Up, and most of the morning finishing my entry of my journall during the late fire out of loose papers into this book, which did please me mightily when done, I, writing till my eyes were almost blind therewith to make an end of it. Then all the rest of the morning, and, after a mouthful of dinner, all the afternoon in my closet till night, sorting all my papers, which have lain unsorted for all the time we were at Greenwich during the plague, which did please me also, I drawing on to put my office into a good posture, though much is behind.
This morning come Captain. Cocke to me, and tells me that the King comes to the House this day to pass the poll Bill and the Irish Bill; he tells me too that, though the Faction is very froward in the House, yet all will end well there. But he says that one had got a Bill ready to present in the House against Sir W. Coventry, for selling of places, and says he is certain of it, and how he was withheld from doing it. He says, that the Vice-chamberlaine is now one of the greatest men in England again, and was he that did prevail with the King to let the Irish Bill go with the word “Nuisance.” He told me, that Sir G. Carteret’s declaration of giving double to any man that will prove that any of his people have demanded or taken any thing for forwarding the payment of the wages of any man (of which he sent us a copy yesterday, which we approved of) is set up, among other places, upon the House of Lords’ door. I do not know how wisely this is done.
This morning, also, there come to the office a letter from the Duke of York, commanding our payment of no wages to any of the muster-masters of the fleete the last year, but only two, my brother Balty, taking notice that he had taken pains therein, and one Ward, who, though he had not taken so much as the other, yet had done more than the rest. This I was exceeding glad of for my own sake and his. At night I, by appointment, home, where W. Batelier and his sister Mary, and the two Mercers, to play at cards and sup, and did cut our great cake lately given us by Russell: a very good one. Here very merry late.
Sir W. Pen told me this night how the King did make them a very sharp speech in the House of Lords to-day, saying that he did expect to have had more Bills; that he purposes to prorogue them on Monday come se’nnight; that whereas they have unjustly conceived some jealousys of his making a peace, he declares he knows of no such thing or treaty: and so left them. But with so little effect, that as soon as he come into the House, Sir W. Coventry moved, that now the King hath declared his intention of proroguing them, it would be loss of time to go on with the thing they were upon, when they were called to the King, which was the calling over the defaults of Members appearing in the House; for that, before any person could now come or be brought to town, the House would be up. Yet the Faction did desire to delay time, and contend so as to come to a division of the House; where, however, it was carried, by a few voices, that the debate should be laid by. But this shews that they are not pleased, or that they have not any awe over them from the King’s displeasure.
The company being gone, to bed.

a blind mouth
sorting all the green to sell

places giving up other places
taken by the sharp
speech of a rogue

something calling
in a vision of the voice

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 18 January 1667.


Up, and to the office, where all the morning sitting. At noon home to dinner, and then to the office busy also till very late, my heart joyed with the effects of my following my business, by easing my head of cares, and so home to supper and to bed.

ice sitting on ice
my heart
my car

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 17 January 1667.


Up, and by coach to White Hall, and there to the Duke of York as usual. Here Sir W. Coventry come to me aside in the Duke’s chamber, to tell that he had not answered part of a late letter of mine, because ‘littera scripta manet’. About his leaving the office, he tells me, [it is] because he finds that his business at Court will not permit him to attend it; and then he confesses that he seldom of late could come from it with satisfaction, and therefore would not take the King’s money for nothing. I professed my sorrow for it, and prayed the continuance of his favour; which he promised. I do believe he hath [done] like a very wise man in reference to himself; but I doubt it will prove ill for the King, and for the office. Prince Rupert, I hear to-day, is very ill; yesterday given over, but better to-day. This day, before the Duke of York, the business of the Muster-Masters was reported, and Balty found the best of the whole number, so as the Duke enquired who he was, and whether he was a stranger by his two names, both strange, and offered that he and one more, who hath done next best, should have not only their owne, but part of the others’ salary, but that I having said he was my brother-in-law, he did stop, but they two are ordered their pay, which I am glad of, and some of the rest will lose their pay, and others be laid by the heels. I was very glad of this being ended so well. I did also, this morning, move in a business wherein Mr. Hater hath concerned me, about getting a ship, laden with salt from France, permitted to unload, coming in after the King’s declaration was out, which I have hopes by some dexterity to get done. Then with the Duke of York to the King, to receive his commands for stopping the sale this day of some prize-goods at the Prize-Office, goods fit for the Navy; and received the King’s commands, and carried them to the Lords’ House, to my Lord Ashly, who was angry much thereat, and I am sorry it fell to me to carry the order, but I cannot help it. So, against his will, he signed a note I writ to the Commissioners of Prizes, which I carried and delivered to Kingdone, at their new office in Aldersgate Streete. Thence a little to the Exchange, where it was hot that the Prince was dead, but I did rectify it. So home to dinner, and found Balty, told him the good news, and then after dinner away, I presently to White Hall, and did give the Duke of York a memorial of the salt business, against the Council, and did wait all the Council for answer, walking a good while with Sir Stephen Fox, who, among other things, told me his whole mystery in the business of the interest he pays as Treasurer for the Army. They give him 12d. per pound quite through the Army, with condition to be paid weekly. This he undertakes upon his own private credit, and to be paid by the King at the end of every four months. If the King pay him not at the end of the four months, then, for all the time he stays longer, my Lord Treasurer, by agreement, allows him eight per cent. per annum for the forbearance. So that, in fine, he hath about twelve per cent. from the King and the Army, for fifteen or sixteen months’ interest; out of which he gains soundly, his expense being about 130,000l. per annum; and hath no trouble in it, compared, as I told him, to the trouble I must have to bring in an account of interest. I was, however, glad of being thus enlightened, and so away to the other council door, and there got in and hear a piece of a cause, heard before the King, about a ship deserted by her fellows (who were bound mutually to defend each other), in their way to Virginy, and taken by the enemy, but it was but meanly pleaded.
Then all withdrew, and by and by the Council rose, and I spoke with the Duke of York, and he told me my business was done, which I found accordingly in Sir Edward Walker’s books. And so away, mightily satisfied, to Arundell House, and there heard a little good discourse, and so home, and there to Sir W. Batten, where I heard the examinations in two of our prizes, which do make but little for us, so that I do begin to doubt their proving prize, which troubled me. So home to supper with my wife, and after supper my wife told me how she had moved to W. Hewer the business of my sister for a wife to him, which he received with mighty acknowledgements, as she says, above anything; but says he hath no intention to alter his condition: so that I am in some measure sorry she ever moved it; but I hope he will think it only come from her.
So after supper a little to the office, to enter my journall, and then home to bed. Talk there is of a letter to come from Holland, desiring a place of treaty; but I do doubt it. This day I observe still, in many places, the smoking remains of the late fire: the ways mighty bad and dirty. This night Sir R. Ford told me how this day, at Christ Church Hospital, they have given a living over 200l. per annum to Mr. Sanchy, my old acquaintance, which I wonder at, he commending him mightily; but am glad of it. He tells me, too, how the famous Stillingfleete was a Bluecoat boy. The children at this day are provided for in the country by the House, which I am glad also to hear.

her letter finds me
like a ship laden with salt

so angry a note
to deliver to the dead

a salt with no light
a ship deserted by her fleet

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 16 January 1667.

Are you still writing about —?

Yes, I am still writing

about my mother. About my

mothers. About the ways

in which they became

who they were to me; but

long before that: to, for,

and from each other. How

not even the years can fade

the quality of their scent,

the gestures that remain

embedded in every piece

of furniture, in every green

ceramic mixing bowl that survived

the years of their marriage to make

its way into mine, with all

the hairline cracks spread across

the surface. Yes, I am still

writing about my questions, about

the thousand thousand ways a whisper

carries even in the absence of wind

from out of the depths of a cabinet

emptied of its secrets. Because

the end of a story is only

convention, because convention

dictates whose names may appear

on registers and documents

and deeds, as well as who

doesn't get to inherit.

But inherit we all do—if not

the shape of an eyebrow

then the places moles turn up,

giveaway signs on the map

of the weathering body: saying

you too have a penchant for men

of a certain age, or you too

love the texture and frill

of a garment for the way

it seduces the mind into thinking

it might forget what histories

groped and penetrated you in that

loamy dark before you came to be.


"A single swarm can contain up to 150 million
locusts per square kilometer of farmland." - Associated Press

They are not dark tears from a pharaoh's eyes,
nor a belt of bees unloosed from a titan's
distant tower. Their flight path is not
a channel clogged with vessels of trade
or commerce. They are together
a dark body on whose surface is a mouth
made of very fine short hairs. They sense
the quality of air and can hover
for days and days in the wind.
They are said to be patient
and can withstand extended periods
of deprivation. Along the edges of the sky
they find small openings in which
they can spiral without cease. How many
creatures can hear the sounds of the world
and of frightened cows through the ear
in their abdomen, or feel the color green?


Up, and to the office, where busy all the morning. Here my Lord Bruncker would have made me promise to go with him to a play this afternoon, where Knipp acts Mrs. Weaver’s great part in “The Indian Emperour,” and he says is coming on to be a great actor. But I am so fell to my business, that I, though against my inclination, will not go. At noon, dined with my wife and were pleasant, and then to the office, where I got Mrs. Burroughs ‘sola cum ego, and did tocar su mamelles so as to hazer me hazer. She gone, I to my business and did much, and among other things to-night we were all mightily troubled how to prevent the sale of a great deal of hemp, and timber-deals, and other good goods to-morrow at the candle by the Prize Office, where it will be sold for little, and we shall be found to want the same goods and buy at extraordinary prices, and perhaps the very same goods now sold, which is a most horrid evil and a shame. At night home to supper and to bed with my mind mighty light to see the fruits of my diligence in having my business go off my hand so merrily.

morning is in India

and tomorrow the candle will be sold

for the same old light

to see the fruit in my hand

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 15 January 1667.


Talk, we say. 
Why don't we know
how to talk. Nobody says
anything, or nobody says
what anyone really wants
to hear or to say under
the words. It's like
trying to figure out how
to lift the hem of rain
as it lengthens, coming
down. We cup our hands:
there is so much of it
we cannot hold.

Therefore, Am

Mount Vesuvius eruption: Extreme heat 
"turned man's brain to glass" - BBC News

Before the blanket and surge,
before the seared
arms of trees. We would have been
face-down in bed, lying
along the sandbar, wondering
at the rattle in the throat
of the sky and the sudden
radiance, distilling all
we ever knew or remembered.
Uncovered from sand—obsidian
sliver, spherulites, feldspar.

The war on darkness

Up, and to the office, where busy getting beforehand with my business as fast as I can. At noon home to dinner, and presently afterward at my office again. I understand my father is pretty well again, blessed be God! and would have my Br John come down to him for a little while. Busy till night, pleasing myself mightily to see what a deal of business goes off of a man’s hands when he stays by it, and then, at night, before it was late (yet much business done) home to supper, discourse with my wife, and to bed. Sir W. Batten tells me the Lords do agree at last with the Commons about the word “Nuisance” in the Irish Bill, and do desire a good correspondence between the two Houses; and that the King do intend to prorogue them the last of this month.

up and to war
under a god of business

man’s hands stay the night
our common nuisance

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 14 January 1667.


of the bees from hives
collapsing from within;
of the mouse-sized dunmarts
and cockatoos, the wallabies
and koalas that firefighters
worked feverishly to save;
of the towns that woke
as the mouth of a crater
spewed pent-up heat
and ash; of the blood or
of the bowels and their
discharge from the body:
of the organs made empty
or void; of the place
or position one used to hold
but is now forced to abandon
or give out; of withdrawal
from a place in some
orderly fashion,
for safety or in