Ode to Ramen Noodles

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We stay up to watch until the end
of the Oscars because we want
Parasite to win. It does, not once
but four times! And this triumph
for an Asian film, an Asian director, gives
me so much pleasure I want to make
a bowl of ram-don the same as the lady
of the house eats all by herself
though she told the housekeeper
it was for her son. It's in that scene
just before everything turns
on the blade of a knife
and the hinge of a sliding door
leading from the secret hideaway
in the basement. Her daughter smells
the sizzled beef and thickened sauce
poured over the noodles, and she comes
downstairs. She calls the mother
selfish for eating it all by herself,
not even asking anyone
in the household (though she means
herself) if they want some.
And that right there is what it is:
there is only so much anyone can take—
the poor in their flooded hovels,
the closeted, compartmentalized:
everyone playing costly charades
just so a few can swim in a marbled
bath streaked with white like a piece
of wagyu steak. The rest of us
will write letters in the dark,
happy to eat from tins of dog
food if that means our survival.
I saw a documentary of an artist
who boiled and drained ramen noodles
then knitted each strand carefully,
day after day, in a museum. She
wanted to slow down time, raise
something cheap and ordinary
almost to the level of high art.


Castrati

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to the office, where all the morning. Among other things great heat we were all in on one side or other in the examining witnesses against Mr. Carcasse about his buying of tickets, and a cunning knave I do believe he is, and will appear, though I have thought otherwise heretofore. At noon home to dinner, and there find Mr. Andrews, and Pierce and Hollyard, and they dined with us and merry, but we did rise soon for saving of my wife’s seeing a new play this afternoon, and so away by coach, and left her at Mrs. Pierces, myself to the Excise Office about business, and thence to the Temple to walk a little only, and then to Westminster to pass away time till anon, and here I went to Mrs. Martin’s to thank her for her oysters and there yo did hazer tout ce que je would con her, and she grown la plus bold moher of the orbis ­ so that I was almost defessus of the pleasure que ego was used para tener with ella.
Thence away to my Lord Bruncker’s, and there was Sir Robert Murray, whom I never understood so well as now by this opportunity of discourse with him, a most excellent man of reason and learning, and understands the doctrine of musique, and everything else I could discourse of, very finely. Here come Mr. Hooke, Sir George Ent, Dr. Wren, and many others; and by and by the musique, that is to say, Signor Vincentio, who is the master-composer, and six more, whereof two eunuches, so tall, that Sir T. Harvey said well that he believes they do grow large by being gelt as our oxen do, and one woman very well dressed and handsome enough, but would not be kissed, as Mr. Killigrew, who brought the company in, did acquaint us. They sent two harpsicons before; and by and by, after tuning them, they begun; and, I confess, very good musique they made; that is, the composition exceeding good, but yet not at all more pleasing to me than what I have heard in English by Mrs. Knipp, Captain Cooke, and others. Nor do I dote on the eunuches; they sing, indeed, pretty high, and have a mellow kind of sound, but yet I have been as well satisfied with several women’s voices and men also, as Crispe of the Wardrobe. The women sung well, but that which distinguishes all is this, that in singing, the words are to be considered, and how they are fitted with notes, and then the common accent of the country is to be known and understood by the hearer, or he will never be a good judge of the vocal musique of another country. So that I was not taken with this at all, neither understanding the first, nor by practice reconciled to the latter, so that their motions, and risings and fallings, though it may be pleasing to an Italian, or one that understands the tongue, yet to me it did not, but do from my heart believe that I could set words in English, and make musique of them more agreeable to any Englishman’s eare (the most judicious) than any Italian musique set for the voice, and performed before the same man, unless he be acquainted with the Italian accent of speech. The composition as to the musique part was exceeding good, and their justness in keeping time by practice much before any that we have, unless it be a good band of practised fiddlers. So away, here being Captain Cocke, who is stole away, leaving them at it, in his coach, and to Mrs. Pierce’s, where I took up my wife, and there I find Mrs. Pierce’s little girl is my Valentine, she having drawn me; which I was not sorry for, it easing me of something more that I must have given to others. But here I do first observe the fashion of drawing of mottos as well as names; so that Pierce, who drew my wife, did draw also a motto, and this girl drew another for me. What mine was I have forgot; but my wife’s was, “Most virtuous and most fair;” which, as it may be used, or an anagram made upon each name, might be very pretty. Thence with Cocke and my wife, set him at home, and then we home. To the office, and there did a little business, troubled that I have so much been hindered by matters of pleasure from my business, but I shall recover it I hope in a little time. So home and to supper, not at all smitten with the musique to-night, which I did expect should have been so extraordinary, Tom Killigrew crying it up, and so all the world, above all things in the world, and so to bed. One wonder I observed to-day, that there was no musique in the morning to call up our new-married people, which is very mean, methinks, and is as if they had married like dog and bitch.

who would not be kissed
by eunuchs with women’s voices

that which is known and understood
will never be as pleasing

and the tongue is more judicious
than that anagram of dog


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 16 February 1667.

Prayer Flags

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and our mission to beat a carcass
into a word

Dave Bonta, “Bemused

The neighbor hears
the dishes breaking
and finally understands how to end
the poem she’s been composing
all month, in this time
of tired language and tepid responses.

The neighbor ignores
the news of plagues
and uneasy heads that wear the crowns.
She turns away from the cheap
visions that the vultures try to sell.
She has a freezer full of bones.

The neighbor sets out food
for the kitten who won’t be tamed
and stirs the soup that simmers on the stove.
She hangs the laundry on the line,
prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.

Institutional

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Up and with Sir W. Batten and J. Minnes by coach to White Hall, where we attended upon the Duke of York to complain of the disorders the other day among the seamen at the Pay at the Ticket Office, and that it arises from lack of money, and that we desire, unless better provided for with money, to have nothing more to do with the payment of tickets, it being not our duty; and the Duke of York and W. Coventry did agree to it, so that I hope we shall be rid of that trouble. This done, I moved for allowance for a house for Mr. Turner, and got it granted. Then away to Westminster Hall, and there to the Exchequer about my tallies, and so back to White Hall, and so with Lord Bellasses to the Excise Office, where met by Sir H. Cholmly to consider about our business of money there, and that done, home and to dinner, where I hear Pegg Pen is married this day privately; no friends, but two or three relations on his side and hers. Borrowed many things of my kitchen for dressing their dinner. So after dinner to the office, and there busy and did much business, and late at it. Mrs. Turner come to me to hear how matters went; I told her of our getting rent for a house for her. She did give me account of this wedding to-day, its being private being imputed to its being just before Lent, and so in vain to make new clothes till Easter, that they might see the fashions as they are like to be this summer; which is reason good enough. Mrs. Turner tells me she hears gives 4500l. or 4000 with her. They are gone to bed, so I wish them much sport, and home to supper and to bed. They own the treaty for a peace publickly at Court, and the Commissioners providing themselves to go over as soon as a passe comes for them.

white hall
we complain of disorders
in borrowed clothes


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 15 February 1667.

New Moon

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They've found a new moon 
the size of a car, which
for the last three years
has been orbiting the Earth.
It could be a piece of our
moon, shorn off by some kind
of impact; more likely, it's
an asteroid randomly traveling
through space, that got
ensnared by Earth's gravity
and in that moment became
a moon
. What does it mean
anyway, to be in relation
to another? A mother gives
birth to her young then licks
the vernix off them. She may
eat the afterbirth as well,
if that means protecting them
from predators drawn by the smell
of blood. Did this newly
discovered satellite winding
disheveled loops that look
like yarn choose to attach itself
within our orbit, the way
we speak today of chosen
rather than birth family?
Sometimes it feels like we are all
just bodies drifting in space,
the rise and fall of our breath
silent as the words we
long so much to say but can't
for fear the damages we've
inflicted on each other have made
a ruin of the universe.
How will this new moon stay
on this wobbly track, how
long before it slides off course,
blinking in faint goodbye?



Dear Future,

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here you are, showing us
the shape of a horizon
which gathers all
the lands on this earth
under clouds of locust wing,
and all the waters under
a spreading mantle of illness.
And dear Future, if a butterfly
coughs in China, from how far away
would we hear its cellophane death
rattle? Once I had a dream
in which all of us lay down
side by side on a long avenue
that stretched from the cliffs
through the towns and on
to the sea. If we threw
our last coins into a fountain,
would we lose sight of
the terrible estates you've
conjured out of thin air
just for us?

Welcome to the Martyrdome

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Up and to the office, where Carcasse comes with his plaistered face, and called himself Sir W. Batten’s martyr, which made W. Batten mad almost, and mighty quarrelling there was. We spent the morning almost wholly upon considering some way of keeping the peace at the Ticket Office; but it is plain that the care of that office is nobody’s work, and that is it that makes it stand in the ill condition it do. At noon home to dinner, and after dinner by coach to my Lord Chancellor’s, and there a meeting: the Duke of York, Duke of Albemarle, and several other Lords of the Commission of Tangier. And there I did present a state of my accounts, and managed them well; and my Lord Chancellor did say, though he was, in other things, in an ill humour, that no man in England was of more method, nor made himself better understood than myself. But going, after the business of money was over, to other businesses, of settling the garrison, he did fling out, and so did the Duke of York, two or three severe words touching my Lord Bellasses: that he would have no Governor come away from thence in less than three years; no, though his lady were with child. “And,” says the Duke of York, “there should be no Governor continue so, longer than three years.” “Nor,” says Lord Arlington, “when our rules are once set, and upon good judgment declared, no Governor should offer to alter them.” — “We must correct the many things that are amiss there; for,” says the Lord Chancellor, “you must think we do hear of more things amisse than we are willing to speak before our friends’ faces.” My Lord Bellasses would not take notice of their reflecting on him, and did wisely, but there were also many reflections on him. Thence away by coach to Sir H. Cholmly and Fitzgerald and Creed, setting down the two latter at the New Exchange. And Sir H. Cholmly and I to the Temple, and there walked in the dark in the walks talking of newes; and he surprises me with the certain newes that the King did last night in Council declare his being in treaty with the Dutch: that they had sent him a very civil letter, declaring that, if nobody but themselves were concerned, they would not dispute the place of treaty, but leave it to his choice; but that, being obliged to satisfy therein a Prince of equal quality with himself, they must except any place in England or Spayne. And so the King hath chosen the Hague, and thither hath chose my Lord Hollis and Harry Coventry to go Embassadors to treat; which is so mean a thing, as all the world will believe, that we do go to beg a peace of them, whatever we pretend. And it seems all our Court are mightily for a peace, taking this to be the time to make one, while the King hath money, that he may save something of what the Parliament hath given him to put him out of debt, so as he may need the help of no more Parliaments, as to the point of money: but our debt is so great, and expence daily so encreased, that I believe little of the money will be saved between this and the making of the peace up. But that which troubles me most is, that we have chosen a son of Secretary Morris, a boy never used to any business, to go Embassador [Secretary] to the Embassy, which shows how, little we are sensible of the weight of the business upon us. God therefore give a good end to it, for I doubt it, and yet do much more doubt the issue of our continuing the war, for we are in no wise fit for it, and yet it troubles me to think what Sir H. Cholmly says, that he believes they will not give us any reparation for what we have suffered by the war, nor put us into any better condition than what we were in before the war, for that will be shamefull for us. Thence parted with him and home through the dark over the ruins by coach, with my sword drawn, to the office, where dispatched some business; and so home to my chamber and to supper and to bed.
This morning come up to my wife’s bedside, I being up dressing myself, little Will Mercer to be her Valentine; and brought her name writ upon blue paper in gold letters, done by himself, very pretty; and we were both well pleased with it. But I am also this year my wife’s Valentine, and it will cost me 5l.; but that I must have laid out if we had not been Valentines. So to bed.

a martyr is a nobody’s garrison
with no ears no faces no reflections

in the dark we are his no body
equal to whatever we need no more of

making war on war my sword drawn
I am his blue paper Valentine


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 14 February 1667.

Bemused

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and by water to White Hall, where to the Duke of York, and there did our usual business; but troubled to see that, at this time, after our declaring a debt to the Parliament of 900,000l., and nothing paid since, but the debt increased, and now the fleete to set out; to hear that the King hath ordered but 35,000l. for the setting out of the fleete, out of the Poll Bill, to buy all provisions, when five times as much had been little enough to have done any thing to purpose. They have, indeed, ordered more for paying off of seamen and the Yards to some time, but not enough for that neither. Another thing is, the acquainting the Duke of York with the case of Mr. Lanyon, our agent at Plymouth, who has trusted us to 8000l. out of purse; we are not in condition, after so many promises, to obtain him a farthing, nor though a message was carried by Sir G. Carteret and Sir W. Coventry to the Commissioners of Prizes, that he might have 3000l. out of 20,000l. worth of prizes to be shortly sold there, that he might buy at the candle and pay for the goods out of bills, and all would [not] do any thing, but that money must go all another way, while the King’s service is undone, and those that trust him perish. These things grieve me to the heart. The Prince, I hear, is every day better and better. So away by water home, stopping at Michell’s, where Mrs. Martin was, and I there drank with them and whispered with Betty, who tells me all is well, but was prevented in something she would have said, her ‘marido venant’ just then, a news which did trouble me, and so drank and parted and home, and there took up my wife by coach, and to Mrs. Pierce’s, there to take her up, and with them to Dr. Clerke’s, by invitation, where we have not been a great while, nor had any mind to go now, but that the Dr., whom I love, would have us choose a day. Here was his wife, painted, and her sister Worshipp, a widow now and mighty pretty in her mourning. Here was also Mr. Pierce and Mr. Floyd, Secretary to the Lords Commissioners of Prizes, and Captain Cooke, to dinner, an ill and little mean one, with foul cloth and dishes, and everything poor. Discoursed most about plays and the Opera, where, among other vanities, Captain Cooke had the arrogance to say that he was fain to direct Sir W. Davenant in the breaking of his verses into such and such lengths, according as would be fit for musick, and how he used to swear at Davenant, and command him that way, when W. Davenant would be angry, and find fault with this or that note — but a vain coxcomb I perceive he is, though he sings and composes so well. But what I wondered at, Dr. Clerke did say that Sir W. Davenant is no good judge of a dramatick poem, finding fault with his choice of Henry the 5th, and others, for the stage, when I do think, and he confesses, “The Siege of Rhodes” as good as ever was writ. After dinner Captain Cooke and two of his boys to sing, but it was indeed both in performance and composition most plainly below what I heard last night, which I could not have believed. Besides overlooking the words which he sung, I find them not at all humoured as they ought to be, and as I believed he had done all he had sett. Though he himself do indeed sing in a manner as to voice and manner the best I ever heard yet, and a strange mastery he hath in making of extraordinary surprising closes, that are mighty pretty, but his bragging that he do understand tones and sounds as well as any man in the world, and better than Sir W. Davenant or any body else, I do not like by no means, but was sick of it and of him for it. He gone, Dr. Clerke fell to reading a new play, newly writ, of a friend’s of his; but, by his discourse and confession afterwards, it was his own. Some things, but very few, moderately good; but infinitely far from the conceit, wit, design, and language of very many plays that I know; so that, but for compliment, I was quite tired with hearing it. It being done, and commending the play, but against my judgment, only the prologue magnifying the happiness of our former poets when such sorry things did please the world as was then acted, was very good. So set Mrs. Pierce at home, and away ourselves home, and there to my office, and then my chamber till my eyes were sore at writing and making ready my letter and accounts for the Commissioners of Tangier to-morrow, which being done, to bed, hearing that there was a very great disorder this day at the Ticket Office, to the beating and bruising of the face of Carcasse very much. A foul evening this was to-night, and I mightily troubled to get a coach home; and, which is now my common practice, going over the ruins in the night, I rid with my sword drawn in the coach.

I see visions
thin enough to be sold
and that money rust in the heart

I hear dishes breaking
with this or that tone
and I like it

so far from the language of tired poets
and our mission to beat a carcass
into a word


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 13 February 1667.

poem with a borrowed line

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all the stolen words
like unborn water, all
the softening fruit
that make the branches
bend despite themselves.

despite the fences
and the ropes, all
the light that can't
be kept from finding
places where hinges

join, where weave
and weft intersect:
tiny holes like those
a needle would make,
stitching one

panel to another.
tightest when
nearly invisible:
asterisked rows of
even perforations.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Gestation.

Ars poetica

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning, with several things (among others) discoursed relating to our two new assistant controllers, but especially Sir W. Pen, who is mighty troublesome in it. At noon home to dinner, and then to the office again, and there did much business, and by and by comes Mr. Moore, who in discourse did almost convince me that it is necessary for my Lord Sandwich to come home and take his command at sea this year, for that a peace is like to be. Many considerations he did give me hereupon, which were very good both in reference to the publick and his private condition. By and by with Lord Bruncker by coach to his house, there to hear some Italian musique: and here we met Tom Killigrew, Sir Robert Murray, and the Italian Signor Baptista, who hath composed a play in Italian for the Opera, which T. Killigrew do intend to have up; and here he did sing one of the acts. He himself is the poet as well as the musician; which is very much, and did sing the whole from the words without any musique prickt, and played all along upon a harpsicon most admirably, and the composition most excellent. The words I did not understand, and so know not how they are fitted, but believe very well, and all in the recitativo very fine. But I perceive there is a proper accent in every country’s discourse, and that do reach in their setting of notes to words, which, therefore, cannot be natural to any body else but them; so that I am not so much smitten with it as, it may be, I should be, if I were acquainted with their accent. But the whole composition is certainly most excellent; and the poetry, T. Killigrew and Sir R. Murray, who understood the words, did say was excellent. I confess I was mightily pleased with the musique. He pretends not to voice, though it be good, but not excellent. This done, T. Killigrew and I to talk: and he tells me how the audience at his house is not above half so much as it used to be before the late fire. That Knipp is like to make the best actor that ever come upon the stage, she understanding so well: that they are going to give her 30l. a-year more. That the stage is now by his pains a thousand times better and more glorious than ever heretofore. Now, wax-candles, and many of them; then, not above 3 lbs. of tallow: now, all things civil, no rudeness anywhere; then, as in a bear-garden then, two or three fiddlers; now, nine or ten of the best then, nothing but rushes upon the ground, and every thing else mean; and now, all otherwise: then, the Queen seldom and the King never would come; now, not the King only for state, but all civil people do think they may come as well as any. He tells me that he hath gone several times, eight or ten times, he tells me, hence to Rome to hear good musique; so much he loves it, though he never did sing or play a note. That he hath ever endeavoured in the late King’s time, and in this, to introduce good musique, but he never could do it, there never having been any musique here better than ballads. Nay, says, “Hermitt poore” and “Chevy Chase” was all the musique we had; and yet no ordinary fiddlers get so much money as ours do here, which speaks our rudenesse still. That he hath gathered our Italians from several Courts in Christendome, to come to make a concert for the King, which he do give 200l. a-year a-piece to: but badly paid, and do come in the room of keeping four ridiculous gundilows, he having got, the King to put them away, and lay out money this way; and indeed I do commend him for it, for I think it is a very noble undertaking. He do intend to have some times of the year these operas to be performed at the two present theatres, since he is defeated in what he intended in Moorefields on purpose for it; and he tells me plainly that the City audience was as good as the Court, but now they are most gone. Baptista tells me that Giacomo Charissimi is still alive at Rome, who was master to Vinnecotio, who is one of the Italians that the King hath here, and the chief composer of them. My great wonder is, how this man do to keep in memory so perfectly the musique of the whole act, both for the voice and the instrument too. I confess I do admire it: but in recitativo the sense much helps him, for there is but one proper way of discoursing and giving the accents. Having done our discourse, we all took coaches, my Lord’s and T. Killigrew’s, and to Mrs. Knipp’s chamber, where this Italian is to teach her to sing her part. And so we all thither, and there she did sing an Italian song or two very fine, while he played the bass upon a harpsicon there; and exceedingly taken I am with her singing, and believe that she will do miracles at that and acting. Her little girl is mighty pretty and witty. After being there an hour, and I mightily pleased with this evening’s work, we all parted, and I took coach and home, where late at my office, and then home to enter my last three days’ Journall; and so to supper and to bed, troubled at nothing, but that these pleasures do hinder me in my business, and the more by reason of our being to dine abroad to-morrow, and then Saturday next is appointed to meet again at my Lord Bruncker’s lodgings, and there to have the whole quire of Italians; but then I do consider that this is all the pleasure I live for in the world, and the greatest I can ever expect in the best of my life, and one thing more, that by hearing this man to-night, and I think Captain Cooke to-morrow, and the quire of Italians on Saturday, I shall be truly able to distinguish which of them pleases me truly best, which I do much desire to know and have good reason and fresh occasion of judging.

I like to pose as a musician with words
but I perceive every country’s
natural poetry is talk

the audience for a fire
is better than a candle
better than an ordinary room

the fields are alive with miracles
and I with my journal
a life which I desire to know


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 12 February 1667.