Up betimes, and did do several things towards the settling all matters both of house and office in order for my journey this day, and did leave my chief care, and the key of my closet, with Mr. Hater, with directions what papers to secure, in case of fire or other accident; and so, about nine o’clock, I, and my wife, and Willet, set out in a coach I have hired, with four horses; and W. Hewer and Murford rode by us on horseback; and so my wife and she in their morning gowns, very handsome and pretty, and to my great liking. We set out, and so out at Allgate, and so to the Green Man, and so on to Enfield, in our way seeing Mr. Lowther and his lady in a coach, going to Walthamstow; and he told us that he would overtake us at night, he being to go that way. So we to Enfield, and there bayted, it being but a foul, bad day, and there Lowther and Mr. Burford, an acquaintance of his, did overtake us, and there drank and eat together; and, by and by, we parted, we going before them, and very merry, my wife and girle and I talking, and telling tales, and singing, and before night come to Bishop Stafford, where Lowther and his friend did meet us again, and carried us to the Raynedeere, where Mrs. Aynsworth, who lived heretofore at Cambridge, and whom I knew better than they think for, do live. It was the woman that, among other things, was great with my cozen Barnston, of Cottenham, and did use to sing to him, and did teach me “Full forty times over,” a very lewd song: a woman they are very well acquainted with, and is here what she was at Cambridge, and all the good fellows of the country come hither. Lowther and his friend stayed and drank, and then went further this night; but here we stayed, and supped, and lodged. But, as soon as they were gone, and my supper getting ready, I fell to write my letter to my Lord Sandwich, which I could not finish before my coming from London; so did finish it to my good content, and a good letter, telling him the present state of all matters, and did get a man to promise to carry it to-morrow morning, to be there, at my house, by noon, and I paid him well for it; so, that being done, and my mind at ease, we to supper, and so to bed, my wife and I in one bed, and the girl in another, in the same room, and lay very well, but there was so much tearing company in the house, that we could not see my landlady; so I had no opportunity of renewing my old acquaintance with her, but here we slept very well.

I leave my key
secure in the lock

and my hired horse out
in the field

day and night
come anew to sing

oh friend stay and lodge
as soon as the sand

which I carry to bed
in one tear

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 7 October 1667.

Pre-Election Blues: A Double Abecedarian

  Zeitgeist, meaning the spirit of the times; & I just learned of acedia:
yawning hunger, listlessness in isolation; anxiety no one can plumb. 
  Xylem whose tracheary elements are blocked, or transport only toxic        
water. One gets up in the morning to open virtual windows. Home-bound,
  vicarious life: pining for the company of one's fellows, the ache
under one's ribcage grows. How to mute or soften the awful feeling of
  terror? All the mercenaries & charlatans in the world abetting          
sabotage, disrupting both comity and law. Ruth's vacant bench,         
  raided before it cooled: a dubious successor installed via alibi.
Quash & obstruct, disrupt & discombobulate. He acts like he's some raj.
  Pure pompous fuckery, bluster & brag. Promises & "plans" full of bunk.
Oligarchs, practically: given an inch, they'll stretch it to abysmal.      
  Notch by notch, fault lines deepen; explosions in the exotherm.          
Madman, bogeyman, tyrant at the helm— more than a lack of acumen: 
  laminary & mofo, high muckety-muck; kingpin of fakery, evil impresario.   
Kindness, we remind ourselves. Keep faith, soon we could be on the cusp.
  Jumpy week: hate the news, but can't stay away from it. Take a tranq,        
imagine the worst or the best outcome. Truly, this has been a year:       
  hateful isolation, murderous climate; a plague unchecked, soaring deaths.
Give me some plausible purpose for all of this heart-rending cost.     
  Feather me in quilts, fever & chill me instead with just the ordinary flu.
End the grim carnival. Let there be cheers: alívio, salamat sa Diyos, mazel tov,
  dancing in the streets. A future when we rend the garments of sorrow.
Chimera of incongruous parts no longer grotesque, demos detox—
  ballots accounted for & documented, delivered clean from chicanery.  
All hangs in the perilous balance. Dead serious: don't read this as schmaltz.       


(Lord’s day). Up, and dressed myself, and so walked out with the boy to Smithfield to Cow Lane, to Lincolne’s, and there spoke with him, and agreed upon the hour to-morrow, to set out towards Brampton; but vexed that he is not likely to go himself, but sends another for him. Here I took a hackney coach, and to White Hall, and there met Sir W. Coventry, and discoursed with him, and then with my Lord Bruncker, and many others, to end my matters in order to my going into the country to-morrow for five or six days, which I have not done for above three years. Walked with Creed into the Park a little, and at last went into the Queen’s side, and there saw the King and Queen, and saw the ladies, in order to my hearing any news stirring to carry into the country, but met with none, and so away home by coach, and there dined, and W. How come to see me, and after dinner parted, and I to my writing to my Lord Sandwich, which is the greatest business I have to do before my going into the country, and in the evening to my office to set matters to rights there, and being in the garden Sir W. Pen did come to me, and fell to discourse about the business of “The Flying Greyhound,” wherein I was plain to him and he to me, and at last concluded upon my writing a petition to the Duke of York for a certain ship, The Maybolt Gallyott, and he offers to give me 300l. for my success, which, however, I would not oblige him to, but will see the issue of it by fair play, and so I did presently draw a petition, which he undertakes to proffer to the Duke of York, and solicit for me, and will not seem to doubt of his success. So I wrote, and did give it him, and left it with him, and so home to supper, where Pelling comes and sits with me, and there tells us how old Mr. Batelier is dead this last night in the night, going to bed well, which I am mightily troubled for, he being a good man. Supper done, and he gone, I to my chamber to write my journal to this night, and so to bed.

field cow
like another country

not stirring even
to off a fly

where I see air
it sits with the dead

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 6 October 1667.

Limbo Rock

          "Jack be limbo, Jack be quick
           Jack go unda limbo stick..."
                              ~ "Limbo Rock"

    In grade school the nuns
taught us to say an extra prayer
    at night before we went to bed,

for souls in purgatory— which
    they explained was something like
a waiting hall or holding pen

    filled with those who couldn't 
get a clear pass either to heaven  
    or hell. Dante imagines them  

instead in gradated circles— 
    the uncommitted, undecided; the goody-
one- instead of two-shoes; the bland 

    as soybean cakes, forever  
neutral fence-sitters. Hoarders, wasters, 
    the wrathful and overly indulgent; 

or those simply unwilling to affix  
    a signature on the form of their final 
sentencing. Though I'm not quite ready to die, 

    do I already have one foot in that vestibule 
even as the other drags in this world still 
    proliferating with desire, where anything 

from limes to salted duck eggs can be 
    sent by courier from the tropics 
to the barren north in winter? Look 

    at what money can buy, said my late 
father a week before he passed away, 
    amused by people parading by in fancy 

dress. And then the city collapsed 
    into rubble around us. I hope by now 
he's moved from waiting room to one 
    of the grand ballrooms with a 24-hour 
buffet and all the karaoke, a shiny parquet 
    floor where his friends are showing off 

their dancing skills. When Dante passes from 
    one circle to the next, overcome by the sight
of so many souls in torment, he writes only 

    that he fainted; in the underworld
of the dead it's as if he too had met his death: 
    And then I fell, even as a dead body falls.



Up, and to the Office; and there all the morning; none but my Lord Anglesey and myself; but much surprized with the news of the death of Sir W. Batten, who died this morning, having been but two days sick. Sir W. Pen and I did dispatch a letter this morning to Sir W. Coventry, to recommend Colonel Middleton, who we think a most honest and understanding man, and fit for that place. Sir G. Carteret did also come this morning, and walked with me in the garden; and concluded not to concern or have any advice made to Sir W. Coventry, in behalf of my Lord Sandwich’s business; so I do rest satisfied, though I do think they are all mad, that they will judge Sir W. Coventry an enemy, when he is indeed no such man to any body, but is severe and just, as he ought to be, where he sees things ill done. At noon home, and by coach to Temple Bar to a India shop, and there bought a gown and sash, which cost me 26s., and so she and Willet away to the ’Change, and I to my Lord Crew, and there met my Lord Hinchingbroke and Lady Jemimah, and there dined with them and my Lord, where pretty merry, and after dinner my Lord Crew and Hinchingbroke and myself went aside to discourse about my Lord Sandwich’s business, which is in a very ill state for want of money, and so parted, and I to my tailor’s, and there took up my wife and Willet, who staid there for me, and to the Duke of York’s playhouse, but the house so full, it being a new play, “The Coffee House,” that we could not get in, and so to the King’s house: and there, going in, met with Knepp, and she took us up into the tireing-rooms: and to the women’s shift, where Nell was dressing herself, and was all unready, and is very pretty, prettier than I thought. And so walked all up and down the house above, and then below into the scene-room, and there sat down, and she gave us fruit and here I read the questions to Knepp, while she answered me, through all her part of “Flora’s Figary’s,” which was acted to-day. But, Lord! to see how they were both painted would make a man mad, and did make me loath them; and what base company of men comes among them, and how lewdly they talk! and how poor the men are in clothes, and yet what a shew they make on the stage by candle-light, is very observable. But to see how Nell cursed, for having so few people in the pit, was pretty; the other house carrying away all the people at the new play, and is said, now-a-days, to have generally most company, as being better players. By and by into the pit, and there saw the play, which is pretty good, but my belly was full of what I had seen in the house, and so, after the play done, away home, and there to the writing my letters, and so home to supper and to bed.

who died this morning
who broke
who was unready

I walked up and down
above and below
the questions answered me

how lewdly they talk
and how poor a pit
is the belly

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 5 October 1667.


Up, and to White Hall to attend the Council about Commissioner Pett’s business, along with my Lord Bruncker and Sir W. Pen, and in the Robe-chamber the Duke of York come to us, the officers of the Navy, and there did meet together about Navy business, where Sir W. Coventry was with us, and among other things did recommend his Royal Highness, now the prizes were disposing, to remember Sir John Harman to the King, for some bounty, and also for my Lady Minnes, which was very nobly done of him. Thence all of us to attend the Council, where we were anon called on, and there was a long hearing of Commissioner Pett, who was there, and there were the two Masters Attendant of Chatham called in, who do deny their having any order from Commissioner Pett about bringing up the great ships, which gives the lie to what he says; but, in general, I find him to be but a weak, silly man, and that is guilty of horrid neglect in this business all along. Here broke off without coming to an issue, but that there should be another hearing on Monday next. So the Council rose, and I staid walking up and down the galleries till the King went to dinner, and then I to my Lord Crew’s to dinner; but he having dined, I took a very short leave, confessing I had not dined; and so to an ordinary hard by the Temple-gate, where I have heretofore been, and there dined — cost me 10d. And so to my Lord Ashly’s, where after dinner Sir H. Cholmly, Creed and I, with his Lordship, about Mr. Yeabsly’s business, where having come to agreement with him abating him 1000l. of what he demands for ships lost, I to Westminster, to Mrs. Martin’s lodging, whither I sent for her, and there hear that her husband is come from sea, which is sooner than I expected; and here I staid and drank, and so did toucher elle and away, and so by coach to my tailor’s, and thence to my Lord Crew’s, and there did stay with him an hour till almost night, discoursing about the ill state of my Lord Sandwich, that he can neither be got to be called home, nor money got to maintain him there; which will ruin his family. And the truth is, he do almost deserve it, for by all relation he hath, in a little more than a year and a half, spent 20,000l. of the King’s money, and the best part of 10,000l. of his own; which is a most prodigious expence, more than ever Embassador spent there, and more than these Commissioners of the Treasury will or do allow. And they demand an account before they will give him any more money; which puts all his friends to a loss what to answer. But more money we must get him, or to be called home. I offer to speak to Sir W. Coventry about it; but my Lord will not advise to it, without consent of Sir G. Carteret. So home, and there to see Sir W. Batten, who fell sick yesterday morning: He is asleep: and so I could not see him; but in an hour after, word is brought me that he is so ill, that it is believed he cannot live till to-morrow, which troubles me and my wife mightily, partly out of kindness, he being a good neighbour and partly because of the money he owes me, upon our bargain of the late prize. So home and to supper and to bed.

I meet with harm
from the horrid rose

confessing to an ordinary lordship
that I come from sea

a staid home
will ruin my sleep

I cannot live partly out
and partly in

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 4 October 1667.

Honras a los muertos

Cypress tree, honeysuckle, 
tarp spread over the corner 
store. Old women with lit 
ends of cigarillos in 
their mouths. Men 
rolling dice in a cup, 
swigging fire water with 
no ice. Someone flips 
a side of meat on a charcoal 
grill; two cuts to lay on a plate
on the casket's glass, for
there is eating and drinking
in the world of the dead. 
Someone shakes drops of gin
on the ground and claps 
like a bridegroom signaling
to start the dance. 
This will go on for days,
for what is elegy but
the muffled sound of marching
along the old road that goes
down to the sea: no one
left to look out of windows,
willow fronds quiet until
the mourners start singing. 


She remembers the voices but not who:
the stories they told in which the world
melted like a disc of tallow over some
unseen flame, in which houses on stilts

sank into caverns of mangrove root.
A girl— who was it they were speaking to,
or of? A girl was pushed out of the door
and into the world. Sometimes she sat

on a horse with mangy hair, sometimes
a hooded figure rode with her on a steed
with shiny flanks and jingling bells.
The roads led out and out, past

orchards late with harvest, only dark
shriveled knobs left on the topmost
branches. Who was it that locked her
in a room choked with dry wheat

and wires, then emptied a sack
into her lap? O patient, long-
suffering soul, the voices croon.
All night and all day, plinking each

grain like a bead on a thread
that spooled and spooled as though
it could be a river to the stars.
They never stop to ask what sound

continues to ring in her ears
after the sun goes down: a stone,
a button, a silver clasp; a cricket's
call, a wing-stroke cleaving air.


Up, and going out of doors, I understand that Sir W. Batten is gone to bed on a sudden again this morning, being struck very ill, and I confess I have observed him for these last two months to look very ill and to look worse and worse. I to St. James’s (though it be a sitting day) to the Duke of York, about the Tangier Committee, which met this morning, and he come to us, and the Charter for the City of Tangier was read and the form of the Court Merchant. That being done Sir W. Coventry took me into the gallery, and walked with me an hour, discoursing of Navy business, and with much kindness to, and confidence in, me still; which I must endeavour to preserve, and will do; and, good man! all his care how to get the Navy paid off, and that all other things therein may go well. He gone, I thence to my Lady Peterborough, who sent for me; and with her an hour talking about her husband’s pension, and how she hath got an order for its being paid again; though, I believe, for all that order, it will hardly be; but of that I said nothing; but her design is to get it paid again: and how to raise money upon it, to clear it from the engagement which lies upon it to some citizens, who lent her husband money, without her knowledge, upon it, to vast loss. She intends to force them to take their money again, and release her husband of those hard terms. The woman is a very wise woman, and is very plain in telling me how her plate and jewels are at pawne for money, and how they are forced to live beyond their estate, and do get nothing by his being a courtier. The lady I pity, and her family. Having done with her, and drunk two glasses of her meade, which she did give me, and so to the Treasurer’s Office, and there find my Lord Bruncker and W. Pen at dinner with Sir G. Carteret about his accounts, where I dined and talked and settled some business, and then home, and there took out my wife and Willet, thinking to have gone to a play, but both houses were begun, and so we to the ’Change, and thence to my tailor’s, and there, the coachman desiring to go home to change his horses, we went with him into a nasty end of all St. Giles’s, and there went into a nasty room, a chamber of his, where he hath a wife and child, and there staid, it growing dark too, and I angry thereat, till he shifted his horses, and then home apace, and there I to business late, and so home, to supper, and walk in the garden with my wife and girle, with whom we are mightily pleased, and after talking and supping, to bed. This noon, going home, I did call on Will Lincolne and agree with him to carry me to Brampton.

sitting still
I endeavor to care
for nothing

vast as a drunk
in the nasty end
of a nasty room

growing dark
till supper and
the garden call

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 3 October 1667.

Fire Line

Grief is not exactly the same
as desolation: is not the stretch
of space throughout a landscape
that goes on and on as if 
without end. Though we understand
not every blank bristles with 
the resounding echoes of silence,
there is also that hammock of bare
light that swings between a door
and the space before or
beyond it. Perhaps it's no longer
possible to make an accounting
of how we survive our days,
even as winds in the west 
whip up fire with a frenzy 
water can't put out. If that heat
never wished to speak to the earth
again, perhaps what's scorched
might have a chance to survive.