Untrammeled

(Lord’s day). Lay long in bed discoursing with pleasure with my wife, among other things about Pall’s coming up, for she must be here a little to be fashioned, and my wife hath a mind to go down for her, which I am not much against, and so I rose and to my chamber to settle several things. At noon comes my uncle Wight to dinner, and brings with him Mrs. Wight, sad company to me, nor was I much pleased with it, only I must shew respect to my uncle. After dinner they gone, and it being a brave day, I walked to White Hall, where the Queene and ladies are all come: I saw some few of them, but not the Queene, nor any of the great beauties. I endeavoured to have seen my Lord Hinchingbrooke, who come to town yesterday, but I could not. Met with Creed and walked with him a turne or two in the Parke, but without much content, having now designs of getting money in my head, which allow me not the leisure I used to have with him, besides an odde story lately told of him for a great truth, of his endeavouring to lie with a woman at Oxford, and her crying out saved her; and this being publickly known, do a little make me hate him. Thence took coach, and calling by the way at my bookseller’s for a booke I writ about twenty years ago in prophecy of this year coming on, 1666, explaining it to be the marke of the beast, I home, and there fell to reading, and then to supper, and to bed.

ash to a rose becomes company
as much as dinner

in a park without signs
allow me the leisure to cry out

I hate calling it prophecy
to mark the beast


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 18 February 1666.

Sonnet: Kennon Road

Camp 1 is base, as its name implies--- the point
              where someone first took a pickaxe to the soil
to build the road that still snakes up from dusty
              lowlands, to mountains almost barren now of pine.
Corkscrew turns and sheer drop of gorges along
              the way; down below, the Bued River's unquiet
gurgling. Seven more camps to mark the places
              where work crews stopped: waiting for supplies,
for weather and skirmishes to abate. The last time  
             I made my descent from that city forever  
sketched as blueprint in me, the roads were better paved
             than I recalled; but I looked in vain for the falls
resembling bridal veils, their rivulets thinned or desiccated,
             the rock face riven but dry as memory not often visited.

Teeth of the storm

Up, and to the office, where busy all the morning. Late to dinner, and then to the office again, and there busy till past twelve at night, and so home to supper and to bed.
We have newes of Sir Jeremy Smith’s being very well with his fleete at Cales.

the din of ice
busy as we eat

supper and news


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 17 February 1666.

Atang

Dear father, forgive me the times I forget 
to put out a plate of food and a cup of water
for you. Gifts of food in small portions:

a spoonful of steamed rice, flesh scooped from
the belly of a milkfish. Has our hunger dwindled,
diminished? Sometimes I stand in the middle

of a grocery aisle, lost in a warehouse of choices.
Shouldn't desire also have its own limit, shouldn't it
at some point hold up its hands and say No thank you,

I have no room for dessert? You, who used
to instruct: The nearer the bone, the sweeter
the meat.
You, who pried the still-warm tongue   

out of the roasted pig to place on my newborn one,
and also on each of my daughters' in their time. 
 

Keyboard warrior

Up betimes, and by appointment to the Exchange, where I met Messrs. Houblons, and took them up in my coach and carried them to Charing Crosse, where they to Colonell Norwood to see how they can settle matters with him, I having informed them by the way with advice to be easy with him, for he may hereafter do us service, and they and I are like to understand one another to very good purpose. I to my Lord Sandwich, and there alone with him to talke of his affairs, and particularly of his prize goods, wherein I find he is wearied with being troubled, and gives over the care of it to let it come to what it will, having the King’s release for the dividend made, and for the rest he thinks himself safe from being proved to have anything more. Thence to the Exchequer, and so by coach to the ‘Change, Mr. Moore with me, who tells me very odde passages of the indiscretion of my Lord in the management of his family, of his carelessnesse, &c., which troubles me, but makes me rejoice with all my heart of my being rid of the bond of 1000l., for that would have been a cruel blow to me. With Moore to the Coffee-House, the first time I have been there, where very full, and company it seems hath been there all the plague time. So to the ‘Change, and then home to dinner, and after dinner to settle accounts with him for my Lord, and so evened with him to this day. Then to the office, and out with Sir W. Warren for discourse by coach to White Hall, thinking to have spoke with Sir W. Coventry, but did not, and to see the Queene, but she comes but to Hampton Court to-night. Back to my office and there late, and so home to supper and bed. I walked a good while to-night with Mr. Hater in the garden, talking about a husband for my sister, and reckoning up all our clerks about us, none of which he thinks fit for her and her portion. At last I thought of young Gawden, and will thinke of it again.

where I carried a cross like a prize
where I bled ink and coffee
where it all evened out
with war for discourse
I spoke but did not see

but at night in the garden
I thought of you


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 16 February 1666.

Knowledge and Belief

Dear father, I still remember most things 
      I was taught as a child: that leaves pressed
between the pages of a book can sometimes keep
      a little of their green, that veins are blue
only because of the way light illuminates skin.
      I know the language of a power of attorney,
which is meant to designate to another or others
      the things one is for some reason unable to do.
Matters of belief are a different question: and you
      were of a generation that didn't draw up wills
for fear that doing so would hasten their death.  
      I no longer cross myself before leaving home,
though I'll retreat into a nave of quiet where a voice
      only I can hear prostrates itself on the floor.

Hylophobia

Up, and my wife not come home all night. To the office, where sat all the morning. At noon to Starky’s, a great cooke in Austin Friars, invited by Colonell Atkins, and a good dinner for Colonell Norwood and his friends, among others Sir Edward Spragg and others, but ill attendance. Before dined, called on by my wife in a coach, and so I took leave, and then with her and Knipp and Mercer (Mr. Hunt newly come out of the country being there also come to see us) to Mr. Hales, the paynter’s, having set down Mr. Hunt by the way. Here Mr. Hales’ begun my wife in the posture we saw one of my Lady Peters, like a St. Katharine. While he painted, Knipp, and Mercer, and I, sang; and by and by comes Mrs. Pierce, with my name in her bosom for her Valentine, which will cost me money. But strange how like his very first dead colouring is, that it did me good to see it, and pleases me mightily, and I believe will be a noble picture. Thence with them all as far as Fleete Streete, and there set Mercer and Knipp down, and we home. I to the office, whither the Houblons come telling me of a little new trouble from Norwood about their ship, which troubles me, though without reason. So late home to supper and to bed.
We hear this night of Sir Jeremy Smith, that he and his fleete have been seen at Malaga; which is good newes.

I come to the country to hunt
gun like a painted name on a picture
with a far-off wood
which troubles me without reason


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 15 February 1666.

Sonnet of Still Grieving

Dear father, in the dream I opened the basket 
with a wooden lid carved in the shape of a lizard,

and found the strawflower leis I'd bought
from the market in our city almost completely

crumbled to bits. Who gave them the name "Everlasting?"
Brittle orange, they hang from every vendor's pole

beside macrame hammocks and crocheted vests, above
shelves lined with souvenirs-- those horrible wooden men

waiting for a hand to lift the barrels wrapped around
their hips so they can spring into action. One could

write essays on such relics and their provenance; but
the only voice I can find prefers to sing in a key

closer to lullaby or elegy: that is, I mourn for
the flowers; for you, asleep in the faraway hills.

Philistines

(St. Valentine’s day). This morning called up by Mr. Hill, who, my wife thought, had been come to be her Valentine; she, it seems, having drawne him last night, but it proved not. However, calling him up to our bed-side, my wife challenged him. I up, and made myself ready, and so with him by coach to my Lord Sandwich’s by appointment to deliver Mr. Howe’s accounts to my Lord. Which done, my Lord did give me hearty and large studied thanks for all my kindnesse to him and care of him and his business. I after profession of all duty to his Lordship took occasion to bemoane myself that I should fall into such a difficulty about Sir G. Carteret, as not to be for him, but I must be against Sir W. Coventry, and therefore desired to be neutrall, which my Lord approved and confessed reasonable, but desired me to befriend him privately. Having done in private with my Lord I brought Mr. Hill to kisse his hands, to whom my Lord professed great respect upon my score. My Lord being gone, I took Mr. Hill to my Lord Chancellor’s new house that is building, and went with trouble up to the top of it, and there is there the noblest prospect that ever I saw in my life, Greenwich being nothing to it; and in every thing is a beautiful house, and most strongly built in every respect; and as if, as it hath, it had the Chancellor for its master. Thence with him to his paynter, Mr. Hales, who is drawing his picture, which will be mighty like him, and pleased me so, that I am resolved presently to have my wife’s and mine done by him, he having a very masterly hand. So with mighty satisfaction to the ‘Change and thence home, and after dinner abroad, taking Mrs. Mary Batelier with us, who was just come to see my wife, and they set me down at my Lord Treasurer’s, and themselves went with the coach into the fields to take the ayre. I staid a meeting of the Duke of Yorke’s, and the officers of the Navy and Ordnance. My Lord Treasurer lying in bed of the gowte. Our business was discourse of the straits of the Navy for want of money, but after long discourse as much out of order as ordinary people’s, we come to no issue, nor any money promised, or like to be had, and yet the worke must be done. Here I perceive Sir G. Carteret had prepared himself to answer a choque of Sir W. Coventry, by offering of himself to shew all he had paid, and what is unpaid, and what moneys and assignments he hath in his hands, which, if he makes good, was the best thing he ever did say in his life, and the best timed, for else it must have fallen very foule on him.
The meeting done I away, my wife and they being come back and staying for me at the gate. But, Lord! to see how afeard I was that Sir W. Coventry should have spyed me once whispering with Sir G. Carteret, though not intended by me, but only Sir G. Carteret come to me and I could not avoyde it. So home, they set me down at the ‘Change, and I to the Crowne, where my Lord Bruncker was come and several of the Virtuosi, and after a small supper and but little good discourse I with Sir W. Batten (who was brought thither with my Lord Bruncker) home, where I find my wife gone to Mrs. Mercer’s to be merry, but presently come in with Mrs. Knipp, who, it seems, is in towne, and was gone thither with my wife and Mercer to dance, and after eating a little supper went thither again to spend the whole night there, being W. Howe there, at whose chamber they are, and Lawd Crisp by chance. I to bed.

who having proved to be challenged
by difficult art
must be against it

or profess that nothing
ever is beautiful
taking themselves for ordinary people

like unpaid money
whispering to me
not to dance


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 14 February 1666.

What we thought we chose

Dear father, I walked to the back gate this morning
     to unlock it, and saw nearly a third of the service road
           submerged in water. Someone had put an orange cone near
it, sometime in the night when the heaviest rain was falling.
     Almost noon, and the sun's finally out; and so perhaps
           the road can dry before the next predicted burst of wet

weather. The corkscrew willow never had a chance; it died
     and its spirals rest hollow against the fence. I want
           to know: who decides which role one gets to play here?
Giver of warnings, straightener of crooked lines; stacker,
     mender, server. Long ago, you took me to the Indian bazaar
           on Session Road and let me pick out my first wristwatch.

You pointed out a round-faced Timex that could be wound, but
    I only had eyes for something with a cheap blue plastic band.