To estrange; to take the once- 
familiar and see how circumstance

bevels it, throws it in a different
light. At noon, the fountain pours 

its brightness one shade cooler. All 
the pigeons flock there, and in that

other time, children who heard it 
calling their name. I lean my cheek

against the window glass— how thin
the broken distance between here, now, 

and those years before everything 
we touched left a smudge on the world.  


(Lord’s day). Up to my chamber, and there all the morning reading in my Lord Coke’s Pleas of the Crowne, very fine noble reading. After church time comes my wife and Sir W. Pen his lady and daughter; and Mrs. Markham and Captain Harrison (who come to dine with them), by invitation and dined with me, they as good as inviting themselves. I confess I hate their company and tricks, and so had no great pleasure in [it], but a good dinner lost. After dinner they all to church, and I by water alone to Woolwich, and there called on Mr. Bodham: and he and I to see the batterys newly raised; which, indeed, are good works to command the River below the ships that are sunk, but not above them. Here I met with Captain Cocke and Matt. Wren, Fenn, and Charles Porter, and Temple and his wife. Here I fell in with these, and to Bodham’s with them, and there we sat and laughed and drank in his arbour, Wren making much and kissing all the day of Temple’s wife. It is a sad sight to see so many good ships there sunk in the River, while we would be thought to be masters of the sea. Cocke says the bankers cannot, till peace returns, ever hope to have credit again; so that they can pay no more money, but people must be contented to take publick security such as they can give them; and if so, and they do live to receive the money thereupon, the bankers will be happy men. Fenn read me an order of council passed the 17th instant, directing all the Treasurers of any part of the King’s revenue to make no payments but such as shall be approved by the present Lords Commissioners; which will, I think, spoil the credit of all his Majesty’s service, when people cannot depend upon payment any where. But the King’s declaration in behalf of the bankers, to make good their assignments for money, is very good, and will, I hope, secure me. Cocke says, that he hears it is come to it now, that the King will try what he can soon do for a peace; and if he cannot, that then he will cast all upon the Parliament to do as they see fit: and in doing so, perhaps, he may save us all. The King of France, it is believed, is engaged for this year; so that we shall be safe as to him. The great misery the City and kingdom is like to suffer for want of coals in a little time is very visible, and, is feared, will breed a mutiny; for we are not in any prospect to command the sea for our colliers to come, but rather, it is feared, the Dutch may go and burn all our colliers at Newcastle; though others do say that they lie safe enough there. No news at all of late from Bredagh what our Treaters do. By and by, all by water in three boats to Greenwich, there to Cocke’s, where we supped well, and then late, Wren, Fenn, and I home by water, set me in at the Tower, and they to White Hall, and so I home, and after a little talk with my wife to bed.

morning comes with no batteries
but the wren and the wren

while we hope to have more
they live in the present

which is like the sea
safe and green

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 23 June 1667.

Greetings from the next life

“Greetings from my next life in which I am a professional 
Pokémon player.” - Matthew Salesses, 
10 July 2020, Twitter @salesses

Do you ever wonder about the boy
      who fell into the gorilla pit 
at the Brookfield Zoo in 1996,
      and was picked up and cradled by 
the female gorilla Binti Jua?
      The unnamed boy spent four days 
in the hospital with injuries to his face
      and head, but none of the newspaper 
articles suggest that he didn't survive.
      He must be in his 20s now: past the legal 
age to drink, to vote for the first time. 
      Did he spend most afternoons of his youth 
at the library, reading through the stacks 
      but avoiding the shelves of National 
Geographic and Field & Stream?  
      Does he have an adventurous side,
one that admires the Turkish 
      paraglider who rigged a whole 
living room set— red upholstered 
      couch, side table with lamp, TV 
stand— so he could sail over the sea
      at Ölüdeniz while clicking the remote
and eating a bag of chips? Some of us
      take a wrong turn in an unfamiliar town 
or get into some stupid scrape like 
      shoplifting mascara at the drugstore.
Some of us, trying to outrun a red
      light, won't see the semi coming. 
Meanwhile in another country, children  
      just walking home from school get caught 
in the violent crossfire in the war on drugs—
      which proves that the real animals
are never the ones in a cage. In such cases, 
      when the identity of the killer is unknown,
the family puts a yellow chick and some grain 
      on the coffin's glass so it might peck 
at the conscience of the guilty one. I want them
      to shed copious tears on the casket,
to make the spirit return soon for vengeance.


Up, and to my office, where busy, and there comes Mrs. Daniel; and it is strange how the merely putting my hand to her belly through her coats do make me do. At the office I all the morning busy. At noon home to dinner, where Mr. Lewes Phillips, by invitation of my wife, comes, he coming up to town with her in the coach this week, and she expected another gentleman, a fellow-traveller, and I perceive the feast was for him, though she do not say it, but by some mistake he come not, so there was a good dinner lost. Here we had the two Mercers, and pretty merry. Much talk with Mr. Phillips about country business, among others that there is no way for me to purchase any severall lands in Brampton, or making any severall that is not so, without much trouble and cost, and, it may be, not do it neither, so that there is no more ground to be laid to our Brampton house. After dinner I left them, and to the office, and thence to Sir W. Pen’s, there to talk with Mrs. Lowther, and by and by we hearing Mercer and my boy singing at my house, making exceeding good musique, to the joy of my heart, that I should be the master of it, I took her to my office and there merry a while, and then I left them, and at the office busy all the afternoon, and sleepy after a great dinner. In the evening come Captain Hart and Haywood to me about the six merchant-ships now taken up for men-of-war; and in talk they told me about the taking of “The Royal Charles;” that nothing but carelessness lost the ship, for they might have saved her the very tide that the Dutch come up, if they would have but used means and had had but boats: and that the want of boats plainly lost all the other ships. That the Dutch did take her with a boat of nine men, who found not a man on board her, and her laying so near them was a main temptation to them to come on; and presently a man went up and struck her flag and jacke, and a trumpeter sounded upon her “Joan’s placket is torn,” that they did carry her down at a time, both for tides and wind, when the best pilot in Chatham would not have undertaken it, they heeling her on one side to make her draw little water: and so carried her away safe. They being gone, by and by comes Sir W. Pen home, and he and I together talking. He hath been at Court; and in the first place, I hear the Duke of Cambridge is dead; which is a great loss to the nation, having, I think, never an heyre male now of the King’s or Duke’s to succeed to the Crown. He tells me that they do begin already to damn the Dutch, and call them cowards at White Hall, and think of them and their business no better than they used to do; which is very sad. The King did tell him himself, which is so, I was told, here in the City, that the City, hath lent him 10,000l., to be laid out towards securing of the River of Thames; which, methinks, is a very poor thing, that we should be induced to borrow by such mean sums. He tells me that it is most manifest that one great thing making it impossible for us to have set out a fleete this year, if we could have done it for money or stores, was the liberty given the beginning of the year for the setting out of merchant-men, which did take up, as is said, above ten, if not fifteen thousand seamen: and this the other day Captain Cocke tells me appears in the council-books, that is the number of seamen required to man the merchant ships that had passes to go abroad. By and by, my wife being here, they sat down and eat a bit of their nasty victuals, and so parted and we to bed.

o belly make busy lips
ravel the feast

dinner is singing in me
while I sleep:

eat the dead
eat the damned
eat on the road
eat the nasty part

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 22 June 1667.


A saucerful of warmed coconut oil, green
eucalyptus leaves steeped in bath water:

threshold you have to pass, stepping out
of the country of illness and back into

the ordinary world. Before that, the looped,
confusing paths of fever delirium. Hours

during which the parched throat can only
utter the sounds of one terrible syllable. 

Someone needs to crack an egg into a bowl 
of water to see which way the bloody eye 

is pointing, which cloud sinks to the bottom 
to never rise again. Someone needs to be 

saved from the fishbone cutting unknown 
names on the walls of their throat. 

Should you dream of every tooth in your mouth 
falling like citadels into sand, you must wait   

for however long it takes the water to clear. 
You must lie on your bed like a panel of gauze,  

like a rib of interlaced fern. Let the light 
which has touched everything including darkness

enter without resistance and search you again.

Koan: What is the Sound of Silent Screaming?

- "Japan's theme parks have banned screaming
because screaming spreads coronavirus. 
'Please scream inside your heart.'" 

Each day I waver between toast or no toast, 
rice or a careful salad, shower or a quick 
sponge bath. The animal of my various longings 
is the same shy creature unsure of how to speak 
its love language so it might be understood. 
Some days are me in the middle of drying my hair;
then something trips and I have to go downstairs 
to open the circuit breaker box. A colleague
told me her aunt went in for minor surgery 
which was successful, but died after catching 
the coronavirus while in the hospital— 
which makes me even more fearful of ever 
seeing again the people I love who live 
on the other side of the world. When I can't 
sleep I think sometimes of starting 
to bundle up things I would like 
my children to have when I die: handwoven 
textiles brought back from the last trip 
I made to my hometown, woven baskets 
with no real use except to remind me 
of the smoky fragrance of reeds 
pulled tight and close by hands sure 
at what they do. Instead of gold 
or diamonds, I have a few beads threaded 
with horsehair, dangling from thin wafers 
of mother-of-pearl: for I have always been 
the fool carrying only a burlap sack 
into the world, believing that shadows 
will fall away from a jaunty step, convinced 
the snarling dog won't snap its chains 
at the first chance and lunge at my neck.
Zero is the number on its jersey—meaning
everything to gain, or everything to lose.
But isn't that the same thing? Whether you
scream into the wind in the middle of the park
or in the depths of your secret labyrinth, 
someone else is driving the chariot 
or turning the wheel. Lovers kiss in delirium 
at the edge of a cliff. The wanderer keeps 
walking toward the mountain; orange flames 
in his lantern flicker like tongues
desperate to break free of a mouth.



Up and by water to White Hall, there to discourse with G. Carteret and Mr. Fenn about office business. I found them all aground, and no money to do anything with. Thence homewards, calling at my Tailor’s to bespeak some coloured clothes, and thence to Hercules Pillars, all alone, and there spent 6d. on myself, and so home and busy all the morning. At noon to dinner, home, where my wife shows me a letter from her father, who is going over sea, and this afternoon would take his leave of her. I sent him by her three Jacobuses in gold, having real pity for him and her. So I to my office, and there all the afternoon. This day comes news from Harwich that the Dutch fleete are all in sight, near 100 sail great and small, they think, coming towards them; where, they think, they shall be able to oppose them; but do cry out of the falling back of the seamen, few standing by them, and those with much faintness. The like they write from Portsmouth, and their letters this post are worth reading. Sir H. Cholmly come to me this day, and tells me the Court is as mad as ever; and that the night the Dutch burned our ships the King did sup with my Lady Castlemayne, at the Duchess of Monmouth’s, and there were all mad in hunting of a poor moth. All the Court afraid of a Parliament; but he thinks nothing can save us but the King’s giving up all to a Parliament. Busy at the office all the afternoon, and did much business to my great content. In the evening sent for home, and there I find my Lady Pen and Mrs. Lowther, and Mrs. Turner and my wife eating some victuals, and there I sat and laughed with them a little, and so to the office again, and in the evening walked with my wife in the garden, and did give Sir W. Pen at his lodgings (being just come from Deptford from attending the dispatch of the fire-ships there) an account of what passed the other day at Council touching Commissioner Pett, and so home to supper and to bed.

I found the ground there
in back of the sea
mouth to mouth
hunting a moth of fire

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 21 June 1667.

You Can’t Talk To Us Like That

~ after Kathleen Graber

America, I've got a touch of cabin fever too 
& wish I could go to a favorite restaurant again,
walk down a short flight of steps into the cool
brick-lined interior of what used to be a speak-
easy. Wouldn't it be great to order a dozen each 
of the local oyster varieties, some bread 
& butter, a nice pull of something bubbly. 
We'd sing happy birthday or happy anniversary 
while clinking glasses & taking group pictures. 
But what if there's a man at a nearby table 
whose hatred boils over at the sight of anyone—
but especially brown people like us—having 
the gumption to reach for a little joy 
during this time of sickness & despair, 
which sometimes feels worse than death? 
America, he thinks we cannot be in the same
room with him. So we get video rolling. We 
ask him to repeat the hateful obscenities 
he's hurled our way, so he can be held
accountable & shown out of the building. 
We hold our ground, America. After all 
the years our kind broke their backs 
& your hard soil to bring fruit & grain 
to your table just so you can put a clean 
white cloth & a crystal service on it; 
after graveyard shifts during which
our kind daily tend to your sick 
& dying: we have the right to be here
& the wages are overdue.      


Up, without any respect to my wife, only answering her a question or two, without any anger though, and so to the office, where all the morning busy, and among other things Mr. Barber come to me (one of the clerks of the Ticket office) to get me to sign some tickets, and told me that all the discourse yesterday, about that part of the town where he was, was that Mr. Pett and I were in the Tower; and I did hear the same before. At noon, home to dinner, and there my wife and I very good friends; the care of my gold being somewhat over, considering it was in their hands that have as much cause to secure it as myself almost, and so if they will be mad, let them. But yet I do intend to, send for it away. Here dined Mercer with us, and after dinner she cut my hair, and then I into my closet and there slept a little, as I do now almost every day after dinner; and then, after dallying a little with Nell, which I am ashamed to think of, away to the office. Busy all the afternoon; in the evening did treat with, and in the end agree; but by some kind of compulsion, with the owners of six merchant ships, to serve the King as men-of-war. But, Lord! to see how against the hair it is with these men and every body to trust us and the King; and how unreasonable it is to expect they should be willing to lend their ships, and lay out 2 or 300l. a man to fit their ships for new voyages, when we have not paid them half of what we owe them for their old services! I did write so to Sir W. Coventry this night. At night my wife and I to walk and talk again about our gold, which I am not quiet in my mind to be safe, and therefore will think of some way to remove it, it troubling me very much. So home with my wife to supper and to bed, miserable hot weather all night it was.

without a barber I cut
my hair every day a little
by some kind of compulsion

but see how hair is as it ages
so quiet a weather

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 20 June 1667.

Corvus corax

Up, and to the office, where all the morning busy with Fist again, beginning early to overtake my business in my letters, which for a post or two have by the late and present troubles been interrupted. At noon comes Sir W. Batten and W. Pen, and we to W. Pen’s house, and there discoursed of business an hour, and by and by comes an order from Sir R. Browne, commanding me this afternoon to attend the Council-board, with all my books and papers touching the Medway. I was ready [to fear] some mischief to myself, though it appears most reasonable that it is to inform them about Commissioner Pett. I eat a little bit in haste at Sir W. Batten’s, without much comfort, being fearful, though I shew it not, and to my office and get up some papers, and found out the most material letters and orders in our books, and so took coach and to the Council-chamber lobby, where I met Mr. Evelyn, who do miserably decry our follies that bring all this misery upon us. While we were discoursing over our publique misfortunes, I am called in to a large Committee of the Council: present the Duke of Albemarle, Anglesey, Arlington, Ashly, Carteret, Duncomb, Coventry, Ingram, Clifford, Lauderdale, Morrice, Manchester, Craven, Carlisle, Bridgewater. And after Sir W. Coventry’s telling them what orders His Royal Highness had made for the safety of the Medway, I told them to their full content what we had done, and showed them our letters. Then was Peter Pett called in, with the Lieutenant of the Tower. He is in his old clothes, and looked most sillily. His charge was chiefly the not carrying up of the great ships, and the using of the boats in carrying away his goods; to which he answered very sillily, though his faults to me seem only great omissions. Lord Arlington and Coventry very severe against him; the former saying that, if he was not guilty, the world would think them all guilty. The latter urged, that there must be some faults, and that the Admiral must be found to have done his part. I did say an unhappy word, which I was sorry for, when he complained of want of oares for the boats: and there was, it seems, enough, and good enough, to carry away all the boats with from the King’s occasions. He said he used never a boat till they were all gone but one; and that was to carry away things of great value, and these were his models of ships; which, when the Council, some of them, had said they wished that the Dutch had had them instead of the King’s ships, he answered, he did believe the Dutch would have made more advantage of the models than of the ships, and that the King had had greater loss thereby; this they all laughed at. After having heard him for an hour or more, they bid him withdraw. I all this while showing him no respect, but rather against him, for which God forgive me! for I mean no hurt to him, but only find that these Lords are upon their own purgation, and it is necessary I should be so in behalf of the office. He being gone, they caused Sir Richard Browne to read over his minutes; and then my Lord Arlington moved that they might be put into my hands to put into form, I being more acquainted with such business; and they were so. So I away back with my books and papers; and when I got into the Court it was pretty to see how people gazed upon me, that I thought myself obliged to salute people and to smile, lest they should think I was a prisoner too; but afterwards I found that most did take me to be there to bear evidence against P. Pett; but my fear was such, at my going in, of the success of the day, that at my going in I did think fit to give T. Hater, whom I took with me, to wait the event, my closet-key and directions where to find 500l. and more in silver and gold, and my tallys, to remove, in case of any misfortune to me. Thence to Sir G. Carteret’s to take my leave of my Lady Jem, who is going into the country tomorrow; but she being now at prayers with my Lady and family, and hearing here by Yorke, the carrier, that my wife is coming to towne, I did make haste home to see her, that she might not find me abroad, it being the first minute I have been abroad since yesterday was se’ennight. It is pretty to see how strange it is to be abroad to see people, as it used to be after a month or two’s absence, and I have brought myself so to it, that I have no great mind to be abroad, which I could not have believed of myself. I got home, and after being there a little, she come, and two of her fellow-travellers with her, with whom we drunk: a couple of merchant-like men, I think, but have friends in our country. They being gone, I and my wife to talk, who did give me so bad an account of her and my father’s method in burying of our gold, that made me mad: and she herself is not pleased with it, she believing that my sister knows of it. My father and she did it on Sunday, when they were gone to church, in open daylight, in the midst of the garden; where, for aught they knew, many eyes might see them: which put me into such trouble, that I was almost mad about it, and presently cast about, how to have it back again to secure it here, the times being a little better now; at least at White Hall they seem as if they were, but one way or other I am resolved to free them from the place if I can get them. Such was my trouble at this, that I fell out with my wife, that though new come to towne, I did not sup with her, nor speak to her tonight, but to bed and sleep.

over the cliff a raven
its great laugh

I gaze after it
going into prayer

like burying daylight in the garden
where many eyes sleep

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 19 June 1667.