halloween fair on Saturday, my daughter and I rapped drumbeats in unison as we strolled amidst the ghosts and skeletons—a downbeat to diamond our uplift, an upbeat to sapphire our sweet and lows. At one point, a stranger remarked at the sturdiness of my daughter’s voice and her sense of rhythm. It heartens me that my baby girl and I can guide one another towards ever more lively and luminous music, even as strange spirits and boneyards surround us. A downbeat to diamond our uplift, an upbeat to sapphire our sweet and lows.

Rich Ferguson, Drumbeats to Banish the Boneyard Blues

The Amazing Pumpkin Carve, which I described in The Amazing Pumpkin Carve 2019, part 1, has come and gone. Omigosh, those huge sculpted pumpkins!  :- D

It was an honor, indeed, to have had a small part in the success of this big annual event. The Hopewell Valley Arts Council, who ran it, generously allowed me to place ten of my micro-poem signs around the fairgrounds for the five-day duration of the fall festival’s run. [Click through for photos of the signs.]

Bill Waters, The Amazing Pumpkin Carve 2019, part 2

autumn
leaves littering
Twitter

Jim Young [untitled haiku]

It’s been said plenty of times before. Social media (and the internet long before social media) is a goldfish bowl of performative behaviour. I think those of us who spend a lot of time on it have a responsibility to remember that. There was a time when out-and-out self-promotion seemed to take over Facebook and Twitter (which was a big reason why I left Facebook some years ago). The rule of ‘Twitizenship’ now seems to be: only promote one’s own successes if at the same time you shout about everyone/anyone else’s.

And failures? Someone once said they hated the way some people filled up Facebook with their bad news, which no-one wants to be dragged down by. And yet, whenever I talk about my many poetry rejections on this blog, it gets the most positive comments. It would certainly be refreshing to see the odd ‘for the tenth year running I came nowhere in the Bridport’ on Twitter. But who wants to be accused of sour grapes?

I just wish we could a) talk more realistically (and more often) about the fact that the vast majority of poems don’t win prizes, as this may help us all to put things in perspective, b) worry a little less about keeping up a saintly/sanitised appearance on social media, and c) put the brakes on the ‘congratulations’ circulars: by all means send a DM, but no-one needs to be congratulated publicly/anonymously on Twitter for being on a shortlist, in my humble opinion. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Am I just being grumpy?

Robin Houghton, Let’s talk about failures…

I’m also very happy to share the list of “Notable Poems,” the silver medalists in this strange Olympian struggle. My first brush with the BCP [Best Canadian Poetry] series was when a poem of mine was “Noted” in the 2011 edition. I flipped a copy open in a bookstore and was floored. The Other Side of Ourselves had come out earlier that year and in the final edits I’d removed the “Noted” poem from the manuscript! So I felt ridiculous and afloat all at once. I was only beginning to learn the vagaries of literary awards and lists of “Bests”: how little one should let these things get to them (be they excluded or included), and how impossible it is to fully manage that.

The 2011 guest editor was Priscila Uppal, who I met for the first time when she came to Vancouver for a BCP 2011 launch. There were only a handful of Vancouver-based BCP contributors that year (I don’t want to shock you, but seven of the series’ first ten guest editors were Ontario-based!), so I was asked to read as a “Noted” poet. From the stage, I teased Priscila/BCP/the universe about my runner-up status, and though she laughed it off with the good humour she was so known for, I could tell it pained her a bit as well, and I later regretted doing it. In hindsight, I understand her reaction – oh, how you come to love all of these poems and their poets! The arbitrary severing at poem #50 feels unbearably cruel, as does the one at poem #100. So I very much appreciate this chance to recognize the “next 50” poems, which would make just as strong an anthology as the fifty selected. I wish I could have included an “Also Notable Poems” featuring the next 50, too, and another after that, and another after that…

Funnily enough, Priscila herself is on the 2019 “Notable” list. She published a powerful, very funny suite of poems in ottawater not long before she died in September 2018. I agonized over including one of her poems in the anthology, and I wish I could invite her up on stage at one of the BCP 2019 launches to read it. I like to believe she would have teased me mercilessly (as I would have rightly deserved).

To the poets on the “Notable” list (posted below and included in the back of the anthology), I hope you float a bit, as I did in 2011. And I hope you aren’t too hard on me for making what is obviously the wrong decision. Where possible, I’ve provided links to the poems themselves. These poems may not have made the book, but the upside is that you can read them now for free (and, goodness, you should)!

Rob Taylor, Best Canadian Poetry 2019 is here! (Contributors and Notable Poems)

I am trying to write a narrative poem, which is unusual for me. “Narrative” meaning there’s a story in it.

And the poem is a story that is not my story. It’s not even the person’s who told the story — I’m a bystander three times away from the action.
And the emotion of the central character, desperation that spurs an action that risks everything, is not one I know — desperation, I know; action for action’s sake, I know; but risking everything? I’m far too cautious, canny, and grasping for that.

So can I write this poem?

I have a couple of unsuccessful drafts. They are missing the punch. My advice to myself is good: stick with the visceral image, keep close to the body. And I know that, James Wright-like, I can ask the title to do some work. But I’m not finding my way in, not finding my way out.

Should I not be writing a story that is not my own, however fictionalized? Is the situation I’m trying to write about too foreign from my own experiences? Is it possible for my imagination to fall short?

Marilyn McCabe, Like a Knight from some Old Fashioned Book; or, On Writing Outside of Lived Experience

Many years ago, I wrote a poem about baggage, called Baggage. Over the weekend, I started working on a new poem about luggage. I like the word “luggage” because it’s more evocative. That’s what we do with it, lug it around. Pull it and push it and attend to it because it must be attended to at all times. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just stopped lugging my luggage around, but I don’t know how. I’ve lugged it with me for so long that I would feel slightly bereft without its burden. We’ll see where this goes poem-wise.

Kristen McHenry, Naked Spa Day, Baggage vs. Luggage, Badge of Strength

I feel like there is an adjustment period during this time of year, going from the more mild long nights of summer into the short, dark, wet evenings of fall, and you have to care for yourself appropriately, You change your diet (soup!), your sleeping patterns (more!) the way you dress (getting out boots, sweaters, even winter coats.) You drink hot cider and hot chocolate and hot coffee, you watch shows you probably would give me a miss if was nice outside, you reorganize drawers and closets so you can get to your boots and cardigans.

As I move into my mid-forties, I also notice I have to adjust to life as a middle aged person. College students don’t always get my references to Kurt Cobain (or even Heath Ledger.) I need to wear moisturizer every day now. It takes me a little longer to bounce back after a night out. Old fillings fall out of my teeth. Teeth give you more trouble and are literally a budget item. (I swear I spend more on teeth than I do on clothes, which stinks!)

There’s also an adjustment period after being diagnosed with something like MS. You have to learn how to care for yourself with a new condition, even if it’s not really new, just newly diagnosed. Once again, you learn that a night out means at least one down day, maybe two or three. It takes longer to recover from illnesses. I need to rest more, and if I don’t, my body makes sure I do it by giving me unpleasant reminders. So I’m working on increasing patience for my body, resilience from hard times, bad moods, and viruses, or even “normal” symptoms of MS that might not seem normal to me. Not yet. Recovering from rejections also takes me a couple of days now. They don’t stop me from writing, though.

Jeannine Hall Gailey, Seeing Poets, Learning to Adjust, Seasonal Change

“An extra vertebrae? I’m a mutant!” I exclaimed. “It would be better if I could breathe under water or fly. This is kind of a lame mutation.”

She laughed and then began the hard work – putting my SI joint back into place and getting the muscles in my back to release. I have a weekly appointment through the end of the year and hope to see an improvement.

I don’t write much about my crooked spine anymore, though a few (very old) poems exist. Vertebrae, was published in Connections Literary Magazine in Fall 2007. Yes, this poem is more than twelve years old and it decidedly not my best work. But, we all gotta start somewhere.

Right now I’m focused on corrected some of the things I’ve been doing – like crossing my legs. This pulls my SI joint out and so I’m trying to stop doing it. But it’s a habit and so I still catch myself doing it all the damn time. And once we can get my SI joint to stay where it should be I’ll begin exercises that will strengthen the lazy side of my back. For now, I’m going to write some new poems, maybe an ode to my extra vertebrae, maybe a love poem to the curve of my spine.

Courtney LeBlanc, I’m Not Even a Cool Mutant

As if
the poem

will lead me
to heaven.

I keep
walking.

Tom Montag, AS IF

Slug test

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and busy about public and private business all the morning at the office. At noon home to dinner, alone with my brother, with whom I had now the first private talke I have had, and find he hath preached but twice in his life. I did give him some advice to study pronunciation; but I do fear he will never make a good speaker, nor, I fear, any general good scholar, for I do not see that he minds optickes or mathematiques of any sort, nor anything else that I can find. I know not what he may be at divinity and ordinary school-learning. However, he seems sober, and that pleases me. After dinner took him and my wife and Barker (for so is our new woman called, and is yet but a sorry girle), and set them down at Unthanke’s, and so to White Hall, and there find some of my brethren with the Duke of York, but so few I put off the meeting. So staid and heard the Duke discourse, which he did mighty scurrilously, of the French, and with reason, that they should give Beaufort orders when he was to bring, and did bring, his fleete hither, that his rendezvous for his fleete, and for all sluggs to come to, should be between Calais and Dover; which did prove the taking of La Roche[lle], who, among other sluggs behind, did, by their instructions, make for that place, to rendezvous with the fleete; and Beaufort, seeing them as he was returning, took them for the English fleete, and wrote word to the King of France that he had passed by the English fleete, and the English fleete durst not meddle with him.
The Court is all full of vests, only my Lord St. Albans not pinked but plain black; and they say the King says the pinking upon white makes them look too much like magpyes, and therefore hath bespoke one of plain velvet. Thence to St. James’s by coach, and spoke, at four o’clock or five, with Sir W. Coventry, newly come from the House, where they have sat all this day and not come to an end of the debate how the money shall be raised. He tells me that what I proposed to him the other day was what he had himself thought on and determined, and that he believes it will speedily be done — the making Sir J. Minnes a Commissioner, and bringing somebody else to be Comptroller, and that (which do not please me, I confess, for my own particulars, so well as Sir J. Minnes) will, I fear, be Sir W. Pen, for he is the only fit man for it.
Away from him and took up my wife, and left her at Temple Bar to buy some lace for a petticoat, and I took coach and away to Sir R. Viner’s about a little business, and then home, and by and by to my chamber, and there late upon making up an account for the Board to pass to-morrow, if I can get them, for the clearing all my imprest bills, which if I can do, will be to my very good satisfaction. Having done this, then to supper and to bed.

who will see
the divinity of slugs

see them as full
not plain

make them look
like velvet and lace

get them for supper


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 17 October 1666.

Algorithm for Loss

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
He goes to every Lost and Found desk
in the building the day he finds

his car keys missing, and can hardly
believe how many fobs and key rings

and lanyards there are, like toys
someone forgot to take in from

the sandbox. But his is not among them.
He will go back every day for a week,

maybe two, to check on whether someone
has turned it in; after which it will

cease to matter as much anymore. With every
passing day, it seems the column on one side

marking losses grows longer than the column
on the other side listing possessions. A parade

of eyeglasses and eyeglass cases, half
a country of missing socks. The buckles

and buttons from beloved shirts, the cat
running into the street as soon as no one

is looking. The children leave, one after
the other. Years later, there is only the lake,

the reflection of mountains in them. Then even
the mountains disappear, or he from them.


One Breath Then the Next

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
What is it that floods the silence
before sound, preceding the body
before it walks into a room?

It is a pail that lifts from the well
toward the one that pulls, hand over
hand, on the rope; it is a thirst

for something cold and sweet. But what
does the throat even know of itself and its
thirst before the first blind sip of water?

What is the object of longing, that
for which we feel we'd give up all, or perish?
The empty bowl and the spoon that scrapes

along its bottom, the mailbox yawning in
the sun. When tree-trimmers arrive, a squirrel
lopes across the street in a frenzy, carrying

a furry bundle in her mouth. When evening comes,
sometimes it is an exhalation and you didn't
realize how long you were holding it in.


On Suffering

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Somewhere in a city filled 
with spires, in a cathedral left
of the square, is a smaller chapel
with the statue of a wild boar
and a painting of the Virgin with seven
lances stuck in her heart. This must be
extremely painful, and yet she looks up
toward the ceiling, or the sky, or heaven
as though her sorrows have lifted her
to a weirdly tranquil space beyond everyday
understanding. And somewhere in another city
is a very old street which bears the name
of suffering, because a bishop was
decapitated there on the way to becoming
a saint. A famous writer used it
as the setting for a story about a lost
necklace: his two characters coming home
from a ball scour every inch of the street
in the cold pall of morning, then
surrender to a life of penury— and they
must bear it, for is there any other recourse?
Which only goes to show how the saintly are not
so different after all from the rest of us
merely trying to make it from day to day:
they love their children so much
though they know their hearts will be
irremediably broken. They go into the streets,
speaking of what they believe. They give in
to a bit of desire, wanting to feel, even
for a few hours, the gleam of something
extraordinary around their necks.


Freighted

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to the office, where sat to do little business but hear clamours for money. At noon home to dinner, and to the office again, after hearing my brother play a little upon the Lyra viall, which he do so as to show that he hath a love to musique and a spirit for it, which I am well pleased with. All the afternoon at the office, and at night with Sir W. Batten, Sir W. Pen, [and Sir] J. Minnes, at [Sir] W. Pen’s lodgings, advising about business and orders fit presently to make about discharging of ships come into the river, and which to pay first, and many things in order thereto. But it vexed me that, it being now past seven o’clock, and the businesses of great weight, and I had done them by eight o’clock, and sending them to be signed, they were all gone to bed, and Sir W. Pen, though awake, would not, being in bed, have them brought to him to sign; this made me quite angry.
Late at work at the office, and then home to supper and to bed.
Not come to any resolution at the Parliament to-day about the manner of raising this 1,800,000l..

after love
the night river

many things of weight
awake in bed


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 16 October 1666.

Wet sidewalk

View on Vimeo.

A haiku video shot near the Angel, Islington, which is apparently the third cheapest property in the British version of Monopoly. These days it’s one of the trendier, more gentrified neighborhoods of north London. In the video I decided not to reference any of this in connection with fallen leaves, since “fallen angels” is such a cliche. But videopoetry fans will doubtless roll their eyes at my use of one of the most hackneyed visual tropes in the genre, a shot of walking feet. In my defense, we were moving quickly (the video is at half speed) and I didn’t have time to frame the shot in such a way that it didn’t include my feet. The results were pretty enough to make me decide to embrace the suck.

Gothic

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Called up, though a very rainy morning, by Sir H. Cholmley, and he and I most of the morning together evening of accounts, which I was very glad of. Then he and I out to Sir Robt. Viner’s, at the African house (where I had not been since he come thither); but he was not there; but I did some business with his people, and then to Colvill’s, who, I find, lives now in Lyme Streete, and with the same credit as ever, this fire having not done them any wrong that I hear of at all. Thence he and I together to Westminster Hall, in our way talking of matters and passages of state, the viciousness of the Court; the contempt the King brings himself into thereby; his minding nothing, but doing all things just as his people about him will have it; the Duke of York becoming a slave to this whore Denham, and wholly minds her; that there really was amours between the Duchesse and Sidney; a that there is reason to fear that, as soon as the Parliament have raised this money, the King will see that he hath got all that he can get, and then make up a peace. He tells me, what I wonder at, but that I find it confirmed by Mr. Pierce, whom I met by-and-by in the Hall, that Sir W. Coventry is of the caball with the Duke of York, and Bruncker, with this Denham; which is a shame, and I am sorry for it, and that Sir W. Coventry do make her visits; but yet I hope it is not so. Pierce tells me, that as little agreement as there is between the Prince and Duke of Albemarle, yet they are likely to go to sea again; for the first will not be trusted alone, and nobody will go with him but this Duke of Albemarle. He tells me much how all the commanders of the fleete and officers that are sober men do cry out upon their bad discipline, and the ruine that must follow it if it continue. But that which I wonder most at, it seems their secretaries have been the most exorbitant in their fees to all sorts of the people, that it is not to be believed that they durst do it, so as it is believed they have got 800l. apiece by the very vacancies in the fleete. He tells me that Lady Castlemayne is concluded to be with child again; and that all the people about the King do make no scruple of saying that the King do lie with Mrs. Stewart, who, he says, is a most excellent-natured lady. This day the King begins to put on his vest, and I did see several persons of the House of Lords and Commons too, great courtiers, who are in it; being a long cassocke close to the body, of black cloth, and pinked with white silke under it, and a coat over it, and the legs ruffled with black riband like a pigeon’s leg; and, upon the whole, I wish the King may keep it, for it is a very fine and handsome garment. Walking with Pierce in the Court of Wards out comes Sir W. Coventry, and he and I talked of business. Among others I proposed the making Sir J. Minnes a Commissioner, and make somebody else Comptroller. He tells me it is the thing he hath been thinking of, and hath spoke to the Duke of York of it. He believes it will be done; but that which I fear is that Pen will be Comptroller, which I shall grudge a little. The Duke of Buckingham called him aside and spoke a good while with him. I did presently fear it might be to discourse something of his design to blemish my Lord of Sandwich, in pursuance of the wild motion he made the other day in the House. Sir W. Coventry, when he come to me again, told me that he had wrought a miracle, which was, the convincing the Duke of Buckingham that something — he did not name what — that he had intended to do was not fit to be done, and that the Duke is gone away of that opinion. This makes me verily believe it was something like what I feared.
By and by the House rose, and then we parted, and I with Sir G. Carteret, and walked in the Exchequer Court, discoursing of businesses. Among others, I observing to him how friendly Sir W. Coventry had carried himself to him in these late inquiries, when, if he had borne him any spleen, he could have had what occasion he pleased offered him, he did confess he found the same thing, and would thanke him for it.
I did give him some other advices, and so away with him to his lodgings at White Hall to dinner, where my Lady Carteret is, and mighty kind, both of them, to me. Their son and my Lady Jemimah will be here very speedily. She tells me the ladies are to go into a new fashion shortly, and that is, to wear short coats, above their ancles; which she and I do not like, but conclude this long trayne to be mighty graceful. But she cries out of the vices of the Court, and how they are going to set up plays already; and how, the next day after the late great fast, the Duchesse of York did give the King and Queene a play. Nay, she told me that they have heretofore had plays at Court the very nights before the fast for the death of the late King: She do much cry out upon these things, and that which she believes will undo the whole nation; and I fear so too.
After dinner away home, Mr. Brisband along with me as far as the Temple, and there looked upon a new booke, set out by one Rycault, secretary to my Lord Winchelsea, of the policy and customs of the Turks, which is, it seems, much cried up. But I could not stay, but home, where I find Balty come back, and with him some muster-books, which I am glad of, and hope he will do me credit in his employment. By and by took coach again and carried him home, and my wife to her tailor’s, while I to White Hall to have found out Povy, but miss him and so call in my wife and home again, where at Sir W. Batten’s I met Sir W. Pen, lately come from the fleete at the Nore; and here were many good fellows, among others Sir R. Holmes, who is exceeding kind to me, more than usual, which makes me afeard of him, though I do much wish his friendship. Thereupon, after a little stay, I withdrew, and to the office and awhile, and then home to supper and to my chamber to settle a few papers, and then to bed.
This day the great debate was in Parliament, the manner of raising the 1,800,000l. they voted [the King] on Friday; and at last, after many proposals, one moved that the Chimney-money might be taken from the King, and an equal revenue of something else might be found for the King, and people be enjoyned to buy off this tax of Chimney-money for ever at eight years’ purchase, which will raise present money, as they think, 1,600,000l., and the State be eased of an ill burthen and the King be supplied of something as food or better for his use. The House seems to like this, and put off the debate to to-morrow.

rain and I live together
in one lone body

tell me how sober men cry
or go out in black

coat like a hole
hands in wild motion

it is the fashion to fast
and play at death

and I am too thin to think
of a burden like tomorrow


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 15 October 1666.

Translation Key

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Before they learned to read
notes, my fingers ran the length
of the dining table, tapping out
imaginary songs.

*

The bowl of soup
went untouched, the plate
of rice draped with leaves
blanched in vinegar.

*

When a bell clanged in the alley,
our mothers warned us not to eat
dirty ice cream: it came in pastel
colors, each flavor like the next.

*

Behind the stump of the cut-
down tree, a wild mushroom
spread its round and
breathing face.

*

Señorita, señorita
called the fish vendors,
fanning open the milkfish
belly lined with fat.

*

There are days when my mouth
craves only the salt of bodies
that cluster on white rocks,
feasting on fried crickets' wings.