Apart

Up, and to the Old Swan, where drank at Michell’s, but not seeing her whom I love I by water to White Hall, and there acquainted Sir G. Carteret betimes what I had to say this day before the Duke of York in the business of Carcasse, which he likes well of, being a great enemy to him, and then I being too early here to go to Sir W. Coventry’s chamber, having nothing to say to him, and being able to give him but a bad account of the business of the office (which is a shame to me, and that which I shall rue if I do not recover), to the Exchequer about getting a certificate of Mr. Lanyon’s entered at Sir R. Longs office, and strange it is to see what horrid delays there are at this day in the business of money, there being nothing yet come from my Lord Treasurer to set the business of money in action since the Parliament broke off, notwithstanding the greatness and number of the King’s occasions for it. So to the Swan, and there had three or four baisers of the little ancilla there, and so to Westminster Hall, where I saw Mr. Martin, the purser, come through with a picture in his hand, which he had bought, and observed how all the people of the Hall did fleer and laugh upon him, crying, “There is plenty grown upon a sudden;” and, the truth is, I was a little troubled that my favour should fall on so vain a fellow as he, and the more because, methought, the people do gaze upon me as the man that had raised him, and as if they guessed whence my kindness to him springs.
So thence to White Hall, where I find all met at the Duke of York’s chamber; and, by and by, the Duke of York comes, and Carcasse is called in, and I read the depositions and his answers, and he added with great confidence and good words, even almost to persuasion, what to say; and my Lord Bruncker, like a very silly solicitor, argued against me and us all for him; and, being asked first by the Duke of York his opinion, did give it for his being excused. I next did answer the contrary very plainly, and had, in this dispute, which vexed and will never be forgot by my Lord, many occasions of speaking severely, and did, against his bad practices. Commissioner Pett, like a fawning rogue, sided with my Lord, but to no purpose; and [Sir] W. Pen, like a cunning rogue, spoke mighty indifferently, and said nothing in all the fray, like a knave as he is. But [Sir] W. Batten spoke out, and did come off himself by the Duke’s kindness very well; and then Sir G. Carteret, and Sir W. Coventry, and the Duke of York himself, flatly as I said; and so he was declared unfit to continue in, and therefore to be presently discharged the office; which, among other good effects, I hope, will make my Lord Bruncker not ‘alloquer’ so high, when he shall consider he hath had such a publick foyle as this is. So home with W. Batten, and W. Pen, by coach, and there met at the office, and my Lord Bruncker presently after us, and there did give order to Mr. Stevens for securing the tickets in Carcasses hands, which my Lord against his will could not refuse to sign, and then home to dinner, and so away with my wife by coach, she to Mrs. Pierce’s and I to my Lord Bellasses, and with him to Lord Treasurer’s, where by agreement we met with Sir H. Cholmly, and there sat and talked all the afternoon almost about one thing or other, expecting Sir Philip Warwicke’s coming, but he come not, so we away towards night, Sir H. Cholmly and I to the Temple, and there parted, telling me of my Lord Bellasses’s want of generosity, and that he will certainly be turned out of his government, and he thinks himself stands fair for it. So home, and there found, as I expected, Mrs. Pierce and Mr. Batelier; he went for Mrs. Jones, but no Mrs. Knipp come, which vexed me, nor any other company. So with one fidler we danced away the evening, but I was not well contented with the littleness of the room, and my wife’s want of preparing things ready, as they should be, for supper, and bed. So not very merry, though very well pleased. So after supper to bed, my wife and Mrs. Pierce, and her boy James and I. Yesterday I began to make this mark (V) stand instead of three pricks, which therefore I must observe every where, it being a mark more easy to make.

not seeing her whom I love
I am nothing

a great cry
grown in the spring

all the ham curing
in one little room


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 8 March 1667.

Pandemic

So up, and to the office, my head full of Carcasses business; then hearing that Knipp is at my house, I home, and it was about a ticket for a friend of hers. I do love the humour of the jade very well. So to the office again, not being able to stay, and there about noon my Lord Bruncker did begin to talk of Carcasse’s business. Only Commissioner Pett, my Lord, and I there, and it was pretty to see how Pett hugged the occasion of having anything against Sir W. Batten, which I am not much troubled at, for I love him not neither. Though I did really endeavour to quash it all I could, because I would prevent their malice taking effect. My Lord I see is fully resolved to vindicate Carcasse, though to the undoing of Sir W. Batten, but I believe he will find himself in a mistake, and do himself no good, and that I shall be glad of, for though I love the treason I hate the traitor. But he is vexed at my moving it to the Duke of York yesterday, which I answered well, so as I think he could not answer. But, Lord! it is pretty to see how Pett hugs this business, and how he favours my Lord Bruncker; who to my knowledge hates him, and has said more to his disadvantage, in my presence, to the King and Duke of York than any man in England, and so let them thrive one with another by cheating one another, for that is all I observe among them. Thence home late, and find my wife hath dined, and she and Mrs. Hewer going to a play. Here was Creed, and he and I to Devonshire House, to a burial of a kinsman of Sir R. Viner’s; and there I received a ring, and so away presently to Creed, who staid for me at an alehouse hard by, and thence to the Duke’s playhouse, where he parted, and I in and find my wife and Mrs. Hewer, and sat by them and saw “The English Princesse, or Richard the Third;” a most sad, melancholy play, and pretty good; but nothing eminent in it, as some tragedys are; only little Mis. Davis did dance a jig after the end of the play, and there telling the next day’s play; so that it come in by force only to please the company to see her dance in boy’s clothes; and, the truth is, there is no comparison between Nell’s dancing the other day at the King’s house in boy’s clothes and this, this being infinitely beyond the other. Here was Mrs. Clerke and Pierce, to whom one word only of “How do you,” and so away home, Mrs. Hewer with us, and I to the office and so to W. Batten’s, and there talked privately with him and W. Pen about business of Carcasse against tomorrow, wherein I think I did give them proof enough of my ability as well as friendship to W. Batten, and the honour of the office, in my sense of the rogue’s business. So back to finish my office business, and then home to supper, and to bed.
This day, Commissioner Taylor come to me for advice, and would force me to take ten pieces in gold of him, which I had no mind to, he being become one of our number at the Board.
This day was reckoned by all people the coldest day that ever was remembered in England; and, God knows! coals at a very great price.

my head full
of carcasses

not able to begin to talk
as no answer
could answer it

I see the land
thrive on burial

I see dancing beyond
the word tomorrow


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

At hand

Up, and with [Sir] W. Pen to White Hall by coach, and by the way agreed to acquaint [Sir] W. Coventry with the business of Mr. Carcasse, and he and I spoke to Sir W. Coventry that we might move it to the Duke of York, which I did in a very indifferent, that is, impartial manner, but vexed I believe Lord Bruncker. Here the Duke of York did acquaint us, and the King did the like also, afterwards coming in, with his resolution of altering the manner of the war this year; that is, we shall keep what fleete we have abroad in several squadrons: so that now all is come out; but we are to keep it as close as we can, without hindering the work that is to be done in preparation to this. Great preparations there are to fortify Sheernesse and the yard at Portsmouth, and forces are drawing down to both those places, and elsewhere by the seaside; so that we have some fear of an invasion; and the Duke of York himself did declare his expectation of the enemy’s blocking us up here in the River, and therefore directed that we should send away all the ships that we have to fit out hence. Sir W. Pen told me, going with me this morning to White Hall, that for certain the Duke of Buckingham is brought into the Tower, and that he hath had an hour’s private conference with the King before he was sent thither.
To Westminster Hall. There bought some news books, and, as every where else, hear every body complain of the dearness of coals, being at 4l. per chaldron, the weather, too, being become most bitter cold, the King saying to-day that it was the coldest day he ever knew in England. Thence by coach to my Lord Crew’s, where very welcome. Here I find they are in doubt where the Duke of Buckingham is; which makes me mightily reflect on the uncertainty of all history, when, in a business of this moment, and of this day’s growth, we cannot tell the truth. Here dined my old acquaintance, Mr. Borfett, that was my Lord Sandwich’s chaplain, and my Lady Wright and Dr. Boreman, who is preacher at St. Gyles’s in the Fields, who, after dinner, did give my Lord an account of two papist women lately converted, whereof one wrote her recantation, which he shewed under her own hand mighty well drawn, so as my Lord desired a copy of it, after he had satisfied himself from the Doctor, that to his knowledge she was not a woman under any necessity. Thence by coach home and staid a very little, and then by water to Redriffe, and walked to Bagwell’s, where ‘la moher’ was ‘defro, sed’ would not have me ‘demeurer’ there ‘parce que’ Mrs. Batters and one of my ‘ancillas’, I believe Jane (for she was gone abroad to-day), was in the town, and coming thither; so I away presently, esteeming it a great escape. So to the yard and spoke a word or two, and then by water home, wondrous cold, and reading a ridiculous ballad made in praise of the Duke of Albemarle, to the tune of St. George, the tune being printed, too; and I observe that people have some great encouragement to make ballads of him of this kind. There are so many, that hereafter he will sound like Guy of Warwicke. Then abroad with my wife, leaving her at the ‘Change, while I to Sir H. Cholmly’s, a pretty house, and a fine, worthy, well-disposed gentleman he is. He and I to Sir Ph. Warwicke’s, about money for Tangier, but to little purpose. H. Cholmley tells me, among other things, that he hears of little hopes of a peace, their demands being so high as we shall never grant, and could tell me that we shall keep no fleete abroad this year, but only squadrons. And, among other things, that my Lord Bellasses, he believes, will lose his command of Tangier by his corrupt covetous ways of endeavouring to sell his command, which I am glad [of], for he is a man of no worth in the world but compliment. So to the ‘Change, and there bought 32s. worth of things for Mrs. Knipp, my Valentine, which is pretty to see how my wife is come to convention with me, that, whatever I do give to anybody else, I shall give her as much, which I am not much displeased with. So home and to the office and Sir W. Batten, to tell him what I had done to-day about Carcasse’s business, and God forgive me I am not without design to give a blow to Sir W. Batten by it. So home, where Mr. Batelier supped with us and talked away the evening pretty late, and so he gone and we to bed.

like blocking up the river
with one hand
we so believe
in wondrous little hopes
that we keep this other world
for God or bed


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

Confined

Up, and to the office, where met and sat all the morning, doing little for want of money, but only bear the countenance of an office. At noon home to dinner, and then to the office again, and there comes Martin my purser, and I walked with him awhile in the garden, I giving him good advice to beware of coming any more with high demands for supernumeraries or other things, for now Sir W. Pen is come to mind the business, the passing of his accounts will not be so easy as the last. He tells me he will never need it again, it being as easy, and to as much purpose to do the same thing otherwise, and how he do keep his Captain’s table, and by that means hath the command of his Captains, and do not fear in a 5th-rate ship constantly employed to get a 1000l. in five years time, and this year, besides all his spendings, which are I fear high, he hath got at this day clear above 150l. in a voyage of about five or six months, which is a brave trade.
He gone I to the office, and there all the afternoon late doing much business, and then to see Sir W. Batten, whose leg is all but better than it was, and like to do well. I by discourse do perceive he and his Lady are to their hearts out with my Lord Bruncker and Mrs. Williams, to which I added something, but, I think, did not venture too far with them. But, Lord! to see to what a poor content any acquaintance among these people, or the people of the world, as they now-adays go, is worth; for my part I and my wife will keep to one another and let the world go hang, for there is nothing but falseness in it. So home to supper and hear my wife and girle sing a little, and then to bed with much content of mind.

count to one like a heart
out too far among
these people people

as the days keep on
let the world go
there is nothing

but I hear my wife sing


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

Gained in translation

Up, and with Sir J. Minnes and [Sir] W. Batten by barge to Deptford by eight in the morning, where to the King’s yard a little to look after business there, and then to a private storehouse to look upon some cordage of Sir W. Batten’s, and there being a hole formerly made for a drain for tarr to run into, wherein the barrel stood still, full of stinking water, Sir W. Batten did fall with one leg into it, which might have been very bad to him by breaking a leg or other hurt, but, thanks be to God, he only sprained his foot a little. So after his shifting his stockings at a strong water shop close by, we took barge again, and so to Woolwich, where our business was chiefly to look upon the ballast wharfe there, which is offered us for the King’s use to hire, but we do not think it worth the laying out much money upon, unless we could buy the fee-simple of it, which cannot be sold us, so we wholly flung it off. So to the Dockyard, and there staid a while talking about business of the yard, and thence to the Rope-yard, and so to the White Hart and there dined, and Captain Cocke with us, whom we found at the Rope-yard, and very merry at dinner, and many pretty tales of Sir J. Minnes, which I have entered in my tale book. But by this time Sir W. Batten was come to be in much pain in his foot, so as he was forced to be carried down in a chair to the barge again, and so away to Deptford, and there I a little in the yard, and then to Bagwell’s, where I find his wife washing, and also I did ‘hazer tout que je voudrais con’ her, and then sent for her husband, and discoursed of his going to Harwich this week to his charge of the new ship building there, which I have got him, and so away, walked to Redriffe, and there took boat and away home, and upon Tower Hill, near the ticket office, meeting with my old acquaintance Mr. Chaplin, the cheesemonger, and there fell to talk of news, and he tells me that for certain the King of France is denied passage with his army through Flanders, and that he hears that the Dutch do stand upon high terms with us, and will have a promise of not being obliged to strike the flag to us before they will treat with us, and other high things, which I am ashamed of and do hope will never be yielded to. That they do make all imaginable preparations, but that he believes they will be in mighty want of men; that the King of France do court us mightily. He tells me too that our Lord-Treasurer is going to lay down, and that Lord Arlington is to be Lord Treasurer, but I believe nothing of it, for he is not yet of estate visible enough to have the charge I suppose upon him. So being parted from him I home to the office, and after having done business there I home to supper, and there mightily pleased with my wife’s beginning the flagellette, believing that she will come to very well thereon. This day in the barge I took Berckenshaw’s translation of Alsted his Templum, but the most ridiculous book, as he has translated it, that ever I saw in my life, I declaring that I understood not three lines together from one end of the book to the other.

a barrel full of stinking water
on a barge going
to a new ship

I have translated my life in three lines


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 4 March 1667.

Disenchanted

(Lord’s day). Lay long, merrily talking with my wife, and then up and to church, where a dull sermon of Mr. Mills touching Original Sin, and then home, and there find little Michell and his wife, whom I love mightily. Mightily contented I was in their company, for I love her much; and so after dinner I left them and by water from the Old Swan to White Hall, where, walking in the galleries, I in the first place met Mr. Pierce, who tells me the story of Tom Woodall, the surgeon, killed in a drunken quarrel, and how the Duke of York hath a mind to get him one of his places in St. Thomas’s Hospitall. Then comes Mr. Hayward, the Duke of York’s servant, and tells us that the Swede’s Embassador hath been here to-day with news that it is believed that the Dutch will yield to have the treaty at London or Dover, neither of which will get our King any credit, we having already consented to have it at The Hague; which, it seems, De Witt opposed, as a thing wherein the King of England must needs have some profound design, which in my conscience he hath not. They do also tell me that newes is this day come to the King, that the King of France is come with his army to the frontiers of Flanders, demanding leave to pass through their country towards Poland, but is denied, and thereupon that he is gone into the country. How true this is I dare not believe till I hear more.
From them I walked into the Parke, it being a fine but very cold day; and there took two or three turns the length of the Pell Mell: and there I met Serjeant Bearcroft, who was sent for the Duke of Buckingham, to have brought him prisoner to the Tower. He come to towne this day, and brings word that, being overtaken and outrid by the Duchesse of Buckingham within a few miles of the Duke’s house of Westhorp, he believes she got thither about a quarter of an hour before him, and so had time to consider; so that, when he come, the doors were kept shut against him. The next day, coming with officers of the neighbour market-town to force open the doors, they were open for him, but the Duke gone; so he took horse presently, and heard upon the road that the Duke of Buckingham was gone before him for London: so that he believes he is this day also come to towne before him; but no newes is yet heard of him. This is all he brings. Thence to my Lord Chancellor’s, and there, meeting Sir H. Cholmly, he and I walked in my Lord’s garden, and talked; among other things, of the treaty: and he says there will certainly be a peace, but I cannot believe it. He tells me that the Duke of Buckingham his crimes, as far as he knows, are his being of a caball with some discontented persons of the late House of Commons, and opposing the desires of the King in all his matters in that House; and endeavouring to become popular, and advising how the Commons’ House should proceed, and how he would order the House of Lords. And that he hath been endeavouring to have the King’s nativity calculated; which was done, and the fellow now in the Tower about it; which itself hath heretofore, as he says, been held treason, and people died for it; but by the Statute of Treasons, in Queen Mary’s times and since, it hath been left out. He tells me that this silly Lord hath provoked, by his ill-carriage, the Duke of York, my Lord Chancellor, and all the great persons; and therefore, most likely, will die. He tells me, too, many practices of treachery against this King; as betraying him in Scotland, and giving Oliver an account of the King’s private councils; which the King knows very well, and hath yet pardoned him.
Here I passed away a little time more talking with him and Creed, whom I met there, and so away, Creed walking with me to White Hall, and there I took water and stayed at Michell’s to drink. I home, and there to read very good things in Fuller’s “Church History,” and “Worthies,” and so to supper, and after supper had much good discourse with W. Hewer, who supped with us, about the ticket office and the knaveries and extortions every day used there, and particularly of the business of Mr. Carcasse, whom I fear I shall find a very rogue. So parted with him, and then to bed.

touching wood
I believe and do not believe

the day I met a bear
the doors were open
and the road was gone

I believe but cannot believe
that I will die

to pass time I read history

so much is ours without us


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 3 March 1667.

Self-quarantine

Watch on Vimeo.

The word goes out: Stop congregating. Stop conjugating. Stop conflagrating. Look but don’t touch — not even your own face. Stay home. Keep your distance. Keep your own company. That’s all any of us have left, aside from toilet paper. You may already be dead.

red pill
telling the ladybirds
to fly away home

Fires

Up, and to the office, where sitting all the morning, and among other things did agree upon a distribution of 30,000l. and odd, which is the only sum we hear of like to come out of all the Poll Bill for the use of this office for buying of goods. I did herein some few courtesies for particular friends I wished well to, and for the King’s service also, and was therefore well pleased with what was done. Sir W. Pen this day did bring an order from the Duke of York for our receiving from him a small vessel for a fireship, and taking away a better of the King’s for it, it being expressed for his great service to the King. This I am glad of, not for his sake, but that it will give me a better ground, I believe, to ask something for myself of this kind, which I was fearful to begin. This do make Sir W. Pen the most kind to me that can be. I suppose it is this, lest it should find any opposition from me, but I will not oppose, but promote it.
After dinner, with my wife, to the King’s house to see “The Mayden Queene,” a new play of Dryden’s, mightily commended for the regularity of it, and the strain and wit; and, the truth is, there is a comical part done by Nell, which is Florimell, that I never can hope ever to see the like done again, by man or woman. The King and Duke of York were at the play. But so great performance of a comical part was never, I believe, in the world before as Nell do this, both as a mad girle, then most and best of all when she comes in like a young gallant; and hath the notions and carriage of a spark the most that ever I saw any man have. It makes me, I confess, admire her. Thence home and to the office, where busy a while, and then home to read the lives of Henry 5th and 6th, very fine, in Speede, and to bed. This day I did pay a bill of 50l. from my father, being so much out of my own purse gone to pay my uncle Robert’s legacy to my aunt Perkins’s child.

morning like a small fire

I ask myself to be kind
for the truth is comical

and in you the spark
that makes me go


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 2 March 1667.

Poetry Blog Digest 2020, Week 11

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, the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic hit home for most Americans when almost all sports were cancelled, most schools and universities were closed, and everyone but the immortal youth began to practice “social distancing” in a desperate attempt to flatten the rate-of-infection curve and prevent our absurd, profit-driven healthcare system from being completely overwhelmed. I think we can expect all forms of online activity to blossom in the coming weeks, including literary blogging and all manner of social-media-enabled reading and writing exercises. (Scroll down a bit for an invitation to one promising, free daily workshop that Trish Hopkinson shared.) In the meantime, here’s how the Anglophone poetry blogosphere is adjusting to this new reality.


In the dream I stood facing a window in an empty house, arranging some plates that were not mine in an unfamiliar room. I turned, and saw our late friend Jenny, sitting on a couch or bench, dressed in white, her hair long and wavy as it was many years ago. She smiled her inimitable smile, and we talked, but I can’t remember our words or what they were about — what I remember are her face, the whiteness and emptiness of the room, and its calmness.

After I woke up, I knew this dream had something to do with the virus and our fears of death, but that it also had to do with the endurance of friendship and love. Today I called several friends and wrote to others; my father and another friend called us; I made soup and cornbread for lunch and sent some across the city to a dear friend who’s been sick with seasonal flu. I thought about our cathedral and its motto, “An Oasis in the Heart of Montreal,” and what that could mean not just to our community but to the city at large, if we can manage to be creative and innovative in our outreach even while regular services are suspended. It was a sunny day, a bit warmer than usual, and my husband and I went out for a long walk. This evening, in the new, longer-lasting light, we ventured out onto our nearly snowless terrace with our gin-and-tonics, and toasted each other and the coming spring before scooting back inside.

Beth Adams, Hermit Diary, Montreal. 2

Before sitting down to post today, I was struggling with how honest to be. I don’t want to add to the alarm and panic, and I don’t want anyone to feel that they should need to worry about me. But my work week last week was one of the hardest I have ever been through. Almost all of our volunteers have been furloughed or have left of their own accord, and my job, which I loved and and was good at, has morphed into something else entirely, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be coming back in any recognizable form any time soon. We are under the Emergency Command structure at the hospital, and all hands are on deck for dealing with the coming influx. There is a barrage of COVID-19 information coming at me all day, every day, and we are in constant reactive mode and working long hours. It’s extremely draining. I am fighting hard not to sink into a depression. I miss the familiar faces I’m used to seeing every day, and I miss the gym with a huge lump in my throat. I had no idea how much of a mental and emotional haven it had become for me, and not having it in my life during this time of extreme stress has made everything that much worse. I’m irritable and short-tempered, I’m drinking too much coffee because I want to sleep all of the time if I don’t, and I don’t have any appetite. I’m crying almost every day, and that’s normally rare for me.

The loss of the familiar is very real, and I am grieving. But I am pushing myself to adjust to this new normal, to keep going and to be strong because I love my community and I love my hospital, and I was put here to serve—and serve I will do. This not the only time in history that communities have gone through huge, reality-bending changes in their daily lives, and I take inspiration in the toughness of those who have gone before. Many have been through far worse throughout history, and when we’re on the other side of this, I will remain standing.

Kristen McHenry, Hard Times and Hard Honesty, Two-Fisted Escape Artist, Sweatin’ to the 80’s

As a poet, I’m used to being a little bit low-profile, but today I had a front-page story on Salon.com, “Marriage in the Time of Coronavirus,” a place I’ve wanted to publish in since its inception. The story in my perspective on living with my husband in a stressful quarantine situation, with several chronic illnesses, in the epicenter of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I’ve put some of the details of how it’s been coping with ER visits and empty shelves here right next to the hospital where the majority of the US deaths from Coronavirus have occurred on this blog, but this is in the form of a lyric essay hybridized with journalism. I hope it is helpful and gives you some perspective on how it may be in other US cities in the next weeks to come.

Just for some perspective, in my state, there have been 40 deaths and 642 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus, most of them in King County. Most of the deaths have happened in my neighborhood. It’s not an abstraction for us. This week, the zoo, the Japanese garden, and 50 restaurants closed, as well as the winery next to my house, the beautiful Chateau Ste Michelle. All public and private schools were closed, and universities, and churches. Meetings of over 250 are forbidden.

Jeannine Hall Gailey, Love in the Time of Coronavirus on Salon, Two Poems in EcoTheo, and Getting an MRI with Flowers in the Epicenter

It was during evening drive time I was thinking what a hit culture in the country is taking. I know for example our symphony is canceling events. I assume theaters are as well. So too I would think that local poetry readings are being canceled. I certainly will not be making the rounds and this is sad but the right thing to do.

In an effort to keep poetry before the public during this dark period, I plan to share on social media some of my favorite poets and poems. The same with music.  It is at times like these we most need poems and music to speak to our soul. I hope others will do the same.

In closing I would encourage people to rely on the CDC as well as state and local health departments for information concerning issues related to your own health.  Please keep in mind it is important to consider your own health, but those you come in contact with.  Even if you have a mild case, realize you may be placing others with high risk factors in serious danger.

Michael Allyn Wells, Entering Culturally Dark Days Ahead.

When my students asked me last week–during our final in-person classes, as it turns out–how I thought the virus would develop or whether W&L would switch to online instruction soon, I offered guesses with the caveat, “But I’m not an authority on this. My thoughts about poetry are worth something; otherwise I’m just an average person who reads the news.”

These days I don’t feel like an authority on poetry, either–at least not about how to generate enthusiasm for poems when most-in person gatherings are canceled. My fifth full-length collection, The State She’s In, officially launches this week. I’m proud of this book and have been laboring hard to set up readings this spring, basically performing the job of a part-time publicist as well as full-time professor. They’re dropping away fast. Pre-launch copies have been available from the publisher, Tinderbox Editions, since AWP (I think the discount code AWP2020 still works), but I wasn’t able to sign it there, and I just postponed my local book party, too. These cancellations absolutely need to happen, never mind all that shopping I did for goody bags, stickers, chocolate eggs, and pink ribbon. Chris says don’t worry, it’s just a delay, I can still do those events latter. I hope he’s right, but in the meantime I’m trying to figure out what I CAN do.

I’d love your ideas, but what’s currently on my docket: I have a few guest-blog-type-things in the works as well as possible reviewers, and of course I’ll use social media (although I’m limiting my own time on FB and Twitter lately). I got some new author photos done, below. My copies of The State She’s In arrived a few days ago and this week I’ll be sending them where they need to go.

My latest brainstorm is to use my blog to promote other poetry collections launching into this virus-blasted landscape. Effort on behalf of others tends to boomerang, right? I’ll definitely focus on books from little presses, not the ones already attaining media spotlight. I’m currently thinking I’ll begin each post with my own micro-review, maybe just a few sentences describing what attracts me to the work, then ask three questions of the author. I’m pondering what might be good questions to ask, not too run-of-the-mill. If you have notions about how to do this, or you want to draw my attention to your OWN new book, I’d like to hear from you, so just reply below or on FB or by email (wheelerlm at wlu dot edu). Digital ARCs and review copies would be welcome, and I’ve already ordered and pre-ordered some books I’m interested in. My plan is to start off with The State She’s In then feature as many new books as I can, maybe one a week.

Lesley Wheeler, Virtual launches and figuring out how to help

Sunday wears a beaky mask
stuffed with sweet herbs and flowers
meant to hide the smell of sickness
my son has the first apocalypse dream
we drive to the beach at dusk
and talk about ghosts
until I cry but I keep the tears
inside my eyelids
I dream a conga line of men
in my yard dancing their way into the ocean
dropping one by one
I am ripe and my blood is high

Rebecca Loudon, corona 2

The burrowing owls stand and watch closely as I walk by; have I come to threaten them? No? This is the anxiety of death that we all know. The burrowing owls, small, colored like the earth, like the cold ground, relax a little as I pass. I can see this. O cold night, let them know peace and comfort, these little beings who look at me and think of danger. 

James Lee Jobe, The burrowing owls stand and watch closely as I walk by

This morning I walked outside, and everything seemed so normal.  In South Florida, it’s neither warm nor cool, a lovely 71 degrees at 5:15 a.m. when I headed to spin class.  I heard crickets and not much traffic noise.  All of my neighbors were sleeping in their dark houses.

I thought about how it was like the days before a hurricane when we know something is happening, but we don’t know how big it will be or how much it will affect us.  And yet, everything seems so normal, so quiet.

Is it my animal sense telling me that something bad is coming our way or residue from reading too much news?  I don’t really think I have an internal barometer; I’ve been notably wrong in my premonitions too many times to think that I have much in the way of a sixth sense.

And yet, suddenly my brain shifts into poetry mode, and I find myself grateful because it’s been a few weeks.  I can always reassure myself about why I’m not writing poems (travel, work pace, tiredness), but I’m always glad when I start again.

I wrote a poem before I headed to spin class, and then on the way home, I realized that incantation rhymes with lamentation.  I was thinking about writers during past plague times, like Chaucer and Boccaccio.  My poem contains this line:  “Who will be our Chaucer now?”

As I write these blog posts, I think about historians and scholars hundreds of years from now–will they appreciate the work we all did recording life in these times?  Will they scroll through all of our tweets?

Kristin Berkey-Abbott, A Journal of the Plague Year

My commute to my day job was effortless this morning. The roads were nearly clear and traffic was almost nonexistent. As someone who generally drives a minimum of two hours a day, this would normally be a cause of celebration. But these open roads are the result in numerous Silicon Valley folks working from home in the face of the corona virus — a reality that left me melancholy.

Turns out, nearly empty roads are a strange, haunting sight.

This month, I started a challenge to write 30 poem drafts in 30 days (a challenge I normally do in April during National Poetry Month, but I got confused and started it early, so here we are). I found a nice rhythm to the work at the start of the month, but have since fallen behind and am having to play catchup.

As more and more news flows in about all the messed up goings on in the world, the writing of poetry or fiction feels like a frivolous thing. How could putting words on a page possibly help anyone or anything?

Andrea Blythe, On Writing In Stressful Times

waiting in the rain
for virus number 19
wet graves are cold
[link]

*

coronavirus
the laying on of hands
postponed
[link]

*

coronavirus
underlying wealth problems
take stock
[link]

Jim Young, three posts from 9 March at haiku eye

Yesterday, I was happily puttering in the vegetable garden, prepping soil and setting up raised beds and sowing peas. We had a visitor who is 26 years old and not a gardener, so I teased her by saying, “If the Apocalypse happens, come to us–I’ll have food!”

“This is the Apocalypse,” she responded. Joking, sort of, not really. She’s anxious, and I understand. When I was between 21 and 26 years old (and living on almost no money in New York City), a virus swept through and rapidly killed some of my beautiful, talented, young friends–a virus about which medical science had no firm understanding and few ways to diagnose, screen, or treat. And no vaccine.

It was frightening. There were also the hostage crisis in Iran, gas shortages, and a rise in nationalist and fundamentalist/apocalyptic/anti-feminist rhetoric that led to a polarized presidential election and divisiveness among neighbors (all of which was partly the inspiration for Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale).

Am I less frightened now? Yes. Does that make me less cautious about “social distancing” and public gatherings? No–although I would say I am perhaps less freaked out than most people I know. We went to the local diner last evening; I met a friend at a coffee shop. My workplace has asked staff to go to our offices, so I’ll be there tomorrow even though the students will not. They are finishing the semester online, as are so many other university students.

Looking back at the past couple of years, it seems we live in a time of plague and fire and politically difficult situations; but that’s the way the world has ever been. Many times have felt like end times to those enduring the uncertainties that come with changed routines and dangerous events, natural and human-created. Here we are, raking the garden, hoping there’ll be harvest.

Ann E. Michael, Normality: it’s not a thing

During these days of self-imposed exile, be careful not to fall into fits of depression, don’t spend your time composing mood music for the dead.

Keep your mind clear, stay informed, don’t allow your thoughts to become a graveyard of propaganda.

Share song, wit, art & supplies. Be sure to wash your hands, but don’t whitewash your emotions.

Use this time for mindful self-reflection: connect with the tangibles & intangibles of your life, even if you have to wear a surgical mask in the process.

If you’re able to hug a loved one free of any sanitizers or barriers, do so. It’ll provide you with health & happiness beyond measure.

Offer compassion & understanding to those gripped by fear; these are strange days indeed.

Our bodies may be ill, but the potential for courage, reflection & realignment are alive & well.

Rich Ferguson, Strange Days Indeed

If I were flippant, I’d be suggesting that magazine editors should be bracing themselves for colossal numbers of virus-related poems heading for their inboxes over the next few months. The only advantage of this, of course, is that such an influx might at least make a change from the typical themes that follow a British winter: floods, storms, deluges and everything water-related.

However, if I were serious, I’d be mulling over the cancellation of Prowein, the major wine fair in Düsseldorf, thinking about my customers’ fears for their businesses and their health when I visited them last week, worrying myself about the vulnerability of people who are close to me.

Either way, poetry is a constant, reassuring companion, a counterpoint to rolling newsfeeds and social media, a bridge between our outer and inner worlds, emotional sustenance in these disturbing times…

Matthew Stewart, A bridge between worlds

I am trying to focus on the positives–various times when all I’ve wanted was a stretch of time when I had no plans and no need to leave the apartment (albeit it under ore desirable circumstances.)  The writing and art projects I’d be able to tend to.  Even if I’m spending part of my day working on library stuff, it’s cutting two hours of commuting out of my life that are ripe for more interesting things. We’ve also been trying to cordon off time to work on some A of R writing projects that never seems to happen in the chaos of our department daily. 

Instead of giving in to the panic that switches to B-roll of an apocalypse movie..I am going to think of it as pressing a pause button on real life.  As such, there are things that do not matter in pause time.   Everyone just needs to sit very still.  Sort of like when in elementary school, the teacher would force everyone to quiet the fuck down by putting their heads on their desks.  All of you, heads on your desks.  Stop hoarding more than you need. Help the elderly and compromised and check in to make sure they are okay.  Read a dam book or watch some Netflix.  Chill the fuck out.  The government, which locally is pretty sane, nationally a trash fire, needs to make it easier for people to feel secure and get what they need–food, supplies, medication…

Kristy Bowen, pressing pause

Below is the information from Marj Hahne for her upcoming 30-minute daily workshop, starting tomorrow!
__________

Are you socially distanced? Self-quarantined? Cabin-feverish? A little po-lonely?

“Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life,” wrote poet Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet), so let’s ignore life and stay healthy by reading and writing poems alone together.

For FREE. For freedom.

POEMUNIZE: Your Daily Shot

Join in on any or all days.

30 minutes a day, 7 days a week

Monday, March 16 thru Sunday, April 5th

11:30 AM–12:00 PM (Eastern) / 10:30–11:00 AM (Central) / 9:30–10:00 AM (Mountain) / 8:30–9:00 AM (Pacific)

We’ll read & briefly discuss one poem, then write (verse or prose) from a prompt tailored from that poem.

REGISTER: anytime during the 3-week period:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ud4enK9_Tz6FZwt9LLsKBg

*Your registration-confirmation email will contain an access URL, which is the same for all sessions.

*You’ll receive an automated reminder email an hour before each session, containing that access URL.

PLEASE feel free to share this with your writing peeps all around this toilet-paper-panicked nation!

Trish Hopkinson, Free workshop – “POEMUNIZE: Your Daily Shot” with Marj Hahne, Mar. 16 – April 5 @ 11:30 am EST

The Corona Virus is going to require a lot of change, compromise, innovative thinking. A lot of writers will be losing out on work and money because events like readings, workshops and book launches will be cancelled. The writing community on Twitter is trying to support each other, offering to post information on each other’s books and other threads to build camaraderie. Poetry Ireland is posting daily prompts, yeah! Bookshops are offering online sales, the Toledo Poetry Museum is doing an online open mic and I’ve even heard the suggestion of an online festival. Hopefully, by being isolated we can develop more connections.

This week, our writing group has moved online to avoid gathering in a very public venue. It was a fun change, but we all missed being together. I hope this is a short change and that those who are in self-isolation can find ways to get through. We’re in this together. 

Gerry Stewart, Interesting Times

I am filling myself
so full of poetry
in these last years

that when I die
it won’t matter
that I’m dead.

The hungry stars
will still get what
they need from me.

Tom Montag, I AM FILLING MYSELF

Mostly, it was heartening to realize that my feed was full of messages that all said some version of this: We need to do what we’re doing and bear the costs of these actions not to reduce our own risks, but to reduce the risks to others. The ratio of those messages to photos of empty toilet paper aisle shelves was about a million to one, and for the first time in a long time I’ve felt something I’d almost forgotten the feeling of: Hope.

As I’m watching the world around me shift to accommodate the shape of something we’ve never experienced here, there is something that feels almost holy in this moment. I have been thinking for a long time that it would probably take some kind of disaster to turn us around on the path we’ve been hurtling down. That is the opportunity inherent in this unfolding disaster that will touch all of us in some way, if it hasn’t already.

My deep, fervent hope today is that this will propel us to remember how inter-connected we all are, to reach out to each other rather than erect walls between us, to uphold ideas and ideals that have always been the best part of us, and to act more from love than from fear.

We’ll all have to figure out the best ways for us to do that. Right now, I’m focused on staying home as much as possible and supporting those in my personal circle without creating more risk for those outside it. I might write here more often, once I get a little equilibrium back. Mostly, though, you can probably find me (but please, don’t come too close looking) painting a wall or cleaning a garage or stabbing canvas with a needle or sharing something through Facebook–a tidbit of useful information or something funny to make you smile.

Because it has always been true that we also serve, who only stand and wait.

Rita Ott Ramstad, A post about the thing with feathers

Last night, after reading frightening coverage about this country’s abysmal preparation for Covid-19, with potential death tolls estimated to reach 1 to 1.5 million Americans, I dreamed about a family member just outside my window who couldn’t hear or see me calling him. Even in my dream I wondered which one of us wasn’t alive. I also dreamed about rotting food that grew into a malevolent presence. (And I dreamed about pastel-colored baby llamas…)

I woke up to cancel and respond to cancellation notices for all sorts of workshops, events, and get-togethers. Tentatively my classes for April are still a go-status, but I realize that may change. So much is changing.

Like nearly everyone else, I’m taking in more news than I normally do. I’ve heard experts say this pandemic is the event of a century. I’ve heard experts say this will be generation-defining. […]

The next few months will likely test us, maybe test us severely.  Through whatever we suffer, this pandemic may help us see we are interconnected beyond our own fingertips, beyond our own borders.  May we rise to our best selves, creative and caring, no matter what. May we keep up one another’s spirits as the people of  Siena, Italy do — singing from their homes and apartments during the mandated quarantine. 

Laura Grace Weldon, Mutual Aid In The Time Of Covid-19

even a pandemic
can’t make it stop!
the rising sun

Bill Waters, The rising sun

Art student

Up, it being very cold weather again after a good deal of warm summer weather, and to the office, where I settled to do much business to-day. By and by sent for to Sir G. Carteret to discourse of the business of the Navy, and our wants, and the best way of bestowing the little money we have, which is about 30,000l., but, God knows, we have need of ten times as much, which do make my life uncomfortable, I confess, on the King’s behalf, though it is well enough as to my own particular, but the King’s service is undone by it. Having done with him, back again to the office, and in the streets, in Mark Lane, I do observe, it being St. David’s day, the picture of a man dressed like a Welchman, hanging by the neck upon one of the poles that stand out at the top of one of the merchants’ houses, in full proportion, and very handsomely done; which is one of the oddest sights I have seen a good while, for it was so like a man that one would have thought it was indeed a man.
Being returned home, I find Greeting, the flageolet-master, come, and teaching my wife; and I do think my wife will take pleasure in it, and it will be easy for her, and pleasant. So I, as I am well content with the charge it will occasion me.
So to the office till dinner-time, and then home to dinner, and before dinner making my wife to sing. Poor wretch! her ear is so bad that it made me angry, till the poor wretch cried to see me so vexed at her, that I think I shall not discourage her so much again, but will endeavour to make her understand sounds, and do her good that way; for she hath a great mind to learn, only to please me; and, therefore, I am mighty unjust to her in discouraging her so much, but we were good friends, and to dinner, and had she not been ill with those and that it were not Friday (on which in Lent there are no plays) I had carried her to a play, but she not being fit to go abroad, I to the office, where all the afternoon close examining the collection of my papers of the accounts of the Navy since this war to my great content, and so at night home to talk and sing with my-wife, and then to supper and so to bed with great pleasure. But I cannot but remember that just before dinner one of my people come up to me, and told me a man come from Huntingdon would speak with me, how my heart come into my mouth doubting that my father, who has been long sicke, was dead. It put me into a trembling, but, blessed be! it was no such thing, but a countryman come about ordinary business to me, to receive 50l. paid to my father in the country for the Perkins’s for their legacy, upon the death of their mother, by my uncle’s will. So though I get nothing at present, at least by the estate, I am fain to pay this money rather than rob my father, and much good may it do them that I may have no more further trouble from them.
I hear to-day that Tom Woodall, the known chyrurgeon, is killed at Somerset House by a Frenchman, but the occasion Sir W. Batten could not tell me.

art is our best wing
uncomfortable
as hanging by the neck

one house very handsomely done
was so like a thought
I returned home

I teach my ear
not to understand sounds
and that way to learn

just as the dead
receive their legacy
of moth and fur


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 1 March 1667.