Open handed

Up, and after doing some business at my office abroad to Lumbard Street, about the getting of a good sum of money, thence home, in preparation for my having some good sum in my hands, for fear of a trouble in the State, that I may not have all I have in the world out of my hands and so be left a beggar. Having put that in a way, I home to the office, and so to the Tower; about shipping of some more pressed men, and that done, away to Broad Streete, to Sir G. Carteret, who is at a pay of tickets all alone, and I believe not less than one thousand people in the streets. But it is a pretty thing to observe that both there and every where else, a man shall see many women now-a-days of mean sort in the streets, but no men; men being so afeard of the press.
I dined with Sir G. Carteret, and after dinner had much discourse about our publique business; and he do seem to fear every day more and more what I do; which is, a general confusion in the State; plainly answering me to the question, who is it that the weight of the warr depends that it is only Sir W. Coventry.
He tells me, too, the Duke of Albemarle is dissatisfied, and that the Duchesse do curse Coventry as the man that betrayed her husband to the sea: though I believe that it is not so.
Thence to Lumbard Streete, and received 2000l., and carried it home: whereof 1000l. in gold. The greatest quantity not only that I ever had of gold, but that ever I saw together, and is not much above half a 100 lb. bag full, but is much weightier. This I do for security sake, and convenience of carriage; though it costs me above 70l. the change of it, at 18 1/2d. per piece.
Being at home, I there met with a letter from Bab Allen, to invite me to be god-father to her boy, with Mrs. Williams, which I consented to, but know not the time when it is to be.
Thence down to the Old Swan, calling at Michell’s, he not being within, and there I did steal a kiss or two of her, and staying a little longer, he come in, and her father, whom I carried to Westminster, my business being thither, and so back again home, and very busy all the evening. At night a song in the garden and to bed.

in my hands the world
of a beggar who is all alone
and no less than one thousand
people in the street

I fear every day more and more
the state answering the question
who is it that the weight
of the war depends on

a man betrayed to the sea
for security’s sake
let me be godfather to a swan
and steal a kiss of the night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 6 July 1666.

Listen to the Recordings on SoundCloud of Gorillas Singing Little Food Songs to Themselves

 
A scientist describes one of these
as the equivalent of a sigh of
contentment, and the other a low

frequency hum. Also, how adorable
is it that they make up different
songs for different foods? Perhaps

not so adorable: how it's mainly
alpha male silverbacks that sing
to express enjoyment while

they eat; how typical. What about
the females—do they hum the songs
they compose under their breath,

do they sing with other females,
together in a bower of green stalks
or by the water as they groom each

other's hair? What they do is
supposed to show how, like ours,
their bodies instinctively

make sounds to indicate
awareness of life's varied
textures and flavors: moans

or yelps, prolonged groans
that inform anyone within ear-
shot that here in the mouth is

a moment of such particular
relish, or in the toenail
a splinter of unbearable

agony. Who knows if they call
each other names like sweet pea
or cupcake, sugar pie or honey-

bun; if it's the ripe calabash
or the pulpy soursop that elicits
the most ecstatic songs, second only

to the gurgling that infants make as they
drink the milk, before their eyes glaze
and their heads loll back in pleasure.

Aging

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning busy, then at noon dined and Mr. Sheply with me, who come to towne the other day. I lent him 630 in silver upon 30 pieces in gold. But to see how apt every body is to neglect old kindnesses! I must charge myself with the ingratitude of being unwilling to lend him so much money without some pawne, if he should have asked it, but he did not aske it, poor man, and so no harm done. After dinner, he gone, I to my office and Lumbard Streete about money, and then to my office again, very busy, and so till late, and then a song with my wife and Mercer in the garden, and so with great content to bed.

we who own
the other silver

see how a body is old
in unwilling awn or arm

on a one-bard street
a one-off song

with my wife
in the garden


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 5 July 1666.

Back of beyond

Up, and visited very betimes by Mr. Sheply, who is come to town upon business from Hinchingbrooke, where he left all well. I out and walked along with him as far as Fleet Streete, it being a fast day, the usual fast day for the plague, and few coaches to be had. Thanks be to God, the plague is, as I hear, encreased but two this week; but in the country in several places it rages mightily, and particularly in Colchester, where it hath long been, and is believed will quite depopulate the place.
To St. James’s, and there did our usual business with the Duke, all of us, among other things, discoursing about the places where to build ten great ships; the King and Council have resolved on none to be under third-rates; but it is impossible to do it, unless we have more money towards the doing it than yet we have in any view. But, however, the shew must be made to the world.
Thence to my Lord Bellasses to take my leave of him, he being going down to the North to look after the Militia there, for fear of an invasion.
Thence home and dined, and then to the office, where busy all day, and in the evening Sir W. Pen come to me, and we walked together, and talked of the late fight. I find him very plain, that the whole conduct of the late fight was ill, and that that of truth’s all, and he tells me that it is not he, but two-thirds of the commanders of the whole fleete have told him so: they all saying, that they durst not oppose it at the Council of War, for fear of being called cowards, though it was wholly against their judgement to fight that day with the disproportion of force, and then we not being able to use one gun of our lower tier, which was a greater disproportion than the other. Besides, we might very well have staid in the Downs without fighting, or any where else, till the Prince could have come up to them; or at least till the weather was fair, that we might have the benefit of our whole force in the ships that we had.
He says three things must [be] remedied, or else we shall be undone by this fleete.
1. That we must fight in a line, whereas we fight promiscuously, to our utter and demonstrable ruine; the Dutch fighting otherwise; and we, whenever we beat them.
2. We must not desert ships of our own in distress, as we did, for that makes a captain desperate, and he will fling away his ship, when there is no hopes left him of succour.
3. That ships, when they are a little shattered, must not take the liberty to come in of themselves, but refit themselves the best they can, and stay out — many of our ships coming in with very small disablenesses.
He told me that our very commanders, nay, our very flag-officers, do stand in need of exercising among themselves, and discoursing the business of commanding a fleete; he telling me that even one of our flag-men in the fleete did not know which tacke lost the wind, or which kept it, in the last engagement.
He says it was pure dismaying and fear that made them all run upon the Galloper, not having their wits about them; and that it was a miracle they were not all lost. He much inveighs upon my discoursing of Sir John Lawson’s saying heretofore, that sixty sail would do as much as one hundred; and says that he was a man of no counsel at all, but had got the confidence to say as the gallants did, and did propose to himself to make himself great by them, and saying as they did; but was no man of judgement in his business, but hath been out in the greatest points that have come before them. And then in the business of fore-castles, which he did oppose, all the world sees now the use of them for shelter of men.
He did talk very rationally to me, insomuch that I took more pleasure this night in hearing him discourse, than I ever did in my life in any thing that he said.
He gone I to the office again, and so after some business home to supper and to bed.

I sing about places where
it is impossible to find a cow

where in the desert
will a flag need the wind

or a miracle do as much
as one hundred ants
for the night life


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 4 July 1666.

And Honey

As in Land of, or half 
the name my people gave this
place when they imagined

how it would feel to arrive
at a destination different from
one ordained at birth—

It's easy to admire those who have no
difficulty securing passage, easing
into a tongue practiced in schools

with toilets and running water. It's easy
to shame those who believed the lies, who sold
the family farm, the water buffalo, the agate

beads and heirloom jars. Those who traded
two seasons for four, one leafed in russet and
gold as vegetation entered into a long quietus

they came to understand didn't necessarily mean
death. Apples redden and fall in a hundred orchards,
and bees propel themselves into a riot of flowers.

All that must be gathered is nearly level with
the earth, and requires a bending. All I'm saying
is some don't need to think twice, dipping the spoon

into the sweet. Some walk the rows long after sun-
down, or lower the netting over their faces before
counting the jars and hefting crates onto trucks.


Warrior

Being very weary, lay long in bed, then to the office and there sat all the day. At noon dined at home, Balty’s wife with us, and in very good humour I was and merry at dinner, and after dinner a song or two, and so I abroad to my Lord Treasurer’s (sending my sister home by the coach), while I staid there by appointment to have met my Lord Bellasses and Commissioners of Excise, but they did not meet me, he being abroad. However Mr. Finch, one of the Commissioners, I met there, and he and I walked two houres together in the garden, talking of many things; sometimes of Mr. Povy, whose vanity, prodigality, neglect of his business, and committing it to unfit hands hath undone him and outed him of all his publique employments, and the thing set on foot by an accidental revivall of a business, wherein he had three or fours years ago, by surprize, got the Duke of Yorke to sign to the having a sum of money paid out of the Excise, before some that was due to him, and now the money is fallen short, and the Duke never likely to be paid. This being revived hath undone Povy.
Then we fell to discourse of the Parliament, and the great men there: and among others, Mr. Vaughan, whom he reports as a man of excellent judgement and learning, but most passionate and ‘opiniastre’. He had done himself the most wrong (though he values it not), that is, the displeasure of the King in his standing so long against the breaking of the Act for a triennial parliament; but yet do believe him to be a most loyall gentleman.
He told me Mr. Prin’s character; that he is a man of mighty labour and reading and memory, but the worst judge of matters, or layer together of what he hath read, in the world; which I do not, however, believe him in; that he believes him very true to the King in his heart, but can never be reconciled to episcopacy; that the House do not lay much weight upon him, or any thing he says.
He told me many fine things, and so we parted, and I home and hard to work a while at the office and then home and till midnight about settling my last month’s accounts wherein I have been interrupted by public business, that I did not state them two or three days ago, but I do now to my great joy find myself worth above 5600l., for which the Lord’s name be praised! So with my heart full of content to bed.
Newes come yesterday from Harwich, that the Dutch had appeared upon our coast with their fleete, and we believe did go to the Gun-fleete, and they are supposed to be there now; but I have heard nothing of them to-day.
Yesterday Dr. Whistler, at Sir W. Pen’s, told me that Alexander Broome, a the great song-maker, is lately dead.

a finch in the garden
fallen like a memory of the world
I do not believe in

I work out my joy
with a gun now
that the song is dead


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 3 July 1666.

Ode to the Hand Wrapped Around the Achilles Heel

 

"...martyr to loyalties, a witness to the things 
of this world, ...ready to die for the precious 
imperfections of ordinary life."
~ James Redfield, Nature and Culture in the Iliad


Good husband material: her aunt's
assessment, watching as her fiancé
helps his parents navigate the narrow

staircase from the gallery where
they've gone to see his brother's
art opening. He goes out in the rain

to get the car which he parked at the end
farthest from both entrance and exit ways,
lessening the off-chance a lorry or

firetruck or other large vehicle
might lose its brakes, swerve from
the road and ram into theirs.

Over the years, she comes to learn
how certain habits and the ways
he likes to do things are driven by

some combination of fear, planning
and precision, even if—or perhaps
because—most things are outside

the realm of total human jurisdiction.
In The Iliad, their son in her arms,
Andromache pleads with Hector

not to go back to fight in a war
that he opposes. But he is the kind
of man for whom duty to country

is synonymous with obligation to family—
He will do what he can to prevent their
being taken as spoils of war or slaves.

Homer writes, A thousand camp-fires
gleamed upon the plain
. When it is his
time to go, he only wants to go

with honor. Because victors in any
kind of war don't always have compassion,
Achilles gloats, not only calling on dogs

and vultures to desecrate the corpse of his
enemy but also slitting his heel tendons,
passing leather thongs through them

and dragging Hector's body in the dust.
This story is meant to illustrate
weakness in any figure, victor

or victim. Thus, every human fear of the end
is likely the wish to protect, to render secure
if not invincible, whoever is in their care.

Here is the ankle held fast in the mother's
hand, the one blind spot her love kept dry
from the waters of the underworld.

Here is the rain that falls on all their
heads, with not a shield in sight; and always,
someone who volunteers to go first or last.


~ for RVI


Give a little whistle

Up betimes, and forced to go to my Lord Mayor’s, about the business of the pressed men; and indeed I find him a mean man of understanding and dispatch of any publique business. Thence out of curiosity to Bridewell to see the pressed men, where there are about 300; but so unruly that I durst not go among them: and they have reason to be so, having been kept these three days prisoners, with little or no victuals, and pressed out, and, contrary to all course of law, without press-money, and men that are not liable to it.
Here I met with prating Colonel Cox, one of the City collonells heretofore a great presbyter: but to hear how the fellow did commend himself, and the service he do the King; and, like an asse, at Paul’s did take me out of my way on purpose to show me the gate (the little north gate) where he had two men shot close by him on each hand, and his own hair burnt by a bullet-shot in the insurrection of Venner, and himself escaped. Thence home and to the Tower to see the men from Bridewell shipped.
Being rid of him I home to dinner, and thence to the Excise office by appointment to meet my Lord Bellasses and the Commissioners, which we did and soon dispatched, and so I home, and there was called by Pegg Pen to her house, where her father and mother, and Mrs. Norton, the second Roxalana, a fine woman, indifferent handsome, good body and hand, and good mine, and pretends to sing, but do it not excellently. However I took pleasure there, and my wife was sent for, and Creed come in to us, and so there we spent the most of the afternoon. Thence weary of losing so much time I to the office, and thence presently down to Deptford; but to see what a consternation there is upon the water by reason of this great press, that nothing is able to get a waterman to appear almost. Here I meant to have spoke with Bagwell’s mother, but her face was sore, and so I did not, but returned and upon the water found one of the vessels loaden with the Bridewell birds in a great mutiny, and they would not sail, not they; but with good words, and cajoling the ringleader into the Tower (where, when he was come, he was clapped up in the hole), they were got very quietly; but I think it is much if they do not run the vessel on ground. But away they went, and I to the Lieutenant of the Tower, and having talked with him a little, then home to supper very late and to bed weary.

a shot bullet
pretends to sing

a consternation of birds


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 2 July 1666.

The Killing Jar

The gods drink their highballs—

May they stumble
They are so far / gone from light—

Lorca says, one day we will watch
    the preserved butterflies rise

from the dead
:

their wings unpinned / lifted
Their satin-lined
miniature coffins     shattered in exhibit halls

and on collectors' tables— And the trees /
the trees—    should they not resound with

conjoined choruses of cicadas
    who won't have to perish after long

confinement     and separation—

Laceratio
: a mutilation, an opening
first dealt as wound
in whatever guise

Shouldn't every street in every city
  film with rags / sooty

uniforms they were made to wear
during long    incarceration—

Can we stop now
Can we not cut open / their hearts

only to bind our ears against
lamentations in the grass—

Can we set one wing
next to another
next to the unbroken /
ungathered

But are we

Can we