Vigil

Up, being called up by my wife’s brother, for whom I have got a commission from the Duke of Yorke for Muster-Master of one of the divisions, of which Harman is Rere-Admirall, of which I am glad as well as he. After I had acquainted him with it, and discoursed a little of it, I went forth and took him with me by coach to the Duke of Albemarle, who being not up, I took a walk with Balty into the Parke, and to the Queene’s Chappell, it being Good Friday, where people were all upon their knees very silent; but, it seems, no masse this day. So back and waited on the Duke and received some commands of his, and so by coach to Mr. Hales’s, where it is pretty strange to see that his second doing, I mean the second time of her sitting, is less like Mrs. Pierce than the first, and yet I am confident will be most like her, for he is so curious that I do not see how it is possible for him to mistake.
Here he and I presently resolved of going to White Hall, to spend an houre in the galleries there among the pictures, and we did so to my great satisfaction, he shewing me the difference in the payntings, and when I come more and more to distinguish and observe the workmanship, I do not find so many good things as I thought there was, but yet great difference between the works of some and others; and, while my head and judgment was full of these, I would go back again to his house to see his pictures, and indeed, though, I think, at first sight some difference do open, yet very inconsiderably but that I may judge his to be very good pictures. Here we fell into discourse of my picture, and I am for his putting out the Landskipp, though he says it is very well done, yet I do judge it will be best without it, and so it shall be put out, and be made a plain sky like my wife’s picture, which will be very noble.
Thence called upon an old woman in Pannier Ally to agree for ruling of some paper for me and she will do it pretty cheap. Here I found her have a very comely black mayde to her servant, which I liked very well.
So home to dinner and to see my joiner do the bench upon my leads to my great content. After dinner I abroad to carry paper to my old woman, and so to Westminster Hall, and there beyond my intention or design did see and speak with Betty Howlett, at her father’s still, and it seems they carry her to her own house to begin the world with her young husband on Monday next, Easter Monday. I please myself with the thoughts of her neighbourhood, for I love the girl mightily.
Thence home, and thither comes Mr. Houblon and a brother, with whom I evened for the charter parties of their ships for Tangier, and paid them the third advance on their freight to full satisfaction, and so, they being gone, comes Creed and with him till past one in the morning, evening his accounts till my head aked and I was fit for nothing, however, coming at last luckily to see through and settle all to my mind, it did please me mightily, and so with my mind at rest to bed, and he with me and hard to sleep.

the Good Friday people
all on their knees

silent as if at
the first sight of sky

he will come like a howl
and unrot them

so they become one ache
no mind to sleep


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 13 April 1666.

Dark Muses

They fed me
soups       with sediment of bile,
chopped entrails         of animals
who bleated under    the guava trees
before the torch singed      hide
and the glistening knife   slit
the pulsing throat. 
              At night they cradled
me in salt netting       The webs
still wet from    all the thread
we gathered    and wove from our eyes
       They did not have to say
watch       and learn        I smelled
the lessons of their bodies
                  Soap and water 
in their hair   Calluses on each finger
         Oiled and bent      over the stove
they did not fear      blood or dirt
Crying out from behind       closed
bedroom doors
          How could they still be     sweetest      
in sorrow            Shielding the lamp
wick that fluttered        in the depths
Whatever happens       they said
   Burn      Don't let it go out



Hobby farmer

Up and to the office, where all the morning. At noon dined at home and so to my office again, and taking a turne in the garden my Lady Pen comes to me and takes me into her house, where I find her daughter and a pretty lady of her acquaintance, one Mrs. Lowder, sister, I suppose, of her servant Lowder’s, with whom I, notwithstanding all my resolution to follow business close this afternoon, did stay talking and playing the foole almost all the afternoon, and there saw two or three foolish sorry pictures of her doing, but very ridiculous compared to what my wife do. She grows mighty homely and looks old. Thence ashamed at myself for this losse of time, yet not able to leave it, I to the office, where my Lord Bruncker come; and he and I had a little fray, he being, I find, a very peevish man, if he be denied what he expects, and very simple in his argument in this business (about signing a warrant for paying Sir Thos. Allen 1000l. out of the groats); but we were pretty good friends before we parted, and so we broke up and I to the writing my letters by the post, and so home to supper and to bed.

all morning I turn
the garden up

standing in the rows
I look at myself

a simple argument for oats
before art broke me


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 12 April 1666.

kababayan

upsweep, down-
sweep of pinoy appraisal--- 
in elevator, hotel or hospital 

lobby, there's a kind of gaze 
that wants to take stock of 
what's left of the islands  

in me, or more accurately,
how well I've transcended
those origins---

if i'm sleek and taste-
ful, exude the air of 
a sophisticated traveler

who still goes to sunday
mass and makes mano
clicks open her designer

purse for cash to put 
in the collection basket
if I keep a spotless house

with a tapestry of the last
supper above the fireplace
if my daughters have had

their debut with cotillon
or weddings with at least
seven sets of godparents

i confess i don't go 
to those galas and black-
tie affairs where they still

do line dancing
in my office building
there's a manong who drives

into the side entryway 
after 5 to pick up the trash
and change the plastic linings

and in the parking garage
there's a manang who drives
a little golf cart, checking

on whether cars 
have the proper decals 
at the airport they make

my coffee and give me change
they bring the elderly 
passengers their wheelchairs 

at a conference in portland
last month, my poet friend
texted to say there was 

a manong serving home-
cooked dishes from a food truck
on the corner of harvey milk & 3rd

he said he was homesick he 
gave him extra rice extra 
ulam with sabaw

Light redactions

To White Hall, having first set my people to worke about setting me rails upon the leads of my wife’s closett, a thing I have long designed, but never had a fit opportunity till now. After having done with the Duke of Yorke, I to Hales’s, where there was nothing found to be done more to my picture, but the musique, which now pleases me mightily, it being painted true. Thence home, and after dinner to Gresham College, where a great deal of do and formality in choosing of the Council and Officers. I had three votes to be of the Council, who am but a stranger, nor expected any. So my Lord Bruncker being confirmed President I home, where I find to my great content my rails up upon my leads. To the office and did a little business, and then home and did a great jobb at my Tangier accounts, which I find are mighty apt to run into confusion, my head also being too full of other businesses and pleasures. This noon Bagwell’s wife come to me to the office, after her being long at Portsmouth. After supper, and past 12 at night to bed.

white lead paint
the president leads us
in confusion

*

head too full
of other pleasures
his long night


Two erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 11 April 1666.

Summary

I crossed an ocean too.
     We were not running from bullets.
         We were not important enough
to be political prisoners.
         There was no war, I have
no visible shrapnel scars.
                 Only a recent calamity
that left my whole city in ruins,
that tore my house in two.
     Two weeks after the earth shook 
buildings 
like toy maracas
             father swayed against the door frame
in his faded yellow bathrobe 
as if to say goodbye.
                  In the morning he choked
as mother spooned soft scrambled eggs
into his mouth.
          Then his eyes rolled back in his head
and he stiffened in the chair.
                Can I say we took him
to the hospital if the hospital
was barely standing? I can see
                the shape made by the feather
stroke of blood that issued
from the corner of his mouth.
                The sky lifted with the noise
of rescue helicopters.
We were not on them.
I was not on them.
            I found another way across
the ocean. I took
what was offered and learned
to hide the sounds of hurt
from my ears.        A précis
reveals the meaning 
      of the original but can it explain its value. 
Years later I can't erase
       the taste of guilt from my tongue, shake
                this habit of always looking back.

Drone

Up betimes, and many people to me about business. To the office and there sat till noon, and then home and dined, and to the office again all the afternoon, where we sat all, the first time of our resolution to sit both forenoons and afternoons. Much business at night and then home, and though late did see some work done by the plasterer to my new window in the boy’s chamber plastered. Then to supper, and after having my head combed by the little girle to bed. Bad news that the plague is decreased in the general again and two increased in the sickness.

noon
noon
noon
noon

a new window
into my head

a new sickness


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 10 April 1666.

Belong

   Growing up, I hear whispers
but no one         will tell me to my face
        I never wonder until I'm older why I'm seven
before I'm taken to church to be baptized 
The house always smells
              like fried onions and garlic and oil 
and when I come home from school
there's a plate of rice       with chopped
hot dog pieces      Mama T and Mommy S put
in front of me alongside a glass       of Orange
Fanta       When I don't remember how to spell
remember I cry        all afternoon
        because it made me lose the spelling bee
My prima Jean wants to use       my new set of 64
crayons with a sharpener    built into the box
      When I don't let her she stomps her feet
and hisses      in my face       You're adopted anyway
I'm confused sometimes        about why I must call
my aunt       Mama T and my mother        Mommy S
They love        each other so much one of them
takes her and her whole family to live with us
         because she couldn't bear
the sight of her           undiapered babies
crawling on the rude          stone floor of a hut
    When her children grow up they get
the clothes I've outgrown    and I know I shouldn't
           but I feel like I've been displaced
When the other goes back to school
            she decides washing dishes or clothes
will give her hands tremors and that 
                 isn't good for all the writing
she now has to do            working for a degree
     From one I learn    how to measure the water
           for rice          And from the other
how to make the cursive for capital 
      T and F        One is like a boat
with a fringed canopy            The other
            looks the same only it has
a rudder for steering at one end     I wonder
      can one travel farther    than the other






In the mountains, we learned about longing

We were taught the rice
terraces, laid end to end, 
could circle the earth 
several times—
                  a belt 
of brown and green, a girdle 
festooned with grain— each 
seed  
     the shape of a tear or a drop 
of milk that flowed from the breasts
of a goddess who took pity on our 
hunger.   
        For we are always hungry,
rooting in the dark even in sleep;
and our thirst, long like a river
that snakes
             through the years
without seeming to find its way
to the source. 


On the shore

Up betimes, and with my Joyner begun the making of the window in my boy’s chamber bigger, purposing it shall be a roome to eat and for having musique in.
To the office, where a meeting upon extraordinary business, at noon to the ‘Change about more, and then home with Creed and dined, and then with him to the Committee of Tangier, where I got two or three things done I had a mind to of convenience to me. Thence by coach to Mrs. Pierce’s, and with her and Knipp and Mrs. Pierce’s boy and girle abroad, thinking to have been merry at Chelsey; but being come almost to the house by coach near the waterside, a house alone, I think the Swan, a gentleman walking by called to us to tell us that the house was shut up of the sicknesse. So we with great affright turned back, being holden to the gentleman; and went away (I for my part in great disorder) for Kensington, and there I spent about 30s. upon the jades with great pleasure, and we sang finely and staid till about eight at night, the night coming on apace and so set them down at Pierce’s, and so away home, where awhile with Sir W. Warren about business, and then to bed.

wind music
in a house by the water
night coming on


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 9 April 1666.