Bandera Española

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Tell a story, says the writer giving
a lecture, about the first time you think

you might be falling in love. Remember
the smallest details: the waft of tobacco

from the neighbor's porch where he sits
and reads all afternoon through evening,

hidden behind a waterfall of pothos
spilling from a hanging pot. Ceylon

creeper, silver vine, also called
devil's ivy because it is almost

impossible to kill and it stays green
even when kept in the dark. Remember

this and the rusted green of the garden
gate, the way your hand hesitated

before you rang the doorbell, waiting
to see if the boy that walked you home

would do something: push a strand
of hair away from your cheek, move

closer to brush his lips against it...
But nothing will happen here because you

already know this is a town where
everything gets broadcast to the four

winds before it has even happened,
a town where behind every window drape

there is at least one pair of eyes
surveilling the immediate landscape.

Perhaps it is the way imminent action
gets suspended; perhaps it is because all

stories of beginning are full of awkward
silences and hesitation. More than the color

of his eyes or hair or the texture of his
smile, you'll recall more clearly the dark

red spears of bandera española by the gate,
its flowers thrust open in fulfillment.

Humpty Dumpster

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

…up betimes, with all my people to get the letter writ over, and other things done, which I did, and by coach to Lord Bruncker’s, and got his hand to it; and then to the Parliament House and got it signed by the rest, and then delivered it at the House-door to Sir Philip Warwicke; Sir G. Carteret being gone into the House with his book of accounts under his arme, to present to the House. I had brought my wife to White Hall, and leaving her with Mrs. Michell, where she sat in her shop and had burnt wine sent for her, I walked in the Hall, and among others with Ned Pickering, who continues still a lying, bragging coxcombe, telling me that my Lord Sandwich may thank himself for all his misfortune; for not suffering him and two or three good honest fellows more to take them by the throats that spoke ill of him, and told me how basely Lionell Walden hath carried himself towards my Lord; by speaking slightly of him, which I shall remember. Thence took my wife home to dinner, and then to the office, where Mr. Hater all the day putting in order and entering in a book all the measures that this account of the Navy hath been made up by, and late at night to Mrs. Turner’s, where she had got my wife and Lady Pen and Pegg, and supped, and after, supper and the rest of the company by design gone, Mrs. Turner and her husband did lay their case to me about their lodgings, Sir J. Minnes being now gone wholly to his owne, and now, they being empty, they doubt Sir T. Harvy or Lord Bruncker may look after the lodgings. I did give them the best advice, poor people, that I could, and would do them any kindnesse, though it is strange that now they should have ne’er a friend of Sir W. Batten or Sir W. Pen to trust to but me, that they have disobliged. So home to bed, and all night still mightily troubled in my sleepe, with fire and houses pulling down.

a lying bragging fellow
speaking lightly of hate

anyone who is empty
may sleep with fire


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 25 September 1666.

Traveler’s Song

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Find me between
and underneath the syntax

of words I say in my head,
in consonants that move

like first-time skaters
on unfamiliar ice but grit

their teeth and never
fall down— Find me

in the starch that stiffens
the clothes and the bleach

that blues the whites
we wear closest to our skin

then peel off before going
to bed at night. Find me

in a nest of mosquito
netting, in the dark

where my body is perfect
as it is and my tongue

clicks to the tune of geckos
fastened to the ceiling.

The world is a ship I climbed
into, once long ago. It called

me both child and orphan;
it pinned to my breast a star-

gazer lily adorned with gold
dust and hawk bells.








Second hand

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and with Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen to St. James’s, and there with Sir W. Coventry read and all approved of my letter, and then home, and after dinner, Mr. Hater and Gibson dining with me, to the office, and there very late new moulding my accounts and writing fair my letter, which I did against the evening, and then by coach left my wife at her brother’s, and I to St. James’s, and up and down to look [for] Sir W. Coventry; and at last found him and Sir G. Carteret with the Lord Treasurer at White Hall, consulting how to make up my Lord Treasurer’s general account, as well as that of the Navy particularly. Here brought the letter, but found that Sir G. Carteret had altered his account since he did give me the abstract of it: so all my letter must be writ over again, to put in his last abstract. So to Sir G. Carteret’s lodgings, to speak a little about the alteration; and there looking over the book that Sir G. Carteret intends to deliver to the Parliament of his payments since September 1st, 1664, and there I find my name the very second for flags, which I had bought for the Navy, of calico; once, about 500 and odd pounds, which vexed me mightily. At last, I concluded of scraping out my name and putting in Mr. Tooker’s, which eased me; though the price was such as I should have had glory by. Here I saw my Lady Carteret lately come to towne, who, good lady! is mighty kind, and I must make much of her, for she is a most excellent woman. So took up my wife and away home, and there to bed, and…

mould writing an abstract letter o
over the book

I am scraping out
such glory


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 24 September 1666.

Peace garden

Antony Gormley sculpture at the peace park

A videohaiku filmed at the Maygrove Peace Park, one of at least six gardens or parks in London dedicated to world peace – but the only one with an Antony Gormley sculpture, untitled (listening). Also featured in the video is Hamish Black’s Peace Crane. This park is just down the road from us in Kilburn, but few people outside the immediate neighborhood seem to be aware of it. For more on the park, see the friends group website.

On Inventory

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
"Remember me, remember me, but ah!
Forget my fate..."
~ "Dido's Lament: When I Am Laid in Earth"


I look around and there's still so much I need
to put in garbage bags, sort for the thrift
shop, fold for another season beyond

this one. And at the tail end of summer,
one length of fence began to sag, as things
will do after many years, waterlogged.

I think about the times I feel like giving
up, giving in: just like the shore's ragged hem
to the sea's steady encroaching. But then I come

for instance upon a book of tickets or an old
silk dress, its print of ferns and split leaf
philodendra now muted green and yellow—

I think I wore it last walking around
Philadelphia in the heat, going from museum
to museum, then sitting under the shade

while someone snapped a picture. There
in the backdrop, a mural on a trattoria wall:
its giant scale making small impressions

of our figures. Years later, always
years later— wonder of wonders, this
register: the pulse that beats

its undertone of regret, meaning
there's something yet, apparently,
that it desires. And so on, down

the changing inventory of days:
we count and carry, buy or trade, set
aside what we imagine others might want

after we've passed on, or just gone past
the need for more possessions. Sometimes,
too, they've not even once been used.


Comfortable

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up, and after being trimmed, all the morning at the office with my people about me till about one o’clock, and then home, and my people with me, and Mr. Wayth and I eat a bit of victuals in my old closet, now my little dining-room, which makes a pretty room, and my house being so clean makes me mightily pleased, but only I do lacke Mercer or somebody in the house to sing with. Soon as eat a bit Mr. Wayth and I by water to White Hall, and there at Sir G. Carteret’s lodgings Sir W. Coventry met, and we did debate the whole business of our accounts to the Parliament; where it appears to us that the charge of the war from September 1st, 1664, to this Michaelmas, will have been but 3,200,000l., and we have paid in that time somewhat about 2,200,000l.; so that we owe above 900,000l.: but our method of accounting, though it cannot, I believe, be far wide from the mark, yet will not abide a strict examination if the Parliament should be troublesome. Here happened a pretty question of Sir W. Coventry, whether this account of ours will not put my Lord Treasurer to a difficulty to tell what is become of all the money the Parliament have ‘give’ in this time for the war, which hath amounted to about 4,000,000l., which nobody there could answer; but I perceive they did doubt what his answer could be. Having done, and taken from Sir W. Coventry the minutes of a letter to my Lord Treasurer, Wayth and I back again to the office, and thence back down to the water with my wife and landed him in Southwarke, and my wife and I for pleasure to Fox-hall, and there eat and drank, and so back home, and I to the office till midnight drawing the letter we are to send with our accounts to my Lord Treasurer, and that being done to my mind, I home to bed.

my people with me
and my house so clean

only I lack
somebody to sing with

and war cannot be
far off


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 23 September 1666.

Parable

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Every morning the woman bathes 
in the river encircling the garden. 
She tries to remember the spot where

she'd fallen from heaven, where she’d
folded her wings and carefully hidden them
from the damp and heat of this uncertain

place. She supposes that what they call
body in this world is a way to give 
the untethered a home, a sheath 

like that worn by jellyfish pulsing
across the channel, their insides
a generous peep show for which

you don’t have to pay the price
of a ticket. Come one, come all.
What you see is what you get.

Woman with mermaid tail, woman
with bearded arms and graceful legs.
The fruitful have daughters swinging

in bowers under the trees, hair
honeyed sunrise, cheeks red with
promise. In the fields, farmer’s

daughters weave a garland of snails
between the horns of a water buffalo.
Daily they plead with the gods to look

the other way, to take no more
interest in them than a tadpole
writing its small hieroglyphic

in shallow water. This is how it is
when your life feels sometimes of no
larger consequence than a window.


Vicarious atonement

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

To my closet, and had it new washed, and now my house is so clean as I never saw it, or any other house in my life, and every thing in as good condition as ever before the fire; but with, I believe, about 20l. cost one way or other besides about 20l. charge in removing my goods, and do not find that I have lost any thing but two little pictures of ship and sea, and a little gold frame for one of my sea-cards. My glazier, indeed, is so full of worke that I cannot get him to come to perfect my house. To the office, and there busy now for good and all about my accounts. My Lord Brunck come thither, thinking to find an office, but we have not yet met. He do now give me a watch, a plain one, in the roome of my former watch with many motions which I did give him. If it goes well, I care not for the difference in worth, though believe there is above 5l.. He and I to Sir G. Carteret to discourse about his account, but Mr. Waith not being there nothing could be done, and therefore I home again, and busy all day. In the afternoon comes Anthony Joyce to see me, and with tears told me his losse, but yet that he had something left that he can live well upon, and I doubt it not. But he would buy some place that he could have and yet keepe his trade where he is settled in St. Jones’s. He gone, I to the office again, and then to Sir G. Carteret, and there found Mr. Wayth, but, Lord! how fretfully Sir G. Carteret do discourse with Mr. Wayth about his accounts, like a man that understands them not one word. I held my tongue and let him go on like a passionate foole. In the afternoon I paid for the two lighters that carried my goods to Deptford, and they cost me 8l.. Till past midnight at our accounts, and have brought them to a good issue, so as to be ready to meet Sir G. Carteret and Sir W. Coventry to-morrow, but must work to-morrow, which Mr. T. Hater had no mind to, it being the Lord’s day, but, being told the necessity, submitted, poor man! This night writ for brother John to come to towne. Among other reasons, my estate lying in money, I am afeard of any sudden miscarriage. So to bed mightily contented in dispatching so much business, and find my house in the best condition that ever I knew it. Home to bed.

is any other life as good
as the fire that I have lost

a sea for my sea
a watch in my watch

give me a loss I can live on
like a man that understands one word


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 22 September 1666.