Positive thinking

Up betimes and to my office, and there busy till the office (which was only Sir T. Harvy and myself) met, and did little business and then broke up. He tells me that the Council last night did sit close to determine of the King’s answer about the peace, and that though he do not certainly know, yet by all discourse yesterday he do believe it is peace, and that the King had said it should be peace, and had bidden Alderman Backewell to declare [it] upon the ’Change. It is high time for us to have peace that the King and Council may get up their credits and have time to do it, for that indeed is the bottom of all our misery, that nobody have any so good opinion of the King and his Council and their advice as to lend money or venture their persons, or estates, or pains upon people that they know cannot thrive with all that we can do, but either by their corruption or negligence must be undone. This indeed is the very bottom of every man’s thought, and the certain ground that we must be ruined unless the King change his course, or the Parliament come and alter it. At noon dined alone with my wife. All the afternoon close at the office, very hard at gathering papers and putting things in order against the Parliament, and at night home with my wife to supper, and then to bed, in hopes to have all things in my office in good condition in a little time for any body to examine, which I am sure none else will.

busy and broke
we do not believe we are in misery
or that we can be undone

this is the very bottom of every thought
the ground that we ruin
putting in a mine


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 11 July 1667.

Portrait: Savasana

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
No pantyhose in the drawers.
A large seed threaded through
with a loop of leather, a bead
that I was saving. Ink and
notebooks. I don't know
how to forgive myself anymore
for decades of misunderstanding.
Perhaps I just refused to believe
trying to be a person would not 
get in the way of being a mother. 
The yoga teacher says lift
your palms to your chest;
turn it into a box
of intention. Then lie
down and bring your hands
to your sides. Imagine
your corpse floating down-
river, leaving everything
and everyone behind. 

Over

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to the office betimes, and there all the morning very busy causing papers to be entered and sorted to put the office in order against the Parliament. At noon home to dinner, and then to the office again close all the afternoon upon the same occasion with great pleasure till late, and then with my wife and Mercer in the garden and sung, and then home and sung, and to supper with great content, and so to bed. The Duke of York is come back last night from Harwich, the news he brings I know not, nor hear anything to-day from Dover, whether the enemy have made any attempt there as was expected. This day our girle Mary, whom Payne helped us to, to be under his daughter, when she come to be our cook-mayde, did go away declaring that she must be where she might earn something one day, and spend it and play away the next. But a good civil wench, and one neither wife nor I did ever give angry word to, but she has this silly vanity that she must play.

causing papers to be entered and sorted
I lose the afternoon
the sun is now over
the under day


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 10 July 1667.

Short Essay on Solitude

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

 
Dear fledgling self that's left
the homestead, I used to be content
in another's comforting shadow: 
gladly took dictation, carried 
a typewriter from office to home 
and back, fine with cleaning up 
before and after. But someone 
was always saying Speak up 
or Speak louder; Hurry or
Make more friends. Aristotle
once said whoever has no need
to live in society because he
is sufficient for himself
must be either a beast
or a god. What does it mean
that there are some people
who believe they are a cow 
(there's actually a name 
for it: Boanthropy)? Others
believe they're the one
everyone's been waiting for;
they're usually quick
to do things like explain 
your own culture to you, 
or say What's a pretty 
little thing like you 
doing in a joint like this?
Outside in the field, flies
buzz in the heat. Nothing
moves; only an occasional
ripple through grass and
the sharp flick of a tail.  




 

Consumer report

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up pretty betimes and to the office, where busy till office time, and then we sat, but nothing to do but receive clamours about money. This day my Lord Anglesey, our new Treasurer, come the first time to the Board, and there sat with us till noon; and I do perceive he is a very notable man, and understanding, and will do things regular, and understand them himself, not trust Fenn, as Sir G. Carteret did, and will solicit soundly for money, which I do fear was Sir G. Carteret’s fault, that he did not do that enough, considering the age we live in, that nothing will do but by solicitation, though never so good for the King or Kingdom, and a bad business well solicited shall, for peace sake, speed when a good one shall not. But I do confess that I do think it a very bold act of him to take upon himself the place of Treasurer of the Navy at this time, but when I consider that a regular accountant never ought to fear any thing nor have reason I then do cease to wonder. At noon home to dinner and to play on the flageolet with my wife, and then to the office, where very busy close at my office till late at night. At night walked and sang with my wife in the garden, and so home to supper and to bed. This evening news comes for certain that the Dutch are with their fleete before Dover, and that it is expected they will attempt something there. The business of the peace is quite dashed again, so as now it is doubtful whether the King will condescend to what the Dutch demand, it being so near the Parliament, it being a thing that will, it may be, recommend him to them when they shall find that the not having of a peace lies on his side by denying some of their demands.
This morning Captain Clerke (Robin Clerke) was at the table, now commands the Monmouth, and did when the enemy passed the chaine at Chatham the other day, who said publickly at the table that he did admire at the order when it was brought him for sinking of the Monmouth (to the endangering of the ship, and spoiling of all her provisions) when her number of men were upon her that he could have carried her up the River whither he pleased, and have been a guard to the rest, and could have sunk her at any time. He did carry some 100 barrels of powder out of the ship to save it after the orders come for the sinking her. He knew no reason at all, he declares, that could lead them to order the sinking her, nor the rest of the great ships that were sunk, but above all admires they would burn them on shore and sink them there, when it had been better to have sunk them long way in the middle of the River, for then they would not have burned them so low as now they did.

nothing to do
so nothing will do

I cease to wonder

the evening news comes
with its ash

visions on ship
that sink on shore


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 9 July 1667.

Warning: Low-Impact Blows May Also Be Lethal

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
- after Odilon Redon, "The Black Sun" (c. 1900)

Blood too thin, too loose
as a child, you stand in the heat
and blanch then pale. A garland
of veins flaps inside its bell
jar, spurting blossoms with each
faint tap. Rapture is not 
what you think it is— not 
the quick explosion or pumping 
in air; not the deer and its trembling 
flanks before the headlights' glare. 
Beware the dark gleam between trees 
and the diaphragm of night. 
Through the day, pilea hold 
parasols out to catch any dappled
light. You remember being told: 
the only way to look at anything
that burns itself so deeply  
is to learn how to let its smaller 
constellations pass lightly
through your hands.



Refugees

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to my chamber, and by and by comes Greeting, and to my flageolett with him with a pretty deal of pleasure, and then to the office, where W. Batten, W. Pen and I met about putting men to work for the weighing of the ships in the River sunk. Then home again, and there heard Mr. Caesar play some very good things on the lute together with myself on the violl and Greeting on the viallin. Then with my wife abroad by coach, she to her tailor‘s, I to Westminster to Burges about my Tangier business, and thence to White Hall, where I spoke with Sir John Nicholas, who tells me that Mr. Coventry is come from Bredah, as was expected; but, contrary to expectation, brings with him two or three articles which do not please the King: as, to retrench the Act of Navigation, and then to ascertain what are contraband goods; and then that those exiled persons, who are or shall take refuge in their country, may be secure from any further prosecution. Whether these will be enough to break the peace upon, or no, he cannot tell; but I perceive the certainty of peace is blown over. So called on my wife and met Creed by the way, and they two and I to Charing Cross, there to see the great boy and girle that are lately come out of Ireland, the latter eight, the former but four years old, of most prodigious bigness for their age. I tried to weigh them in my arms, and find them twice as heavy as people almost twice their age; and yet I am apt to believe they are very young. Their father a little sorry fellow, and their mother an old Irish woman. They have had four children of this bigness, and four of ordinary growth, whereof two of each are dead. If, as my Lord Ormond certifies, it be true that they are no older, it is very monstrous. So home and to dinner with my wife and to pipe, and then I to the office, where busy all the afternoon till the evening, and then with my wife by coach abroad to Bow and Stratford, it being so dusty weather that there was little pleasure in it, and so home and to walk in the garden, and thither comes Pelling to us to talk, and so in and to supper, and then to bed. All the world being as I hear very much damped that their hopes of peace is become uncertain again.

sun and Caesar hit those
who take refuge in their country

call on a cross twice
as heavy as they are

their children grow monstrous
in the dust


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 8 July 1667.

After/birth

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
In the early hours after I gave 
birth to my last child and before 
the nurse brought her back to me, light-
headed, drowsy, alone in the hospital
room I sat up and swung my legs over 
the edge of the bed. I wanted to see
if, after going through this three
other times, the floor, and the earth
underneath, would hold me up in the same 
way; how soon my older body would snap 
back into itself, rubber sac stretched 
as far as it should go until it was time
for what it held and grew inside to break
free. I pushed the IV drip and stand 
to the bathroom; but before I was done,
a gelled magazine of blood   
slipped out of me. It unrolled on tile,
one last little island shorn off 
the interior country of my body.
Even then, even now, I'm never sure
what I'm allowed to touch; and if I do,
how that will rearrange the mystery.

Augury

still from Augury
This entry is part 19 of 24 in the series Pandemic Season

 

Watch on Vimeo.

The dark, seasonal pool at the top of the watershed has dried up, so where do I go now to let my eyes relax and envision possibilities apart from the doom-scroll on my phone or laptop?

cracks in the mud
100% chance
of chaos

In the garden, Oswego tea leaves tremble with the buzz of pollinators, but soon I am mourning the scarcity of butterflies — a region-wide phenomenon. Up on the ridgetop after dark I watch a distant thunderstorm off to the southeast: sudden fissures of light opening and closing without a sound, while the first katydids test out their rattles. But soon I am remembering an article about a terrifying new category of monster storm. I turn and look for Comet Neowise below Ursa Major. It’s the barest of smudges now, like the death-smear of a midge at the bottom of a monitor.

trying to recall
my touch-typing skills
the sound of rain

***

Process notes

The continued drought, combined with worsening news on the political, pandemic, and environmental fronts, makes me want to simultaneously escape from and delve deeper into the present moment. I do love the expression “doom-scrolling,” though.

A mixture of old and new footage. With the haibun text, I’m trying to stay mindful of how it fits with its predecessors, picking up old themes and references to make the series feel more like a sequence. (I’m posting the texts into a manuscript as I go along, to help out with this.)

It’s possible these haiku are a bit too clever. Call them senryu, then. I don’t mind.

Divisive

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up, and to my chamber, there to settle some papers, and thither comes Mr. Moore to me and talked till church time of the news of the times about the peace and the bad consequences of it if it be not improved to good purpose of fitting ourselves for another war. He tells me he heard that the discontented Parliament-men are fearful that the next sitting the King will put for a general excise, by which to raise him money, and then to fling off the Parliament, and raise a land-army and keep them all down like slaves; and it is gotten among them, that Bab. May, the Privy-purse, hath been heard to say that 300l. a-year is enough for any country gentleman; which makes them mad, and they do talk of 6 or 800,000l. gone into the Privy-purse this war, when in King James’s time it arose but to 5,000l., and in King Charles’s but 10,000l. in a year. He tells me that a goldsmith in town told him that, being with some plate with my Lady Castlemayne lately, she directed her woman (the great beauty), “Wilson,” says she, “make a note for this, and for that, to the Privy-purse for money.” He tells me a little more of the baseness of the courses taken at Court in the case of Mr. Moyer, who is at liberty, and is to give 500l. for his liberty; but now the great ones are divided, who shall have the money, the Duke of Albemarle on one hand, and another Lord on the other; and that it is fain to be decided by having the person’s name put into the King’s warrant for his liberty, at whose intercession the King shall own that he is set at liberty; which is a most lamentable thing, that we do professedly own that we do these things, not for right and justice sake, but only to gratify this or that person about the King. God forgive us all!
Busy till noon, and then home to dinner, and Mr. Moore come and dined with us, and much more discourse at and after dinner of the same kind, and then, he gone, I to my office busy till the evening, and then with my wife and Jane over to Half-way house, a very good walk; and there drank, and in the cool of the evening back again, and sang with pleasure upon the water, and were mightily pleased in hearing a boatfull of Spaniards sing, and so home to supper and to bed. Jane of late mighty fine, by reason of a laced whiske her mistress hath given her, which makes her a very gracefull servant. But, above all, my wife and I were the most surprised in the beauty of a plain girle, which we met in the little lane going from Redriffe-stairs into the fields, one of the prettiest faces that we think we ever saw in our lives.

church of war
like a mad rose

divided we only gratify
this or that god

give us more of the same
half-lives


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 7 July 1667.