Has-been

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Up, and betimes Sir D. Gawden with me talking about the Victualling business, which is now under dispute for a new contract, or whether it shall be put into a Commission. He gone, comes Mr. Hill to talk with me about Lanyon’s business, and so being in haste I took him to the water with me, and so to White Hall, and there left him, and I to Sir W. Coventry, and shewed him my answer to the Duke of York’s great letter, which he likes well. We also discoursed about the Victualling business, which he thinks there is a design to put into a way of Commission, but do look upon all things to be managed with faction, and is grieved under it. So to St. James’s, and there the Duke of York did of his own accord come to me, and tell me that he had read, and do like of, my answers to the objections which he did give me the other day, about the Navy; and so did W. Coventry too, who told me that the Duke of York had shown him them: So to White Hall a little and the Chequer, and then by water home to dinner with my people, where Tong was also this day with me, whom I shall employ for a time, and so out again and by water to Somerset House, but when come thither I turned back and to Southwarke-Fair, very dirty, and there saw the puppet-show of Whittington, which was pretty to see; and how that idle thing do work upon people that see it, and even myself too! And thence to Jacob Hall’s dancing on the ropes, where I saw such action as I never saw before, and mightily worth seeing; and here took acquaintance with a fellow that carried me to a tavern, whither come the musick of this booth, and by and by Jacob Hall himself, with whom I had a mind to speak, to hear whether he had ever any mischief by falls in his time. He told me, “Yes, many; but never to the breaking of a limb:” he seems a mighty strong man.
So giving them a bottle or two of wine, I away with Payne, the waterman. He, seeing me at the play, did get a link to light me, and so light me to the Beare, where Bland, my waterman, waited for me with gold and other things he kept for me, to the value of 40l. and more, which I had about me, for fear of my pockets being cut. So by link-light through the bridge, it being mighty dark, but still weather, and so home, where I find my draught of “The Resolution” come, finished, from Chatham; but will cost me, one way or other, about 12l. or 13l., in the board, frame, and garnishing, which is a little too much, but I will not be beholden to the King’s officers that do it. So to supper, and the boy to read to me, and so to bed. This day I met Mr. Moore in the New Exchange, and had much talk of my Lord’s concernments. This day also come out first the new five-pieces in gold, coined by the Guiny Company; and I did get two pieces of Mr. Holder.

times now gone took me
and all my ink with them

I shall employ some puppet
to see for me

and a bottle of wine in my pocket
through dark weather

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 21 September 1668

Portrait with Unfinished Self-Incriminating Form

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
There's no seeming logic to  how a memory 
insinuates itself into the present, after having 
gone into hiding for more than two

decades. What set this one off? 
Perhaps, the sour linoleum smell 
of a lobby on a cloudy afternoon. Or 

the click of heels coming rapidly 
down a staircase as a door shuts 
at the end of a corridor.  

Perhaps, I can finally retrace
those steps to look at the woman
sitting in a nondescript office,

biting on the end of a Bic
ballpoint pen, considering the task
that the court psychologist 

has set before her: to write
the autobiography of a marriage
in which the woman admits

that its failure must have been
her failing. This is the only way,
she's told, she can have a chance

at annulment. The window, 
high up at the edge of the wall,
streaks like a windshield after rain. 

Carefully, she puts the blue cap back
on the pen, lays it down; collects 
her umbrella from the stand.

High church

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(Lord’s day). Up, and to set some papers to rights in my chamber, and the like in my office, and so to church, at our own church, and heard but a dull sermon of one Dr. Hicks, who is a suitor to Mrs. Howell, the widow of our turner of the Navy; thence home to dinner, staying till past one o’clock for Harris, whom I invited, and to bring Shadwell the poet with him; but they come not, and so a good dinner lost, through my own folly. And so to dinner alone, having since church heard the boy read over Dryden’s Reply to Sir R. Howard’s Answer, about his Essay of Poesy, and a letter in answer to that; the last whereof is mighty silly, in behalf of Howard. Thence walked forth and got a coach and to visit Mrs. Pierce, with whom, and him, I staid a little while, and do hear how the Duchesse of Monmouth is at this time in great trouble of the shortness of her lame leg, which is likely to grow shorter and shorter, that she will never recover it. Thence to St. Margaret’s Church, thinking to have seen Betty Michell, but she was not there. So back, and walked to Gray’s Inn walks a while, but little company; and so over the fields to Clerkenwell, to see whether I could find that the fair Botelers do live there still, I seeing Frances the other day in a coach with Cary Dillon, her old servant, but know not where she lives. So walked home, and there walked in the garden an hour, it being mighty pleasant weather, and so took my Lady Pen and Mrs. Markham home with me and sent for Mrs. Turner, and by and by comes Sir W. Pen and supped with me, a good supper, part of my dinner to-day. They gone, Mrs. Turner staid an hour talking with me and yo did now the first time tocar her cosa with my hand and did make her do the like con su hand to my thing, whereto neither did she show any aversion really, but a merry kind of opposition, but yo did both and yo do believe I might have hecho la cosa too mit her. So parted, and I to bed.

a paper church
for a poet

a church of poesy
for the gray clerk

I could live there
like a show of opposition

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 20 September 1668

Weaving

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Night, dense indigo   
in the shape of whirlpools— kusikos— 
or a kaleidoscope of flowers— sinan-sabong—

Dream blanket to confuse and distract 
malevolent spirits hovering 
overhead—

We all want to walk in protection:
harbor and hill, fields 
tasseled with grain—

How do you single out the tune
meant for your ears only, filament
spooled in a heaven of foremothers?

For years, you squinted at the light
that came through a faraway window,
pretending to catch its milky drops in your palm—

There you are in the garden, amazed
at how the time moved so quickly, a stone
that finally learned to lightly graze

each watery crest 
instead of sinking with the weight 
of its own resistance—

The crepe myrtle trees shed
their tattered tissue but you don't know
if they're entering or leaving their grief.

You yourself pull at threads: weft
and weave, your soul still anxious
about stitches and holes—

A thimbleful of seed, 
a mouthful of feathers, a box
filled with all the words you remember—

Guises

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Up, and to the office, where all the morning busy, and so dined with my people at home, and then to the King’s playhouse, and there saw “The Silent Woman;” the best comedy, I think, that ever was wrote; and sitting by Shadwell the poet, he was big with admiration of it. Here was my Lord Brouncker and W. Pen and their ladies in the box, being grown mighty kind of a sudden; but, God knows, it will last but a little while, I dare swear. Knepp did her part mighty well. And so home straight, and to work, and particularly to my cozen Roger, who, W. Hewer and my wife writes me, do use them with mighty plenty and noble entertainment: so home to supper, and to bed.
All the news now is, that Mr. Trevor is for certain now to be Secretary, in Morrice’s place, which the Duke of York did himself tell me yesterday; and also that Parliament is to be adjourned to the 1st of March, which do please me well, hoping thereby to get my things in a little better order than I should have done; and the less attendances at that end of the town in winter. So home to supper and to bed.

a silent poet
big as the box he writes in

a secretary
at the thin end of winter

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 19 September 1668

Home/sick

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Up, and to St. James’s, and there took a turn or two in the Park; and then up to the Duke of York, and there had opportunity of delivering my answer to his late letter, which he did not read, but give to Mr. Wren, as looking on it as a thing I needed not have done, but only that I might not give occasion to the rest to suspect my communication with the Duke of York against them. So now I am at rest in that matter, and shall be more, when my copies are finished of their answers, which I am now taking with all speed. Thence to my several booksellers and elsewhere, about several errands, and so at noon home, and after dinner by coach to White Hall, and thither comes the Duke of York to us, and by and by met at the robe chamber upon our usual business, where the Duke of York I find somewhat sour, and particularly angry with Lord Anglesey for his not being there now, nor at other times so often as he should be with us. So to the King’s house, and saw a piece of “Henry the Fourth;” at the end of the play, thinking to have gone abroad with Knepp, but it was too late, and she to get her part against to-morrow, in “The Silent Woman,” and so I only set her at home, and away home myself, and there to read again and sup with Gibson, and so to bed.

the wren might suspect
I am finished with elsewhere

and home I find
somewhat sour

being there so often
at the end of the road

too late to get
her silent way

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 18 September 1668

October Aubade

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                  "...I know,
the sun is in my chest.
What will they do
if I don't give it back."
                   - Tomaž Šalamun


Tell me 
the likelihood 
of hearing
sounds 
imprisoned 
in a bell 
jar. 
Tell me
what name  
the ancestors
might call
sanctions
that come
before  
a judgment.
Tell me what 
happens next
if I meet you 
in the street,
and you 
and you 
and you—
if a table
erupts with
our laughter
before we 
have even 
sat down
to share 
the meal?
What 
will they do
if we sing 
so many
different 
karaoke
versions of
My Way;
if we refuse 
the story we 
are handed 
and instead
circulate
leaflet 
after leaflet 
crowing 
insistent
chorus 
of vermilion-
plumed 
roosters 
delivering
dawn?
  

Catalogue of My Dead

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The grandfather who taught me
how to pluck the feathers off fowl
and slit its neck in one swift motion
to shorten the agony of death.

The grandmother who took 
two hanks of my hair in her hand 
and plaited them tight as whips
to guide a horse.

The father who hardly 
smiled but sang 
a lullaby ending with 
the word sweetheart. 

The mother who sewed 
the ugliest name on my towels
and clothes, to trick the gods
into leaving me alone.

Affliction

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Up, and all the morning sitting at the office, where every body grown mighty cautious in what they do, or omit to do, and at noon comes Knepp, with design to dine with Lord Brouncker, but she being undressed, and there being much company, dined with me; and after dinner I out with her, and carried her to the playhouse; and in the way did give her five guineas as a fairing, I having given her nothing a great while, and her coming hither sometimes having been matter of cost to her, and so I to St. James’s, but missed of the Duke of York, and so went back to the King’s playhouse, and saw “Rollo, Duke of Normandy,” which, for old acquaintance, pleased me pretty well, and so home and to my business, and to read again, and to bed. This evening Batelier comes to tell me that he was going down to Cambridge to my company, to see the Fair, which vexed me, and the more because I fear he do know that Knepp did dine with me to-day.

a body grown cautious
comes to be in the way

having given nothing
having been but an acquaintance
to my own vexed ear

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 17 September 1668