Capitalist

This morning my wife had some things brought home by a new woman of the New Exchange, one Mrs. Smith, which she would have me see for her fine hand, and indeed it is a fine hand, and the woman I have observed is a mighty pretty looked woman. Up, and with Sir W. Batten and J. Minnes to St. James’s, and stopt at Temple Bar for Sir J. Minnes to go into the Devil’s Taverne to shit, he having drunk whey, and his belly wrought. Being come, we up to the Duke of York’s chamber, who, when ready, we to our usual business, and being very glad, we all that signed it, that is, Sir J. Minnes, W. Batten, W. Pen, and myself, and then Sir G. Carteret and W. Coventry, Bruncker, and T. Harvy, and the officers of the Ordnance, Sir J. Duncombe, and Mr. Cholmely presented our report about Carcasse, and did afterwards read it with that success that the Duke of York was for punishing him, not only with turning him out of the office, but with what other punishment he could, which nobody did forward, and so he escaped, only with giving security to secure the King against double tickets of his and other things that he might have wronged the King or subject in before his dismission. Yet, Lord! to see how our silly Lord Bruncker would have stood to have justified this rogue, though to the reproach of all us who have signed, which I shall never forget to have been a most malicious or a most silly act, and I do think it is as much the latter as the other, for none but a fool could have done as this silly Lord hath done in this business. So the Duke of York did like our report, and ordered his being secured till he did give his security, which did fully content me, and will I hope vindicate the office. It happened that my Lord Arlington coming in by chance was at the hearing of all this, which I was not sorry for, for he did move or did second the Duke of York that this roguery of his might be put in the News-book that it might be made publique to satisfy for the wrong the credit of this office hath received by this rogue’s occasion. So with utmost content I away with Sir G. Carteret to London, talking all the way; and he do tell me that the business of my Lord Hinchingbroke his marriage with my Lord Burlington’s daughter is concluded on by all friends; and that my Lady is now told of it, and do mightily please herself with it; which I am mighty glad of. So home, and there I find that my wife hath been at my desire at the Inne, thinking that my father might be come up with the coach, but he is not come this week, poor man, but will be here the next. At noon to dinner, and then to Sir W. Batten’s, where I hear the news how our Embassadors were but ill received at Flushing, nor at Bredah itself, there being only a house and no furniture provided for them, though it be said that they have as much as the French. Here we staid talking a little, and then I to the office about my business, and thence to the office, where busy about my own papers of my office, and by and by comes the office full to examine Sir W. Warren’s account, which I do appear mighty fierce in against him, and indeed am, for his accounts are so perplexed that I am sure he cannot but expect to get many a 1000l. in it before it passes our hands, but I will not favour him, but save what I can to the King. At his accounts, wherein I very high against him, till late, and then we broke up with little done, and so broke up, and I to my office, where late doing of business, and then home to supper and to bed. News still that my Lord Treasurer is so ill as not to be any man of this world; and it is said that the Treasury shall be managed by Commission. I would to God Sir G. Carteret, or my Lord Sandwich, be in it! But the latter is the more fit for it. This day going to White Hall, Sir W. Batten did tell me strange stories of Sir W. Pen, how he is already ashamed of the fine coach which his son-in-law and daughter have made, and indeed it is one of the most ridiculous things for people of their low, mean fashion to make such a coach that ever I saw. He tells me how his people come as they do to mine every day to borrow one thing or other, and that his Lady hath been forced to sell some coals (in the late dear time) only to enable her to pay money that she hath borrowed of Griffin to defray her family expense, which is a strange story for a rogue that spends so much money on clothes and other occasions himself as he do, but that which is most strange, he tells me that Sir W. Pen do not give 6000l., as is usually [supposed], with his daughter to him, and that Mr. Lowder is come to use the tubb, that is to bathe and sweat himself, and that his lady is come to use the tubb too, which he takes to be that he hath, and hath given her the pox, but I hope it is not so, but, says Sir W. Batten, this is a fair joynture, that he hath made her, meaning by that the costs the having of a bath.

I would go into the devil’s tavern to shit
I would put the news on to flush

my own war is with this world

I would be white
I have made people of ash mine coal


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 15 May 1667.

The years pass; the feeling doesn’t.

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
I haven't learned yet 
to take for granted 
how I'm here instead of 
somewhere else.

Should a raised voice say
You! I've learned not to flinch 
too visibly though I always fear
I'm the one being addressed.

One weekend many years ago
after I'd just got here,
two coworkers knocked on the door
and asked if I'd like to go out.

I looked at them confused
and said I was working,
which I was. After they left
I wondered if I should have.

Sometimes it's easier 
to keep to ourselves
or out of the way if not
out of sight.

Hampas-lupa

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
When we moved to this part 
of the country, some of the first
kababayans we met sounded concerned
we'd found an apartment in Norfolk,
and not in Virginia Beach. Perhaps
they meant well, even when they said
things like You should move 
as soon as you can so you don't have 
to live in the ghetto, where there are 
a lot of blacks. Then there are those
who caution their daughters and sons 
when they begin to date: Anyone 
really of any race, except 
yellow or black. So it shouldn’t 
have been surprising to hear those
same daughters and sons say Our parents
are not like those Filipinos on the west 
coast or in Hawaii— they came here 
as professionals. Perhaps they don’t know 
what they’re saying; perhaps they can't 
hear what those words really mean, having 
been raised in a culture of skin bleaching 
products where white is held up as right, 
and the fair-skinned mestizo will always get 
the office or the acting job over the dark-
skinned ones who look like maids or peasants: 
hampas-lupa, those who crawl like worms
along the earth— mud-dwellers, clay
compared to the haughty figures
whose marble floors and shoes they buff
until they shine and won’t acknowledge
that the brown reflections they see
every day in the mirror are their own.   

The CARES Act

Up by 5 o’clock, and when ready down to my chamber, and there with Mr. Fist, Sir W. Batten’s clerk, who writes mighty well, writing over our report in Mr. Carcasses business, in which we continued till 9 o’clock, that the office met, and then to the office, where all the morning, and so at noon home to dinner, where Mr. Holliard come and eat with us, who among other things do give me good hopes that we shall give my father some ease as to his rupture when he comes to town, which I expect to-morrow. After dinner comes Fist, and he and I to our report again till 4 o’clock, and then by coach to my Lord Chancellor’s, where I met Mr. Povy, expecting the coming of the rest of the Commissioners for Tangier. Here I understand how the two Dukes, both the only sons of the Duke of York, are sick even to danger, and that on Sunday last they were both so ill, as that the poor Duchess was in doubt which would die first: the Duke of Cambridge of some general disease; the other little Duke, whose title I know not, of the convulsion fits, of which he had four this morning. Fear that either of them might be dead, did make us think that it was the occasion that the Duke of York and others were not come to the meeting of the Commission which was designed, and my Lord Chancellor did expect. And it was pretty to observe how, when my Lord sent down to St. James’s to see why the Duke of York come not, and Mr. Povy, who went, returned, my Lord (Chancellor) did ask, not how the Princes or the Dukes do, as other people do, but “How do the children?” which methought was mighty great, and like a great man and grandfather. I find every body mightily concerned for these children, as a matter wherein the State is much concerned that they should live. At last it was found that the meeting did fail from no known occasion, at which my Lord Chancellor was angry, and did cry out against Creed that he should give him no notice. So Povy and I went forth, and staid at the gate of the house by the streete, and there stopped to talk about the business of the Treasury of Tangier, which by the badness of our credit, and the resolution that the Governor shall not be paymaster, will force me to provide one there to be my paymaster, which I will never do, but rather lose my place, for I will not venture my fortune to a fellow to be employed so far off, and in that wicked place. Thence home, and with Fist presently to the finishing the writing fair of our report. And by and by to Sir W. Batten’s, and there he and I and J. Minnes and W. Pen did read and sign it with great good liking, and so away to the office again to look over and correct it, and then home to supper and to bed, my mind being pretty well settled, having this report done, and so to supper and to bed.

I write with a fist
expecting to die
of some convulsion

fear returned
like a grandfather
for the children

the state should fail
from a chance
cry in the street

the paymaster
will be unemployed
by a pen of ice


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 14 May 1667.

In the Fullness of Time

still from In the Fullness of Time
This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series Pandemic Season

 

Watch on Vimeo.

Six weeks after I planted potatoes, they are finally all up, the latest leaves no bigger than the ears of the mice I was sure had dug up and eaten them, especially after a series of holes appeared in each hill. But it’s been unusually cold this spring, and sprouts were simply taking their time. Our neighbors had urged patience, and they were right.

All this waiting to see what happens with the pandemic would be hard to bear if I didn’t also have something to wait for: a garden growing and changing day by day now, so that time doesn’t merely pass like some lifeless assembly line, but unfolds, ramifies, flourishes, bears fruit.

even as
I pull weeds my beard
keeps on growing

evening garden
a snake has left her skin
beside the lettuce

***

Process notes

Yes, I’ve been shooting videos of my feet propped up on the porch railing since mid-April (the first of the two snowy shots) waiting for an excuse to combine them into a videopoem. I’d love to tell you that I shot them every set number of days, because I’m all organized like that, but actually, I just did it when I thought of it. As followers of my long-running Morning Porch microblog will know, I have a bit of a thing for sitting outside. In fact I sat on the porch while waiting for this video to upload (which took an hour and a half! Ah, country living).

The font I used for the haiku is called Permanent Marker — basically a Comic Sans that doesn’t suck. And it just occurred to me that the most likely reason it struck me as a good fit is because the grid presentation of shots is ultimately derived from the comics — an association very much in the haiku spirit, by the way, given the traditionally high valuation of lightness (karumi).

Someone asked me how long this video haibun series will go on, and honestly I have no idea. The only thing I have in mind to do with them is stitch some or all of them together into a longer film, as I did with the half-hour-long film of videohaiku that I showed at the REELpoetry festival in January, Crossing the Pond (watch it here). The longer this series continues, the more selective I can be when it comes time to make Pandemic Season: The Movie. On the other hand obviously I am fervently hoping for the pandemic to be over as soon as possible, but it looks as if we may be in for the long haul. Good thing I have gardening to distract myself. And there’s a real sense of solidarity with all the other people getting into gardening in a big way this spring — some for the first time, others, like me, with a renewed passion.

***

Here’s a brain fart I posted on Facebook when I shared the previous haibun in this series, for what it’s worth: Ever since Basho came along and turned what had been a parlor game into high art, haiku writers have made a fetish of satori-like moments of awareness. In reality, such moments are rare, even for Zen masters, and a better analogy to what we’re trying to do with haiku is the novice spending days pondering an unsolvable riddle (koan), proposed in this case by the universe. You generally have to discard at least your first half-dozen attempts as too clever and keep going back to the riddle of your original glimpse or inkling. With modern haiku and haibun, the challenge is no different; it’s just that the number of allowable subjects has exploded, and our relationship with nature has changed to acknowledge our complicity in its degradation. (Climate change, for example, is playing hob with traditional seasonal references.) Instead of aha moments I tend to look for WTF moments, and instead of personal insights, I’m more interested in creating a space for the reader/listener to make some connection on their own. Without engaged listening and seeing, there’s no haiku.

Sentenced

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and when ready, to the office (my wife rising to send away Barker, according to our resolution last night, and she did do it with more clothes than have cost us 10l., and 20s. in her purse, which I did for the respect I bear Mr. Falconbridge, otherwise she had not deserved half of it, but I am the more willing to do it to be rid of one that made work and trouble in the house, and had not qualities of any honour or pleasure to me or my family, but what is a strange thing did always declare to her mistress and others that she had rather be put to drudgery and to wash the house than to live as she did like a gentlewoman), and there I and Gibson all the morning making an end of my report against Carcasse, which I think will do our business, but it is a horrid shame such a rogue should give me and all of us this trouble. This morning come Sir H. Cholmly to me for a tally or two; and tells me that he hears that we are by agreement to give the King of France Nova Scotia, which he do not like: but I do not know the importance of it. Then abroad with my wife to my Lord Treasurer’s, and she to her tailor’s. I find Sir Philip Warwicke, who I perceive do give over my Lord Treasurer for a man of this world, his pain being grown great again upon him, and all the rest he hath is by narcotiques, and now Sir Philip Warwicke do please himself, like a good man, to tell some of the good ejaculations of my Lord Treasurer concerning the little worth of this world, to buy it with so much pain, and other things fit for a dying man. So finding no business likely to be done here for Tangier, I having a warrant for tallies to be signed, I away to the New Exchange, and there staid a little, and then to a looking-glass shop to consult about covering the wall in my closet over my chimney, which is darkish, with looking-glasses, and then to my wife’s tailor’s, but find her not ready to go home, but got to buy things, and so I away home to look after my business and finish my report of Carcasse, and then did get Sir W. Batten, Sir J. Minnes, and [Sir] W. Pen together, and read it over with all the many papers relating to the business, which they do wonder at, and the trouble I have taken about it, and like the report, so as that they do unanimously resolve to sign it, and stand by it, and after a great deal of discourse of the strange deportment of my Lord Bruncker in this business to withstand the whole board in behalf of such an impudent rogue as this is, I parted, and home to my wife, and supped and talked with her, and then to bed, resolving to rise betimes to-morrow to write fair the report.

what drudgery to live
on such a rogue world

like the ejaculation
of a dying man

like looking in a looking-glass
to find an ape

like resolving to rise tomorrow
to write


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 13 May 1667.

Photosynthesis

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Oliver bends over the terra-cotta pot
to address a growing herb: Good morning,
Basil; what did you dream of last night?

He is at the age when it is nothing
but natural to talk to everything
in the world as if it is his best friend.
Shoelaces, pebbles picked up on walks,
a soccer ball, his no-pedal push
bike; twigs and moss his mother
lays out as a path in the fairy garden
they’re building. I’m certain
if a plant could talk it would tell him
stories rich with compost and soil;
it would tell him of that dream
we call photosynthesis, in which
the leaf makes energy out of light
and returns it to the world as breathing.

(For Oliver, of course)

Recluse

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up, and to my chamber, to settle some accounts there, and by and by down comes my wife to me in her night-gown, and we begun calmly, that upon having money to lace her gown for second mourning, she would promise to wear white locks no more in my sight, which I, like a severe fool, thinking not enough, begun to except against, and made her fly out to very high terms and cry, and in her heat told me of keeping company with Mrs. Knipp, saying, that if I would promise never to see her more — of whom she hath more reason to suspect than I had heretofore of Pembleton — she would never wear white locks more. This vexed me, but I restrained myself from saying anything, but do think never to see this woman — at least, to have her here more, but by and by I did give her money to buy lace, and she promised to wear no more white locks while I lived, and so all very good friends as ever, and I to my business, and she to dress herself. Against noon we had a coach ready for us, and she and I to White Hall, where I went to see whether Sir G. Carteret was at dinner or no, our design being to make a visit there, and I found them set down, which troubled me, for I would not then go up, but back to the coach to my wife, and she and I homeward again, and in our way bethought ourselves of going alone, she and I, to go to a French house to dinner, and so enquired out Monsieur Robins, my perriwigg-maker, who keeps an ordinary, and in an ugly street in Covent Garden, did find him at the door, and so we in; and in a moment almost had the table covered, and clean glasses, and all in the French manner, and a mess of potage first, and then a couple of pigeons a la esterve, and then a piece of boeuf-a-la-mode, all exceeding well seasoned, and to our great liking; at least it would have been anywhere else but in this bad street, and in a perriwigg-maker’s house; but to see the pleasant and ready attendance that we had, and all things so desirous to please, and ingenious in the people, did take me mightily. Our dinner cost us 6s., and so my wife and I away to Islington, it being a fine day, and thence to Sir G. Whitmore’s house, where we ’light, and walked over the fields to Kingsland, and back again; a walk, I think, I have not taken these twenty years; but puts me in mind of my boy’s time, when I boarded at Kingsland, and used to shoot with my bow and arrows in these fields. A very pretty place it is; and little did any of my friends think I should come to walk in these fields in this condition and state that I am. Then took coach again, and home through Shoreditch; and at home my wife finds Barker to have been abroad, and telling her so many lies about it, that she struck her, and the wench said she would not stay with her: so I examined the wench, and found her in so many lies myself, that I was glad to be rid of her, and so resolved having her go away to-morrow. So my wife and W. Hewer and I to supper, and then he and I to my chamber to begin the draught of the report from this office to the Duke of York in the case of Mr. Carcasse, which I sat up till midnight to do, and then to bed, believing it necessary to have it done, and to do it plainly, for it is not to be endured the trouble that this rascal hath put us to, and the disgrace he hath brought upon this office.

down comes night
like a severe fly

I never see more than the ugly street
and a couple of pigeons all day

light over the fields puts me in mind
of when I used to shoot

and a pretty wife lies with
so many lies

I go up to my chamber till midnight
that grace


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 12 May 1667.

Following the Arrows

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
At night or in the early hours
before morning, someone must have measured
and marked with neon colored tape, sections
on the grocery store floor or drugstore
or food takeout line. And arrows: for
pointing out in good faith the direction
of all movement, keeping a six
foot distance to make each citizen
a kind of compass point for the next
in queue and all who follow after.
Wouldn't it be if not easier then
at least more bearable, if our movements
were such as they are among planets
and stars? Though they look
closer to the naked eye, the nearest
ones are billions of light years away.
Clouds of particles coughed up
when two or more stars smash into each
other might vaporize as energy; but
no matter what other effect might
result, it's certain that all bodies
are changed forever after collision.



 

White space

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and being called on by Mr. Commander, he and I out to the ground behind Sir W. Pen’s, where I am resolved to take a lease of some of it for a stable and coach [house], and so to keep a coach, unless some change come before I can do it, for I do see it is a greater charge to me now in hackneys, and I am a little dishonoured by going in them. We spoke with him that hath the letting it, and I do believe when I can tell how much it will be fit for me to have we shall go near to agree. So home, and there found my door open, which makes me very angry with Nell, and do think to put her away for it, though it do so go against me to part with a servant that it troubles me more than anything in the world. So to the office, where all the morning. At noon home to dinner, where Mr. Goodgroome and Creed, and I have great hopes that my wife will come to sing to my mind. After dinner my wife and Creed and I being entered a hackney coach to go to the other end of the town, we espied The. Turner coming in her coach to see us, which we were surprised at, and so ’light and took her and another young lady home, and there sat and talked with The., she being lately come out of the North after two or three years absence. She is come to put out her sister and brothers to school at Putney. After a little talk, I over Tower Hill with them to a lady’s they go to visit, and so away with my wife, whose being dressed this day in fair hair did make me so mad, that I spoke not one word to her in our going, though I was ready to burst with anger. So to White Hall to the Committee of Tangier, where they were discoursing about laws for the civil government of the place, but so dull and so little to the purpose that I fell to slumber, when the fear of being seen by Sir W. Coventry did trouble me much afterwards, but I hope he did not. After that broke up. Creed and I into the Park, and walked, a most pleasant evening, and so took coach, and took up my wife, and in my way home discovered my trouble to my wife for her white locks,1 swearing by God, several times, which I pray God forgive me for, and bending my fist, that I would not endure it. She, poor wretch, was surprized with it, and made me no answer all the way home; but there we parted, and I to the office late, and then home, and without supper to bed, vexed.

going to the good
end of town
we see a light
dull as a white fist
that would not endure surprise


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 11 May 1667.