Sam Pepys and me

All the morning getting instructions ready for the Squadron of ships that are going to-day to the Streights, among others Captain Teddiman, Curtis, and Captain Robert Blake to be commander of the whole Squadron.
After dinner to ninepins, W. Howe and I against Mr. Creed and the Captain. We lost 5s. apiece to them. After that W. Howe, Mr. Sheply and I got my Lord’s leave to go to see Captain Sparling. So we took boat and first went on shore, it being very pleasant in the fields; but a very pitiful town Deal is. We went to Fuller’s (the famous place for ale), but they have none but what was in the vat. After that to Poole’s, a tavern in the town, where we drank, and so to boat again, and went to the Assistance, where we were treated very civilly by the Captain, and he did give us such music upon the harp by a fellow that he keeps on board that I never expect to hear the like again, yet he is a drunken simple fellow to look on as any I ever saw. After that on board the Nazeby, where we found my Lord at supper, so I sat down and very pleasant my Lord was with Mr. Creed and Sheply, who he puzzled about finding out the meaning of the three holes which my Lord had cut over the chrystal of his watch. After supper some musique. Then Mr. Sheply, W. Howe and I up to the Lieutenant’s cabin, where we drank, and I and W. Howe were very merry, and among other frolics he pulls out the spigot of the little vessel of ale that was there in the cabin and drew some into his mounteere, and after he had drank, I endeavouring to dash it in his face, he got my velvet studying cap and drew some into mine too, that we made ourselves a great deal of mirth, but spoiled my clothes with the ale that we dashed up and down. After that to bed very late with drink enough in my head.

the commander of the hole
lost in the fields

drunk and puzzled
about the meaning of holes

pulls out his velvet
studying cap

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 30 April 1660.


river in November light between bare woods and mountain
We are the kind who believed 
that even small gestures made
in this material world could change
what might have been a loaded 
outcome— It's why my mother 
had the floorboards torn up
and relaid horizontally across 
the threshold, so the household
luck would not run out the door.
But we no longer have that house—
nor all the treasured things we kept 
in its rooms. We are in temporary 
homes caring for or cared for 
by others. We listen to the wind 
part the willows, watch the blue 
and gold rowboats move back 
and forth across the lake. 
Count the  moths drawn to
the lamps in our rooms. 

Gone for the day

Sam Pepys and me

(Sunday). This day I put on first my fine cloth suit made of a cloak that had like to have been a year ago, the very day that I put it on.
After sermon in the morning Mr. Cook came from London with a packet, bringing news how all the young lords that were not in arms against the Parliament do now sit. That a letter is come from the King to the House, which is locked up by the Council ‘till next Tuesday that it may be read in the open House when they meet again, they having adjourned till then to keep a fast tomorrow. And so the contents is not yet known.
13,000l. of the 20,000l. given to General Monk is paid out of the Exchequer, he giving 12l. among the teller clerks of Exchequer.
My Lord called me into the great cabin below, where I opened my letters and he told me that the Presbyterians are quite mastered by the Cavaliers, and that he fears Mr. Crew did go a little too far the other day in keeping out the young lords from sitting. That he do expect that the King should be brought over suddenly, without staying to make any terms at all, saying that the Presbyterians did intend to have brought him in with such conditions as if he had been in chains. But he shook his shoulders when he told me how Monk had betrayed him, for it was he that did put them upon standing to put out the lords and other members that came not within the qualifications, which he did not like, but however he had done his business, though it be with some kind of baseness.
After dinner I walked a great while upon the deck with the chyrurgeon and purser, and other officers of the ship, and they all pray for the King’s coming, which I pray God send.

a day made of oak
unknown among the clerks

fears go far

sitting as if in chains
shook me up

I walk it off

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 29 April 1660.


river in November light between bare woods and mountain
The nursery window looked out on a view of groves
and rock-pitted hills, the moon a saucer of soured milk

adrift in the sky. The one they left in place of the child 
taken to wed the prince of their underground is called 

changeling— At first, no one noticed the sheen
had gone out of her locks, the blush of buds 

from her cheeks. Her piteous cries were understood
as colic. As she grew, though she learned to string 

letters together, do sums wthout writing. she couldn't
seem to shake a veil that followed her like a haunting. 

If the other is truly gone to whatever fate she married, 
all I wish is for the one who's here to unpin the shadow 

from her heel, open the wardrobe; select a garment 
stitched with fruit and flower and kinder light.

One-Hand Suitcase Carry

river in November light between bare woods and mountain
The trainer at the gym hands you a 25-lb. weight 
for what's called the one-hand suitcase carry— 

weight of a sack of rice, weight of a squirming
toddler, weight of three gallons of water 

like the ones you somehow carried from 
the busted main in the park, days after 

the earthquake in your city. How did you do it,
how does anyone manage a new hardship

that arrives without warning, without 
instructions or any period of training, 

that simply drops at your feet so you 
have no choice but to learn by carrying?

In Middle English, the word lift once meant 
the air, the atmosphere; the sky, the firmament.

A raising up from the ground or soil or mud,
or picking up and dusting off to stand upright

again. The move is supposed to open up
tight shoulders so they align with the natural 

curve of the spine. Everything, you're told, 
connects: core, shoulders, upper back, hips, 

glutes. Your goal is to walk bearing this weight 
without falling, to work with the resistance

that wants to derail your grounding. This 
kind of suitcase isn't a wheelie; how long

and how well can you schlep? What is this instinct
to carry, forward and back, once it's in your hands?  


Sam Pepys and me

This morning sending a packet by Mr. Dunne to London. In the afternoon I played at ninepins with Mr. Pickering, I and Mr. Pett against him and Ted Osgood, and won a crown apiece of him. He had not money enough to pay me. After supper my Lord exceeding merry, and he and I and W. Howe to sing, and so to bed.

morning in a net
I played a pin

a crow had no one
enough to sing

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 28 April 1660.

You’ll See

river in November light between bare woods and mountain
That's what you're told when,
in the dense thickets of youth,

you follow the sting
instead of the honey, smash

the reef to bits for that one
imagined rarity of coral; kick

the horse in the ribs or burn
down the barn to keep them

from falling into other hands.
Take it as warning about

consequence, which is
shorthand for whatever 

was going to come next anyway. 
Take it as wisdom, or the bitter-

nesss of  those who've been there
or just want to be vindicated.


Sam Pepys and me

This morning Burr was absent again from on board, which I was troubled at, and spoke to Mr. Pierce, Purser, to speak to him of it, and it is my mind.
This morning Pim spent in my cabin, putting a great many ribbons to a suit. After dinner in the afternoon came on board Sir Thomas Hatton and Sir R. Maleverer going for Flushing; but all the world know that they go where the rest of the many gentlemen go that every day flock to the King at Breda. They supped here, and my Lord treated them as he do the rest that go thither, with a great deal of civility. While we were at supper a packet came, wherein much news from several friends. The chief is that, that I had from Mr. Moore, viz. that he fears the Cavaliers in the House will be so high, that the others will be forced to leave the House and fall in with General Monk, and so offer things to the King so high on the Presbyterian account that he may refuse, and so they will endeavour some more mischief; but when I told my Lord it, he shook his head and told me, that the Presbyterians are deceived, for the General is certainly for the King’s interest, and so they will not be able to prevail that way with him.
After supper the two knights went on board the Grantham, that is to convey them to Flushing. I am informed that the Exchequer is now so low, that there is not 20l. there, to give the messenger that brought the news of Lambert’s being taken; which story is very strange that he should lose his reputation of being a man of courage now at one blow, for that he was not able to fight one stroke, but desired of Colonel Ingoldsby several times for God’s sake to let him escape.
Late reading my letters, my mind being much troubled to think that, after all our hopes, we should have any cause to fear any more disappointments therein.
To bed. This day I made even with Mr. Creed, by sending him my bill and he me my money by Burr whom I sent for it.

this absent mind
putting on a suit

or flushing a flock
of high hopes

should have a point to be made
by sending money

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 27 April 1660.

Fugue State

let’s pretend to be savage again
with wild temperature swings
and hundred-year floods
tooth and claw rentable by the hour

let’s pretend to be real
authentic and shelf-stable
as if today’s sunrise
were the same as yesterday’s

let’s pretend to believe again
bust out our green flags
follow along in spring’s hymnal
loving the absurd turns inward and out

let’s pretend love and hate are opposites
tell it to the stranger in the mirror
and wipe that knowing smirk
off our misinformed face

let’s pretend we’re wild again
nobody’s monitoring our movements
rounding us up for captive breeding
replacing our habitat with a new convenience store

let’s pretend there’s time still
for every purpose
find timelessness between the trees
who stand for everything

In the drink

Sam Pepys and me

This day came Mr. Donne back from London, who brought letters with him that signify the meeting of the Parliament yesterday. And in the afternoon by other letters I hear, that about twelve of the Lords met and had chosen my Lord of Manchester Speaker of the House of Lords (the young Lords that never sat yet, do forbear to sit for the present); and Sir Harbottle Grimstone, Speaker for the House of Commons. The House of Lords sent to have a conference with the House of Commons, which, after a little debate, was granted.
Dr. Reynolds preached before the Commons before they sat.
My Lord told me how Sir H. Yelverton (formerly my school-fellow) was chosen in the first place for Northamptonshire and Mr. Crew in the second. And told me how he did believe that the Cavaliers have now the upper hand clear of the Presbyterians.
All the afternoon I was writing of letters, among the rest one to W. Simons, Peter Luellin and Tom Doling, which because it is somewhat merry I keep a copy of.
After that done Mr. Sheply, W. Howe and I down with J. Goods into my Lord’s storeroom of wine and other drink, where it was very pleasant to observe the massy timbers that the ship is made of. We in the room were wholly under water and yet a deck below that.
After that to supper, where Tom Guy supped with us, and we had very good laughing, and after that some musique, where Mr. Pickering beginning to play a bass part upon the viall did it so like a fool that I was ashamed of him.
After that to bed.

at the meeting of yes and no
I hear my bottle

confer with my first
or second hand

I am a copy of it
my wine is wholly water

and yet I play
a bass part

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 26 April 1660.