Up, and to the office, where all the morning; at noon home to dinner, and then to the office again in the afternoon, and there all day very busy till night, and then, having done much business, home to supper, and so to bed. This afternoon come home Sir J. Minnes, who has been down, but with little purpose, to pay the ships below at the Nore. This evening, having done my letters, I did write out the heads of what I had prepared to speak to the King the other day at my Lord Treasurer’s, which I do think convenient to keep by me for future use. The weather is now grown warm again, after much cold; and it is observable that within these eight days I did see smoke remaining, coming out of some cellars, from the late great fire, now above six months since. There was this day at the office (as he is most days) Sir W. Warren, against whom I did manifestly plead, and heartily too, God forgive me! But the reason is because I do find that he do now wholly rely almost upon my Lord Bruncker, though I confess I have no greater ground of my leaving him than the confidence which I perceive he hath got in my Lord Bruncker, whose seeming favours only do obtain of him as much compensation as, I believe (for he do know well the way of using his bounties), as mine more real. Besides, my Lord and I being become antagonistic, I do not think it safe for me to trust myself in the hands of one whom I know to be a knave, and using all means to become gracious there.

night having been let out of
a cold cellar

the ground favors us
as more real

I do not think it safe
to trust my hands

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 16 March 1667.

Good Fortune Cat

Every one of us still beckons from
the front counter of what used to be
your favorite Asian restaurant or take-
out place, now shuttered unless
your state still allows food service
for pick up only. Maneki-neko: my battery-
powered paw relentlessly rows the air.
Come in, come in, my name is not contagion.
I will sit in the doorway as I have done
for centuries, washing my face.


Up, and pleased at Tom’s teaching of Barker something to sing a 3rd part to a song, which will please mightily. So I to the office all the morning, and at noon to the ‘Change, where I do hear that letters this day come to Court do tell us that we are likely not to agree, the Dutch demanding high terms, and the King of France the like, in a most braving manner. The merchants do give themselves over for lost, no man knowing what to do, whether to sell or buy, not knowing whether peace or war to expect, and I am told that could that be now known a man might get 20,000l. in a week’s time by buying up of goods in case there should be war. Thence home and dined well, and then with my wife, set her at Unthanke’s and I to Sir G. Carteret, where talked with the ladies a while, and my Lady Carteret talks nothing but sorrow and afflictions coming on us, and indeed I do fear the same. So away and met Dr. Fuller, Bishop of Limricke, and walked an hour with him in the Court talking of newes only, and he do think that matters will be bad with us. Then to Westminster Hall, and there spent an hour or two walking up and down, thinking ‘para avoir’ got out Doll Lane, ‘sed je ne’ could do it, having no opportunity ‘de hazer le, ainsi lost the tota’ afternoon, and so away and called my wife and home, where a little at the office, and then home to my closet to enter my journalls, and so to supper and to bed.
This noon come little Mis. Tooker, who is grown a little woman; ego had l’opportunity para besar her and tocar la abaxo con my hand. She is pretty still, but had no mind to be vido, being not habilado as ella would be. My wife did tell me the other day that she heard she had had the gran pecho, but I hope no such thing. I sum certain that I should have been glad para aver tempo and lugar to have hecho algo con her.
This morning I was called up by Sir John Winter, poor man! come in his sedan from the other end of the town, before I was up, and merely about the King’s business, which is a worthy thing of him, and I believe him to be a worthy good man, and I will do him the right to tell the Duke of it, who did speak well of him the other day. It was about helping the King in the business of bringing down his timber to the sea-side, in the Forest of Deane.

letters come to us
not like thanks but afflictions

I fear the news will be bad
a spent opportunity
a lost mind
winter bringing down timber
in the forest

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 15 March 1667.


Cup of sugar over the fence; raking leaves, pine needles,
horrid gum-balls. Can you baby-sit the children while we
go to the movies. Will you watch my house while I’m
in California. The irises are out again in the corner of the yard.
Help yourself when you’re out walking the dog. I still have
the aluminum tray you brought to the cook-out. Do you
have any paracetamol? All we have is Motrin. My friend’s aunt
showed me how you can make at least three meals out of one
head of cabbage. Her grandparents who lived through the war
ate a lot of cabbage. We found a small abacus when we finally
cleaned out the garage. Your preschooler might find it fun.
I have extra gauze from when one of us had root canal surgery.
Can that be used to line homemade masks? It’s funny
how I got excited to find those two packets of seeds I got
in January from the library: chives and bok choy. It was “A Night
of Philosophy and Ideas.” All these groups of people in one place,
listening to lectures and poetry, watching artists make charcoal
portraits on the spot; students talking about the universe,
and love, and presence until 4 in the morning. Today I found
some soil and planted those seeds in pots. Our friend said,
if you tell the cashier at checkout that you need toilet paper,
someone will go to the back and get one pack for you.
No one knows what will happen. Things are changing every
day. But surely, things can’t just go back to being the same.



Up, and with Sir W. Batten and [Sir] W. Pen to my Lord Treasurer’s, where we met with my Lord Bruncker an hour before the King come, and had time to talk a little of our business. Then come much company, among others Sir H. Cholmly, who tells me that undoubtedly my Lord Bellasses will go no more as Governor to Tangier, and that he do put in fair for it, and believes he shall have it, and proposes how it may conduce to his account and mine in the business of money. Here we fell into talk with Sir Stephen Fox, and, among other things, of the Spanish manner of walking, when three together, and shewed me how, which was pretty, to prevent differences. By and by comes the King and Duke of York, and presently the officers of the Ordnance were called; my Lord Berkeley, Sir John Duncomb, and Mr. Chichly; then we, my Lord Bruncker, W. Batten, W. Pen, and myself; where we find only the King and Duke of York, and my Lord Treasurer, and Sir G. Carteret; where I only did speak, laying down the state of our wants, which the King and Duke of York seemed very well pleased with, and we did get what we asked, 500,000l., assigned upon the eleven months’ tax: but that is not so much ready money, or what will raise 40,000l. per week, which we desired, and the business will want. Yet are we fain to come away answered, when, God knows, it will undo the King’s business to have matters of this moment put off in this manner. The King did prevent my offering anything by and by as Treasurer for Tangier, telling me that he had ordered us 30,000l. on the same tax; but that is not what we would have to bring our payments to come within a year. So we gone out, in went others; viz., one after another, Sir Stephen Fox for the army, Captain Cocke for sick and wounded, Mr. Ashburnham for the household. Thence W. Batten, W. Pen, and I, back again; I mightily pleased with what I had said and done, and the success thereof. But, it being a fine clear day, I did, ‘en gayete de coeur’, propose going to Bow for ayre sake, and dine there, which they embraced, and so W. Batten and I (setting W. Pen down at Mark Lane end) straight to Bow, to the Queen’s Head, and there bespoke our dinner, carrying meat with us from London; and anon comes W. Pen with my wife and Lady Batten, and then Mr. Lowder with his mother and wife. While W. Batten and I were alone, we had much friendly discourse, though I will never trust him far; but we do propose getting “The Flying Greyhound,” our privateer, to us and W. Pen at the end of the year when we call her home, by begging her of the King, and I do not think we shall be denied her. They being come, we to oysters and so to talk, very pleasant I was all day, and anon to dinner, and I made very good company. Here till the evening, so as it was dark almost before we got home (back again in the same method, I think, we went), and spent the night talking at Sir W. Batten’s, only a little at my office, to look over the Victualler’s contract, and draw up some arguments for him to plead for his charges in transportation of goods beyond the ports which the letter of one article in his contract do lay upon him. This done I home to supper and to bed. Troubled a little at my fear that my Lord Bruncker should tell Sir W. Coventry of our neglecting the office this afternoon (which was intended) to look after our pleasures, but nothing will fall upon me alone about this.

the company will go on
money walking when we lay down

but what are we to God
or to a fox

to the hound when
we call her home

to oysters in the dark

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 14 March 1667.


Up, and with [Sir] W. Batten to the Duke of York to our usual attendance, where I did fear my Lord Bruncker might move something in revenge that might trouble me, but he did not, but contrarily had the content to hear Sir G. Carteret fall foul on him in the Duke of York’s bed chamber for his directing people with tickets and petitions to him, bidding him mind his Controller’s place and not his, for if he did he should be too hard for him, and made high words, which I was glad of. Having done our usual business with the Duke of York, I away; and meeting Mr. D. Gawden in the presence-chamber, he and I to talk; and among other things he tells me, and I do find every where else, also, that our masters do begin not to like of their councils in fitting out no fleete, but only squadrons, and are finding out excuses for it; and, among others, he tells me a Privy-Councillor did tell him that it was said in Council that a fleete could not be set out this year, for want of victuals, which gives him and me a great alarme, but me especially for had it been so, I ought to have represented it; and therefore it puts me in policy presently to prepare myself to answer this objection, if ever it should come about, by drawing up a state of the Victualler’s stores, which I will presently do. So to Westminster Hall, and there staid and talked, and then to Sir G. Carteret’s, where I dined with the ladies, he not at home, and very well used I am among them, so that I am heartily ashamed that my wife hath not been there to see them; but she shall very shortly. So home by water, and stepped into Michell’s, and there did baiser my Betty, ‘que aegrotat’ a little. At home find Mr. Holliard, and made him eat a bit of victuals. Here I find Mr. Greeten, who teaches my wife on the flageolet, and I think she will come to something on it. Mr. Holliard advises me to have my father come up to town, for he doubts else in the country he will never find ease, for, poor man, his grief is now grown so great upon him that he is never at ease, so I will have him up at Easter.
By and by by coach, set down Mr. Holliard near his house at Hatton Garden and myself to Lord Treasurer’s, and sent my wife to the New Exchange. I staid not here, but to Westminster Hall, and thence to Martin’s, where he and she both within, and with them the little widow that was once there with her when I was there, that dissembled so well to be grieved at hearing a tune that her, late husband liked, but there being so much company, I had no pleasure here, and so away to the Hall again, and there met Doll Lane coming out, and ‘par contrat did hazer bargain para aller to the cabaret de vin’, called the Rose, and ‘ibi’ I staid two hours, ‘sed’ she did not ‘venir’, ‘lequel’ troubled me, and so away by coach and took up my wife, and away home, and so to Sir W. Batten’s, where I am told that it is intended by Mr. Carcasse to pray me to be godfather with Lord Bruncker to-morrow to his child, which I suppose they tell me in mirth, but if he should ask me I know not whether I should refuse it or no.
Late at my office preparing a speech against to-morrow morning, before the King, at my Lord Treasurer’s, and the truth is it run in my head all night.
So home to supper and to bed. The Duke of Buckingham is concluded gone over sea, and, it is thought, to France.

I fear the hard
high council
of an object

the flag
to some country
I’ll never find

grief grown so great
that a widow is grieved
at hearing a tune

and I am told to pray
to the fuse
in my head

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 13 March 1667.

Pick Up

At a party where I've only just met you,
your conversation gambit has the words
maid and Hong Kong
or maid and Saudi Arabia. At the mail
room where I'm making copies, you stop
and ask me how my people are doing;
and how awful it must be for them
in the aftermath of the latest natural
calamity. Looking through the grocery's
refrigerated section for eggs, I hear
you say something-something-maganda.
I don't even turn my head. I walk
toward the dairy and yogurt section,
even if I don't need anything from there.
On second thought, something icy. Dark, cold,
bittersweet. No glass noodles, no egg rolls.


the house smells of rosemary
and cambodian pepper—

they don't necessarily
induce nostalgia,

but i don't need to smell
or taste to remember

those yearnings banked
tight behind the grate.

you are convinced i took
my heart out of my chest,

and that is what made it
possible to leave you

all those years, and travel
to this land of forsaken winters

where, left to myself,
i only read books and did

nothing consequential.
you are convinced i can't

put it back in place again;
or that i don't want to

anymore. nights, when the wind
howled and rattled the ice

ornaments worn by trees,
i didn't bother with plates.

i scooped rice directly from
the pot to my mouth. it usually

took a week to eat all the way
to the bottom. nothing i say

can convince you of the depth of my
longing. I suppose it's hard to see what

a body has to do to keep alive, or
what time has shielded from it.

i suppose it feels like a sea
emptied of all its whale songs.

there are bands of moving shadow;
perhaps boats are crossing the water.


Up, and to the office, where all the morning, and my Lord Bruncker mighty quiet, and no words all day, which I wonder at, expecting that he would have fallen again upon the business of Carcasse, and the more for that here happened that Perkins, who was the greatest witness of all against him, was brought in by Sir W. Batten to prove that he did really belong to The Prince, but being examined was found rather a fool than anything, as not being able to give any account when he come in nor when he come out of her, more than that he was taken by the Dutch in her, but did agree in earnest to Sir W. Pen’s saying that she lay up all, the winter before at Lambeth. This I confess did make me begin to doubt the truth of his evidence, but not to doubt the faults of Carcasse, for he was condemned by, many other better evidences than his, besides the whole worlds report. At noon home, and there find Mr. Goodgroome, whose teaching of my wife only by singing over and over again to her, and letting her sing with him, not by herself, to correct her faults, I do not like at all, but was angry at it; but have this content, that I do think she will come to sing pretty well, and to trill in time, which pleases me well. He dined with us, and then to the office, when we had a sorry meeting to little purpose, and then broke up, and I to my office, and busy late to good purpose, and so home to supper and to bed. This day a poor seaman, almost starved for want of food, lay in our yard a-dying. I sent him half-a-crown, and we ordered his ticket to be paid.

where all the quiet
words have fallen
out of the nest

in winter I begin to doubt
the evidence
of better worlds

I teach only by singing
over and over
like a poor sea

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 12 March 1667.

Artifacts of Loss

One is an image someone has posted on FB:
       in it, rowboats and swan-boats and sea-
                horse boats have been laid over 
with every brilliant filter. Blooms 
       on the bottlebrush trees that fringe 
                the lake look yellow instead of red.
But the beggared mind can’t choose. 
       Another: creased and oily, a certificate 
                that records the day but not 
the time of birth. When does the butterfly
       know how to rip through the tent
                 of its own misgivings? The language
of goodbyes can sound like a language
       of warnings: wait, stay, next time. I saw
                 a footbridge printing itself as it was built:
or rather, the arm of a machine was visible,
      out of which molten filaments dangled
                 in the air before hardening in place.