Over

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to the office betimes, and there all the morning very busy causing papers to be entered and sorted to put the office in order against the Parliament. At noon home to dinner, and then to the office again close all the afternoon upon the same occasion with great pleasure till late, and then with my wife and Mercer in the garden and sung, and then home and sung, and to supper with great content, and so to bed. The Duke of York is come back last night from Harwich, the news he brings I know not, nor hear anything to-day from Dover, whether the enemy have made any attempt there as was expected. This day our girle Mary, whom Payne helped us to, to be under his daughter, when she come to be our cook-mayde, did go away declaring that she must be where she might earn something one day, and spend it and play away the next. But a good civil wench, and one neither wife nor I did ever give angry word to, but she has this silly vanity that she must play.

causing papers to be entered and sorted
I lose the afternoon
the sun is now over
the under day


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 10 July 1667.

Consumer report

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up pretty betimes and to the office, where busy till office time, and then we sat, but nothing to do but receive clamours about money. This day my Lord Anglesey, our new Treasurer, come the first time to the Board, and there sat with us till noon; and I do perceive he is a very notable man, and understanding, and will do things regular, and understand them himself, not trust Fenn, as Sir G. Carteret did, and will solicit soundly for money, which I do fear was Sir G. Carteret’s fault, that he did not do that enough, considering the age we live in, that nothing will do but by solicitation, though never so good for the King or Kingdom, and a bad business well solicited shall, for peace sake, speed when a good one shall not. But I do confess that I do think it a very bold act of him to take upon himself the place of Treasurer of the Navy at this time, but when I consider that a regular accountant never ought to fear any thing nor have reason I then do cease to wonder. At noon home to dinner and to play on the flageolet with my wife, and then to the office, where very busy close at my office till late at night. At night walked and sang with my wife in the garden, and so home to supper and to bed. This evening news comes for certain that the Dutch are with their fleete before Dover, and that it is expected they will attempt something there. The business of the peace is quite dashed again, so as now it is doubtful whether the King will condescend to what the Dutch demand, it being so near the Parliament, it being a thing that will, it may be, recommend him to them when they shall find that the not having of a peace lies on his side by denying some of their demands.
This morning Captain Clerke (Robin Clerke) was at the table, now commands the Monmouth, and did when the enemy passed the chaine at Chatham the other day, who said publickly at the table that he did admire at the order when it was brought him for sinking of the Monmouth (to the endangering of the ship, and spoiling of all her provisions) when her number of men were upon her that he could have carried her up the River whither he pleased, and have been a guard to the rest, and could have sunk her at any time. He did carry some 100 barrels of powder out of the ship to save it after the orders come for the sinking her. He knew no reason at all, he declares, that could lead them to order the sinking her, nor the rest of the great ships that were sunk, but above all admires they would burn them on shore and sink them there, when it had been better to have sunk them long way in the middle of the River, for then they would not have burned them so low as now they did.

nothing to do
so nothing will do

I cease to wonder

the evening news comes
with its ash

visions on ship
that sink on shore


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 9 July 1667.

Refugees

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to my chamber, and by and by comes Greeting, and to my flageolett with him with a pretty deal of pleasure, and then to the office, where W. Batten, W. Pen and I met about putting men to work for the weighing of the ships in the River sunk. Then home again, and there heard Mr. Caesar play some very good things on the lute together with myself on the violl and Greeting on the viallin. Then with my wife abroad by coach, she to her tailor‘s, I to Westminster to Burges about my Tangier business, and thence to White Hall, where I spoke with Sir John Nicholas, who tells me that Mr. Coventry is come from Bredah, as was expected; but, contrary to expectation, brings with him two or three articles which do not please the King: as, to retrench the Act of Navigation, and then to ascertain what are contraband goods; and then that those exiled persons, who are or shall take refuge in their country, may be secure from any further prosecution. Whether these will be enough to break the peace upon, or no, he cannot tell; but I perceive the certainty of peace is blown over. So called on my wife and met Creed by the way, and they two and I to Charing Cross, there to see the great boy and girle that are lately come out of Ireland, the latter eight, the former but four years old, of most prodigious bigness for their age. I tried to weigh them in my arms, and find them twice as heavy as people almost twice their age; and yet I am apt to believe they are very young. Their father a little sorry fellow, and their mother an old Irish woman. They have had four children of this bigness, and four of ordinary growth, whereof two of each are dead. If, as my Lord Ormond certifies, it be true that they are no older, it is very monstrous. So home and to dinner with my wife and to pipe, and then I to the office, where busy all the afternoon till the evening, and then with my wife by coach abroad to Bow and Stratford, it being so dusty weather that there was little pleasure in it, and so home and to walk in the garden, and thither comes Pelling to us to talk, and so in and to supper, and then to bed. All the world being as I hear very much damped that their hopes of peace is become uncertain again.

sun and Caesar hit those
who take refuge in their country

call on a cross twice
as heavy as they are

their children grow monstrous
in the dust


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 8 July 1667.

Augury

still from Augury
This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Pandemic Season

 

Watch on Vimeo.

The dark, seasonal pool at the top of the watershed has dried up, so where do I go now to let my eyes relax and envision possibilities apart from the doom-scroll on my phone or laptop?

cracks in the mud
100% chance
of chaos

In the garden, Oswego tea leaves tremble with the buzz of pollinators, but soon I am mourning the scarcity of butterflies — a region-wide phenomenon. Up on the ridgetop after dark I watch a distant thunderstorm off to the southeast: sudden fissures of light opening and closing without a sound, while the first katydids test out their rattles. But soon I am remembering an article about a terrifying new category of monster storm. I turn and look for Comet Neowise below Ursa Major. It’s the barest of smudges now, like the death-smear of a midge at the bottom of a monitor.

trying to recall
my touch-typing skills
the sound of rain

***

Process notes

The continued drought, combined with worsening news on the political, pandemic, and environmental fronts, makes me want to simultaneously escape from and delve deeper into the present moment. I do love the expression “doom-scrolling,” though.

A mixture of old and new footage. With the haibun text, I’m trying to stay mindful of how it fits with its predecessors, picking up old themes and references to make the series feel more like a sequence. (I’m posting the texts into a manuscript as I go along, to help out with this.)

It’s possible these haiku are a bit too clever. Call them senryu, then. I don’t mind.

Divisive

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up, and to my chamber, there to settle some papers, and thither comes Mr. Moore to me and talked till church time of the news of the times about the peace and the bad consequences of it if it be not improved to good purpose of fitting ourselves for another war. He tells me he heard that the discontented Parliament-men are fearful that the next sitting the King will put for a general excise, by which to raise him money, and then to fling off the Parliament, and raise a land-army and keep them all down like slaves; and it is gotten among them, that Bab. May, the Privy-purse, hath been heard to say that 300l. a-year is enough for any country gentleman; which makes them mad, and they do talk of 6 or 800,000l. gone into the Privy-purse this war, when in King James’s time it arose but to 5,000l., and in King Charles’s but 10,000l. in a year. He tells me that a goldsmith in town told him that, being with some plate with my Lady Castlemayne lately, she directed her woman (the great beauty), “Wilson,” says she, “make a note for this, and for that, to the Privy-purse for money.” He tells me a little more of the baseness of the courses taken at Court in the case of Mr. Moyer, who is at liberty, and is to give 500l. for his liberty; but now the great ones are divided, who shall have the money, the Duke of Albemarle on one hand, and another Lord on the other; and that it is fain to be decided by having the person’s name put into the King’s warrant for his liberty, at whose intercession the King shall own that he is set at liberty; which is a most lamentable thing, that we do professedly own that we do these things, not for right and justice sake, but only to gratify this or that person about the King. God forgive us all!
Busy till noon, and then home to dinner, and Mr. Moore come and dined with us, and much more discourse at and after dinner of the same kind, and then, he gone, I to my office busy till the evening, and then with my wife and Jane over to Half-way house, a very good walk; and there drank, and in the cool of the evening back again, and sang with pleasure upon the water, and were mightily pleased in hearing a boatfull of Spaniards sing, and so home to supper and to bed. Jane of late mighty fine, by reason of a laced whiske her mistress hath given her, which makes her a very gracefull servant. But, above all, my wife and I were the most surprised in the beauty of a plain girle, which we met in the little lane going from Redriffe-stairs into the fields, one of the prettiest faces that we think we ever saw in our lives.

church of war
like a mad rose

divided we only gratify
this or that god

give us more of the same
half-lives


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 7 July 1667.

Nope

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to the office, where some of us sat busy all the morning. At noon home to dinner, whither Creed come to dine with us and brings the first word I hear of the news of a peace, the King having letters come to him this noon signifying that it is concluded on, and that Mr. Coventry is upon his way coming over for the King’s satisfaction. The news was so good and sudden that I went with great joy to W. Batten and then to W. Pen to tell it them, and so home to dinner, mighty merry, and light at my heart only on this ground, that a continuing of the war must undo us, and so though peace may do the like if we do not make good use of it to reform ourselves and get up money, yet there is an opportunity for us to save ourselves. At least, for my own particular, we shall continue well till I can get my money into my hands, and then I will shift for myself. After dinner away, leaving Creed there, by coach to Westminster, where to the Swan and drank, and then to the Hall, and there talked a little with great joy of the peace, and then to Mrs. Martin’s, where I met with the good news que elle ne est con child, the fear of which she did give me the other day, had troubled me much. My joy in this made me send for wine, and thither come her sister and Mrs. Cragg, and I staid a good while there. But here happened the best instance of a woman’s falseness in the world, that her sister Doll, who went for a bottle of wine, did come home all blubbering and swearing against one Captain Vandener, a Dutchman of the Rhenish Wine House, that pulled her into a stable by the Dog tavern, and there did tumble her and toss her, calling him all the rogues and toads in the world, when she knows that elle hath suffered me to do any thing with her a hundred times. Thence with joyful heart to White Hall to ask Mr. Williamson the news, who told me that Mr. Coventry is coming over with a project of a peace; which, if the States agree to, and our King, when their Ministers on both sides have shewed it them, we shall agree, and that is all: but the King, I hear, do give it out plain that the peace is concluded. Thence by coach home, and there wrote a few letters, and then to consult with my wife about going to Epsum to-morrow, sometimes designing to go and then again not; and at last it grew late and I bethought myself of business to employ me at home tomorrow, and so I did not go. This afternoon I met with Mr. Rolt, who tells me that he is going Cornett under Collonel Ingoldsby, being his old acquaintance, and Ingoldsby hath a troop now from under the King, and I think it is a handsome way for him, but it was an ominous thing, methought, just as he was bidding me his last adieu, his nose fell a-bleeding, which ran in my mind a pretty while after. This afternoon Sir Alexander Frazier, who was of council for Sir J. Minnes, and had given him over for a dead man, said to me at White Hall: — “What,” says he, “Sir J. Minnes is dead.” I told him, “No! but that there is hopes of his life.” Methought he looked very sillily after it, and went his way. Late home to supper, a little troubled at my not going to Epsum to-morrow, as I had resolved, especially having the Duke of York and W. Coventry out of town, but it was my own fault and at last my judgment to stay, and so to supper and to bed. This day, with great satisfaction, I hear that my Lady Jemimah is brought to bed, at Hinchingbroke, of a boy.

the first word is no
signifying the sudden ground
that continuing no

and I a child
blubbering again
no tomorrow no old hands no dead no judgement


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 6 July 1667.

Poetry Blog Digest 2020, Week 30

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: remarkable and terrible things, tectonic shifts, a longing for freedom, changes in direction, fresh inklings, bodies in the world, dreaming of the dead, ecstatic surrender, remembering the future, restoring mental equilibrium, taking chances, defending imagination, forgetfulness and supplication, poetry vs. prose, and the toe comma. Among other things.


I am in a dark cave I can hear the whole wolf world howling at me but it’s muffled I am in the cave scrambling out because the tide is rising I have seen remarkable and terrible things this week

when I was at the beach an eagle flew down and plucked an oyster from the sand not three feet away from where I was standing his tail feathers spread he took his time with it in no hurry to fly off

this morning I sobbed watching John Lewis’s body travel over the Edmund Lewis Bridge in Selma Alabama in a cart pulled by two black horses a cart with red iron wheels driven by a stately Black man in a top hat the bridge covered in red rose petals Mr. Lewis’s family walked behind and near the end of the procession each member of his family was given a single long stemmed rose which they placed in a line on the bridge upon which the black horses walked I could hear people singing We Shall Overcome

this is a historic moment in our country’s dark time on a Sunday in which fires blaze in our cities a Sunday in which the president is a craven beast encouraging us to bring civil war our infected cities our infected farms our infected schools and hospitals our infected democracy a terrible dark time in this country

I saw a dead owl on the road this week his huge wing fanned out I watched three young boys carry a forth by the arms and legs down the street all of them laughing I watched a lame rabbit drag his broken leg behind him as he disappeared into the underbrush at the state park I walked past an eight year old boy tap dancing like Gene Kelly in the back of a truck with the tailgate open a look of pure concentration on his face

Rebecca Loudon, In deepest July

[photo]
Sunday socially distanced picnic in the park. Sure, I have a back yard. I love the back yard. But there’s something about being alone together in the company of big trees that nourishes as much as salami and cheese and olives and wine. Something about the young woman, so small, sitting before those trees that will stand long after we have fallen. All the words we didn’t exchange that I can read in the curve of her back. Or perhaps that I’m writing upon it.

[photo]
This dog. He is demanding almost constant contact with his humans. It is wearing on us, to be honest, but there are gifts here, too: forced rest, space to contemplate, time to prepare. Grace for the taking. Much of this experience of walking him to his end feels like a dress rehearsal for a play not yet written. Love is a verb.

[photo]
My girl, with her dog and her love. He is on the phone, half-way around the world, ten time zones away, sleeping with the bear she sent him. Every single thing in this photo cracks a different part of my heart, fissures that spread and branch and intersect. It will likely be years before I can write anything substantial about this summer’s tectonic shifts. Maybe I never will. Time is no longer infinite.

Rita Ott Ramstad, Postcards, late mid-July

I’ve just come back from camping in Hebden Bridge. Four days of walking. A bit of reading. Three haiku written. Happy days and cold nights, especially Sunday when the sky was clear. Having camped on the top of the hill, just off the Pennine Way, it felt like we were that bit nearer the sky than anywhere else in the county. Fantastic.

Walking, even if you’re only out for the day, makes you very conscious of weight and what you can comfortably carry. Poetry pamphlets are ideal walking companions. Slim, lightweight, easy to dip in and out of. I was happy to take When All This Is Over (Calder Valley Press) with me, as it arrived last week. Put together by John Foggin and Bob Horne, with editorial input from Kim Moore, this pamphlet is the result of a project that started in lockdown, where John put out a call for poems responding to Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s poem ‘Swineherd’. Three months on, here we have a pamphlet that reflects that response, not just to the poem ‘Swineherd’, but to that peculiar time.

It was interesting to be reading these poems whilst out walking, as so many were about a longing for freedom, a desire to hit the open road and get away from it all. ‘I’ll become a nomad and travel/ where everyone goes wild about birdsong‘.

Julie Mellor, When All This Is Over

I’ve been reading even more poetry than usual over the last few months (and there is a lot of poetry out there to read). A lot of it has been by poets totally new to me. I’ve been surprised at times by what I’ve liked – and by how different from each other the poems are that I’ve liked. I’ve also been surprised that I haven’t liked some poetry that has had very enticing reviews, and yes, I know, different people like different things. I use ‘like’ here to cover a multitude of  positive responses – poetry can move you in so many different ways, and sometimes it just doesn’t work for you right now. It’s great, though, to see the diversity of poetry out there, and it’s also great to see how well the poetry presses have responded to the current crisis.

I’ve also realised that my own poetry has recently changed direction – and style. Well, hopefully it’s been developing before that, but now it feels different. I know that for quite some time I have wanted some particular poems I have written to be published as a pamphlet/collection. Some of them have been published/accepted in magazines, for which I am very grateful, and have also been online, but it seemed to mean a lot to me that they got published together. At the moment I don’t think that’s going to happen. I have made changes to some of them (though I’m not sure I should have), and mixed them in with newer ones that have been published/accepted separately, but maybe they are a thing of the past and should stay there. Maybe they were just not good enough overall or didn’t work together. There’s a lot of competition out there and other factors involved too, and yes, different people like different things. Whatever the case is, they had their purpose, and they’re still there for me, and for the people to whom they would mean the most, who have already seen them anyway.

Those poems were largely about remembering, trying to understand, to explain, maybe. They were very autobiographical, personal. I don’t think you can actually ever get away from that entirely, or indeed whether you should entirely – we write from who we are after all, but I notice my more recent work is more outward-looking. I’m not sure if that was a conscious decision, or has been influenced by what I’ve read, or whether that’s just where I am at the moment. Maybe it should have happened sooner. It wasn’t that I didn’t look outwards before, it’s just that I wasn’t sure how to respond. Certainly the current situation is one where change is a part of daily life and it would be hard not to respond to that somehow. My earlier poems drew very much on the natural world, particularly birds, and I don’t think that will disappear, but maybe now it will be from a different angle.

Sue Ibrahim, Poetry and me at the moment

It felt surreal to post writing like this at this moment. My summers are normally reserved for poetry, but now I’m finding that a lot of my July writing time is being allocated to other writing endeavors – mostly response to school opening plans and to various entities: admin, union, board. The writing of poetry is much more engaging than prose. Maybe I’ll start writing my responses to school openings in limerick form. Wouldn’t that be something?

Kersten Christianson, October Hill Magazine

The point is that this week has been the first week since the start of lockdown when I’ve been able to take a foot off the gas. Work has been quieter as a few projects are off and doing their thing for a bit before I need to tune back into them and thanks to a sore left knee I’ve not been running so much. This, and the fact I have massively reduced the to be reviewed list means that I’ve had the chance to do some of my own writing for the first time in about a month and a half. I know it’s not important in any scheme of things (whatever scale of grandness you choose to use), but it does feel good to be back at it.

And the drafts have happened. Some of this is more fully-fledged ideas gathering pace as they get closer to finished, but shockingly, there are two whole new poems being worked on this week. Both are ideas that have percolated for a while (a year or more), but given the paucity of work recently this is a flood. If I add that to the notes I’ve rescued from my email drafts and notes apps then I am a happy man. I like it. It’s almost productive.

Although, not as productive as my daughter. Two days ago she started mapping out her first novel in a series. It seems to have a vampire and witch theme—oddly, she’s been watching a lot of vampire and witch-based stuff on TV, but who cares about the theme; I’m just waiting to be able to retire off the back of the proceeds.

Mat Riches, Mangoes on a walk

Last night, first time I heard the tree crickets’ din blossoming in darkness; cicadas’ daytime clatter began last week, and the lantern fly nymphs are in their last stage before morphing into winged tree-pests. The heat’s oppressive, which seems to suit the general mood. I have not been writing poems, but this morning wakened early to surrounding birdsong and felt a moment of beauty amidst the tension.

As usual, my garden has offered respite. I harvest beans in evening’s humid warmth, pulling pods from the resilient stems. I marvel at the squash blossoms–bright bells amid enormous green leaves–and gather cucumbers and zucchini, and wait for tomatoes to ripen as I tie up the vines heavy with green globes. The scent of lemon basil pervades dusk as the last fireflies start to wink. Yes, there are disappointments and bugs and there will be yet more weeding and work. It is, however, labor of the body for the nurture of the body. A body in the world.

Ann E. Michael, Respite, refuge

Scratch the surface and there is much to be worried out.  The virus burning through the southern states who still won’t take it seriously, despite packed hospitals and mounting death tolls.  An uptick in Chicago cases. The scary things our government does and hides (sometimes in plain sight) or just tries to pretend isn’t happening.  I read an article earlier today on “doomscrolling” and indeed, I am perpetually guilty of it.   There were a couple days last week that just got really busy in terms of work and focusing on other things and i realized I was feeling mentally better. Now, I realize I wasn’t looking at the news so much over those couple days.  Over the weekend, I got really excited and engaged in playing with video again and realized almost a whole day had passed without me doing the doomscroll.  I’m feeling a tension between wanting (needing) to know what’s going on and knowing too much and at length.  Particularly when it comes to things, like the virus, I can’t really control on a national scale. I’m having a hard time figuring out how much is too much. 

Kristy Bowen, doomscrolling 2020

You awaken each day to a feeling of sadness, a dull emptiness. Morning does not come to the dead of COVID-19. Nights come and go, and you are, in time, full of these forgotten dreams, forgotten names, and everyday the number of COVID-19 deaths grows. And friend, night does not come to the dead of COVID-19.

James Lee Jobe, The dead of COVID19 visit you in dreams

What I don’t know is most everything outside my door.

Those secrets sound like crow song in their more mystical moments.

In their more nightmarish—like an ongoing car alarm, my sonic and savage umbilical cord connected to a ripped-off world.

The word quarantine comes from the Italian quaranta giorni, literally a space of forty days where plague-ridden ships were kept from shore to assure no latent cases were aboard.

In this isolated room, all I know for sure is that I have trouble sleeping at night.

That is why I’m apologizing for anything I may have said that doesn’t make sense.

Then again, I may have already said that without having said it.

Rich Ferguson, Waking the Dead

We need to do more than just live through this time. Could we not live while in it? Should we not learn something about ecstatic surrender?

These are not new thoughts or observations. Hey, I’ve been singing the Sheryl Crow song loudly in my car for a very long time now. “If it makes you happy then why the hell are you so sad?”

It’s always been a ride, this negotiating between happy and sad. Even the kids are onto it.

“And I’m the kind of person who starts getting kinda nervous
When I’m having the time of my life

Is there a word for the way that I’m feeling tonight?
Happy and sad at the same time”

– Kacey Musgraves

Is there a word for it? Shakespearean? Ridiculous? I don’t know, but I do know that if you seek out pockets of happiness, you’ll be better able to weather the other registers, the inevitable truths of the less pleasant and trickier spheres.

Shawna Lemay, We Live in the Multiple Registers

People keep describing these past months as “unprecedented”.

Seriously?

We measure reality in such small packages – our small collections of private experiences. Twenty years slip by, maybe another twenty… and from this tiny window we proclaim a a sum understanding of the human experience to determine the proper trajectory for (the organisation of) human behavior.

We don’t even glance sideways.
And if we do, we dismiss it: We are the future, after all.

Ren Powell, An Anti-Climatic Sense of History

Pygmy woodpecker, olive-backed
sunbird, dusty-headed bulbul; tree
sparrows that we call maya—I pack
mung beans into plastic pouches,
lentils into jars. I wonder about
places where other selves might fold
over and over, like happiness
afraid to show itself. The future
is most recently a dream of hammocks
floating into the sea.

Luisa A. Igloria, Dealing or Not Dealing Well with Sadness

One of the many things I hate about this new corona virus is how wide the symptom list is, and how they’re all items that could be something else: runny nose, headache, cough, muscle aches. It’s not like Ebola, when cell walls collapse and victims bleed out of orifices that aren’t usually bleeding–that’s a clear sign.

I’ve had a headache off and on all week. It could be stress, or it could be changing barometric pressure, with a tropical system nearby (another source of stress). I’ve had parts of the day where I go between sweaty hot and chilly–but no fever. Is that a tightness in my chest or just uncomfortable underclothing? Does the tingle in my throat signify a cough coming on or dehydration in the height of summer?

I even thought about going to get tested, just to put all my speculation to rest. But a test for COVID-19 would only tell me that I was negative or positive today–if I got the right test results. And how long would it take to get the results? By then, I could have been exposed many more times.

For those of us who have been out and about in public, or in offices, I’m not writing anything we haven’t all been experiencing and/or wondering about. But it seems important to capture these ideas.

Tomorrow I will stay closer to home and do some baking with my sourdough starter. Perhaps I can restore some mental equilibrium that way.

And if not, at least I’ll have delicious bread!

Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Anxiety Dreams/Anxiety Reality

A little earlier in the year, despite my hatred of applying for grants, I applied for one I’d never seen before: the Allied Arts Foundation. Early this week I received an e-mail that I thought was a rejection, but was actually telling me I was an “Honorable Mention” and would receive a grant that will probably pay for at least ten manuscript submissions. I was very happy to see my friend Jenifer Lawrence (who was in a poetry workshop with me for a dozen years) right next to mine. So the lesson is: even if you feel you are very bad at grants, take a chance. You never know! Any money for poets during the coronavirus is a good thing.

Jeannine Hall Gailey, A Little Good News, Fun Swag from Texas A&M’s Library, and Another Little Video Reading

One of the very first times I read a poem at a literary festival, the woman who was compering the event stood up at the lectern after I had read and asked what my mother thought about being cast in one of my poems as rather drunk and rather mad. The poem in question was ‘Spinning Plates’ with its opening line ‘My mother was mad as mercury…’. The idea of the event was that this person would quiz the poet about their poem and they would then get a chance to respond. So I stood up and said ‘My mother doesn’t read much poetry but I credit her with the intelligence of knowing that a character in a poem is not necessarily a real-life person’.

Perhaps my answer was a little too barbed and snitty, but it is one of those fundamental issues in poetry that gets my hackles up, rather like being asked the question ‘Are you still writing poetry?’

Richie McCaffery, The Invasion of the Poetry Body-snatchers

the old poet‬
‪reading his words asks‬
‪who wrote this‬

Jim Young [no title]

I lament my own forgetfulness which pains me at every opportunity. Arriving in the cellar only to cloud over on my purpose, in fact to fill with fog and begin to drizzle.

I lament awaking to the deluded messages of an disastrous leader whose ramblings should be isolated like a virus and prevented from spreading. Ruin. All ruin.

Also, the horse lodged in the pipes behind the bedroom wall has broken loose again, galloping through distant waterfalls of plumbing.

I am plagued by artists unable to wander beyond the beauty of 20-something women. This is not imagination, but a lack of it.

I curse the moths who have made a meal of one of my last remaining sweaters. On first inspection it appeared whole, but when I slipped my arms into the sleeves, there they were — the ragged injuries.

I lament the plastic toys the neighbors have piled high beside our common fence. I lament the fence! I lament the squalor.

I have planted a tree. I have upgraded my prayer to supplication.

Sarah J. Sloat, I appear briefly on the balcony to curse the meadow

1. That movement in the brush, the chance reflection in a pane of glass, that blue comb you found on a gravel path, the person your peripheral vision almost caught—these are the spermatozoa of poems. All they lack are the reactions of the egg in the womb of consciousness.

2. Like the smell that precedes rainfall, the “scent” of an imminent poem will make itself known to a poet. What the poet does with it will almost never live up to what was offered initially, but that is true in the realization of nearly all ideals.

3. The essential difference between poetry and prose has never been adequately defined, aside from offhand attempts. Perhaps it has to do with the differing intensity of desperation felt by each category of writers. The poet feels the need to gather the final issue of smoke from a doused candle wick before it dies out; while the writer of prose has the topic fixed in a virtual or real outline, and therefore has the leisure to write on until it is adequately explored.

10 Thoughts on Poetry – guest blog post by John Brugaletta [Trish Hopkinson’s blog]

The good
poem bends

the poet
to its

needs.
The good

poet bends.

Tom Montag, The Good

Sadly, the rub of any vacation is that it comes to an end. We return to “real life.” For an anxious person like me, even just a whiff of it causes panic. And that’s where I was Thursday. The going “back to normal” thoughts were bearing down on me, and so I vented to my partner and stomped around as I tidied up the room. In doing so, I caught the pinky toe of my left foot on the leg of a chair and definitely broke it. I launched a few f-bombs, began to cry and went straight to the shower to get it out of my system before dinner.

The toe turned purple and puffy almost immediately. We treated it with ice and ibuprofen and margaritas. I wasn’t sure how much damage I’d done (or how many toes were involved), though, until the next day when the toe was an even darker shade of purple. Somehow, it wasn’t as sore. And I could tell it was just the one toe. Nothing to do but wait for it to heal.

And I have to be honest: it felt good to cry. We push through so much, even pandemics apparently. Stiff upper lip. Broad shoulders. Big girl pants. We hold it all in ’til we can’t anymore. The toe was my “can’t anymore.” In fact, except that it’s shaped more like a comma, I’d call my broken toe the exclamation point at the end of “CAN’T ANYMORE!”

But maybe a comma is better anyway as I reason my way gently through how to take better care of my writing life. Instead of throwing my hands up in despair with the exclamation, the toe comma asks for something to come next. It not only invites something to come next: it requires it.

And so something comes next.

Carolee Bennett, i’ll give you something to cry about, the broken toe edition

Ephemera

Up, and to the office, where Sir W. Batten, W. Pen, T. Harvy and I met upon Mr. Gawden’s accounts, and was at it all the morning. This morning Sir G. Carteret did come to us, and walked in the garden. It was to talk with me about some thing of my Lord Sandwich’s, but here he told us that the great seale is passed to my Lord Annesly for Treasurer of the Navy: so that now he do no more belong to us: and I confess, for his sake, I am glad of it, and do believe the other will have little content in it. At noon I home to dinner with my wife, and after dinner to sing, and then to the office a little and Sir W. Batten’s, where I am vexed to hear that Nan Wright, now Mrs. Markham, Sir W. Pen’s mayde and whore, is come to sit in our pew at church, and did so while my Lady Batten was there. I confess I am very much vexed at it and ashamed. By and by out with W. Pen to White Hall, where I staid not, but to the New Exchange to buy gloves and other little errands, and so home and to my office busy till night, and then walked in the garden with my wife, and then to supper and to sing, and so to bed. No news, but that the Dutch are gone clear from Harwich northward, and have given out they are going to Yarmouth.

art out of sand at the sea
will it sing

to a whore
to a church lady with white gloves

to us with news ear
and a going mouth


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 5 July 1667.

Field work

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and, in vain expecting Sir R. Ford’s calling on me, I took coach and to the Sessions-house, where I have a mind to hear Bazill Fielding’s case tried; and so got up to the Bench, my Lord Chief-Justice Keeling being Judge. Here I stood bare, not challenging, though I might well enough, to be covered. But here were several fine trials; among others, several brought in for making it their trade to set houses on fire merely to get plunder; and all proved by the two little boys spoken of yesterday by Sir R. Ford, who did give so good account of particulars that I never heard children in my life. And I confess, though I was unsatisfied with the force given to such little boys, to take away men’s lives, yet, when I was told that my Lord Chief-Justice did declare that there was no law against taking the oath of children above twelve years old, and then heard from Sir R. Ford the good account which the boys had given of their understanding the nature and consequence of an oath, and now my own observation of the sobriety and readiness of their answers, further than of any man of any rank that come to give witness this day, though some men of years and learning, I was a little amazed, and fully satisfied that they ought to have as much credit as the rest. They proved against several, their consulting several times at a bawdy-house in Moore-Fields, called the Russia House, among many other rogueries, of setting houses on fire, that they might gather the goods that were flung into the streets; and it is worth considering how unsafe it is to have children play up and down this lewd town. For these two boys, one is my Lady Montagu’s (I know not what Lady Montagu) son, and the other of good condition, were playing in Moore-Fields, and one rogue, Gabriel Holmes, did come to them and teach them to drink, and then to bring him plate and clothes from their fathers’ houses, and carry him into their houses, and leaving open the doors for him, and at last were made of their conspiracy, and were at the very burning of this house in Aldersgate Street, on Easter Sunday at night last, and did gather up goods, as they had resolved before and this Gabriel Holmes did advise to have had two houses set on fire, one after another, that, while they were quenching of one, they might be burning another. And it is pretty that G. Holmes did tell his fellows, and these boys swore it, that he did set fire to a box of linen in the Sheriffe, Sir Joseph Shelden’s house, while he was attending the fire in Aldersgate Street, and the Sheriffe himself said that there was a fire in his house, in a box of linen, at the same time, but cannot conceive how this fellow should do it. The boys did swear against one of them, that he had made it his part to pull the plug out of the engine while it was a-playing; and it really was so. And goods they did carry away, and the manner of the setting the house on fire was, that Holmes did get to a cockpit; where, it seems, there was a publick cockpit, and set fire to the straw in it, and hath a fire-ball at the end of the straw, which did take fire, and so it prevailed, and burned the house; and, among other things they carried away, he took six of the cocks that were at the cockpit; and afterwards the boys told us how they had one dressed, by the same token it was so hard they could not eat it. But that which was most remarkable was the impudence of this Holmes, who hath been arraigned often, and still got away; and on this business was taken and broke loose just at Newgate Gate; and was last night luckily taken about Bow, who got loose, and run into the river, and hid himself in the rushes; and they pursued him with a dog, and the dog got him and held him till he was taken. But the impudence of this fellow was such, that he denied he ever saw the boys before, or ever knew the Russia House, or that the people knew him; and by and by the mistress of the Russia House was called in, being indicted, at the same time, about another thing; and she denied that the fellow was of her acquaintance, when it was pretty to see how the little boys did presently fall upon her, and ask her how she durst say so, when she was always with them when they met at her house, and particularly when she come in in her smock before a dozen of them, at which the Court laughed, and put the woman away. Well, this fellow Holmes was found guilty of the act of burning the house, and other things, that he stood indicted for. And then there were other good cases, as of a woman that come to serve a gentlewoman, and in three days run away, betimes in the morning, with a great deal of plate and rings, and other good things. It was time very well spent to be here. Here I saw how favourable the judge was to a young gentleman that struck one of the officers, for not making him room: told him he had endangered the loss of his hand, but that he hoped he had not struck him, and would suppose that he had not struck him. About that the Court rose, and I to dinner with my Lord Mayor and Sheriffs; where a good dinner and good discourse; the judge being there. There was also tried this morning Fielding, which I thought had been Bazilll — but it proved the other, and Bazill was killed; that killed his brother, who was found guilty of murder, and nobody pitied him. The judge seems to be a worthy man, and able: and do intend, for these rogues that burned this house to be hung in some conspicuous place in the town, for an example. After dinner to the Court again, where I heard some more causes, but with so much trouble because of the hot weather that I had no pleasure in it. Anon the Court rose, and I walked to Fleet streete for my belt at the beltmaker’s, and so home and to the office, wrote some letters, and then home to supper and to bed.

the field set on fire by children
lives again

the field called us
gather in a ring
have children

one field burning
while they quench another

engine of straw
mistress of loss

this morning field
which I thought had been killed
with so much hot weather


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 4 July 1667.

Timeless

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and within most of the morning, my tailor’s boy coming to alter something in my new suit I put on yesterday. Then to the office and did business, and then (my wife being a little ill of those in bed) I to Sir W. Batten’s and dined, and there comes in Sir Richard Ford, tells us how he hath been at the Sessions-house, and there it is plain that there is a combination of rogues in the town, that do make it their business to set houses on fire, and that one house they did set on fire in Aldersgate Streete last Easter; and that this is proved by two young men, whom one of them debauched by degrees to steal their fathers’ plate and clothes, and at last to be of their company; and they had their places to take up what goods were flung into the streets out of the windows, when the houses were on fire; and this is like to be proved to a great number of rogues, whereof five are already found, and some found guilty this day. One of these boys is the son of a Montagu, of my Lord Manchester’s family; but whose son he could not tell me. This is a strange thing methinks, but I am glad that it is proved so true and discovered. So home, and to enter my Journall of my late journey to this hour, and then to the office, where to do a little business, and then by water to White Hall (calling at Michell’s in my way, but the rogue would not invite me in, I having a mind para voir his wife), and there to the Council-chamber, to deliver a letter to their Lordships about the state of the six merchantmen which we have been so long fitting out. When I come, the King and the whole table full of Lords were hearing of a pitifull cause of a complaint of an old man, with a great grey beard, against his son, for not allowing him something to live on; and at last come to the ordering the son to allow his father 10l. a year. This cause lasted them near two hours; which, methinks, at this time to be the work of the Council-board of England, is a scandalous thing, and methought Sir W. Coventry to me did own as much. Here I find all the newes is the enemy’s landing 3,000 men near Harwich, and attacking Landguard Fort, and being beat off thence with our great guns, killing some of their men, and they leaving their ladders behind them; but we had no Horse in the way on Suffolk side, otherwise we might have galled their Foot. The Duke of York is gone down thither this day, while the General sat sleeping this afternoon at the Council-table. The news so much talked of this Exchange, of a peace, I find by Sir Richard Browne arises from a letter the Swedes’ agent hath received from Bredah and shewed at Court to-day, that they are come very near it, but I do not find anybody here relying upon it. This cause being over, the Trinity House men, whom I did not expect to meet, were called in, and there Sir W. Pen made a formal speech in answer to a question of the King’s, whether the lying of the sunk ships in the river would spoil the river. But, Lord! how gingerly he answered it, and with a deal of do that he did not know whether it would be safe as to the enemy to have them taken up, but that doubtless it would be better for the river to have them taken up. Methought the Council found them answer like fools, and it ended in bidding them think more of it, and bring their answer in writing. Thence I to Westminster Hall, and there hear how they talk against the present management of things, and against Sir W. Coventry for his bringing in of new commanders and casting out the old seamen, which I did endeavour to rectify Mr. Michell and them in, letting them know that he hath opposed it all his life the most of any man in England. After a deal of this tittle tattle, I to Mrs. Martin’s, and there she was gone in before, but when I come, contrary to my expectation, I find her all in trouble, and what was it for but that I have got her with child, for those do not venir upon her as they should have done; and is in exceeding grief, and swears that the child is mine, which I do not believe, but yet do comfort her that either it cannot be so, or if it be that I will take care to send for her husband, though I do hardly see how I can be sure of that, the ship being at sea, and as far as Scotland, but however I must do it, and shall find some way or other of doing it, though it do trouble me not a little. Thence, not pleased, away to White Hall to Mr. Williamson, and by and by my Lord Arlington about Mr. Lanyon’s business, and it is pretty to see how Mr. Williamson did altogether excuse himself that my business was not done when I come to my Lord and told him my business; “Why,” says my Lord, “it hath been done, and the King signed it several days ago,” and so it was and was in Mr. Williamson’s hands, which made us both laugh, and I in innocent mirth, I remember, said, it is pretty to see in what a condition we are that all our matters now-a-days are undone, we know not how, and done we know not when. He laughed at it, but I have since reflected on it, and find it a severe speech as it might be taken by a chief minister of state, as indeed Mr. Williamson is, for he is indeed the Secretary. But we fell to other pleasant talk, and a fine gentleman he is, and so gave him 5l. for his fee, and away home, and to Sir W. Batten’s to talk a little, and then to the office to do a little business, and so home to supper and read myself asleep, and then to bed.

alder like an old man
with a grey beard
sleeping in the sun

river like a child
that must find some other
way to Why


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 3 July 1667.