Sweet Rice

Which is always sticky rice

Which always needs generous
amounts of coconut milk 

Sugar tempered with salt
Sometimes a spoonful of lye
A wrap of smoky leaf

Which is the way to conjure
those mixed undertones—
Fog? Tears? Pensive
uncertain desire?

Most certainly regret
And that variety well known 
to mothers

In any case

Bring everything to a boil in a pot
which has seen better days

Stir from the core of your gut
Don't let your arm fall

The right consistency
a holding together—
Each grain plumpsoft

Allowing this closeness
in the name of sweet

When something is good
it might be described as having made you 
forget your name

Forget the ache

Sometimes glutinous
is mistaken for gluttonous—

A hunger that won't stop
until something bursts

It takes time to thicken anything
And mere moments to burn


Looking old

Up, and to the office, and thence to White Hall, but come too late to see the Duke of York, with whom my business was, and so to Westminster Hall, where met with several people and talked with them, and among other things understand that my Lord St. John is meant by Mr. Woodcocke, in “The Impertinents.” Here met with Mrs. Washington, my old acquaintance of the Hall, whose husband has a place in the Excise at Windsor, and it seems lives well. I have not seen her these 8 or 9 years, and she begins to grow old, I perceive, visibly. So time do alter, and do doubtless the like in myself. This morning the House is upon the City Bill, and they say hath passed it, though I am sorry that I did not think to put somebody in mind of moving for the churches to be allotted according to the convenience of the people, and not to gratify this Bishop, or that College. Thence by water to the New Exchange, where bought a pair of shoe-strings, and so to Mr. Pierces, where invited, and there was Knepp and Mrs. Foster and here dined, but a poor, sluttish dinner, as usual, and so I could not be heartily merry at it: here saw her girl’s picture, but it is mighty far short of her boy’s, and not like her neither; but it makes Hales’s picture of her boy appear a good picture. Thence to White Hall, walked with Brisband, who dined there also, and thence I back to the King’s playhouse, and there saw “The Virgin Martyr,” and heard the musick that I like so well, and intended to have seen Knepp, but I let her alone; and having there done, went to Mrs. Pierces back again, where she was, and there I found her on a pallet in the dark, where yo did poner mi mano under her jupe and tocar su cosa and waked her; that is, Knepp. And so to talk; and by and by did eat some curds and cream, and thence away home, and it being night, I did walk in the dusk up and down, round through our garden, over Tower Hill, and so through Crutched Friars, three or four times, and once did meet Mercer and another pretty lady, but being surprized I could say little to them, although I had an opportunity of pleasing myself with them, but left them, and then I did see our Nell, Payne’s daughter, and her je did desire venir after me, and so elle did see me to, Tower Hill to our back entry there that comes upon the degres entrant into nostra garden; and there ponendo the key in the door, yo tocar sus mamelles con mi mano and su cosa with mi cosa et yo did dar-la a shilling; and so parted, and je home to put up things against to-morrow’s carrier for my wife; and, among others, a very fine salmon-pie, sent me by Mr. Steventon, W. Hewer’s uncle, and so to bed.

I begin to grow old visibly
like a shoe

or a picture of a picture
of a picture

alone I walk in the dusk
up and down

surprised to see a hill there
at the door

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 6 May 1668

Poem in Which the Present Knows it Could’ve Been Something Else

We could've missed the third window of opportunity.
The first one always tends to go to someone else ahead in line.
The next after that, to whoever punches the wall or bangs on the glass.

We could've misread the horoscope or the I Ching runes and gone
north instead of west.

We could've looked into the eyes of more houses 
instead of flying into the one with a yard where we saw 
a tree and the reddest heart of a fruit without bones.

I could've learned a different instrument instead of the one 
that made me adore its range of yellowing keys for hours a day.

I could've stopped my mouth from wanting wanting
and instead learned to whistle so things would come  
running up to me.

I could've drawn a shade across the openings 
where light poured in
then fed bowls of bitter dream to all those in my care.

Yet here we are here we are.

Some things are bearable with the help
of paper and water and stone. 

One holds its place. 
One is the coast of a remembered country.

The other plunges its hand into a basin of bright blue 
marbles, rowing toward land.