What will the hand
remember of the flutter
in the heart today,
           or of the muscle  
weak from unuse or 
from hiding

So deep in every 
fiber of our being, 
the first exposures
          to shattering— 
Bright fluorescent on tile
and what it took to pick up

from there

Advance payment

This morning Captain Jowles of the “Wexford” came on board, for whom I got commission from my Lord to be commander of the ship. Upon the doing thereof he was to make the 20s. piece that he sent me yesterday, up 5l.; wherefore he sent me a bill that he did owe me 4l., which I sent my boy to Gravesend with him, and he did give the boy 4l. for me, and the boy gave him the bill under his hand. This morning, Mr. Hill that lives in Axe-yard was here on board with the Vice-Admiral. I did give him a bottle of wine, and was exceedingly satisfied of the power that I have to make my friends welcome. Many orders to make all the afternoon. At night Mr. Sheply, Howe, Ibbott, and I supped in my cabin together.

I owe my grave a hand
or that axe

wine is the power
to make afternoon night

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 31 March 1660.

A History of Rain

river in November light between bare woods and mountain
A book I saw on a store shelf 
proclaimed it was the history of rain.

It had a marbled frontispiece 
in astringent colors; deckled edges 

that could ripple like a wave field. 
How much water did each page

contain? If you laid your ear
on the cover, would you hear 

the ache that begins the cycle, 
the heavy craving of deserts, 

gaunt sheets before the first
billow? Every chapter must be

damp with concordance: mist,
monsoon, torrent, deluge. Inside,

the sound of umbrellas clicking open 
and shut. Ships docking. Faces upturned.


Sam Pepys and me

I was saluted in the morning with two letters, from some that I had done a favour to, which brought me in each a piece of gold. This day, while my Lord and we were at dinner, the Nazeby came in sight towards us, and at last came to anchor close by us. After dinner my Lord and many others went on board her, where every thing was out of order, and a new chimney made for my Lord in his bedchamber, which he was much pleased with. My Lord, in his discourse, discovered a great deal of love to this ship.

morning brought me
a gold anchor

after everything
out of order and new

I am as much
as I love

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 30 March 1660.


Sam Pepys and me

We lie still a little below Gravesend.
At night Mr. Sheply returned from London, and told us of several elections for the next Parliament. That the King’s effigies was new making to be set up in the Exchange again.
This evening was a great whispering of some of the Vice-Admiral’s captains that they were dissatisfied, and did intend to fight themselves, to oppose the General. But it was soon hushed, and the Vice-Admiral did wholly deny any such thing, and protested to stand by the General.
At night Mr. Sheply, W. Howe, and I supped in my cabin. So up to the Master’s cabin, where we sat talking, and then to bed.

we lie a little at night
turn old

effigies whispering
of some fight

soon hushed
in the soup

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 29 March 1660.

Late March

Faint, stippled green and dusty
yellow, every surface now bears
the breath-marks of trees—
A fine flour, the sifted meal
from greenswards and croplands.
A sudden breeze, a drizzle—
This week, the flowering cherry;
last week, shreds of Bradford Pear. 
Auroras in the sky, the muffled cry
of some animal. Fish shaking
free winter's scales of ice.


To mend the ache in the hip
and shoulder,  I moved

a foam roller up and down
the length of my spine 

Leaning-not-falling as far 
back as I could go,

I pulled myself up
with two-handled straps

It felt like a body returning
from an exile of sixty-one years

Bottled up

Sam Pepys and me

This morning and the whole day busy, and that the more because Mr. Burr was about his own business all the day at Gravesend. At night there was a gentleman very well bred, his name was Banes, going for Flushing, who spoke French and Latin very well, brought by direction from Captain Clerke hither, as a prisoner, because he called out of the vessel that he went in, “Where is your King, we have done our business, Vive le Roi.” He confessed himself a Cavalier in his heart, and that he and his whole family had fought for the King; but that he was then drunk, having been all night taking his leave at Gravesend the night before, and so could not remember what it was that he said; but in his words and carriage showed much of a gentleman. My Lord had a great kindness for him, but did not think it safe to release him, but commanded him to be used civilly, so he was taken to the Master’s Cabin and had supper there. In the meantime I wrote a letter to the Council about him, and an order for the vessel to be sent for back that he was taken out of. But a while after, he sent a letter down to my Lord, which my Lord did like very well, and did advise with me what was best to be done. So I put in something to my Lord and then to the Captain that the gentleman was to be released and the letter stopped, which was done. So I went up and sat and talked with him in Latin and French, and drank a bottle or two with him; and about eleven at night he took boat again, and so God bless him. Thence I to my cabin and to bed. This day we had news of the election at Huntingdon for Bernard and Pedly, at which my Lord was much troubled for his friends’ missing of it.

this lush prison
the heart

all night taking
words back

like some stopped-up bottle
with a boat in it

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 28 March 1660.


Sam Pepys and me

Early in the morning at making a fair new establishment of the Fleet to send to the Council. This morning, the wind came about, and we fell into the Hope, and in our passing by the Vice-Admiral, he and the rest of the frigates, with him, did give us abundance of guns and we them, so much that the report of them broke all the windows in my cabin and broke off the iron bar that was upon it to keep anybody from creeping in at the Scuttle. This noon I sat the first time with my Lord at table since my coming to sea. All the afternoon exceeding busy in writing of letters and orders. In the afternoon, Sir Harry Wright came onboard us, about his business of being chosen Parliament-man. My Lord brought him to see my cabin, when I was hard a-writing. At night supped with my Lord too, with the Captain, and after that to work again till it be very late. So to bed.

a new wind came
and we fell into hope

our dance of guns broke
all the windows in my body

in the time coming
let me be chosen to see

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 27 March 1660.


Once I wanted to peel 
      life in one unbroken ribbon 
              from around an orange

I wanted to score
      the tender young skin
              of loaves with vines

The heft of a gourd
      in one hand is no match
             for that of a headstone

Try to think of a word for that
      kind of longing— how you love
              what you might never use up or begin