Pot belly

Up, and to the office, and there sat all the morning. At noon dined at home, and thence with my wife and father to Hales’s, and there looked only on my father’s picture (which is mighty like); and so away to White Hall to a committee for Tangier, where the Duke of York was, and Sir W. Coventry, and a very full committee; and instead of having a very prejudiced meeting, they did, though indeed inclined against Yeabsly, yield to the greatest part of his account, so as to allow of his demands to the value of 7,000l. and more, and only give time for him to make good his pretence to the rest; which was mighty joy to me: and so we rose up. But I must observe the force of money, which did make my Lord Ashly to argue and behave himself in the business with the greatest friendship, and yet with all the discretion imaginable; and [it] will be a business of admonition and instruction to me concerning him (and other men, too, for aught I know) as long as I live. Thence took Creed with some kind of violence and some hard words between us to St. James’s, to have found out Sir W. Coventry to have signed the order for his payment among others that did stay on purpose to do it (and which is strange among the rest my Lord Ashly, who did cause Creed to write it presently and kept two or three of them with him by cunning to stay and sign it), but Creed’s ill nature (though never so well bribed, as it hath lately in this case by twenty pieces) will not be overcome from his usual delays.
Thence failing of meeting Sir W. Coventry I took leave of Creed (very good friends) and away home, and there took out my father, wife, sister, and Mercer our grand Tour in the evening, and made it ten at night before we got home, only drink at the doore at Islington at the Katherine Wheel, and so home and to the office a little, and then to bed.

my fat is like a full
committee meeting

I observe the force
of friendship in it

hard to stay strange
with so grand a wheel


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 14 June 1666.

Sewing Lessons

 

 

 

Scissors and paper, needles and knives—

      white chalk and the outline of a body

on tracing paper. We were always


       trying to make copies of ourselves,

    each time on better material. Mother's favorite

       was satin or chiffon. My love


for things that shine and loft

     must come from this. My quickness

to tears, habit of tearing out hems


       and losing one of a pair: talents

     I learned on my own. Loneliness is a row

       of buttons not touching, closing a dress


all the way to the top: mother-

     of-pearl silences, their shallow depths

swirling with all the things we didn't say.






 

In response to Via Negativa: Visionary.

Heart, attacked

Up, and by coach to St. James’s, and there did our business before the Duke as usual, having, before the Duke come out of his bed, walked in an ante-chamber with Sir H. Cholmly, who tells me there are great jarrs between the Duke of Yorke and the Duke of Albemarle, about the later’s turning out one or two of the commanders put in by the Duke of Yorke. Among others, Captain Du Tell, a Frenchman, put in by the Duke of Yorke, and mightily defended by him; and is therein led by Monsieur Blancford, that it seems hath the same command over the Duke of Yorke as Sir W. Coventry hath; which raises ill blood between them. And I do in several little things observe that Sir W. Coventry hath of late, by the by, reflected on the Duke of Albemarle and his captains, particularly in that of old Teddiman, who did deserve to be turned out this fight, and was so; but I heard Sir W. Coventry say that the Duke of Albemarle put in one as bad as he is in his room, and one that did as little.
After we had done with the Duke of Yorke, I with others to White Hall, there to attend again a Committee of Tangier, but there was none, which vexed me to the heart, and makes me mighty doubtfull that when we have one, it will be prejudiced against poor Yeabsly and to my great disadvantage thereby, my Lord Peterborough making it his business, I perceive (whether in spite to me, whom he cannot but smell to be a friend to it, or to my Lord Ashly, I know not), to obstruct it, and seems to take delight in disappointing of us; but I shall be revenged of him.
Here I staid a very great while, almost till noon, and then meeting Balty I took him with me, and to Westminster to the Exchequer about breaking of two tallys of 2000l. each into smaller tallys, which I have been endeavouring a good while, but to my trouble it will not, I fear, be done, though there be no reason against it, but only a little trouble to the clerks; but it is nothing to me of real profit at all.
Thence with Balty to Hales’s by coach, it being the seventh day from my making my late oathes, and by them I am at liberty to dispense with any of my oathes every seventh day after I had for the six days before going performed all my vowes.
Here I find my father’s picture begun, and so much to my content, that it joys my very heart to thinke that I should have his picture so well done; who, besides that he is my father, and a man that loves me, and hath ever done so, is also, at this day, one of the most carefull and innocent men, in the world.
Thence with mighty content homeward, and in my way at the Stockes did buy a couple of lobsters, and so home to dinner.
Where I find my wife and father had dined, and were going out to Hales’s to sit there, so Balty and I alone to dinner, and in the middle of my grace, praying for a blessing upon (these his good creatures), my mind fell upon my lobsters: upon which I cried, Odd zooks! and Balty looked upon me like a man at a losse what I meant, thinking at first that I meant only that I had said the grace after meat instead of that before meat. But then I cried, what is become of my lobsters? Whereupon he run out of doors to overtake the coach, but could not, so came back again, and mighty merry at dinner to thinke of my surprize. After dinner to the Excise Office by appointment, and there find my Lord Bellasses and the Commissioners, and by and by the whole company come to dispute the business of our running so far behindhand there, and did come to a good issue in it, that is to say, to resolve upon having the debt due to us, and the Household and the Guards from the Excise stated, and so we shall come to know the worst of our condition and endeavour for some helpe from my Lord Treasurer.
Thence home, and put off Balty, and so, being invited, to Sir Christopher Mings’s funeral, but find them gone to church. However I into the church (which is a fair, large church, and a great chappell) and there heard the service, and staid till they buried him, and then out. And there met with Sir W. Coventry (who was there out of great generosity, and no person of quality there but he) and went with him into his coach, and being in it with him there happened this extraordinary case, one of the most romantique that ever I heard of in my life, and could not have believed, but that I did see it; which was this:
About a dozen able, lusty, proper men come to the coach-side with tears in their eyes, and one of them that spoke for the rest begun and says to Sir W. Coventry, “We are here a dozen of us that have long known and loved, and served our dead commander, Sir Christopher Mings, and have now done the last office of laying him in the ground. We would be glad we had any other to offer after him, and in revenge of him. All we have is our lives; if you will please to get His Royal Highness to give us a fireship among us all, here is a dozen of us, out of all which choose you one to be commander, and the rest of us, whoever he is, will serve him; and, if possible, do that that shall show our memory of our dead commander, and our revenge.” Sir W. Coventry was herewith much moved (as well as I, who could hardly abstain from weeping), and took their names, and so parted; telling me that he would move His Royal Highness as in a thing very extraordinary, which was done. Thereon see the next day in this book. So we parted.
The truth is, Sir Christopher Mings was a very stout man, and a man of great parts, and most excellent tongue among ordinary men; and as Sir W. Coventry says, could have been the most useful man at such a pinch of time as this. He was come into great renowne here at home, and more abroad in the West Indys. He had brought his family into a way of being great; but dying at this time, his memory and name (his father being always and at this day a shoemaker, and his mother a Hoyman’s daughter; of which he was used frequently to boast) will be quite forgot in a few months as if he had never been, nor any of his name be the better by it; he having not had time to will any estate, but is dead poor rather than rich.
So we left the church and crowd, and I home (being set down on Tower Hill), and there did a little business and then in the evening went down by water to Deptford, it being very late, and there I staid out as much time as I could, and then took boat again homeward, but the officers being gone in, returned and walked to Mrs. Bagwell’s house, and there (it being by this time pretty dark and past ten o’clock) went into her house and did what I would. But I was not a little fearfull of what she told me but now, which is, that her servant was dead of the plague, that her coming to me yesterday was the first day of her coming forth, and that she had new whitened the house all below stairs, but that above stairs they are not so fit for me to go up to, they being not so. So I parted thence, with a very good will, but very civil, and away to the waterside, and sent for a pint of sacke and so home, drank what I would and gave the waterman the rest; and so adieu. Home about twelve at night, and so to bed, finding most of my people gone to bed.
In my way home I called on a fisherman and bought three eeles, which cost me three shillings.

a great jar of blood
heard of the heart

doubtful that when we have one
it will be an advantage

it cannot be a friend
or take delight

it will not reason but only perform
and look like meat

or so I think at a funeral
how love lives

in the tongue
of a dying shoe


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 13 June 1666.

Visionary

Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon to dinner, and then to White Hall in hopes of a meeting of Tangier about Yeabsly’s business, but it could not be obtained, Sir G. Carteret nor Sir W. Coventry being able to be there, which still vexes [me] to see the poor man forced still to attend, as also being desirous to see what my profit is, and get it.
Walking here in the galleries I find the Ladies of Honour dressed in their riding garbs, with coats and doublets with deep skirts, just for all the world like mine, and buttoned their doublets up the breast, with perriwigs and with hats; so that, only for a long petticoat dragging under their men’s coats, nobody could take them for women in any point whatever; which was an odde sight, and a sight did not please me. It was Mrs. Wells and another fine lady that I saw thus.
Thence down by water to Deptford, and there late seeing some things dispatched down to the fleete, and so home (thinking indeed to have met with Bagwell, but I did not) to write my letters very late, and so to supper and to bed.

to see the poor as us
to see double

the world like a breast
and the body as odd a sight
as well water

to see something fleet
and let be


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 12 June 1666.

In History, Captions Often Do Not Match the Picture

2

~ Cigar Factory in Manila, 1899


Everything, as you can see, is done
by hand: the plowing and sowing,
the harrowing and weeding.

In the valleys of the north
and south, they pick the leaves;
they dry in sun, by air

or fire or flue. How many palillos,
how many manojos travel by wagon
and are spread on factory tables,

the leaves as brown
as the hands that sort and roll
them? The smell---the smell

that clings for days and days
to their blouses and sayas,
that they inhale more

constantly than salt-winds from
the coast. When you close your eyes,
can you hear them cough, see dark half-

moons under each fingernail, feel
the leathery pelts they pull into tight
rolls that others will ember and burn?

Undercover

Up, and down by water to Sir W. Warren’s (the first time I was in his new house on the other side the water since he enlarged it) to discourse about our lighters that he hath bought for me, and I hope to get 100l. by this jobb. Having done with him I took boat again (being mightily struck with a woman in a hat, a seaman’s mother, that stood on the key) and home, where at the office all the morning with Sir W. Coventry and some others of our board hiring of fireships, and Sir W. Coventry begins to see my pains again, which I do begin to take, and I am proud of it, and I hope shall continue it. He gone, at noon I home to dinner, and after dinner my father and wife out to the painter’s to sit again, and I, with my Lady Pen and her daughter, to see Harman; whom we find lame in bed. His bones of his anckle are broke, but he hopes to do well soon; and a fine person by his discourse he seems to be and my hearty [friend]; and he did plainly tell me that at the Council of War before the fight, it was against his reason to begin the fight then, and the reasons of most sober men there, the wind being such, and we to windward, that they could not use their lower tier of guns, which was a very sad thing for us to have the honour and weal of the nation ventured so foolishly.
I left them there, and walked to Deptford, reading in Walsingham’s Manual, a very good book, and there met with Sir W. Batten and my Lady at Uthwayt’s. Here I did much business and yet had some little mirthe with my Lady, and anon we all come up together to our office, where I was very late doing much business. Late comes Sir J. Bankes to see me, and tells me that coming up from Rochester he overtook three or four hundred seamen, and he believes every day they come flocking from the fleete in like numbers; which is a sad neglect there, when it will be impossible to get others, and we have little reason to think that these will return presently again.
He gone, I to end my letters to-night, and then home to supper and to bed.

a moth at the fire
begins to see

I sit with my bones unread
like impossible letters


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 11 June 1666.

Manic

(Lord’s day). Up very betimes, and down the river to Deptford, and did a good deale of business in sending away and directing several things to the Fleete. That being done, back to London to my office, and there at my office till after Church time fitting some notes to carry to Sir W. Coventry in the afternoon. At noon home to dinner, where my cozen Joyces, both of them, they and their wives and little Will, come by invitation to dinner to me, and I had a good dinner for them; but, Lord! how sicke was I of W. Joyce’s company, both the impertinencies of it and his ill manners before me at my table to his wife, which I could hardly forbear taking notice of; but being at my table and for his wife’s sake, I did, though I will prevent his giving me the like occasion again at my house I will warrant him.
After dinner I took leave and by water to White Hall, and there spent all the afternoon in the Gallery, till the Council was up, to speake with Sir W. Coventry.
Walking here I met with Pierce the surgeon, who is lately come from the fleete, and tells me that all the commanders, officers, and even the common seamen do condemn every part of the late conduct of the Duke of Albemarle: both in his fighting at all, in his manner of fighting, running among them in his retreat, and running the ships on ground; so as nothing can be worse spoken of. That Holmes, Spragg, and Smith do all the business, and the old and wiser commanders nothing. So as Sir Thomas Teddiman (whom the King and all the world speak well of) is mightily discontented, as being wholly slighted. He says we lost more after the Prince come, than before too. The Prince was so maimed, as to be forced to be towed home. He says all the fleete confess their being chased home by the Dutch; and yet the body of the Dutch that did it, was not above forty sayle at most. And yet this put us into the fright, as to bring all our ships on ground. He says, however, that the Duke of Albemarle is as high almost as ever, and pleases himself to think that he hath given the Dutch their bellies full, without sense of what he hath lost us; and talks how he knows now the way to beat them. But he says, that even Smith himself, one of his creatures, did himself condemn the late conduct from the beginning to the end.
He tells me further, how the Duke of Yorke is wholly given up to his new mistresse, my Lady Denham, going at noon-day with all his gentlemen with him to visit her in Scotland Yard; she declaring she will not be his mistresse, as Mrs. Price, to go up and down the Privy-stairs, but will be owned publicly; and so she is. Mr. Bruncker, it seems, was the pimp to bring it about, and my Lady Castlemaine, who designs thereby to fortify herself by the Duke; there being a falling-out the other day between the King and her: on this occasion, the Queene, in ordinary talke before the ladies in her drawing-room, did say to my Lady Castlemaine that she feared the King did take cold, by staying so late abroad at her house. She answered before them all, that he did not stay so late abroad with her, for he went betimes thence (though he do not before one, two, or three in the morning), but must stay somewhere else. The King then coming in and overhearing, did whisper in the eare aside, and told her she was a bold impertinent woman, and bid her to be gone out of the Court, and not come again till he sent for, her; which she did presently, and went to a lodging in the Pell Mell, and kept there two or three days, and then sent to the King to know whether she might send for her things away out of her house. The King sent to her, she must first come and view them: and so she come, and the King went to her, and all friends again. He tells me she did, in her anger, say she would be even with the King, and print his letters to her.
So putting all together, we are and are like to be in a sad condition.
We are endeavouring to raise money by borrowing it of the City; but I do not think the City will lend a farthing.
By and by the Council broke up, and I spoke with Sir W. Coventry about business, with whom I doubt not in a little time to be mighty well, when I shall appear to mind my business again as I used to do, which by the grace of God I will do.
Gone from him I endeavoured to find out Sir G. Carteret, and at last did at Mr. Ashburnham’s, in the Old Palace Yarde, and thence he and I stepped out and walked an houre in the church-yarde, under Henry the Seventh’s Chappell, he being lately come from the fleete; and tells me, as I hear from every body else, that the management in the late fight was bad from top to bottom. That several said this would not have been if my Lord Sandwich had had the ordering of it. Nay, he tells me that certainly had my Lord Sandwich had the misfortune to have done as they have done, the King could not have saved him. There is, too, nothing but discontent among the officers; and all the old experienced men are slighted. He tells me to my question (but as a great secret), that the dividing of the fleete did proceed first from a proposition from the fleete, though agreed to hence. But he confesses it arose from want of due intelligence, which he confesses we do want. He do, however, call the fleete’s retreat on Sunday a very honourable retreat, and that the Duke of Albemarle did do well in it, and would have been well if he had done it sooner, rather than venture the loss of the fleete and crown, as he must have done if the Prince had not come. He was surprised when I told him I heard that the King did intend to borrow some money of the City, and would know who had spoke of it to me; I told him Sir Ellis Layton this afternoon. He says it is a dangerous discourse; for that the City certainly will not be invited to do it, and then for the King to ask it and be denied, will be the beginning of our sorrow. He seems to fear we shall all fall to pieces among ourselves.
This evening we hear that Sir Christopher Mings is dead of his late wounds; and Sir W. Coventry did commend him to me in a most extraordinary manner.
But this day, after three days’ trial in vain, and the hazard of the spoiling of the ship in lying till next spring, besides the disgrace of it, newes is brought that the Loyall London is launched at Deptford.
Having talked thus much with Sir G. Carteret we parted there, and I home by water, taking in my boat with me young Michell and my Betty his wife, meeting them accidentally going to look a boat. I set them down at the Old Swan and myself, went through bridge to the Tower, and so home, and after supper to bed.

up and down
how sick was I of joy
like the surge of the sea
up and down
falling like a sad wing
under the sand
a secret city
lying till next spring
going down
and up


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 10 June 1666.

In History, Captions Often Do Not Match the Picture

1

In Theodor De Bry's "Indians
Planting Corn
" (1590), the field

is a quilt or rows of dominoes,
and the natives also resemble

nothing like themselves. The men
wear loincloths and bend over the sod

with round-tip shovels that seem
to have melted in the heat. The women

with short fringed skirts walk in a semi-
circle as though around an invisible

maypole, their hands holding seeds,
making cupped gestures. Why do they look

like Venus rising from the foam, ringleted
hair cascading over napes and shoulders?

I do not see a single Indian here. Or
the artist has made them victims

of body-snatchers. The only brown tint
is from the ink of the engraving or yellowed

parchment. Only the woman in the foreground
displays both breasts in the way that either

heathens in need of saving do, or
alabaster goddesses with no arms.


Ora et Labora

 
Only by grace do we still labor.
We eat in the park from paper plates

& lick the yellow icing from too-
sweet bakery cupcakes; & peel the meat

from the bone with sticky, clumsy
fingers. Only by effort do we hammer

planks pried loose by the heat
back into the ribs that have tightened

on the deck. Only by breathing do we keep
track of time: what's past & what looms

like the shadow of an animal, its howl
an echo we hear hunting in the small

hours of night. We should have been torn
to pieces long ago in the maw of this

machine; or turned on a spit & lanced
in the side. But we lie in the sun,

made sleepy by the effort to finish some
task. We pick flowers to lay on the tombs

of our dead. We write or read to keep back tears
or questions. We listen for what doesn't come.



 

In response to Via Negativa: Blues.

Blues

Up, and to St. James’s, there to wait on the Duke of Yorke, and had discourse with him about several businesses of the fleete. But, Lord! to see how the Court is divided about The Swiftsure and The Essex’s being safe. And wagers and odds laid on both sides. I did tell the Duke how Sir W. Batten did tell me this morning that he was sure the Swiftsure is safe. This put them all in a great joy and certainty of it, but this I doubt will prove nothing.
Thence to White Hall in expectation of a meeting of Tangier, and we did industriously labour to have it this morning; but we could not get a fifth person there, so after much pains and thoughts on my side on behalfe of Yeabsly, we were fain to breake up. But, Lord! to see with what patience Lord Ashly did stay all the morning to get a Committee, little thinking that I know the reason of his willingnesse. So I home to dinner and back again to White Hall, and, being come thither a little too soon, went to Westminster Hall, and bought a payre of gloves, and to see how people do take this late fight at sea, and I find all give over the thoughts of it as a victory and to reckon it a great overthrow.
So to White Hall, and there when we were come all together in certain expectation of doing our business to Yeabsly’s full content, and us that were his friends, my Lord Peterborough (whether through some difference between him and my Lord Ashly, or him and me or Povy, or through the falsenesse of Creed, I know not) do bring word that the Duke of Yorke (who did expressly bid me wait at the Committee for the dispatch of the business) would not have us go forward in this business of allowing the losse of the ships till Sir G. Carteret and Sir W. Coventry were come to towne, which was the very thing indeed which we would have avoided. This being told us, we broke up doing nothing, to my great discontent, though I said nothing, and afterwards I find by my Lord Ashly’s discourse to me that he is troubled mightily at it, and indeed it is a great abuse of him and of the whole Commissioners that nothing of that nature can be done without Sir G. Carteret or Sir W. Coventry.
No sooner was the Committee up, and I going [through] the Court homeward, but I am told Sir W. Coventry is come to town; so I to his chamber, and there did give him an account how matters go in our office, and with some content I parted from him, after we had discoursed several things of the haste requisite to be made in getting the fleete out again and the manner of doing it. But I do not hear that he is at all pleased or satisfied with the late fight; but he tells me more newes of our suffering, by the death of one or two captains more than I knew before. But he do give over the thoughts of the safety of The Swiftsure or Essex.
Thence homewards, landed at the Old Swan, and there find my pretty Betty Michell and her husband at their doore in Thames Streete, which I was glad to find, and went into their shop, and they made me drink some of their strong water, the first time I was ever with them there. I do exceedingly love her. After sitting a little and talking with them about several things at great distance I parted and home to my business late. But I am to observe how the drinking of some strong water did immediately put my eyes into a fit of sorenesse again as they were the other day. I mean my right eye only.
Late at night I had an account brought me by Sir W. Warren that he has gone through four lighters for me, which pleases me very well. So home to bed, much troubled with our disappointment at the Tangier Committee.

I labor to think of love
and give over thoughts of ash
and the void of death

give over thoughts of sex
and the door to the shop

the first time I was with her
drinking my eyes into soreness
at that light


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 9 June 1666.