Winter blues

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Up betimes and by water to White Hall, and there with Sir G. Carteret to Sir W. Coventry, who is come to his winter lodgings at White Hall, and there agreed upon a method of paying of tickets; and so I back again home and to the office, where we sat all the morning, but to little purpose but to receive clamours for money. At noon home to dinner, where the two Mrs. Daniels come to see us, and dined with us. After dinner I out with my wife to Mrs. Pierces, where she hath not been a great while, from some little unkindness of my wife’s to her when she was last here, but she received us with mighty respect and discretion, and was making herself mighty fine to go to a great ball to-night at Court, being the Queene’s birthday; so the ladies for this one day do wear laces, but to put them off again to-morrow. Thence I to my Lord Bruncker’s, and with him to Mrs. Williams’s where we met Knipp. I was glad to see the jade. Made her sing; and she told us they begin at both houses to act on Monday next. But I fear, after all this sorrow, their gains will be but little. Mrs. Williams says, the Duke’s house will now be much the better of the two, because of their women; which I am glad to hear.
Thence with Lord Bruncker to White Hall and there spoke with Sir W. Coventry about some office business, and then I away to Mrs. Pierces, and there saw her new closet, which is mighty rich and fine. Her daughter Betty grows mighty pretty.
Thence with my wife home and to do business at the office. Then to Sir W. Batten’s, who tells me that the House of Parliament makes mighty little haste in settling the money, and that he knows not when it will be done; but they fall into faction, and libells have been found in the House. Among others, one yesterday, wherein they reckon up divers great sums to be given away by the King, among others, 10,000l. to Sir W. Coventry, for weare and teare (the point he stood upon to advance that sum by, for them to give the King); Sir G. Carteret 50,000l. for something else, I think supernumerarys; and so to Matt. Wren 5000l. for passing the Canary Company’s patent; and so a great many other sums to other persons.
So home to supper and to bed.

winter morning
as fine as jade

an old sorrow
gains new ice

who will give me
a wren for a canary


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 25 October 1666.

I weep from a dream of the goddess

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who sits with her shoulders above
the clouds, goats and tin-roofed
houses dotting the hills of her
green quilted lap. But even in waking,
there's always some state of emergency.
Drought, a flood, animals trying
to surface from out of oil-
marbled waters; famine, war. Even so,
it seems I can deal with those parts
better than the one in which she squeezes
her breasts so the milk flowing out
turns into rice. Rice-rain pours
down every granary, and the people hold
rice feasts, make rice wine, feed pap
to babies tired of sucking on
old, dry-knuckled fingers.
But hunger is always hungry; it won't
ever be appeased. I weep from the dream
where she squeezes so hard that blood
flows out of her breasts, wild red
rice still highly prized to this day. I ache
from the effort she made and the thought
of sacrifices that never end.
You can smell it in the air: the deep
wells of our sadness, the fog a milky
bandage covering the gutted earth.




Citizen, lunatic

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Up, and down to the Old Swan, and there find little Michell come to his new shop that he hath built there in the room of his house that was burned. I hope he will do good here. I drank and bade him joy, for I love him and his wife well, him for his care, and her for her person, and so to White Hall, where we attended the Duke; and to all our complaints for want of money, which now we are tired out with making, the Duke only tells us that he is sorry for it, and hath spoke to the King of it, and money we shall have as soon as it can be found; and though all the issue of the war lies upon it, yet that is all the answer we can get, and that is as bad or worse than nothing. Thence to Westminster Hall, where the term is begun, and I did take a turn or two, and so away by coach to Sir R. Viner’s, and there received some money, and then home and to dinner. After dinner to little business, and then abroad with my wife, she to see her brother, who is sick, and she believes is from some discontent his wife hath given him by her loose carriage, which he is told, and he hath found has been very suspicious in his absence, which I am sorry for. I to the Hall and there walked long, among others talking with Mr. Hayes, Prince Rupert’s Secretary, a very ingenious man, and one, I think, fit to contract some friendship with. Here I staid late, walking to and again, hearing how the Parliament proceeds, which is mighty slowly in the settling of the money business, and great factions growing every day among them.
I am told also how Holmes did last Sunday deliver in his articles to the King and Cabinet against Smith, and that Smith hath given in his answer, and lays his not accompanying the fleete to his pilot, who would not undertake to carry the ship further; which the pilot acknowledges. The thing is not accommodated, but only taken up, and both sides commanded to be quiet; but no peace like to be. The Duke of Albemarle is Smith’s friend, and hath publiquely swore that he would never go to sea again unless Holmes’s commission were taken from him.
I find by Hayes that they did expect great glory in coming home in so good condition as they did with the fleete, and therefore I the less wonder that the Prince was distasted with my discourse the other day about the bad state of the fleete. But it pleases me to hear that he did expect great thanks, and lays the fault of the want of it upon the fire, which deadened everything, and the glory of his services.
About seven at night home, and called my wife, and, it being moonshine, took her into the garden, and there layed open our condition as to our estate, and the danger of my having it all in the house at once, in case of any disorder or troubles in the State, and therefore resolved to remove part of it to Brampton, and part some whither else, and part in my owne house, which is very necessary, and will tend to our safety, though I shall not think it safe out of my owne sight.
So to the office, and then to supper and to bed.

tired of the war lies
growing every day

I am given to unquiet
like the sea

and wonder at the deadened
glory of a moon

which I shall not think safe
out of my sight


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 24 October 1666.

November rain

View on Vimeo.

The latest videohaiku combines footage shot this morning through a half-open upstairs window with an observation made yesterday through the downstairs window. I was kind of pleased with the way the footage looks like a mash-up of Impressionism and Cubism.

Lanterns

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I've heard that some people leave
the porch light on for three days
after someone has died, so the soul
might not feel the shock of having
to be pushed out of the human nest
too soon or forever. Or maybe
it's so the dead might feel they're
still connected to their former lives.
After we returned home from burying
my grandmother, an aunt stood
at the door, waiting to collect
the candles we'd brought back
from the service. She broke each
in half before we entered
so the dead, newly bereaved of us,
might not come looking for
a companion. Afterwards we ate
a special sweet made with black
rice and coconut milk, still warm
and sticky on a banana leaf
wrapper. It's been a while since I
did what we also did that day:
put a little food on a plate,
tell the dead beloved they may eat
along with us. Is it any wonder
some souls get lost in passage.

Alewife

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Up, and to the office all the morning. At noon Sir W. Batten told me Sir Richard Ford would accept of one-third of my profit of our private man-of-war, and bear one-third of the charge, and be bound in the Admiralty, so I shall be excused being bound, which I like mightily of, and did draw up a writing, as well as I could, to that purpose and signed and sealed it, and so he and Sir R. Ford are to go to enter into bond this afternoon.
Home to dinner, and after dinner, it being late, I down by water to Shadwell, to see Betty Michell, the first time I was ever at their new dwelling since the fire, and there find her in the house all alone. I find her mighty modest. But had her lips as much as I would, and indeed she is mighty pretty, that I love her exceedingly. I paid her 10l. 1s. that I received upon a ticket for her husband, which is a great kindness I have done them, and having kissed her as much as I would, I away, poor wretch, and down to Deptford to see Sir J. Minnes ordering of the pay of some ships there, which he do most miserably, and so home. Bagwell’s wife, seeing me come the fields way, did get over her pales to come after and talk with me, which she did for a good way, and so parted, and I home, and to the office, very busy, and so to supper and to bed.

our private war
like dwelling in fire

lips that I have kissed
as much as some ales


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 23 October 1666.

Hunting mushrooms

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A videohaiku shot yesterday on Hampstead Heath, where various autumn mushrooms are appearing in the leaf duff and meadows. I’ll admit, though, I had eyes mainly for the trees, as usual, and came home empty-handed except for some pretty images.

The vignetting effect is beginning to feel a bit cheesy to me, but I used it without hesitation here, perhaps because the subject of the second half of the video is the essence of cheesiness. The same thinking guided my choice of font. But it’s fine, because as I’ve said before, haiku are supposed to be somewhat light-hearted.

field mushroom, Hampstead Heath

Why does a woman

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of a certain age raise 
eyebrows when she says things
like That's dope, or This carousel
of life would be so much more fun
to ride if they gave you the dark-
maned stallion and not the sparkly
little pony. I mean I have nothing
against sparkly. But aren't you too
just a little bit tired of how every
store that hasn't renewed its lease
at the mall has been turned into
a selfie wall? Giant wings, a painted
swing under a fake bower, rainbow
umbrellas with glow-in-the-dark
raindrops. My hero is Yayoi
Kusama, who has always been
a woman of a certain age
even from the time she was ten,
when she obliterated the image
of her mother in a kimono
with her signature army of
hallucinatory dots. Or
the Bakunawa, typically
misunderstood in all the tales
that describe how it swallowed
the seven moons and would not
give them back. So much
brilliance, one for every
day of the week— who
wouldn't be enamored?
How is anyone to endure
eternity without a store
of heat and light, a steed
with muscled flanks?