Ghost Choir

I dream of furniture set
underneath a broken trellis,
where honeysuckle twined
among the beans. Someone

watches from behind a curtain
in an upper window, in a house
where a widow woke from years
in a coma and stepped back

into life as if she'd just
returned from another country.
Birds flash in and out of
the leaves, lured by a memory

of nectar. When I close my eyes
I too can almost taste it. Flakes
fall through the air: dust
and the ghosts of dust.


Up, and to the office, where Lord Bruncker, [Sir] J. Mennes, [Sir] W. Penn, and myself met, and there I did use my notes I took on Saturday night about tickets, and did come to a good settlement in the business of that office, if it be kept to, this morning being a meeting on purpose. At noon to prevent my Lord Bruncker’s dining here I walked as if upon business with him, it being frost and dry, as far as Paul’s, and so back again through the City by Guildhall, observing the ruines thereabouts, till I did truly lose myself, and so home to dinner. I do truly find that I have overwrought my eyes, so that now they are become weak and apt to be tired, and all excess of light makes them sore, so that now to the candlelight I am forced to sit by, adding, the snow upon the ground all day, my eyes are very bad, and will be worse if not helped, so my Lord Bruncker do advise as a certain cure to use greene spectacles, which I will do. So to dinner, where Mercer with us, and very merry. After dinner she goes and fetches a little son of Mr. Backeworth’s, the wittiest child and of the most spirit that ever I saw in my life for discourse of all kind, and so ready and to the purpose, not above four years old. Thence to Sir Robert Viner’s, and there paid for the plate I have bought to the value of 94l., with the 100l. Captain Cocke did give me to that purpose, and received the rest in money. I this evening did buy me a pair of green spectacles, to see whether they will help my eyes or no. So to the ‘Change, and went to the Upper ‘Change, which is almost as good as the old one; only shops are but on one side. Then home to the office, and did business till my eyes began to be bad, and so home to supper. My people busy making mince pies, and so to bed. No newes yet of our Gottenburgh fleete; which makes [us] have some fears, it being of mighty concernment to have our supply of masts safe. I met with Mr. Cade to-night, my stationer; and he tells me that he hears for certain that the Queene-Mother is about and hath near finished a peace with France, which, as a Presbyterian, he do not like, but seems to fear it will be a means to introduce Popery.

I walk through ruins
till I lose myself

I have become weak and tired

excess light makes a candle
go bad like a pope

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


(after "The Feathered Cloud," Armando Valero)

Before the change came a moment
of intense attention. The dark

had not yet fallen. The horizon
still glowed blue and gold;

stalks of grass had not yet
been hewn to stubble. Looking

around, I could still gain
the sense of prelude and chapter,

a faint moon hovering like a cloudy
coin over an insinuation of water.

I thought, foolishly, one needed
only to observe certain types

of decorum. Straight spine; eyes
clear, not yet milky with doubt

and distortion. Fingers imbued
with a sense of intention.

So let me tell you: when the air
thrashes with wings and your inner

ear fills with whispers, listen
before they too vanish in silence.

Goodnight moon

(Lord’s day). Up and alone to church, and meeting Nan Wright at the gate had opportunity to take two or three ‘baisers’, and so to church, where a vain fellow with a periwigg preached, Chaplain, as by his prayer appeared, to the Earl of Carlisle. Home, and there dined with us Betty Michell and her husband. After dinner to White Hall by coach, and took them with me. And in the way I would have taken ‘su main’ as I did the last time, but she did in a manner withhold it. So set them down at White Hall, and I to the Chapel to find Dr. Gibbons, and from him to the Harp and Ball to transcribe the treble which I would have him to set a bass to. But this took me so much time, and it growing night, I was fearful of missing a coach, and therefore took a coach and to rights to call Michell and his wife at their father Howlett’s, and so home, it being cold, and the ground all snow, but the moon shining. In the way, I did prender su mano with some little violence; and so in every motion she seemed para hazer contra su will, but yet did hazer whatever I did hazerla tenerle et fregarle et tocar mi thigh; and so all the way home, and did doner ella us gans para put on encore ­ she making many little endeavours para oter su mano, but yielded still. We came home, and there she did seem a little ill, but I did take several opportunities afterward para besar la, and so goodnight. They gone I to my chamber, and with my brother and wife did number all my books in my closet, and took a list of their names, which pleases me mightily, and is a jobb I wanted much to have done. Then to supper and to bed.

white white
the ground all snow

moon shining
with little violence

in every motion
she seemed still

goodnight to my chamber
and all my books

my name is a job
I wanted done

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

From the Book of Outlines

Despite fires 
and pestilence
and the failure
of crops, the tearing
apart of families
at the border,
the disappearance
of those who stood up
to false prophets
of the law—
here we are
at a place
to begin again.
It doesn't mean
the suffering
that has taken place
has been erased or made
invisible. It doesn't mean
we will never cry again.
It doesn't mean all
must be sweeter
in the going forward,
only that it goes on
despite what we've lost,
how we've failed, what
we've celebrated
or ruined. It says
you too have the right
to walk, just like
others, through
a door whose nature
is to be open.