Up and by coach with Sir W. Batten to St. James’s, where among other things before the Duke, Captain Taylor was called in, and, Sir J. Robinson his accuser not appearing, was acquitted quite from his charge, and declared that he should go to Harwich, which I was very well pleased at. Thence I to Mr. Coventry’s chamber, and there privately an houre with him in discourse of the office, and did deliver to him many notes of things about which he is to get the Duke’s command, before he goes, for the putting of business among us in better order. He did largely owne his dependance as to the office upon my care, and received very great expressions of love from him, and so parted with great satisfaction to myself. So home to the ‘Change, and thence home to dinner, where my wife being gone down upon a sudden warning from my Lord Sandwich’s daughters to the Hope with them to see “The Prince,” I dined alone. After dinner to the office, and anon to Gresham College, where, among other good discourse, there was tried the great poyson of Maccassa upon a dogg, but it had no effect all the time we sat there.
We anon broke up and I home, where late at my office, my wife not coming home. I to bed, troubled, about 12 or past.

among the things I am
live many expressions of love

an art with great satisfaction
to me and my dog

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 15 March 1665.

Up before six, to the office, where busy all the morning. At noon dined with Sir W. Batten and Sir J. Minnes, at the Tower, with Sir J. Robinson, at a farewell dinner which he gives Major Holmes at his going out of the Tower, where he hath for some time, since his coming from Guinny, been a prisoner, and, it seems, had presented the Lieutenant with fifty pieces yesterday. Here a great deale of good victuals and company.
Thence home to my office, where very late, and home to supper and to bed weary of business.

robins going
out of the prison
I eat a late supper

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 14 March 1665.

~ after Remedios Varo, “Tránsito en Espiral” (Spiral Transit); 1962

What does it mean when the sea spirals
through the town in your dreams? Its name

once used to mean swamp grass, or tree line,
or mountain ridge. The houses are wood-paneled

and old. In their attics are suitcases
filled with agate beads and parts of back-

strap looms, photographs of carnival queens.
Along cobbled roads, small goats and chickens

ruminate on history. What passes through them
is also holy— hard and packed as though

to outlast weather, burrowed in the soil
as though desirous of changing into gold.

And everyone who passes through here learns
to face all directions. Everyone leaves a small

part tethered to the center, the way an orphan’s
mouth turns in sleep toward the wind’s milky breath.

Up betimes, this being the first morning of my promise upon a forfeite not to lie in bed a quarter of an hour after my first waking. Abroad to St. James’s, and there much business, the King also being with us a great while. Thence to the ‘Change, and thence with Captain Tayler and Sir W. Warren dined at a house hard by for discourse sake, and so I home, and there meeting a letter from Mrs. Martin desiring to speak with me, I (though against my promise of visiting her) did go, and there found her in her childbed dress desiring my favour to get her husband a place. I staid not long, but taking Sir W. Warren up at White Hall home, and among other discourse fell to a business which he says shall if accomplished bring me 100l.. He gone, I to supper and to bed. This day my wife begun to wear light-coloured locks, quite white almost, which, though it makes her look very pretty, yet not being natural, vexes me, that I will not have her wear them. This day I saw my Lord Castlemayne at St. James’s, lately come from France.

the first morning
of my promise not to lie
my promise of the child in me

I say bring me
a gun to wear
red locks almost look natural

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 13 March 1665.

(Lord’s day). Up, and borrowing Sir J. Minnes’s coach, to my Lord Sandwich’s, but he was gone abroad. I sent the coach back for my wife, my Lord a second time dining at home on purpose to meet me, he having not dined once at home but those times since his coming from sea. I sat down and read over the Bishop of Chichester’s sermon upon the anniversary of the King’s death, much cried up, but, methinks, but a mean sermon. By and by comes in my Lord, and he and I to talke of many things in the Navy, one from another, in general, to see how the greatest things are committed to very ordinary men, as to parts and experience, to do; among others, my Lord Barkeley. We talked also of getting W. Howe to be put into the Muster-Mastershipp in the roome of Creed, if Creed will give way, but my Lord do it without any great gusto, calling Howe a proud coxcomb in passion. Down to dinner, where my wife in her new lace whiske, which, indeed, is very noble, and I much pleased with it, and so my Lady also. Here very pleasant my Lord was at dinner, and after dinner did look over his plate, which Burston hath brought him to-day, and is the last of the three that he will have made. After satisfied with that, he abroad, and I after much discourse with my Lady about Sir G. Carteret’s son, of whom she hath some thoughts for a husband for my Lady Jemimah, we away home by coach again, and there sang a good while very pleasantly with Mr. Andrews and Hill. They gone; we to supper, and betimes to bed.

a wing coming from sea
at the death of a master

a great gust calling
our thoughts away

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 12 March 1665.

some alchemy of phosphoric
connections— a conflagration

seeded in stars before we
were even born, the sympathetic

rise of hair along forehead
and nape. Your gaze translates

into tectonic movements across
the tablecloth, the undulation

of curtains and ceiling lights.
Though the years have aged us both,

rivers of longing grow more and more
into the shape of that archipelago

left behind. When I look into
the depths of your eyes, it is always

my absence I catch, though your mouth
never shapes any chiding word.

~ after “Simpatia” (Sympathy), oil on masonite, 1955; Remedios Varo


In response to Via Negativa: Fire Dream.

Because he was a small man,
he liked to keep a bit of steel
close to him: in one pocket,

a metal nail file, a folding scissors,
a penknife. In the other, creased
and laminated Novenas to Saint

Pancratius and The Little Jesus
of Prague. On rising, he liked to sit
quiet by the window, eyes closed;

without arthritis perhaps he
might have knelt on the floor
by the bed. Because he was a man

of steady habit, the household knew
the moment he was done with his bath,
before he sat for the first pour

of coffee or tea. That’s when they’d knock
on the door— offering sums, a “trade”
in goods or favors, reversal of decisions

he’d penned to send someone’s relative
or business partner to jail, or exact
a fine. He knew their intentions

and never let them cross the threshold;
had them wait on the porch as he gathered
his robe closer around him then stepped

out to give them a lecture on the law:
voice unwavering even as one fist closed
around the amulets buried in his pockets.

Up and to the office, at noon home to dinner, and to the office again, where very late, and then home to supper and to bed.
This day returned Sir W. Batten and Sir J. Minnes from Lee Roade, where they have been to see the wrecke of “The London,” out of which, they say, the guns may be got, but the hull of her will be wholly lost, as not being capable of being weighed.

on the road the wreck
out of which they may be got
but lost being able
being weighed

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 11 March 1665.

Up, and to the office all the morning. At noon to the ‘Change, where very hot, people’s proposal of the City giving the King another ship for “The London,” that is lately blown up, which would be very handsome, and if well managed, might be done; but I fear if it be put into ill hands, or that the courtiers do solicit it, it will never be done.
Home to dinner, and thence to the Committee of Tangier at White Hall, where my Lord Barkely and Craven and others; but, Lord! to see how superficially things are done in the business of the Lottery, which will be the disgrace of the Fishery, and without profit. Home, vexed at my loss of time, and thereto my office. Late at night come the two Bellamys, formerly petty warrant Victuallers of the Navy, to take my advice about a navy debt of theirs for the compassing of which they offer a great deal of money, and the thing most just. Perhaps I may undertake it, and get something by it, which will be a good job. So home late to bed.

in the city lately blown up
we fear the never-done raven

how superficial a fisher
without loss or compass
the thing just may get by

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 10 March 1665.

~ after Remedios Varo, “El Encuentro” (The Encounter), 1959;
oil on masonite

Even the sky has given up its blue
in order to burn. When iridescent

green wings of surveillance insects
descend from the vaulted arches,

you know it is the hour of peril,
the hour during which the soul

might be discovered. You’ve worn thin
and so often that ice-blue habit—

it’s shrunk and now is only inches
from being engulfed in flame. There’s

always a part that lags behind, though:
second-guessing the moment before intensity,

it hides in its brown hollow, one hand
on the sill. Will it cross the threshold,

risk raising some alarm of trumpets,
the snarling of the beast that prowls

the premises? Here is the one who willingly
signs itself over to be singed. And here is

the other, who will die wearing the clothes
of every grievance stitched to its back.