Da Capo

"...and all things move toward you."
                 ~ Marcus Aurelius


A man takes off his ring, 
with more difficulty than he had

putting it on years ago. Then,
even what they thought lost 

beyond retrieval was simply 
waiting to be picked up— 

in sparse grass, under the soft 
camouflage of dish towels; 

not sinking to the silty 
bottom of the lake. She's asked 

if he would do it again, 
go through the body

of years they carried back 
and forth between them.  

Now, toward the latter part 
of the story, there is what often 

feels like a surplus of material. 
What they carry hasn't stopped 

its mighty resistance at being borne. 
But he never says no, or speaks 

as though even in the terrible upheavals, 
he could have taken up the freedom to go. 

Listen to yourself

Up, and at the office hard all the morning, and at noon resolved with Sir W. Pen to go see “The Tempest,” an old play of Shakespeare’s, acted, I hear, the first day; and so my wife, and girl, and W. Hewer by themselves, and Sir W. Pen and I afterwards by ourselves; and forced to sit in the side balcone over against the musique-room at the Duke’s house, close by my Lady Dorset and a great many great ones. The house mighty full; the King and Court there and the most innocent play that ever I saw; and a curious piece of musique in an echo of half sentences, the echo repeating the former half, while the man goes on to the latter; which is mighty pretty. The play no great wit, but yet good, above ordinary plays. Thence home with W. Pen, and there all mightily pleased with the play; and so to supper and to bed, after having done at the office.

hard to hear ourselves
to sit inside the music of us
half echo
half mango
to go
off

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 7 November 1667.

Arboretum

Your hands flutter at dusk 
trying to mimic the way the hours
of inward-turning lay the same 
skin on shingled roofs 

and mossy domes underfoot— 
Look at the moon, how it slips
its whole hand into yours 
so something can open 

the way a forest always shows spaces
between the crossed arms of trees. 
 

 

Library fly

Up, and to Westminster, where to the Parliament door, and there spoke with Sir G. Downing, to see what was done yesterday at the Treasury for Tangier, and it proved as good as nothing, so that I do see we shall be brought to great straits for money there. He tells me here that he is passing a Bill to make the Excise and every other part of the King’s Revenue assignable on the Exchequer, which indeed will be a very good thing. This he says with great glee as an act of his, and how poor a thing this was in the beginning, and with what envy he carried it on, and how my Lord Chancellor could never endure him for it since he first begun it. He tells me that the thing the House is just now upon is that of taking away the charter from the Company of Woodmongers, whose frauds, it seems, have been mightily laid before them. He tells me that they are like to fly very high against my Lord Chancellor. Thence I to the House of Lords, and there first saw Dr. Fuller, as Bishop of Lincoln, to sit among the Lords. Here I spoke with the Duke of York and the Duke of Albemarle about Tangier; but methinks both of them do look very coldly one upon another, and their discourse mighty cold, and little to the purpose about our want of money. Thence homeward, and called at Allestry’s, the bookseller, who is bookseller to the Royal Society, and there did buy three or four books, and find great variety of French and foreign books. And so home and to dinner, and after dinner with my wife to a play, and the girl — “Macbeth,” which we still like mightily, though mighty short of the content we used to have when Betterton acted, who is still sick. So home, troubled with the way and to get a coach, and so to supper and to bed. This day, in the Paynted-chamber, I met and walked with Mr. George Montagu, who thinks it may go hard with my Lord Sandwich, but he says the House is offended with Sir W. Coventry much, and that he do endeavour to gain them again in the most precarious manner in all things that is possible.

I sing the house fly
first to sit among the cold
books books books
like a painted lord
in the most precarious manner

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 6 November 1667.

Higher powers

Up, and all the morning at the office. At noon home to dinner, and thence out with my wife and girle, and left them at her tailor’s, and I to the Treasury, and there did a little business for Tangier, and so took them up again, and home, and when I had done at the office, being post night, I to my chamber, and there did something more, and so to supper and to bed.

all lit up
an ice being I am
her something upper

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 5 November 1667.

How to answer what you can’t refuse

Like a fledgling, 
you'd stumble-fly 
day and night 

over the blind 
and ticking fields,
intent on that tendril 

of scent calling from beyond. 
Most of the time, you are fickle;
perhaps, others think, even 

unfaithful. But if you believe
the name carried on the breeze 
addresses you and no other,

you will follow the snow-
dusted tracks, cross
bridges of fog. 

Forests might crackle 
in the night, and towns 
burn to the ground.

Even if you'd heard it
only in a dream, 
you listen hard 

for the voice you know
you would recognize, almost 
as if it were your own.