Insinuation of impostor against their bonafides.
Insinuation of time as imponderable longing for salt
and rice and fish, and many other things I can’t dream,
and so can’t name. The idea of gods always wanting
a taste: first or last. In tide pools, every octopus
is related to the squid. I could live as well in rocks
and caves. Wherever I find myself, I learn to become
my own infinite ecosystem. When they call me dog, I bare
my fangs. I nose at the sky, where I am the brightest star.
When I am stripped from the stalk before I’ve even had
a chance to flower, like buds of the Flinders rose I
allow to be embalmed in brine. Always, it comes down
to the question of how to live in time, how to have it
acknowledge the gold-brown body you press into its hull.
They look at me like someone tamed out of the wilderness:
burned out of foreign villages made from thatch, unbathed
and stuttering amid the ruins. How did I come to learn
their geometry, take their measure, provide blueprints
for their progeny’s future? A friend once advised, as we
tended the copy machine: work quietly at your perfection,
for they resent being shown up. That was decades ago;
now, she’s both physician and COO. Even so, the self-
important person gasping for breath in the ER insists
that he be seen by “a real doctor.” In classrooms where I
have stood under fluorescent lights, marker in hand before
the whiteboard, I’m the one who points out: woman, not
a women; could have, not could of; in spite, not despite,
of. Insinuation of impostor against their bonafides.
Up and to my office, and there all the morning mighty busy, and taking upon me to tell the Comptroller how ill his matters were done, and I think indeed if I continue thus all the business of the office will come upon me whether I will or no.
At noon to the ‘Change, and then home with Creed to dinner, and thence I to the office, where close at it all the afternoon till 12 at night, and then home to supper and to bed.
This day I received from Mr. Foley, but for me to pay for it, if I like it, an iron chest, having now received back some money I had laid out for the King, and I hope to have a good sum of money by me, thereby, in a few days, I think above 800l. But when I come home at night, I could not find the way to open it; but, which is a strange thing, my little girle Susan could carry it alone from one table clear from the ground and set upon another, when neither I nor anyone in my house but Jane the cook-mayde could do it.
how do I continue to lose it all
after night received me
like a strange ear
from the ground up
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 17 November 1664.
Are we the kind of people you think we are: law-abiding,
peace-loving, generally not rocking the boat, wanting the same
kinds of opportunities afforded others, speaking such perfect
English learned on the way here— Aren’t we more than lumpia-
and-pancit-eating, more than karaoke-mic-wielding, more
than are-you-a-nurse or are-you-a-doctor, are-you-a-mail-order-
bride or the wife of the Oklahoma bomber; more than the crazy
boxer or the woman with three thousand pairs of shoes; more than
the madman’s boast of how he can rape and kill or cause to be killed
outside of the law; more than the Italian designer’s killer, more
than the maids in Hong Kong who sleep on a makeshift pallet
wedged between refrigerator and stove— Aren’t we the islands
you ceded then annexed after a staged war; that you ordered
turned into a howling wilderness, tamed, then plundered?
My wife not being well, waked in the night, and strange to see how dead sleep our people sleep that she was fain to ring an hour before any body would wake. At last one rose and helped my wife, and so to sleep again.
Up and to my business, and then to White Hall, there to attend the Lords Commissioners, and so directly home and dined with Sir W. Batten and my Lady, and after dinner had much discourse tending to profit with Sir W. Batten, how to get ourselves into the prize office or some other fair way of obliging the King to consider us in our extraordinary pains.
Then to the office, and there all the afternoon very busy, and so till past 12 at night, and so home to bed.
This day my wife went to the burial of a little boy of W. Joyce’s.
a dead rose is tending
some other air
the ordinary pains us
at the burial of a little boy
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 16 November 1664.
From curiosity, from unwarranted discipline,
or pressing need— I’ve learned that I too have
the right to speak and ask; and more, expect. That this,
too, is my due. Our second landlord came to check on
“the facilities,” moving from room to room, talking about
the previous tenant, a lady (white) who lived alone but was
“extremely fastidious” about cleanliness. I looked straight
at him but did not then know how to retort, did not say,
Why did we have to scour a quarter inch of dust and oily
residue from the top of the fridge and behind each radiator
if the previous tenant was really all he made her out to be?
When our rent check was late because of a postal holiday, he
sent someone to tape a warning on our door: as though we’d
broken the law, just by being “the kind of people” we were.
That I might not be too fine for the business I intend this day, I did leave off my fine new cloth suit lined with plush and put on my poor black suit, and after office done (where much business, but little done), I to the ‘Change, and thence Bagwell’s wife with much ado followed me through Moorfields to a blind alehouse, and there I did caress her and eat and drink, and many hard looks and sithes the poor wretch did give me, and I think verily was troubled at what I did, but at last after many protestings by degrees I did arrive at what I would, with great pleasure, and then in the evening, it raining, walked into town to where she knew where she was, and then I took coach and to White Hall to a Committee of Tangier, where, and every where else, I thank God, I find myself growing in repute; and so home, and late, very late, at business, nobody minding it but myself, and so home to bed, weary and full of thoughts. Businesses grow high between the Dutch and us on every side.
I leave my change with a blind man
testing the rain
everywhere a wing
and nobody minding it but me
weary and high
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 15 November 1664.
Without interruption on the surface, our biases work
like invisible engines driving what we do. When you
visited for the first time, alighting from the plane,
you smiled then whispered nervously: I hear there are
many blacks here? Having grown up where we did, far east
in a country that used to be a colony of the one where I
now make my home, I understood this wasn’t something
seeded from cruelty, but rather from an idea we were taught
before we even learned to think: how beauty was everything
white and blond, everything unlike our brown selves
parroting See Jane run! and Look, Dick, look!— their picket
fence and buttoned cardigans alien and fascinating as the two
yellow braids Jennifer Moser wore in grade school. I touched
them out of curiosity: for which I was promptly disciplined.
Up, and with Sir W. Batten to White Hall, to the Lords of the Admiralty, and there did our business betimes. Thence to Sir Philip Warwicke about Navy business: and my Lord Ashly; and afterwards to my Lord Chancellor, who is very well pleased with me, and my carrying of his business. And so to the ‘Change, where mighty busy; and so home to dinner, where Mr. Creed and Moore: and after dinner I to my Lord Treasurer’s, to Sir Philip Warwicke there, and then to White Hall, to the Duke of Albemarle, about Tangier; and then homeward to the Coffee-house to hear newes. And it seems the Dutch, as I afterwards found by Mr. Coventry’s letters, have stopped a ship of masts of Sir W. Warren’s, coming for us in a Swede’s ship, which they will not release upon Sir G. Downing’s claiming her: which appears as the first act of hostility; and is looked upon as so by Mr. Coventry.
The Elias, coming from New England (Captain Hill, commander), is sunk; only the captain and a few men saved. She foundered in the sea.
So home, where infinite busy till 12 at night, and so home to supper and to bed.
who is carrying us to war
to ward off news
I have stopped up ears
as the first act of hostility
the land is sunk
only the captain found a finite bed
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 14 November 1664.
(Lord’s day). This morning to church, where mighty sport, to hear our clerke sing out of tune, though his master sits by him that begins and keeps the tune aloud for the parish.
Dined at home very well, and spent all the afternoon with my wife within doors, and getting a speech out of Hamlett, “To bee or not to bee,” without book.
In the evening to sing psalms, and in come Mr. Hill to see me, and then he and I and the boy finely to sing, and so anon broke up after much pleasure, he gone I to supper, and so prayers and to bed.
where to keep the tune indoors
getting a bee to sing psalms
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 13 November 1664.