I watched you but never learned to sew facing
and interfacing, while understanding how two

pieces cut from the same fabric could still pull
away from each other, though forcibly joined

at the seam— Just like how you were aways careful
to match the colors of every outfit, finish with scent

and lipstick and jewelry; while I chafed at mohair
twin sets and pantyhose. I’m past your age when you

decided on the dresses of my wedding entourage: yards
of lace and chiffon, pearls. Now I grow increasingly

comfortable wearing jeans to work, though I’ll top them
with a clean-lined jacket, a sweater in fine wool.

Something to do with warp and weft, how to make two
biases work, without visibly interrupting the surface.

What does it mean when someone is speaking,
not asking, yet the sounds they make seem to curl

harmlessly upward like a question mark? I’ve an old
fear of looking too hard beneath the blunt ends of things

—something might break open at last. For a long time
I carried my agate carapace in pieces, proof of

another form, proof of having once been seen, before
something was taken. After, it dangled from my waist

in a sling bag. I wanted to piece them back together:
with red and yellow seeds, an eye-shaped amulet.

I know it’s sometimes hard to tell from looking
what I used to be. There are faint finger marks

going down the middle of the spine, as if to stopper
holes in a flute. That’s how I learned not all

undoing means yes, or I agreed to this. For a long
time it hurt to put the voice back in the throat.

Up, being frighted that Mr. Coventry was come to towne and now at the office, so I run down without eating or drinking or washing to the office and it proved my Lord Berkeley.
There all the morning, at noon to the ‘Change, and so home to dinner, Mr. Wayth with me, and then to the office, where mighty busy till very late, but I bless God I go through with it very well and hope I shall.

in a town
run-down with drink
ashing the ice

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 12 November 1664.

“The capitals of the world are burning.” ~ Li-young Lee

In fact, she doesn’t mind the quiet after everyone has left. Doesn’t want to turn the TV on. Picks up the paper flung at the doorstep at 5, and promptly tosses it in the recycling bin. The quality of silence is different at different points of the day, or of the year. At midmorning in spring, like a film that’s just beginning to settle on the surface of milk as it cools in a cup; or in summer, the barest crinkle of plastic protecting the furniture, as one shifts one’s thighs. Later at night in autumn, like the smooth insides of a pear after the knife has sliced it in half. She listens to how the air cycles, warm puffs of heat coming through the vents. It’s nice sometimes to just press one’s spine to the wooden floor. But of course none of this lasts. In the next room someone is turning dials to listen to the radio— people marching in the streets of Warsaw, sounds and cries in a different tongue. Mixed all together like that, it’s impossible to distinguish young from old, who might have been invoking the name of God while trampling women underfoot. Elsewhere, in a little southern town, the walls and floor of a church have been painted over, all in white. The report describes white chairs with gold lettering, one for each of the dead; just one red rose on each chair. A halo of perfection over the site of carnage. She can’t understand why none of the reverence which goes into these acts of memorializing is ever given before people are maimed, burned, beheaded, shot.

And in Babelplatz square,
underground: empty white shelves.
20,000 books once burned there.


In response to Via Negativa: Sylvanian.

Up, and with Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten to the Council Chamber at White Hall, to the Committee of the Lords for the Navy, where we were made to wait an houre or two before called in. In that time looking upon some books of heraldry of Sir Edward Walker’s making, which are very fine, there I observed the Duke of Monmouth’s armes are neatly done, and his title, “The most noble and high-born Prince, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, &c.;” nor could Sir J. Minnes, nor any body there, tell whence he should take the name of Scott? And then I found my Lord Sandwich, his title under his armes is, “The most noble and mighty Lord, Edward, Earl of Sandwich, &c.”Sir Edward Walker afterwards coming in, in discourse did say that there was none of the families of princes in Christendom that do derive themselves so high as Julius Caesar, nor so far by 1000 years, that can directly prove their rise; only some in Germany do derive themselves from the patrician familys of Rome, but that uncertainly; and, among other things, did much inveigh against the writing of romances, that 500 years hence being wrote of matters in general, true as the romance of Cleopatra, the world will not know which is the true and which the false. Here was a gentleman attending here that told us he saw the other day (and did bring the draught of it to Sir Francis Prigeon) of a monster born of an hostler’s wife at Salisbury, two women children perfectly made, joyned at the lower part of their bellies, and every part perfect as two bodies, and only one payre of legs coming forth on one side from the middle where they were joined. It was alive 24 hours, and cried and did as all hopefull children do; but, being showed too much to people, was killed. By and by we were called in, where a great many lords: Annesly in the chair. But, Lord! to see what work they will make us, and what trouble we shall have to inform men in a business they are to begin to know, when the greatest of our hurry is, is a thing to be lamented; and I fear the consequence will be bad to us. Thence I by coach to the ‘Change, and thence home to dinner, my head akeing mightily with much business. Our little girl better than she was yesterday. After dinner out again by coach to my Lord Chancellor’s, but could not speak with him, then up and down to seek Sir Ph. Warwicke, Sir G. Carteret, and my Lord Berkely, but failed in all, and so home and there late at business. Among other things Mr. Turner making his complaint to me how my clerks do all the worke and get all the profit, and he hath no comfort, nor cannot subsist, I did make him apprehend how he is beholding to me more than to any body for my suffering him to act as Pourveyour of petty provisions, and told him so largely my little value of any body’s favour, that I believe he will make no complaints again a good while. So home to supper and to bed, after prayers, and having my boy and Mercer give me some, each of them some, musique.

in the book of the body
is there no other writing true as romance

which is true and which false
of two children perfectly made
joined at their bellies
and only one pair of legs

what work will make us fear
the consequence of it

how is holding you
so large a music

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 11 November 1664.

Who remembers the time the three of them lived together in the garden, or for how long? Branches with deep green scales linked arms sinuously. Fruit glistened and asked to be picked. One day he sat down in the shade, overcome by a strange sadness. She asked him why he watered his hands with tears. He looked up and said, I don’t know how old I am. Do you know how old I am? She had no answer. The next day the sun came up as it always did before. The sky remained silent. Not even a hint of thunder from over the hills, like a muffled voice on the intercom. The days passed like this for a very long time. I say time, but also I remember how they didn’t seem to be able to tell the difference. Who knows if it was a month, a year, fifteen years? A marriage of one day can feel like a feather-stuffed comforter, a weighted blanket, a copper-clad kettle darkening in the fire.

Bathing in the river,
she let the water speak
to her about thirst.

We’ve slipped the clocks back to fool
the darkness, though it is never misled—
The script says, upon getting up we must then
joyfully put our hands together at the sight
of sunlight. Year after year, I’ve tried
to perfect such a skill. But today
when I held out my hand for the woman
painting mehndi, she drew scallops
and lines that circled my wrist
like a net. I turned it this way and that,
mud-colored fish delighting in scales.
Thus everything swirls into a tight
bud of shadow, then fans out as
abundance of arabesques. Beautiful night,
gradually I learn to lean my weight
like the honeysuckle does at the edge
of the trellis, though my throat
wants to open like the flower that blooms
only a few times each year. To desire
like that— to look forward to one brilliance
after fifty weeks of whispering little
or sweetest darling.
Or to lie quietly in the cell, listening
for the one that utters her true name.

It’s a two-video day! Both of these began as photo-and-poetry posts at Woodrat photoblog and Instagram. Both were shot on my aging iPhone.

As the green drains from the leaves, why doesn’t it pool underground like a reservoir of eternal summer?

Why don’t the green, leaf-shaped katydids turn brilliant colors before they die?

When lovers intertwine, why don’t they fuse like roots from adjacent trees?

If a human falls in a city and there are no trees around, does it leave a hole?

An early snow prompts memories of last year at this time: three haiku-like things.

the sky is falling:
autumn leaves turning
white with snow


November surprise:
white supremacists elect
an orange leader


it’s not winter
it’s white springtime

Up, and not finding my things ready, I was so angry with Besse as to bid my wife for good and all to bid her provide herself a place, for though she be very good-natured, she hath no care nor memory of her business at all.
So to the office, where vexed at the malice of Sir W. Batten and folly of Sir J. Minnes against Sir W. Warren, but I prevented, and shall do, though to my own disquiet and trouble.
At noon dined with Sir W. Batten and the Auditors of the Exchequer at the Dolphin by Mr. Wayth’s desire, and after dinner fell to business relating to Sir G. Carteret’s account, and so home to the office, where Sir W. Batten begins, too fast, to shew his knavish tricks in giving what price he pleases for commodities.
So abroad, intending to have spoke with my Lord Chancellor about the old business of his wood at Clarendon, but could not, and so home again, and late at my office, and then home to supper and bed.
My little girle Susan is fallen sicke of the meazles, we fear, or, at least, of a scarlett feavour.

no place or nature at all
prevented disquiet
or the count of commodities

so spoke the old wood
in my fallen ear

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 10 November 1664.

Is there a name for that state
between what one could do
and what might no longer
be possible? I swing there
like a tipped silver weight
at the end of a chain, describing
different widths of circles.
If I were a word I’d want instead
to be breath, or breathing
yet I haven’t a raft to hold
sufficient provision, nor a windfall
to fill it. I dream of broken toilets
and magnolia petals on the ground,
of a woman who sits in the dark
as the moon grows full, waiting
for someone to come and keep house.