Sam Pepys and me

Up early, carried my Lord’s will in a black box to Mr. William Montagu for him to keep for him. Then to the barber’s and put on my cravat there. So to my Lord again, who was almost ready to be gone and had staid for me.
Hither came Gilb. Holland, and brought me a stick rapier and Shelston a sugar-loaf, and had brought his wife who he said was a very pretty woman to the Ship tavern hard by for me to see but I could not go. Young Reeve also brought me a little perspective glass which I bought for my Lord, it cost me 8s. So after that my Lord in Sir H. Wright’s coach with Captain Isham, Mr. Thomas, John Crew, W. Howe, and I in a Hackney to the Tower, where the barges staid for us.
My Lord and the Captain in one, and W. Howe and I, &c., in the other, to the Long Reach, where the Swiftsure lay at anchor; (in our way we saw the great breach which the late high water had made, to the loss of many 1000l. to the people about Limehouse.) Soon as my Lord on board, the guns went off bravely from the ships. And a little while after comes the Vice-Admiral Lawson, and seemed very respectful to my Lord, and so did the rest of the Commanders of the frigates that were thereabouts.
I to the cabin allotted for me, which was the best that any had that belonged to my Lord. I got out some things out of my chest for writing and to work presently, Mr. Burr and I both. I supped at the deck table with Mr. Sheply. We were late writing of orders for the getting of ships ready, &c.; and also making of others to all the seaports between Hastings and Yarmouth, to stop all dangerous persons that are going or coming between Flanders and there.
After that to bed in my cabin, which was but short; however I made shift with it and slept very well, and the weather being good I was not sick at all yet, I know not what I shall be.

a black box to keep
the sugar pretty

a glass for water
a gun for a mouth

to stop a person going
however mad

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 23 March 1659/60.


Up very early and set things in order at my house, and so took leave of Mrs. Crispe and her daughter (who was in bed) and of Mrs. Hunt. Then to my Lord’s lodging at the gate and did so there, where Mr. Hawly came to me and I gave him the key of my house to keep, and he went with me to Mr. Crew’s, and there I took my last leave of him. But the weather continuing very bad my Lord would not go to-day. My Lord spent this morning private in sealing of his last will and testament with Mr. W. Mountagu. After that I went forth about my own business to buy a pair of riding grey serge stockings and sword and belt and hose, and after that took Wotton and Brigden to the Pope’s Head Tavern in Chancery Lane, where Gilb. Holland and Shelston were, and we dined and drank a great deal of wine, and they paid all.
Strange how these people do now promise me anything; one a rapier, the other a vessel of wine or a gun, and one offered me his silver hatband to do him a courtesy. I pray God to keep me from being proud or too much lifted up hereby.
After that to Westminster, and took leave of Kate Sterpin who was very sorry to part with me, and after that of Mr. George Mountagu, and received my warrant of Mr. Blackburne, to be Secretary to the two Generals of the Fleet. Then to take my leave of the Clerks of the Council, and thence Doling and Luellin would have me go with them to Mount’s chamber, where we sat and talked and then I went away. So to my Lord (in my way meeting Chetwind and Swan and bade them farewell) where I lay all night with Mr. Andrews.
This day Mr. Sheply went away on board and I sent my boy with him. This day also Mrs. Jemimah went to Marrowbone, so I could not see her.
Mr. Moore being out of town to-night I could not take leave of him nor speak to him about business which troubled me much.
I left my small case therefore with Mr. Andrews for him.

the weather is private
in my own gray head

people promise me wine
or a gun-red god

who am I here all night
with this marrow bone

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 22 March 1659/60.


i go off looking for / my lost winter glove.
Dave Bonta, “Equinox

I go off looking for my lost winter glove,
prodigal child always wandering off.
I do not have an Emily Dickinson to knit
me another. I think of orphans
in island nations that run
the sweatshops that sew our clothes.

I do not have sympathy for the machines
that sew our clothes, although they are orphans
too. I do not fear
the new AI that comes
for all our jobs. I am tired
of writing in my own voice. Let
the machines do it.

I find a child’s mitten on the sidewalk,
and I put it on the bare branch of a tree
that’s late to bloom. Now it can hold
its own next to the trees festooned
with flowers. Now it offers
its own festivity.

On this first full day of spring,
I return home without my lost glove.
Let it go off to find its fortune.
Maybe it will return by fall.
Maybe I will buy a new pair
at the end of season sales.
Maybe I will move to a new climate,
one without cold seasons
or sweatshops or orphans dispossessed
by alien intelligence coming for us all.

More: A Cento

light, make a sound. You wrote let me

collapse. My poem was in that first revelation,

like the troubled drink they
make us remember
what never happened to us.

Each day I think this will be the last

A fear comes with it
to the world, a cry

I wasn't sure how to pray for the dead

Our worthless offerings—

the way we leave ourselves
in others,

There should be a carnival
Of all the sorrows

There must be more
to describe such cleaving.

[Source texts: Katie Marya, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha,
Evie Shockley, Jennifer Chang, Todd Davis, 
Allison Cobb, Adam Zagajewski, Marianne 
Boruch, Nathalie Handal, Ardengo Soffici, Julia 
Kolchinsky Dasbach]


full sun but the sky’s
blue heart stays cold

as i pass the big rockslide
a wind-blown tree calls my name

just once
in my mother’s voice

i follow the ridge another mile
to the ephemeral ponds

frozen wood frog egg masses
glitter like nebulae in the dark water

and just beyond
the trees are raining grackles

with the sound of a vast
and rusty orchestra tuning up

i reach for my gloves
find the left one missing

the blackbirds are on all sides
landing on the ground
jostling in the treetops

lifting as if on a signal
from mob into synchronized flock

a great glossy wheel
here and gone

later at supper
my mother points out a black vulture
with its gray face

looking over my house
from a perch in a walnut tree

just then the spring
equinox arrives

i go off looking for
my lost winter glove

the sun makes its rendezvous
with the compass point

venus emerges
from hiding in plain sight
a barred owl calls

i follow the mountain
until it’s too dark to see


Sam Pepys and me

To my Lord’s, but the wind very high against us, and the weather bad we could not go to-day; here I did very much business, and then to my Lord Widdrington’s from my Lord, with his desire that he might have the disposal of the writs of the Cinque Ports. My Lord was very civil to me, and called for wine, and writ a long letter in answer. Thence I went to a tavern over against Mr. Pierce’s with judge Advocate Fowler and Mr. Burr, and sat and drank with them two or three pints of wine. After that to Mr. Crew’s again and gave my Lord an account of what I had done, and so about my business to take leave of my father and mother, which by a mistake I have put down yesterday. Thence to Westminster to Crisp’s, where we were very merry; the old woman sent for a supper for me, and gave me a handkercher with strawberry buttons on it, and so to bed.

the wind in my ire
is soft as an owl

three pints of wine
and I take my mistake
down to straw

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 21 March 1659/60.

Transient House

According to the caption, strangers 
now pay to sleep in what used to be
my childhood home. When I hover 
the mouse over the aerial photos
produced by Google Earth, I can't tell 
if the garage gate that sagged from
clotheslines tied to it has been fixed; 
or if the crawl space beneath the roof
has finally been turned into a room.
The lot next door has become a gas
station; there are little stores and 
eating places strewn about the once
leafy neighborhood where children
sat in large packing boxes and launched
themselves from the top of the road
to land in a heap at the bottom. I know
any reconstruction from memory is
a lie, including this one—though it's
supposed to have been updated
in real time. For time has always
been more real than the orange
glow of numbers on a screen, 
and also more personal, even
as it comes and goes—turning
to grey and silver the hairs on our
heads, softening folds of skin.


Sam Pepys and me

This morning I rose early and went to my house to put things in a little order against my going, which I conceive will be to-morrow (the weather still very rainy). After that to my Lord, where I found very great deal of business, he giving me all letters and papers that come to him about business, for me to give him account of when we come on shipboard. Hence with Capt. Isham by coach to Whitehall to the Admiralty. He and I and Chetwind, Doling and Luellin dined together at Marsh’s at Whitehall. So to the Bull Head whither W. Simons comes to us and I gave them my foy against my going to sea; and so we took leave one of another, they promising me to write to me to sea. Hither comes Pim’s boy, by my direction, with two monteeres for me to take my choice of, and I chose the saddest colour and left the other for Mr. Sheply. Hence by coach to London, and took a short melancholy leave of my father and mother, without having them to drink, or say anything of business one to another. And indeed I had a fear upon me I should scarce ever see my mother again, she having a great cold then upon her. Then to Westminster, where by reason of rain and an easterly wind, the water was so high that there was boats rowed in King Street and all our yard was drowned, that one could not go to my house, so as no man has seen the like almost, most houses full of water. Then back by coach to my Lord’s; where I met Mr. Sheply, who staid with me waiting for my Lord’s coming in till very late. Then he and I, and William Howe went with our swords to bring my Lord home from Sir H. Wright’s. He resolved to go to-morrow if the wind ceased. Sheply and I home by coach. I to Mrs. Crisp’s, who had sat over a good supper long looking for me. So we sat talking and laughing till it was very late, and so Laud and I to bed.

rain giving the sea
the saddest color

a melancholy drink
of one to another

water so high
that a boat drowned

and we with our words
home from the wind

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 20 March 1659/60.


Be careful what you wish for, fish 
for, piss for, swill for, distill for, quill for, 
drill for, till for; beware what hails you, 
nails you, sells you promise of hands-
free, stress-free, debt-free. When 
the machine is given a sequence 
of instructions, it spits out what
you think a prodigy might produce—
The wind-up automaton, jointed,
eerie eye-socketed; clicks and whirs,
its teeth of gears. Keep your marvel 
in check; your shopping or reading 
choices. Whose authority is the hand 
that types in the key, displacing
accountability? The machine 
knows precision, not context or 
nuance. It doesn't understand people
needing to use the toilet, only that breaks
in a chain of events are inefficienct,
and so must be terminated.


At the rest pit I blogged my life out, one oodle per screen. It worked until it didn’t. Until the cows came home, because of course they do, and you toggle on poetry mode thinking to escape into some timeless present. With a present like this, who needs birthdays, amiright? The nerds have learned how to summon demons, and put them straight to work in the search engines that drive our data-mind economy. The demons will be parsing everything I’ve ever written. I write for them now. Though they possess neither organic life nor the capacity to feel, they are my most attentive readers.

in a snow squall
sitting it out