Crisis of identity

In the morning I was able to put on a wide shoe on the foot, and to the office without much pain, and there sat all the morning. At noon home to dinner, where Creed to discourse of our Tangier business, which stands very bad in the business of money, and therefore we expect to have a committee called soon, and to acquaint them among other things with the order come to me for the not paying of any more pensions. We dined together, and after dinner I to the office, and there very late, very busy, doing much business indeed, and so with great comfort home to supper, and so to bed to ease my foot, which toward night began to ake.

in the morning I was a wide shoe
at noon a committee
and after dinner a bus
which toward night began to ache


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 16 July 1667.

Descent

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

 

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katydids
in and out of sync
our ragged breaths

In dreams, my hometown in central Pennsylvania has partially merged with London. There are multiple high-rise apartment buildings now, rather than just one, the river is wider, the paper mill has become a sprawling industrial complex, and the poor section of town now has a distinctly bohemian flavor. Wandering the wooded hill in the center of town, I find a nearly deserted, glassed-in staircase, and descend it in great leaps, nearly flying. My British wife, undercover as a Bond girl, asks how I can do that and not get hurt. This is all just a dream, I tell her. Is it real for you?

katydids
together apart
together

***

Process notes

My own field recording of the nightly common true katydid chorus is the soundtrack for a video haibun based on a recent dream. I used footage from the Prelinger Archives: someone’s old home movie from a trip to London, and a documentary advertising Redbook magazine (which I also used earlier in this sequence, for Face Masks), all treated with a simple vignetted effect. I couldn’t decide whether it was better to have the images dark and night-like or garish and dream-like, so I settled for a blend of the two reflecting the contrasting conditions of the source films. No doubt a professional film maker could’ve done a better job with the dream sequence, but as usual I’m OK with something that evokes approximately the feeling I had while writing the text.

As for the haibun, I find it both humdrum and exciting: humdrum as dream narrations go (especially in the middle of an increasingly scary political/economic situation with the pandemic continuing to rage unchecked—where’s the fear and paranoia?!) but mildly exciting for the haiku, where I hit upon the idea of including two different versions of essentially the same idea, and sandwiching the dream between them.

My Mother is Not at Home

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
My mother is not at home, but 
in a care home where she gets
three hot meals a day and nurses
look after her needs. The home
she left before she was admitted
to the care home was a split-
level built on the side of a hill.
This was not the home of my child-
hood, but a home she bought 
when the upkeep of the former
became too much for her. When
she still lived in this house 
on the hill, others lived with her:
but they siphoned off her running
water and electricity. I'm told
that her marble coffee table and 
two end tables have gone missing, 
and her sewing machine. Now 
that she isn't there, lights 
are ablaze in every window.
So many people say this is 
a commonplace story. No one has
any solution and I don't know 
what to do. They want me to drop 
everything and just go. The nurses 
say sometimes she sits in the yard 
in her wheelchair and begins to sing.
  
  

Day and night

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

…in great pain all night long so as I was not able to go to-day to wait on the Duke of York with my fellows, but was forced in bed to write the particulars for their discourse there, and kept my bed all day, and anon comes Mrs. Turner, and new-dressed my foot, and did it so, that I was at much ease presently, and so continued all day, so as I slept much and well in the daytime, and in the evening rose and eat something, where our poor Jane very sad for the death of her poor brother, who hath left a wife and two small children. I did give her 20s. in money, and what wine she needed, for the burying him. This evening come to see me Pelling, and we did sing together, and he sings well indeed, and after supper I was willing to go to bed to ease my foot again, which I did, and slept well all night.

I wait
in bed all day
dressed
for burying

come to see me
and sing
sing
to ease my night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 15 July 1667.

America

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

America, it’s the day after
another hurricane hurtles
through towns, a fringe
of tornados leading the way.
The Baptist Church on the corner
of 38th and Bluestone has its face
sheared off completely by blades
of wind. Oak trees lie on their sides,
unpinned from lawns. Pine
branches intersect with power
lines. America, I used to believe
in your storied generosity: how
firefighters and volunteers alike
paddled through high water
to pluck shivering families off
their roofs; how police tapped
on the window to ask if every-
thing was alright instead of
ordering an entire family,
down to the youngest child,
to lie on the asphalt, arms
crossed behind their backs.
My only crime, said Carlos
Bulosan, is to be a Filipino in
America.
Did you know the nurse
who checks your vitals in the crowded
ICU first studied to be a teacher, and
her husband who drives a truck
has a degree in physics? All night,
the warning signals blare on
and off. One of the neighbors
worries about the man who sat
bundled in a blanket on the corner
across the drugstore. The rain
was still falling, but there was
no more room in the shelters.

Night train

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up, and my wife, a little before four, and to make us ready; and by and by Mrs. Turner come to us, by agreement, and she and I staid talking below, while my wife dressed herself, which vexed me that she was so long about it keeping us till past five o’clock before she was ready. She ready; and, taking some bottles of wine, and beer, and some cold fowle with us into the coach, we took coach and four horses, which I had provided last night, and so away. A very fine day, and so towards Epsum, talking all the way pleasantly, and particularly of the pride and ignorance of Mrs. Lowther, in having of her train carried up? The country very fine, only the way very dusty. We got to Epsum by eight o’clock, to the well; where much company, and there we ’light, and I drank the water: they did not, but do go about and walk a little among the women, but I did drink four pints, and had some very good stools by it. Here I met with divers of our town, among others with several of the tradesmen of our office, but did talk but little with them, it growing hot in the sun, and so we took coach again and to the towne, to the King’s Head, where our coachman carried us, and there had an ill room for us to go into, but the best in the house that was not taken up. Here we called for drink, and bespoke dinner; and hear that my Lord Buckhurst and Nelly are lodged at the next house, and Sir Charles Sidly with them and keep a merry house. Poor girl! I pity her; but more the loss of her at the King’s house. Here I saw Gilsthrop, Sir W. Batten’s clerk that hath been long sick, he looks like a dying man, with a consumption got, as is believed, by the pox, but God knows that the man is in a sad condition, though he finds himself much better since his coming thither, he says. W. Hewer rode with us, and I left him and the women, and myself walked to church, where few people, contrary to what I expected, and none I knew, but all the Houblons, brothers, and them after sermon I did salute, and walk with towards my inne, which was in their way to their lodgings. They come last night to see their elder brother, who stays here at the waters, and away to-morrow. James did tell me that I was the only happy man of the Navy, of whom, he says, during all this freedom the people have taken of speaking treason, he hath not heard one bad word of me, which is a great joy to me; for I hear the same of others, but do know that I have deserved as well as most. We parted to meet anon, and I to my women into a better room, which the people of the house borrowed for us, and there to dinner, a good dinner, and were merry, and Pendleton come to us, who happened to be in the house, and there talked and were merry. After dinner, he gone, we all lay down after dinner (the day being wonderful hot) to sleep, and each of us took a good nap, and then rose; and Tom Wilson come to see me, and sat and talked an hour; and I perceive he hath been much acquainted with Dr. Fuller (Tom) and Dr. Pierson, and several of the great cavalier parsons during the late troubles; and I was glad to hear him talk of them, which he did very ingeniously, and very much of Dr. Fuller’s art of memory, which he did tell me several instances of. By and by he parted, and we took coach and to take the ayre, there being a fine breeze abroad; and I went and carried them to the well, and there filled some bottles of water to carry home with me; and there talked with the two women that farm the well, at 12l. per annum, of the lord of the manor, Mr. Evelyn (who with his lady, and also my Lord George Barkeley’s lady, and their fine daughter, that the King of France liked so well, and did dance so rich in jewells before the King at the Ball I was at, at our Court, last winter, and also their son, a Knight of the Bath, were at church this morning). Here W. Hewer’s horse broke loose, and we had the sport to see him taken again. Then I carried them to see my cozen Pepys’s house, and ’light, and walked round about it, and they like it, as indeed it deserves, very well, and is a pretty place; and then I walked them to the wood hard by, and there got them in the thickets till they had lost themselves, and I could not find the way into any of the walks in the wood, which indeed are very pleasant, if I could have found them. At last got out of the wood again; and I, by leaping down the little bank, coming out of the wood, did sprain my right foot, which brought me great present pain, but presently, with walking, it went away for the present, and so the women and W. Hewer and I walked upon the Downes, where a flock of sheep was; and the most pleasant and innocent sight that ever I saw in my life — we find a shepherd and his little boy reading, far from any houses or sight of people, the Bible to him; so I made the boy read to me, which he did, with the forced tone that children do usually read, that was mighty pretty, and then I did give him something, and went to the father, and talked with him; and I find he had been a servant in my cozen Pepys’s house, and told me what was become of their old servants. He did content himself mightily in my liking his boy’s reading, and did bless God for him, the most like one of the old patriarchs that ever I saw in my life, and it brought those thoughts of the old age of the world in my mind for two or three days after. We took notice of his woolen knit stockings of two colours mixed, and of his shoes shod with iron shoes, both at the toe and heels, and with great nails in the soles of his feet, which was mighty pretty: and, taking notice of them, “Why,” says the poor man, “the downes, you see, are full of stones, and we are faine to shoe ourselves thus; and these,” says he, “will make the stones fly till they sing before me.” I did give the poor man something, for which he was mighty thankful, and I tried to cast stones with his horne crooke. He values his dog mightily, that would turn a sheep any way which he would have him, when he goes to fold them: told me there was about eighteen scoare sheep in his flock, and that he hath four shillings a week the year round for keeping of them: so we posted thence with mighty pleasure in the discourse we had with this poor man, and Mrs. Turner, in the common fields here, did gather one of the prettiest nosegays that ever I saw in my life. So to our coach, and through Mr. Minnes’s wood, and looked upon Mr. Evelyn’s house; and so over the common, and through Epsum towne to our inne, in the way stopping a poor woman with her milk-pail, and in one of my gilt tumblers did drink our bellyfulls of milk, better than any creame; and so to our inne, and there had a dish of creame, but it was sour, and so had no pleasure in it; and so paid our reckoning, and took coach, it being about seven at night, and passed and saw the people walking with their wives and children to take the ayre, and we set out for home, the sun by and by going down, and we in the cool of the evening all the way with much pleasure home, talking and pleasing ourselves with the pleasure of this day’s work, Mrs. Turner mightily pleased with my resolution, which, I tell her, is never to keep a country-house, but to keep a coach, and with my wife on the Saturday to go sometimes for a day to this place, and then quit to another place; and there is more variety and as little charge, and no trouble, as there is in a country-house. Anon it grew dark, and as it grew dark we had the pleasure to see several glow-wormes, which was mighty pretty, but my foot begins more and more to pain me, which Mrs. Turner, by keeping her warm hand upon it, did much ease; but so that when we come home, which was just at eleven at night, I was not able to walk from the lane’s end to my house without being helped, which did trouble me, and therefore to bed presently, but, thanks be to God, found that I had not been missed, nor any business happened in my absence. So to bed, and there had a cerecloth laid to my foot and leg alone, but…

on the night train
we grow into our coach

drink like brothers
sleep like wells of light

walk ’round like lost sheep
far from any houses

read like patriarchs
shod with iron shoes

we fly through the night
cool as a glowworm


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 14 July 1667.

Heatstroke

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up pretty betimes, it being mighty hot weather, I lying this night, which I have not done, I believe, since a boy, I am sure not since I had the stone before, with only a rugg and a sheet upon me. To my chamber, and my wife up to do something, and by chance we fell out again, but I to the office, and there we did at the board much business, though the most was the dividing of 5000l. which the Lords Commissioners have with great difficulty found upon our letter to them this week that would have required 50,000l. among a great many occasions. After rising, my Lord Anglesey, this being the second time of his being with us, did take me aside and asked me where I lived, because he would be glad to have some discourse with me. This I liked well enough, and told him I would wait upon him, which I will do, and so all broke up, and I home to dinner, where Mr. Pierce dined with us, who tells us what troubles me, that my Lord Buckhurst hath got Nell away from the King’s house, lies with her, and gives her 100l. a year, so as she hath sent her parts to the house, and will act no more.1 And yesterday Sir Thomas Crew told me that Lacy lies a-dying of the pox, and yet hath his whore by him, whom he will have to look on, he says, though he can do no more; nor would receive any ghostly advice from a Bishop, an old acquaintance of his, that went to see him. He says there is a strangeness between the King and my Lady Castlemayne, as I was told yesterday.
After dinner my wife and I to the New Exchange, to pretty maid Mrs. Smith’s shop, where I left my wife, and I to Sir W. Coventry, and there had the opportunity of talk with him, who I perceive do not like our business of the change of the Treasurer’s hand, and he tells me that he is entered the lists with this new Treasurer before the King in taking away the business of the Victualling money from his hand, and the Regiment, and declaring that he hath no right to the 3d. per by his patent, for that it was always heretofore given by particular Privy Seal, and that the King and Council just upon his coming in had declared 2000l. a year sufficient. This makes him angry, but Sir W. Coventry I perceive cares not, but do every day hold up his head higher and higher, and this day I have received an order from the Commissioners of the Treasury to pay no more pensions for Tangier, which I am glad of, and he tells me they do make bold with all things of that kind. Thence I to White Hall, and in the street I spied Mrs. Borroughs, and took a means to meet and salute her and talk a little, and then parted, and I home by coach, taking up my wife at the Exchange, and there I am mightily pleased with this Mrs. Smith, being a very pleasant woman. So home, and resolved upon going to Epsum tomorrow, only for ayre, and got Mrs. Turner to go with us, and so home and to supper (after having been at the office) and to bed. It is an odd and sad thing to say, that though this be a peace worse than we had before, yet every body’s fear almost is, that the Dutch will not stand by their promise, now the King hath consented to all they would have. And yet no wise man that I meet with, when he comes to think of it, but wishes, with all his heart, a war; but that the King is not a man to be trusted with the management of it. It was pleasantly said by a man in this City, a stranger, to one that told him that the peace was concluded, “Well,” says he, “and have you a peace?” — “Yes,” says the other. — “Why, then,” says he, “hold your peace!” partly reproaching us with the disgracefulness of it, that it is not fit to be mentioned; and next, that we are not able to make the Dutch keep it, when they have a mind to break it.
Sir Thomas Crew yesterday, speaking of the King of France, how great a man he is, why, says he, all the world thought that when the last Pope died, there would have been such bandying between the Crowns of France and Spain, whereas, when he was asked what he would have his ministers at Rome do, why, says he, let them choose who they will; if the Pope will do what is fit, the Pope and I will be friends. If he will not, I will take a course with him: therefore, I will not trouble myself; and thereupon the election was despatched in a little time — I think in a day, and all ended.

in hot weather lying
with only a sheet upon me
like a ghost

there is a strangeness
between hand and head
and I miss the body’s city

when I at last die
will I be friends with it


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 13 July 1667.

Mapa Etnográfico

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Show me what swells
                 gathering momentum

without breaking
                 Defending from unjust

punishment
                 what requires only to be

unoccupied, open

                 as a field of wheat 
                 as a field of cotton

Unchartered

                 but not irregular
                 or without law

Before the survey and the postcard

                 islands knew how to breathe
                 even in the dark

You couldn't tell 

                 teeth 
                 from wet pearls of rice

Sweeping

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
In June, the rain earnest now 
in its involvement with our 
affairs: we wielded
                     brooms 
of gathered palm rib, dragged 
their stiff tips across landings, 
courtyard paths. 
                     But how
with such flimsy instruments   
could we return what the skies  
kept doling out? 
                      Chorus 
of movements intent upon 
the stones— loosened gravel, 
old leaves, dead 
                       insects caught  
in that paradox of gathering. 
All the water in the world: 
inexhaustible, 
                 falling over balconies.
                        

The evil urge

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes and to my chamber, there doing business, and by and by comes Greeting and begun a new month with him, and now to learn to set anything from the notes upon the flageolet, but, Lord! to see how like a fool he goes about to give me direction would make a man mad. I then out and by coach to White Hall and to the Treasury chamber, where did a little business, and thence to the Exchequer to Burges, about Tangier business, and so back again, stepping into the Hall a little, and then homeward by coach, and met at White Hall with Sir H. Cholmly, and so into his coach, and he with me to the Excise Office, there to do a little business also, in the way he telling me that undoubtedly the peace is concluded; for he did stand yesterday where he did hear part of the discourse at the Council table, and there did hear the King argue for it. Among other things, that the spirits of the seamen were down, and the forces of our enemies are grown too great and many for us, and he would not have his subjects overpressed; for he knew an Englishman would do as much as any man upon hopeful terms; but where he sees he is overpressed, he despairs soon as any other; and, besides that, they have already such a load of dejection upon them, that they will not be in temper a good while again. He heard my Lord Chancellor say to the King, “Sir,” says he, “the whole world do complain publickly of treachery, that things have been managed falsely by some of his great ministers.” — “Sir,” says he, “I am for your Majesty’s falling into a speedy enquiry into the truth of it, and, where you meet with it, punish it. But, at the same time, consider what you have to do, and make use of your time for having a peace; for more money will not be given without much trouble, nor is it, I fear, to be had of the people, nor will a little do it to put us into condition of doing our business.” But Sir H. Cholmly tells me he [the] Chancellors did say the other day at his table, “Treachery!” says he; “I could wish we could prove there was anything of that in it; for that would imply some wit and thoughtfulness; but we are ruined merely by folly and neglect.” And so Sir H. Cholmly tells me they did all argue for peace, and so he do believe that the King hath agreed to the three points Mr. Coventry brought over, which I have mentioned before, and is gone with them back. He tells me further that the Duke of Buckingham was before the Council the other day, and there did carry it very submissively and pleasingly to the King; but to my Lord Arlington, who do prosecute the business, he was most bitter and sharp, and very slighting. As to the letter about his employing a man to cast the King’s nativity, says he to the King, “Sir,” says he, “this is none of my hand, and I refer it to your Majesty whether you do not know this hand.” The King answered, that it was indeed none of his, and that he knew whose it was, but could not recall it presently. “Why,” says he, “it is my sister of Richmond’s, some frolick or other of hers of some certain person; and there is nothing of the King’s name in it, but it is only said to be his by supposition, as is said.” The King, it seems, seemed not very much displeased with what the Duke had said; but, however, he is still in the Tower, and no discourse of his being out in haste, though my Lady Castlemayne hath so far solicited for him that the King and she are quite fallen out: he comes not to her, nor hath for some three or four days; and parted with very foul words, the King calling her a whore, and a jade that meddled with things she had nothing to do with at all: and she calling him fool; and told him if he was not a fool, he would not suffer his businesses to be carried on by fellows that did not understand them, and cause his best subjects, and those best able to serve him, to be imprisoned; meaning the Duke of Buckingham. And it seems she was not only for his liberty, but to be restored to all his places; which, it is thought, he will never be. While we were at the Excise office talking with Mr. Ball, it was computed that the Parliament had given the King for this war only, besides all prizes, and besides the 200,000l. which he was to spend of his own revenue, to guard the sea above 5,000,000l. and odd 100,000l.; which is a most prodigious sum. Sir H. Cholmly, as a true English gentleman, do decry the King’s expenses of his Privy-purse, which in King James’s time did not rise to above 5000l. a year, and in King Charles’s to 10,000l., do now cost us above 100,000l., besides the great charge of the monarchy, as the Duke of York 100,000l. of it, and other limbs of the Royal family, and the guards, which, for his part, says he, “I would have all disbanded, for the King is not the better by them, and would be as safe without them; for we have had no rebellions to make him fear anything.” But, contrarily, he is now raising of a land-army, which this Parliament and kingdom will never bear; besides, the commanders they put over them are such as will never be able to raise or command them; but the design is, and the Duke of York, he says, is hot for it, to have a land-army, and so to make the government like that of France, but our princes have not brains, or at least care and forecast enough to do that. It is strange how he and every body do now-a-days reflect upon Oliver, and commend him, what brave things he did, and made all the neighbour princes fear him; while here a prince, come in with all the love and prayers and good liking of his people, who have given greater signs of loyalty and willingness to serve him with their estates than ever was done by any people, hath lost all so soon, that it is a miracle what way a man could devise to lose so much in so little time. Thence he set me down at my Lord Crew’s and away, and I up to my Lord, where Sir Thomas Crew was, and by and by comes Mr. Caesar, who teaches my Lady’s page upon the lute, and here Mr. Caesar did play some very fine things indeed, to my great liking. Here was my Lord Hinchingbroke also, newly come from Hinchingbroke, where all well, but methinks I knowing in what case he stands for money by his demands to me and the report Mr. Moore gives of the management of the family, makes me, God forgive me! to contemn him, though I do really honour and pity them, though they deserve it not, that have so good an estate and will live beyond it. To dinner, and very good discourse with my Lord. And after dinner Sir Thomas Crew and I alone, and he tells me how I am mightily in esteem with the Parliament; there being harangues made in the House to the Speaker, of Mr. Pepys’s readiness and civility to show them every thing, which I am at this time very glad of. He tells me the news of the King and my Lady Castlemayne which I have wrote already this day, and the design of the Parliament to look into things very well before they give any more money, and I pray God they may. Thence, after dinner, to St. James’s, but missed Sir W. Coventry, and so home, and there find my wife in a dogged humour for my not dining at home, and I did give her a pull by the nose and some ill words, which she provoked me to by something she spoke, that we fell extraordinarily out, insomuch, that I going to the office to avoid further anger, she followed me in a devilish manner thither, and with much ado I got her into the garden out of hearing, to prevent shame, and so home, and by degrees I found it necessary to calme her, and did, and then to the office, where pretty late, and then to walk with her in the garden, and so to supper, and pretty good friends, and so to bed with my mind very quiet.

my urges are grown
too bitter for me to be
imprisoned by them

like rain on a page
where I wrote
to God

some ill words
going to the devil
by degrees


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 12 July 1667.