What Evenings Hold

To never come close again:
could your heart even bear it?
Don't ask. Don't answer. 


Do only what's needed.
Plant, gather, be patient with
your daily suffering. 


An owl's voice comes clear
in the newly quiet evenings.
Now there's time for talk.


O my beloveds.
Four clouds, coming to rest on
the sill at eye-level.


Up pretty betimes and out of doors, and in Fen Church street met Mr. Lovett going with a picture to me, but I could not stand to discourse or see it, but on to the next hackney coach and so to Sir W. Coventry, where he and I alone a while discoursing of some businesses of the office, and then up to the Duke of York to his chamber with my fellow brethren who are come, and so did our usual weekly business, which was but little to-day, and I was glad that the business of Carcasse was not mentioned because our report was not ready, but I am resolved it shall against the next coming to the Duke of York. Here was discourse about a way of paying our old creditors which did please me, there being hopes of getting them comprehended within the 11 months Tax, and this did give occasion for Sir G. Carteret’s and my going to Sir Robert Long to discourse it, who do agree that now the King’s Council do say that they may be included in the Act, which do make me very glad, not so much for the sake of the poor men as for the King, for it would have been a ruin to him and his service not to have had a way to have paid the debt. There parted with Sir G. Carteret and into Westminster Hall, where I met with Sir H. Cholmly, and he and I to Sir Ph. Warwicke’s to speak a little about our Tangier business, but to little purpose, my Lord Treasurer being so ill that no business can be done. Thence with Sir H. Cholmly to find out Creed from one lodging to another, which he hath changed so often that there is no finding him, but at last do come to his lodging that he is entering into this day, and do find his goods unlading at the door, by Scotland Yard, and there I set down Sir H. Cholmly, and I away to the ’Change, where spoke about several things, and then going home did meet Mr. Andrews our neighbour, and did speak with him to enquire about the ground behind our house, of which I have a mind to buy enough to make a stable and coach-house; for I do see that my condition do require it, as well as that it is more charge to my purse to live as I do than to keep one, and therefore I am resolved before winter to have one, unless some extraordinary thing happens to hinder me. He promises me to look after it for me, and so I home to dinner, where I find my wife’s flageolette master, and I am so pleased with her proceeding, though she hath lost time by not practising, that I am resolved for the encouragement of the man to learn myself a little for a month or so, for I do foresee if God send my wife and I to live, she will become very good company for me. He gone, comes Lovett with my little print of my dear Lady Castlemayne varnished, and the frame prettily done like gold, which pleases me well. He dined with me, but by his discourse I do still see that he is a man of good wit but most strange experience, and`1 acquaintance with all manner of subtleties and tricks, that I do think him not fit for me to keep any acquaintance with him, lest he some time or other shew me a slippery trick. After dinner, he gone, I to the office, where all the afternoon very busy, and so in the evening to Sir R. Viner’s, thinking to finish my accounts there, but am prevented, and so back again home, and late at my office at business, and so home to supper and sing a little with my dear wife, and so to bed.

an old hen in the dooryard
going about the ground
I have a mind to live
before winter happens
and God like a good wit
tricks me into thinking I am home

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 8 May 1667.


This entry is part 12 of 14 in the series Pandemic Season


Watch on Vimeo.

I didn’t go to bars or restaurants all that often, but I still miss them. Longing is all about the unattainable, isn’t it? I often find myself out restlessly walking around the mountain instead.

so much more
than one can hear
hermit thrush

I like walking at dusk because it is then that the buzzing stops. I don’t mind the whine of a mosquito, but as long as I can remember, I’ve been bothered by flies. Too many of them and my nose starts to itch uncontrollably, I don’t know why. And nothing is more horrifying than some dead animal heaving with maggots.

ephemeral pond
raccoon footprints fill in
with tadpoles

In the news, reopening restaurants are seating mannequins at every other table so diners will feel less isolated. Just before waking, I dream that the top-hat wearing skeletons off The Best of the Grateful Dead Live album cover pass me on the street, but they’re no longer dancing. They look disoriented. The skulls have somehow lost their grins.

the social distancing
of cannibals


Process notes

First came the encounter with a hermit thrush at dusk, recorded (the audio anyway) on my phone as he sang his ethereal song on the other side of the big vernal pond up at the top of the watershed. Hermit thrushes are occasional visitors to the mountain, but they generally prefer higher elevations (or perhaps more accurately: the closely related wood thrushes prefer lower elevations and out-compete them). I’ve featured that pond often in videopoems, so wasn’t sure I’d really be able to use it until I came up with the idea of layering it with footage of a basement club in London shot a year ago, culminating in the ritualistic dissolving of a sugar cube into absinthe (which is probably not obvious in the film, but that’s OK). Because the hermit thrush song is so beautiful, I thought I could get away with some dark and disturbing text by way of contrast. Wood frog tadpoles don’t have a whole lot to eat besides each other, as their natal pool slowly dries up. Will they make it out before the pond disappears completely? Most years, no. Nature is a bitch.

I’ve never actually owned the referenced album (or any other Grateful Dead) so I’m not entirely sure where my unconscious mind got that from, other than a more generalized interest in memento mori iconography. In any case, it was fortuitous, since it’s much more likely to be familiar to the average person than the death metal I actually listen to.

This is nearly twice as long as the other videos in the series, in part because the text was longer and in part because the thrush’s slow delivery set the pace. So I had to drop down to a lower frame rate and smaller aspect ratio than usual so it wouldn’t take forever to upload on my sluggish rural internet. I don’t think the difference will be too noticeable, though.


Meaning the edge of a nail
burrowing into the depths
of flesh around the toe.
Meaning you need another
instrument besides
a nail clipper to dig out
the offending bit of matter,
or else the least bit of
pressure from the side
of a shoe sends flames
shooting up your leg.
Meaning the time
your father takes you,
not yet woman but no
longer child, to his doctor
friend who isn't even
a podiatrist; and after
he injects a local anesthetic
the two of them stand
at one end of the examining
table, laughing and
exchanging notes
on last night's basketball
game; and then he tugs
at the corner of your nail
and clips a hard nub
of something, packs
gauze and bandage around
it. They walk to the door,
leaving you to get up
and hobble into
your sandals.

Horse sense

Up betimes, and by coach to St. James’s; but there find Sir W. Coventry gone out betimes this morning, on horseback, with the King and Duke of York, to Putney-heath, to run some horses, and so back again to the office, where some witnesses from Chatham which I sent for are come up, and do give shrewd testimonies against Carcasse, which put my Lord into a new flame, and he and I to high words, and so broke up. Then home to dinner, where W. Hewer dined with us, and he and I after dinner to discourse of Carcasses business, wherein I apparently now do manage it wholly against my Lord Bruncker, Sir W. Pen, like a false rogue, shrinking out of the collar, Sir J. Minnes, afoot, being easily led either way, and Sir W. Batten, a malicious fellow that is not able to defend any thing, so that the whole odium must fall on me, which I will therefore beware how I manage that I may not get enemies to no purpose. It vexes me to see with what a company I am mixed, but then it pleases me to see that I am reckoned the chief mover among them, as they do, confess and esteem me in every thing.
Thence to the office, and did business, and then by coach to St. James’s again, but W. Coventry not within, so I wrote something to him, and then straight back again and to Sir W. Batten’s, and there talked with him and J. Minnes, who are mighty hot in Carcasses business, but their judgment’s not to be trusted. However, I will go through with it, or otherwise we shall be all slaves to my Lord Bruncker and his man’s impudence. So to the office a little, and then home to supper and to bed, after hearing my wife sing, who is manifestly come to be more musical in her eare than ever I thought she could have been made, which rejoices me to the heart, for I take great delight now to hear her sing.

horses are testimonies
put into flame

a high word is like a false foot
easily led either way

I am mixed
I move straight and hot

a slave to the office music
in the heart

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 7 May 1667.

Kitchen talk

Up and angry with my mayds for letting in watermen, and I know not who, anybody that they are acquainted with, into my kitchen to talk and prate with them, which I will not endure. Then out and by coach to my Lord Treasurer’s, who continues still very ill, then to Sir Ph. Warwicke’s house, and there did a little business about my Tangier tallies, and so to Westminster Hall, and there to the Exchequer to consult about some way of getting our poor Creditors of the Navy (who served in their goods before the late Session of Parliament) paid out of the 11 months tax, which seems to relate only for goods to be then served in, and I think I have found out a way to bring them into the Act, which, if it do, I shall think a good service done. Thence by coach home with Captain Cocke, in our way talking of my Lord Bruncker and his Lady, who are mighty angry with us all of the office, about Carcasse’s business, but especially with me, and in great confidence he bids me have a care of him, for he hath said that he would wound me with the person where my greatest interest is. I suppose he means Sir W. Coventry, and therefore I will beware of him, and am glad, though vexed to hear it. So home to dinner, where Creed come, whom I vexed devilishly with telling him a wise man, and good friend of his and mine, did say that he lately went into the country to Hinchingbroke; and, at his coming to town again, hath shifted his lodgings, only to avoid paying to the Poll Bill, which is so true that he blushed, and could not in words deny it, but the fellow did think to have not had it discovered. He is so devilish a subtle false rogue, that I am really weary and afeard of his company, and therefore after dinner left him in the house, and to my office, where busy all the afternoon despatching much business, and in the evening to Sir R. Viner’s to adjust accounts there, and so home, where some of our old Navy creditors come to me by my direction to consider of what I have invented for their help as I have said in the morning, and like it mighty well, and so I to the office, where busy late, then home to supper and sing with my wife, who do begin to give me real pleasure with her singing, and so to bed.

kitchen red as a wound
where I rest

o oven beware
I am broke and a lush

and I am weary
of company for supper

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 6 May 1667.


Eadweard Muybridge

History doesn't stop
      though we'll take a few hours
           to climb into the porthole
of sleep, then take out the trash;
      peel a bowl of potatoes, crack
           an egg, boil coffee, wipe down
the counters, read a book, curse, laugh, cry.
      I don't know which planets will align with
           the sun some coming weekend, or
whether they'll be visible through the rough
      breaker of trees. This morning,
           in the bay, wind carves a high,
scalloped path through waves. History
      is aways turning each crest like that,
           so we are figures in a flip book or  
stop-motion film where the horses run
      eternally in silhouette over the Palo
           Alto track and boys play never-
ending leapfrog. It is 1893, or 1874,
      or 1833. The woman in the green 
           silk gown and Gibson girl hairdo 
and the man with his arm around her waist, 
      sporting a thin mustache and tuxedo tails, 
           twirl round and round without stopping 
for a breath. When the photographer caught 
      up with his wife's lover in Calistoga,
          he said "Here's the answer to
the letter you sent my wife," and shot him 
      point-blank. I've never seen a bison, 
          which is ecologically extinct. 
But there's an animated sequence 
      from 1887, remastered in 2006, where  
          the animal is cantering over a field.


(Lord’s day). Up, and going down to the water side, I met Sir John Robinson, and so with him by coach to White Hall, still a vain, prating, boasting man as any I know, as if the whole City and Kingdom had all its work done by him. He tells me he hath now got a street ordered to be continued, forty feet broad, from Paul’s through Cannon Street to the Tower, which will be very fine. He and others this day, where I was in the afternoon, do tell me of at least six or eight fires within these few days; and continually stirs of fires, and real fires there have been, in one place or other, almost ever since the late great fire, as if there was a fate sent people for fire. I walked over the Park to Sir W. Coventry’s. Among other things to tell him what I hear of people being forced to sell their bills before September for 35 and 40 per cent. loss, and what is worst, that there are some courtiers that have made a knot to buy them, in hopes of some ways to get money of the King to pay them, which Sir W. Coventry is amazed at, and says we are a people made up for destruction, and will do what he can to prevent all this by getting the King to provide wherewith to pay them. We talked of Tangier, of which he is ashamed; also that it should put the King to this charge for no good in the world: and now a man going over that is a good soldier, but a debauched man, which the place need not to have. And so used these words: “That this place was to the King as my Lord Carnarvon says of wood, that it is an excrescence of the earth provided by God for the payment of debts.” Thence away to Sir G. Carteret, whom I find taking physic. I staid talking with him but a little, and so home to church, and heard a dull sermon, and most of the best women of our parish gone into the country, or at least not at church. So home, and find my boy not there, nor was at church, which vexed me, and when he come home I enquired, he tells me he went to see his mother. I send him back to her to send me some token that he was with her. So there come a man with him back of good fashion. He says he saw him with her, which pacified me, but I did soundly threaten him before him, and so to dinner, and then had a little scolding with my wife for not being fine enough to go to the christening to-day, which she excused by being ill, as she was indeed, and cried, but I was in an ill humour and ashamed, indeed, that she should not go dressed. However, friends by and by, and we went by water to Michell’s, and there his little house full of his father and mothers and the kindred, hardly any else, and mighty merry in this innocent company, and Betty mighty pretty in bed, but, her head akeing, not very merry, but the company mighty merry, and I with them, and so the child was christened; my wife, his father, and her mother, the witnesses, and the child’s name Elizabeth. So we had gloves and wine and wafers, very pretty, and talked and tattled, and so we away by water and up with the tide, she and I and Barker, as high as Barne Eimes, it being a fine evening, and back again to pass the bridges at standing water between 9 and 10 at night, and then home and to supper, and then to bed with much pleasure. This day Sir W. Coventry tells me the Dutch fleete shot some shot, four or five hundred, into Burnt-Island in the Frith, but without any hurt; and so are gone.

the great fire says
we are a people made for destruction
an excrescence of the earth

I find it a dull sermon
and go home to a cold little house
full of night

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 5 May 1667.


Up and to the office, where sat all the morning, among other things a great conflict I had with Sir W. Warren, he bringing a letter to the Board, flatly in words charging them with their delays in passing his accounts, which have been with them these two years, part of which I said was not true, and the other undecent. The whole Board was concerned to take notice of it, as well as myself, but none of them had the honour to do it, but suffered me to do it alone, only Sir W. Batten, who did what he did out of common spite to him. So I writ in the margin of the letter, “Returned as untrue,” and, by consent of the Board, did give it him again, and so parted. Home to dinner, and there came a woman whose husband I sent for, one Fisher, about the business of Perkins and Carcasse, and I do think by her I shall find the business as bad as ever it was, and that we shall find Commissioner Pett a rogue, using foul play on behalf of Carcasse. After dinner to the office again, and there late all the afternoon, doing much business, and with great content home to supper and to bed.

among things flat and decent
the hole suffered alone

out on the margin
of the untrue

who shall find it
shall miss it

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 4 May 1667.

How is Truth

How is truth truth
  That is Capital 
T truth while 
  at the same time 
the particular truth
  you carry in your 
heart Truth like a lamp 
  whose wick you keep
trimmed in order for it 
  not to go out truth &
It seems only you 
  know your truth to be 
true despite what others
  believe to the contrary
& They believe they have
  truth wrapped around
their little finger
  Ring with a special
initial to flash in the sun
  In public along with a gun
In the face of anyone
  who'd dare to contest
what they call this god-
  given truth How dare 
you question their right 
  to uphold Question their 
right to believe a world
  where it's easier to look
at the fair While the truth
  of the matter's carried
away in trucks & buried
  in mass graves everywhere