Boxman

(Thanksgiving day.) Up, and comes Mr. Foley and his man, with a box of a great variety of carpenter’s and joyner’s tooles, which I had bespoke, to me, which please me mightily; but I will have more. Then I abroad down to the Old Swan, and there I called and kissed Betty Michell, and would have got her to go with me to Westminster, but I find her a little colder than she used to be, methought, which did a little molest me. So I away not pleased, and to White Hall, where I find them at Chappell, and met with Povy, and he and I together, who tells me how mad my letter makes my Lord Peterborough, and what a furious letter he hath writ to me in answer, though it is not come yet. This did trouble me; for though there be no reason, yet to have a nobleman’s mouth open against a man may do a man hurt; so I endeavoured to have found him out and spoke with him, but could not. So to the chappell, and heard a piece of the Dean of Westminster’s sermon, and a special good anthemne before the king, after a sermon, and then home by coach with Captain Cocke, who is in pain about his hempe, of which he says he hath bought great quantities, and would gladly be upon good terms with us for it, wherein I promise to assist him. So we ‘light at the ‘Change, where, after a small turn or two, taking no pleasure now-a-days to be there, because of answering questions that would be asked there which I cannot answer; so home and dined, and after dinner, with my wife and Mercer to the Beare-garden, where I have not been, I think, of many years, and saw some good sport of the bull’s tossing of the dogs: one into the very boxes. But it is a very rude and nasty pleasure. We had a great many hectors in the same box with us (and one very fine went into the pit, and played his dog for a wager, which was a strange sport for a gentleman), where they drank wine, and drank Mercer’s health first, which I pledged with my hat off; and who should be in the house but Mr. Pierce the surgeon, who saw us and spoke to us. Thence home, well enough satisfied, however, with the variety of this afternoon’s exercise; and so I to my chamber, till in the evening our company come to supper. We had invited to a venison pasty Mr. Batelier and his sister Mary, Mrs. Mercer, her daughter Anne, Mr. Le Brun, and W. Hewer; and so we supped, and very merry. And then about nine o’clock to Mrs. Mercer’s gate, where the fire and boys expected us, and her son had provided abundance of serpents and rockets; and there mighty merry (my Lady Pen and Pegg going thither with us, and Nan Wright), till about twelve at night, flinging our fireworks, and burning one another and the people over the way. And at last our businesses being most spent, we into Mrs. Mercer’s, and there mighty merry, smutting one another with candle grease and soot, till most of us were like devils. And that being done, then we broke up, and to my house; and there I made them drink, and upstairs we went, and then fell into dancing (W. Batelier dancing well), and dressing, him and I and one Mr. Banister (who with his wife come over also with us) like women; and Mercer put on a suit of Tom’s, like a boy, and mighty mirth we had, and Mercer danced a jigg; and Nan Wright and my wife and Pegg Pen put on perriwigs. Thus we spent till three or four in the morning, mighty merry; and then parted, and to bed.

with a box of carpenter’s tools
I will make many boxes

one for serpents
another devils
and one like a suit I might dance in


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 14 August 1666.

Book curator

Up, without being friends with my wife, nor great enemies, being both quiet and silent. So out to Colvill’s, but he not being come to town yet, I to Paul’s Church-yarde, to treat with a bookbinder, to come and gild the backs of all my books, to make them handsome, to stand in my new presses, when they come. So back again to Colvill’s, and there did end our treaty, to my full content, about my Exchequer assignment of 2600l. of Sir W. Warren’s, for which I give him 170l. to stand to the hazard of receiving it. So I shall get clear by it 230l., which is a very good jobb. God be praised for it! Having done with him, then he and I took coach, and I carried him to Westminster, and there set him down, in our way speaking of several things. I find him a bold man to say any thing of any body, and finds fault with our great ministers of state that nobody looks after any thing; and I thought it dangerous to be free with him, for I do not think he can keep counsel, because he blabs to me what hath passed between other people and him. Thence I to St. James’s, and there missed Sir W. Coventry; but taking up Mr. Robinson in my coach, I towards London, and there in the way met Sir W. Coventry, and followed him to White Hall, where a little discourse very kind, and so I away with Robinson, and set him down at the ‘Change, and thence I to Stokes the goldsmith, and sent him to and again to get me 1000l. in gold; and so home to dinner, my wife and I friends, without any words almost of last night. After dinner, I abroad to Stokes, and there did receive 1000l. worth in gold, paying 18½d. and 19d. for others exchange. Home with them, and there to my office to business, and anon home in the evening, there to settle some of my accounts, and then to supper and to bed.

the backs of my books
make handsome content
a body that nobody looks after

dangerous to be free
I do not think but follow
the old gold evening


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 13 August 1666.

Package holiday

(Lord’s day). Up and to my chamber, where busy all the morning, and my thoughts very much upon the manner of my removal of my closett things the next weeke into my present musique room, if I find I can spare or get money to furnish it. By and by comes Reeves, by appointment, but did not bring the glasses and things I expected for our discourse and my information to-day, but we have agreed on it for next Sunday. By and by, in comes Betty Michell and her husband, and so to dinner, I mightily pleased with their company. We passed the whole day talking with them, but without any pleasure, but only her being there. In the evening, all parted, and I and my wife up to her closett to consider how to order that the next summer, if we live to it; and then down to my chamber at night to examine her kitchen accounts, and there I took occasion to fall out with her for her buying a laced handkercher and pinner without my leave. Though the thing is not much, yet I would not permit her begin to do so, lest worse should follow. From this we began both to be angry, and so continued till bed, and did not sleep friends.

amber thoughts furnish
a glass discourse

greed for sun
comes with company

we pass the whole day
only being there

consider how to live
down a mine


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 12 August 1666.

Bringing the noise

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon home to dinner, where mighty pleased at my wife’s beginnings of a little Virgin’s head. To the office and did much business, and then to Mr. Colvill’s, and with him did come to an agreement about my 2600l. assignment on the Exchequer, which I had of Sir W. Warren; and, to my great joy, I think I shall get above 100l. by it, but I must leave it to be finished on Monday. Thence to the office, and there did the remainder of my business, and so home to supper and to bed. This afternoon I hear as if we had landed some men upon the Dutch coasts, but I believe it is but a foolery either in the report or the attempt.

the din at my beginning
little head out
to eat joy

must leave the remainder of me
to hear and believe
in the attempt


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 11 August 1666.

Poetry Blog Digest 2019: Week 33

Poetry Blogging Network

A personal selection of posts from the Poetry Blogging Network and beyond. Although I tend to quote my favorite bits, please do click through and read the whole posts.

This week saw an unusually small number of new posts in the Poetry Bloggers category of my Feedly, which I attribute to the end of summer vacation season and the already or imminent beginning of the academic year, with all the time commitments and stressors that implies. (Stress was, in fact, one of the themes in the poetry blogs.) That despite the fact that I’ve added two more blogs to my subscriptions—including Rich Ferguson’s, which I’ve quoted below—bringing the total to 126.

That got me thinking about which bloggers post most often, and whether they have anything in common. And I think they do. At least among the bloggers I follow, the ones who blog the most dependably, week after week or even day after day, are those who don’t limit themselves to writing about just poetry and the writing life, but who post about anything and everything… which makes me happy, because Via Negativa started out as just that sort of miscellaneous blog, too, and I think that the push to specialize is sometimes unfortunate. Though these days, I rarely post anything but erasure poems and these weekly round-ups. Which feels like enough. Better to save my brain farts for social media, humbled by the high quality of social commentary and essays from other poets in my feed.


It’s a bad idea to get into gardening if one happens to be someone who requires complete control of things. Nature’s behavior, it turns out, manages seldom to be controllable by human beings. One reason I enjoy gardening is the chance to keep trying a new approach, a new variety, a new method; if I cannot control the environment, I may at least find an adaptation that works for awhile.

Ann E. Michael, Agency

I am sitting on the ground weeding our tomato plants. I gratefully take refuge in useful tasks like gardening and cooking. Busy hands almost always un-busy my mind. But that’s not working for me right now.

Instead I’m thinking about several editing projects nearly due. I also need to plan a class, complete a volunteer training program, deal with a health insurance hassle, and prepare because we have nine people coming over for a meal tomorrow. Mental fuss is erasing me from the garden.

I take a deep breath, choosing to put myself right back where I am. That works. I hear birdsong, hear the plop of a frog in the pond. Soon I’m complimenting our plants on their sturdy stems and reveling in the breeze.

I learned the word eustress while researching my first book.  The term was created by adding the Greek prefix “eu” — meaning “good, healthy” to the word “stress,” It’s defined as a positive stress response, often generated by a demanding but worthwhile effort. Stress is inherent in growth-producing situations. We stress our bodies to reach greater levels of physical ability, breaking down muscle to build it stronger. We tear down old limitations when challenging ourselves to something hard for us like taking on a public speaking role, mastering a new job, or asserting ourselves in a tough situation. Stressors like these, even if we haven’t exactly welcomed them, help to strengthen us.

Laura Grace Weldon, Thank Eustress

Lots of stress on this bucket of bolts lately–family, health, and writing-related–but I’m tickled to report that my first poetry comic has been published by the gorgeously-redesigned Split Lip Magazine. My spouse Chris Gavaler and I created it a couple of years ago; he made the images and I wrote the words, although there was some cross-influence in revision, more or less as we’ve cross-influenced each other in life (“Go for it!”/ “Don’t wear that!”). To me, this comic is about a pretty-long-running partnership from a midlife perspective, very much inflected by the self-reassessment that happens when your kids grow up and move on (my daughter graduated in May and just returned home after a summer gig, and my son starts college in about 10 days). We’ve changed so much since we were undergrads together, and I love the way the images capture our disintegrations and haphazard rebuildings from odd materials at hand, bringing forward the idea of resourcefulness under constraint. Chris built these robots rather laboriously in an outmoded program; my constraints were spatial, meaning seven lines per poem, with the line-length controlled by panel-width and the letters of Chris’ homemade font. It’s so gratifying when you make something weird in a weird way, for fun, and other people like it enough to publish it!

Not much other luck in that department lately. Rejections are flying; I haven’t had a poem accepted in months. As I’ve said here before, though, I actually feel more philosophical about that since beginning to work on Shenandoah. You just have to keep trying, revising and targeting your work as intelligently as you can, but knowing there’s a heap of luck involved. Submission rates are very high, and chances of hitting the right reader in the right way at the right moment are low, so it’s a numbers game. I did some poetry revision/ submission work this week, though, and I’ll keep at it until the semester swallows me whole–I’ve also got essays to tweak and keep in circulation plus a difficult grant application to finish. The meetings and new-tech-training-sessions, all that late summer jazz, starts tomorrow.

Lesley Wheeler, Rusting robot poetics

As I was reading the e-mail, I thought about the familiarity of this language of rejection.  The language is so similar to the rejection letters I used to get back when I did my most aggressive job hunting.  It’s a version of “it’s not you, it’s me” that I first heard about in a Seinfeld episode.

In a way, the news is good.  My manuscript does stand out in a field of 400 manuscripts from poets who have yet to publish a first book.  I haven’t always gotten that feedback from earlier submission years.

Let me not spend too much time thinking about how many earlier submission years there have been.  Let me keep going with my plan:  to make judicious submissions, to contests where I see a judge who resonates with me or to contests where I’m supporting a press I believe in or to contests which give me a book in exchange for my submission.

Let me keep working on other projects too.  I’ve put together a new chapbook this year, and that process has made me feel hopeful too.

Next week, I want to put a plan into place that will lead to me work on my apocalyptic novel on a more regular basis.  I need to create that plan.

The weeks are zooming by.  I am astonished at how long I’ve been at this writing and publishing process.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Rejection Evening

How easy to live
in this reconfigured world:
an exchange of horizons,
alternative sunsets, a hill,
or no hill at all.

But easy too the swift
self-gathering into
one’s own shadow
on street, in hallway,
or on that same staircase
when tears reflux
without warning
and there is only
what was.

Dick Jones, JOY

A man might lose himself inside the blankets of his own life, go to sleep, and wake up one day as a dog, or a giraffe, or a wren. “What was my name, before, when I was a man? Or did I just dream it all?” He might think that as he moves through this new life, and the morning sunlight filters down through the green summer leaves of the trees.

James Lee Jobe, prose poem – ‘A man might lose himself…’

My head is, as expected filled with ideas after my Field Museum visit on Thursday, and I got started that very evening drafting bits of something that I think will be promising.   I initially went in with a vague idea of writing about extinction and dinosaurs and the earth over time, but of course got distracted by the birds (it happens) and then the maze of mammals, which had me mulling over taxidermy techniques and the work of diorama artists and the whole points of museums, the houses of the muses, and preservation, particularly when it comes to extinction (even our own).  And then of course, from my last visit, Audubon and his giant book.   And somehow, a kernel of sense-making came into being and I think I might have something. 

Kristy Bowen, extinction event

How freeing to discover the curious way French acquaintances and friends are judging the US.  Fortunately Trump is not sucking out all the oxygen.  While they despise him, they’re perplexed by this passing nightmare and don’t hold it against us.  They’re too sophisticated to think people are defined by government, or a job, or whatever.

The residual image I heard evoked is the North American sky.  Our big sky, our wide horizon that stretches imaginatively from one invisible pole to another.  The immensity of that sky, the cut-freeness makes them sigh. It signifies space apart from set patterns and expectations, from deep tradition.  These same people are staunchly defending their core French values – egalité, civility and decency. The sigh is about regimen, tradition, shuffling to the same beat. Americans might find it charming that everyone rushes to lunch at midi, less charming to sit in six hours of traffic crossing from Spain to France because everyone takes the same vacation schedule. That big open permissable sky is the one they talk of reverently and breathe deeply.

Baudelaire wrote a wonderful poem in which a stranger is asked what he loves: country, God, family.  He denies it all.  The only thing he loves are clouds.  That can’t take that away from him.   The stranger brings valuable vision and truth. As an antidote to the stifling weight of the US now, I’m bringing along the stranger’s vision of big clouds and big sky. 

Jill Pearlman, Cut Me Loose

How can we not value the gumbo of us, the jambalaya we are, chunky and piquant? Our language itself is a mongrel; or no, a palanquin, a vessel, a ship, a hammock. I can barely talk to you without calling down the whole array of immigrants to our shores, plus the people who were here when they got here.

Yes, English is a difficult language to rhyme in, with all its variety of endings, which is why poetry in English has long gone in different directions from the old endy-rhymey road, and American poetry has been perhaps particularly jittery and digressive, if also ahistorical and culture-centric. But also wide-armed and ribald and jazz-bit.

The diverse rabble of us elbow-jab and glare, and sigh together, and laugh, which itself is one language. Maybe laughter and music are the two things that will save this species from itself.

Marilyn McCabe, You’re the Salt in My Stew; or, Viva la difference; or, Diversity

Endless moments filled with meditators & road ragers. Dog walkers & streetwalkers. Depressives & dreamers. Picturesque bungalows & fruit vendors beneath rainbow umbrellas. Post-apocalyptic homeless encampments & Venice Beach mystics with eyes like cracked crystal balls. Days of gloriously rapped rhythms rising from low-riders. Money-grubbing landlords handing out eviction notices like they’re Mardi Gras beads. My city’s rhythm: a drumbeat in the skull. Pounding, pounding. Some driven to dance, while others barely manage to move forward.

Rich Ferguson, L.A.’s Tranquil & Turbulent Days

So the one thing I didn’t stop doing when I thought I was dying was writing. I’d finished the first draft of my sixth manuscript in six months. And I really didn’t stop doing most things – although  it was certainly interrupted by a lot of unpleasant tests – but I signed the mortgage on my house, I brought home my re-homed delinquent kitten Sylvia (who to this day I call my “cancer-curing” kitty.) Here she is posing with all my poetry books to date.

Then I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I spent months learning to talk, walk, and swallow normally(ish) again after the damage the brain stem had sustained. This changed the book – it began to contain this disorientation, that I may have survived my cancer diagnosis, but now I had a different, incurable, debilitating disease. I lost words, often. But I still wrote. The book also contains documentation of the sheer weirdness of the weather and solar events of the past few years. It seemed like my body and the weather were misfiring at the same time.

Then, after Trump’s election, I felt an increased urgency – probably like many poets – to write poetry that was more political. For me, that meant writing about women that were survivors – and also women that had been oppressed, suppressed, raped, and literally burned at the stake – and what our future as women might look like. If women are going to survive the violence of men, we must change.  As I write this, by the way, the news is reporting a Bellingham college student murdered, shot by an ex-boyfriend in her home.  I continue to write poems. Writing under the stress of health issues, of the oppressive political climate, under the stress of  in the hopes that maybe these poems will make things better for others.

Jeannine Hall Gailey, Plath Poetry Project Feature Today, Facebook Memories from Three Years Ago, Publishing and Writing Under Stress

I’m honored to have my poem “Other Ways” published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry for their Poets Resist feature. This poem, newly written, is my response to the mass shootings we’ve experienced here in the U.S. It was one of those poems I had to write to process my own disappointment and grief. I’m incredibly thankful to Glass Poets Resist editor Michael Carter for his quick response and acceptance and to friend and fellow poet Anthony Frame, whom I truly admire for his own poetry as well as his gracious support of poetry in general. I’m grateful for all the great work Glass and their staff do for their contributors and for the literary community. If you are not a frequent visitor to their site, I highly recommend you spend some of your screen time in their pages.

Glass’ Poets Resist is a current events poetry series, with guest editors, published by Glass Poetry Press as part of Glass: A Journal of Poetry. They are “looking for poems that reflect the immediacy of the world around us. . . . poems that are targeted, and unafraid. . . . poems that actively resist by condemning horrors and by celebrating collective strength. Engage. Write. Resist.”

Trish Hopkinson, My poem “Other Ways” published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry–Poets Resist

Form in poetry is more than just meter, stanza, and line break. It’s also a way of thinking. It’s the direction, pace and energy of the poem, and one of the main ways a writer can direct the reader’s experience. And, at least in my way of understanding, it’s also not something that’s simply visible on the page or scannable across a line. Shape and structure is metaphysical as much as it’s physical.

And this all is a way into my idea that all poems are triangles. Poems are kinds of vessels of energy. You cram a bunch of things in one end (images, concepts, sounds, ideas) and something else emerges from the other. Like a triangle, poems have a wide end and a narrow end. From a content point of view, a poem can start with a small point (a particular image, moment, or idea) and then expand, the way an ant hill expands as it gets to the base. Or the poem can start out large, with a wide idea that that covers everything, then narrows to make a particularly sharp point at the end. Think of that as a large funnel you dump the poem into, and it comes out a small opening at the bottom.

Grant Clauser, Is a Poem a Sandwich if you Cut It Into Triangles?

The most recent poem I’m working on (or let’s be honest, thinking about working on but not actually writing) is about the knee. There are so many problems with everyone’s knees all of the time, sometimes to the point that they need to be replaced. The knees carry the largest burden of the body and they get injured easily and they’re generally poor abused bastards. The knees never get credit for their incredible feats of endurance, but they get a lot of blame for poor biomechanics and imbalances that aren’t their fault. In my ongoing efforts to put off the actual writing of this poem, I typed “the knee” into Duck Duck Go and was beset with numerous images, not of actual knees, but of knee-high boots. Some actual knees, but mostly knee-high boots. Beautiful, sassy boots. It made me really miss boots. I’m looking forward to the fall when I will be able to wear them again and will have an excuse to stock up on some nice suede lace-ups. This paragraph took an odd ADD-ish turn. My apologies.

Kristen McHenry, The Not-Yet Poem, Bullying the Body, Mini Book Review

Green air
beneath
empty sky.

August’s
promise
is not kept.

Shadows
leap at
silence.

Tom Montag, GREEN AIR

The new Book of the Dead

Up and to my chamber; there did some business and then to my office, and towards noon by water to the Exchequer about my Tangier order, and thence back again and to the Exchange, where little newes but what is in the book, and, among other things, of a man sent up for by the King and Council for saying that Sir W. Coventry did give intelligence to the Dutch of all our matters here. I met with Colvill, and he and I did agree about his lending me 1000l. upon a tally of 1000l. for Tangier. Thence to Sympson, the joyner, and I am mightily pleased with what I see of my presses for my books, which he is making for me. So homeward, and hear in Fanchurch-streete, that now the mayde also is dead at Mr. Rawlinson’s; so that there are three dead in all, the wife, a man-servant, and mayde-servant. Home to dinner, where sister Balty dined with us, and met a letter come to me from him. He is well at Harwich, going to the fleete. After dinner to the office, and anon with my wife and sister abroad, left them in Paternoster Row, while Creed, who was with me at the office, and I to Westminster; and leaving him in the Strand, I to my Lord Chancellor’s, and did very little business, and so away home by water, with more and more pleasure, I every time reading over my Lord Bacon’s “Faber Fortunae.” So home, and there did little business, and then walked an hour talking of sundry things in the garden, and find him a cunning knave, as I always observed him to be, and so home to supper, and to bed. Pleased that this day I find, if I please, I can have all my money in that I have out of my hands, but I am at a loss whether to take it in or no, and pleased also to hear of Mrs. Barbara Sheldon’s good fortune, who is like to have Mr. Woods son, the mast-maker, a very rich man, and to be married speedily, she being already mighty fine upon it.

in the new Book
of the Dead

there is no ice
or chance

more and more sin
and sun

and hands
at a loss

whether to take it in
like a woods


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 10 August 1666.

Age of Reason

Up and to the office to prepare business for the Board, Reeves being gone and I having lent him upon one of the glasses. Here we sat, but to little purpose, nobody coming at us but to ask for money, not to offer us any goods. At noon home to dinner, and then to the office again, being mightily pleased with a Virgin’s head that my wife is now doing of.
In the evening to Lumbard-streete about money, to enable me to pay Sir G. Carteret’s 3000l., which he hath lodged in my hands, in behalf of his son and my Lady Jemimah, toward their portion, which, I thank God, I am able to do at a minute’s warning.
In my [way] I inquired, and find Mrs. Rawlinson is dead of the sickness, and her mayde continues mighty ill. He himself is got out of the house. I met also with Mr. Evelyn in the streete, who tells me the sad condition at this very day at Deptford for the plague, and more at Deale (within his precinct as one of the Commissioners for sick and wounded seamen), that the towne is almost quite depopulated.
Thence back home again, and after some business at my office, late, home to supper and to bed, I being sleepy by my late want of rest, notwithstanding my endeavouring to get a nap of an hour this afternoon after dinner.
So home and to bed.

the Virgin’s head
is now art

hands of a lady portion out
the sad sick and wounded
to sleep at a rest home


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 9 August 1666.

Accounting practice

Up, and with Reeves walk as far as the Temple, doing some business in my way at my bookseller’s and elsewhere, and there parted, and I took coach, having first discoursed with Mr. Hooke a little, whom we met in the streete, about the nature of sounds, and he did make me understand the nature of musicall sounds made by strings, mighty prettily; and told me that having come to a certain number of vibrations proper to make any tone, he is able to tell how many strokes a fly makes with her wings (those flies that hum in their flying) by the note that it answers to in musique during their flying. That, I suppose, is a little too much refined; but his discourse in general of sound was mighty fine.
There I left them, and myself by coach to St. James’s, where we attended with the rest of my fellows on the Duke, whom I found with two or three patches upon his nose and about his right eye, which come from his being struck with the bough of a tree the other day in his hunting; and it is a wonder it did not strike out his eye. After we had done our business with him, which is now but little, the want of money being such as leaves us little to do but to answer complaints of the want thereof, and nothing to offer to the Duke, the representing of our want of money being now become uselesse, I into the Park, and there I met with Mrs. Burroughs by appointment, and did agree (after discoursing of some business of her’s) for her to meet me at New Exchange, while I by coach to my Lord Treasurer’s, and then called at the New Exchange, and thence carried her by water to Parliament stayres, and I to the Exchequer about my Tangier quarter tallys, and that done I took coach and to the west door of the Abby, where she come to me, and I with her by coach to Lissen-greene where we were last, and staid an hour or two before dinner could be got for us, I in the meantime having much pleasure with her, but all honest. And by and by dinner come up, and then to my sport again, but still honest; and then took coach and up and down in the country toward Acton, and then toward Chelsy, and so to Westminster, and there set her down where I took her up, with mighty pleasure in her company, and so I by coach home, and thence to Bow, with all the haste I could, to my Lady Pooly’s, where my wife was with Mr. Batelier and his sisters, and there I found a noble supper, and every thing exceeding pleasant, and their mother, Mrs. Batelier, a fine woman, but mighty passionate upon sudden news brought her of the loss of a dog borrowed of the Duke of Albemarle’s son to line a bitch of hers that is very pretty, but the dog was by and by found, and so all well again, their company mighty innocent and pleasant, we having never been here before. About ten o’clock we rose from table, and sang a song, and so home in two coaches (Mr. Batelier and his sister Mary and my wife and I in one, and Mercer alone in the other); and after being examined at Allgate, whether we were husbands and wives, home, and being there come, and sent away Mr. Batelier and his sister, I find Reeves there, it being a mighty fine bright night, and so upon my leads, though very sleepy, till one in the morning, looking on the moon and Jupiter, with this twelve-foote glasse and another of six foote, that he hath brought with him to-night, and the sights mighty pleasant, and one of the glasses I will buy, it being very usefull.
So to bed mighty sleepy, but with much pleasure. Reeves lying at my house again; and mighty proud I am (and ought to be thankfull to God Almighty) that I am able to have a spare bed for my friends.

how many strokes a fly
makes with her wings
is a wonder the leaves tally

where we nest
with pleasure in everything
but that pretty clock the moon


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 8 August 1666.

Terpsichorean

Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and home to dinner, and then to the office again, being pretty good friends with my wife again, no angry words passed; but she finding fault with Mercer, suspecting that it was she that must have told Mary, that must have told her mistresse of my wife’s saying that she was crooked. But the truth is, she is jealous of my kindnesse to her. After dinner, to the office, and did a great deale of business. In the evening comes Mr. Reeves, with a twelve-foote glasse, so I left the office and home, where I met Mr. Batelier with my wife, in order to our going to-morrow, by agreement, to Bow to see a dancing meeting. But, Lord! to see how soon I could conceive evil fears and thoughts concerning them; so Reeves and I and they up to the top of the house, and there we endeavoured to see the moon, and Saturne and Jupiter; but the heavens proved cloudy, and so we lost our labour, having taken pains to get things together, in order to the managing of our long glasse. So down to supper and then to bed, Reeves lying at my house, but good discourse I had from him: in his own trade, concerning glasses, and so all of us late to bed.
I receive fresh intelligence that Deptford and Greenwich are now afresh exceedingly afflicted with the sickness more than ever.

angry at my crooked foot
the dancing moon
in my glass


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 7 August 1666.

Improvisational

Up, and to the office a while, and then by water to my Lady Montagu’s, at Westminster, and there visited my Lord Hinchingbroke, newly come from Hinchingbroke, and find him a mighty sober gentleman, to my great content. Thence to Sir Ph. Warwicke and my Lord Treasurer’s, but failed in my business; so home and in Fenchurch-streete met with Mr. Battersby; says he, “Do you see Dan Rawlinson’s door shut up?” (which I did, and wondered). “Why,” says he, “after all the sickness, and himself spending all the last year in the country, one of his men is now dead of the plague, and his wife and one of his mayds sicke, and himself shut up;” which troubles me mightily. So home; and there do hear also from Mrs. Sarah Daniel, that Greenwich is at this time much worse than ever it was, and Deptford too: and she told us that they believed all the towne would leave the towne and come to London; which is now the receptacle of all the people from all infected places. God preserve us! So by and by to dinner, and, after dinner in comes Mrs. Knipp, and I being at the office went home to her, and there I sat and talked with her, it being the first time of her being here since her being brought to bed. I very pleasant with her; but perceive my wife hath no great pleasure in her being here, she not being pleased with my kindnesse to her. However, we talked and sang, and were very pleasant. By and by comes Mr. Pierce and his wife, the first time she also hath been here since her lying-in, both having been brought to bed of boys, and both of them dead. And here we talked, and were pleasant, only my wife in a chagrin humour, she not being pleased with my kindnesse to either of them, and by and by she fell into some silly discourse wherein I checked her, which made her mighty pettish, and discoursed mighty offensively to Mrs. Pierce, which did displease me, but I would make no words, but put the discourse by as much as I could (it being about a report that my wife said was made of herself and meant by Mrs. Pierce, that she was grown a gallant, when she had but so few suits of clothes these two or three years, and a great deale of that silly discourse), and by and by Mrs. Pierce did tell her that such discourses should not trouble her, for there went as bad on other people, and particularly of herself at this end of the towne, meaning my wife, that she was crooked, which was quite false, which my wife had the wit not to acknowledge herself to be the speaker of, though she has said it twenty times. But by this means we had little pleasure in their visit; however, Knipp and I sang, and then I offered them to carry them home, and to take my wife with me, but she would not go: so I with them, leaving my wife in a very ill humour, and very slighting to them, which vexed me. However, I would not be removed from my civility to them, but sent for a coach, and went with them; and, in our way, Knipp saying that she come out of doors without a dinner to us, I took them to Old Fish Streete, to the very house and woman where I kept my wedding dinner, where I never was since, and there I did give them a jole of salmon, and what else was to be had. And here we talked of the ill-humour of my wife, which I did excuse as much as I could, and they seemed to admit of it, but did both confess they wondered at it; but from thence to other discourse, and among others to that of my Lord Bruncker and Mrs. Williams, who it seems do speake mighty hardly of me for my not treating them, and not giving her something to her closett, and do speake worse of my wife, and dishonourably, but it is what she do of all the world, though she be a whore herself; so I value it not. But they told me how poorly my Lord carried himself the other day to his kinswoman, Mrs. Howard, and was displeased because she called him uncle to a little gentlewoman that is there with him, which he will not admit of; for no relation is to be challenged from others to a lord, and did treat her thereupon very rudely and ungenteely. Knipp tells me also that my Lord keeps another woman besides Mrs. Williams; and that, when I was there the other day, there was a great hubbub in the house, Mrs. Williams being fallen sicke, because my Lord was gone to his other mistresse, making her wait for him, till his return from the other mistresse; and a great deale of do there was about it; and Mrs. Williams swounded at it, at the very time when I was there and wondered at the reason of my being received so negligently.
I set them both at home, Knipp at her house, her husband being at the doore; and glad she was to be found to have staid out so long with me and Mrs. Pierce, and none else; and Mrs. Pierce at her house, and am mightily pleased with the discretion of her during the simplicity and offensiveness of my wife’s discourse this afternoon. I perceive by the new face at Mrs. Pierces door that our Mary is gone from her.
So I home, calling on W. Joyce in my coach, and staid and talked a little with him, who is the same silly prating fellow that ever he was, and so home, and there find my wife mightily out of order, and reproaching of Mrs. Pierce and Knipp as wenches, and I know not what. But I did give her no words to offend her, and quietly let all pass, and so to bed without any good looke or words to or from my wife.

in the dead town
and all the infected places

I make words out of
other times and doors

other discourse and hubbub
other wonder

and the same
reproaching quiet


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 6 August 1666.