Departure

The angel seated beside the potted jasmine 
must have known when they wheeled in

the hospital bed; and the polished wood floor
gleamed like a sheet of water. We are told

the grass surrounding the house had grown tall
and thick, green buffer against the sharp

noises of the street. In one of the bookshelves,
an atlas, a map of the world: every turned

page calling to the soul to bend in, closer.
Soon, a continent assembles into its individual

countries. Islands bob like hearts in the distant
blue, trusting the water. Now the throat

can swallow without straining, the eye blink
fully open in the sun. Here her body lay

in the middle of the room, home port and first
destination; released, now finding her way.


~ in memoriam, Aurora Villaseñor Igloria

Flies on the table

Waked very betimes in the morning by extraordinary thunder and rain, which did keep me sleeping and waking till very late, and it being a holiday and my eye very sore, and myself having had very little sleep for a good while till nine o’clock, and so up, and so saw all my family up, and my father and sister, who is a pretty good-bodied woman, and not over thicke, as I thought she would have been, but full of freckles, and not handsome in face. And so I out by water among the ships, and to Deptford and Blackewall about business, and so home and to dinner with my father and sister and family, mighty pleasant all of us; and, among other things, with a sparrow that our Mercer hath brought up now for three weeks, which is so tame that it flies up and down, and upon the table, and eats and pecks, and do everything so pleasantly, that we are mightily pleased with it.
After dinner I to my papers and accounts of this month to sett all straight, it being a publique Fastday appointed to pray for the good successe of the fleete. But it is a pretty thing to consider how little a matter they make of this keeping of a Fast, that it was not so much as declared time enough to be read in the churches the last Sunday; but ordered by proclamation since: I suppose upon some sudden newes of the Dutch being come out.
To my accounts and settled them clear; but to my grief find myself poorer than I was the last by near 20l., by reason of my being forced to return 50l. to Downing, the smith, which he had presented me with. However, I am well contented, finding myself yet to be worth 5,200l..
Having done, to supper with my wife, and then to finish the writing fair of my accounts, and so to bed.
This day come to town Mr. Homewood, and I took him home in the evening to my chamber, and discoursed with him about my business of the Victualling, which I have a mind to employ him in, and he is desirous of also, but do very ingenuously declare he understands it not so well as other things, and desires to be informed in the nature of it before he attempts it, which I like well, and so I carried him to Mr. Gibson to discourse with him about it, and so home again to my accounts.
Thus ends this month, with my mind oppressed by my defect in my duty of the Victualling, which lies upon me as a burden, till I get myself into a better posture therein, and hinders me and casts down my courage in every thing else that belongs to me, and the jealousy I have of Sir W. Coventry’s being displeased with me about it; but I hope in a little time to remedy all.
As to publique business; by late tidings of the French fleete being come to Rochelle (how true, though, I know not) our fleete is divided; Prince Rupert being gone with about thirty ships to the Westward as is conceived to meet the French, to hinder their coming to join with the Dutch.
My Lord Duke of Albemarle lies in the Downes with the rest, and intends presently to sail to the Gunfleete.

flies on the table
this fast day
pray for us


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 31 May 1666.

Suspended animation

Up and to my office, there to settle some business in order to our waiting on the Duke to-day. That done to White Hall to Sir W. Coventry’s chamber, where I find the Duke gone out with the King to-day on hunting. So after some discourse with him, I by water to Westminster, and there drew a draught of an order for my Lord Treasurer to sign for my having some little tallys made me in lieu of two great ones, of 2000l. each, to enable me to pay small sums therewith. I shewed it to Sir R. Long and had his approbation, and so to Sir Ph. Warwicke’s, and did give it him to get signed. So home to my office, and there did business. By and by toward noon word is brought me that my father and my sister are come. I expected them to-day, but not so soon. I to them, and am heartily glad to see them, especially my father, who, poor man, looks very well, and hath rode up this journey on horseback very well, only his eyesight and hearing is very bad. I staid and dined with them, my wife being gone by coach to Barnet, with W. Hewer and Mercer, to meet them, and they did come Ware way.
After dinner I left them to dress themselves and I abroad by appointment to my Lord Ashly, who, it is strange to see, how prettily he dissembles his favour to Yeabsly’s business, which none in the world could mistrust only I, that am privy to his being bribed. Thence to White Hall, and there staid till the Council was up, with Creed expecting a meeting of Tangier to end Yeabsly’s business, but we could not procure it. So I to my Lord Treasurer’s and got my warrant, and then to Lovett’s, but find nothing done there. So home and did a little business at the office, and so down by water to Deptford and back again home late, and having signed some papers and given order in business, home, where my wife is come home, and so to supper with my father, and mighty pleasant we were, and my wife mighty kind to him and Pall, and so after supper to bed, myself being sleepy, and my right eye still very sore, as it has been now about five days or six, which puts me out of tune.
To-night my wife tells me newes has been brought her that Balty’s wife is brought to bed, by some fall or fit, before her time, of a great child but dead. If the woman do well we have no reason to be sorry, because his staying a little longer without a child will be better for him and her.

waiting I am one
with the small sum of a heart
the ash of a warrant
the no one there of water
the sleep of a dead child


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 30 May 1666.

Eid in the park

View on Vimeo.

Yesterday was Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, and I found myself in a north London park as public prayers were being offered. You can hear that faintly in the background. (This is shorter than my usual one-minute haiku videos because I decided to cut out much of an Islamophobic rant from a man behind me.)

Self-portrait as Job

At night, I wait for the moment when I can imagine 
silence as a kind of womb-- where I might float
like a jellyfish whose digits have not yet

poked through, a tangle of complicated wires
in a plastic pouch. How can I go back to that place
where everything is still waiting to develop? That
little pulse no larger than a bud before it becomes

a furnace, an engine, a jar for holding tears.
That vessel not yet covered with boils or chafed
to indistinction, not yet lipped by every creature

looking to augment its stores of salt. I've
surpassed almost every boundary for what old-
time prophets would call tribulation, yet only my
voice is the one still crying out of the wilderness.

Mise-en-scène

"...the newly dead must pass through 
a halfway house run by angels. In this
place of transit, the migrants must
choose one event from their lives
that the angels will make into a movie,
starring the migrants themselves.
Heaven is this short film, played
on an endless loop."
~ Viet Thanh Nguyen



No one leaving for the airport at dawn
as if surreptitiously, while the child
is sleeping. Instead, they walk
hand in hand, following a path

dusted by moths. No one leveling
the mountains or cutting down
all the trees. Nothing
that needs to be paid by

installment, or with gold
extracted from someone's mouth.
No one hiding under the house until
the creditors go away.

No one having to endlessly correct
grammar, our names, our being
here. A window not taped
with plastic in winter.

No disappearing into the surf, no
walking barefoot into the snow.
No pills in vials, no asking
when anything will end.

Shapeshifter

(King’s birth-day and Restauration day). Waked with the ringing of the bells all over the towne; so up before five o’clock, and to the office, where we met, and I all the morning with great trouble upon my spirit to think how I should come off in the afternoon when Sir W. Coventry did go to the Victualling office to see the state of matters there, and methinks by his doing of it without speaking to me, and only with Sir W. Pen, it must be of design to find my negligence. However, at noon I did, upon a small invitation of Sir W. Pen’s, go and dine with Sir W. Coventry at his office, where great good cheer and many pleasant stories of Sir W. Coventry; but I had no pleasure in them. However, I had last night and this morning made myself a little able to report how matters were, and did readily go with them after dinner to the Victualling office; and there, beyond belief, did acquit myself very well to full content; so that, beyond expectation, I got over this second rub in this business; and if ever I fall on it again, I deserve to be undone.
Being broke up there, I with a merry heart home to my office, and thither my wife comes to me, to tell me, that if I would see the handsomest woman in England, I shall come home presently; and who should it be but the pretty lady of our parish, that did heretofore sit on the other side of our church, over against our gallery, that is since married; she with Mrs. Anne Jones, one of this parish, that dances finely, and Mrs. … sister did come to see her this afternoon, and so I home and there find Creed also come to me. So there I spent most of the afternoon with them, and indeed she is a pretty black woman, her name Mrs. Horsely. But, Lord! to see how my nature could not refrain from the temptation; but I must invite them to Foxhall, to Spring Gardens, though I had freshly received minutes of a great deale of extraordinary business. However I could not helpe it, but sent them before with Creed, and I did some of my business; and so after them, and find them there, in an arbour, and had met with Mrs. Pierce, and some company with her. So here I spent 20s. upon them, and were pretty merry. Among other things, had a fellow that imitated all manner of birds, and doggs, and hogs, with his voice, which was mighty pleasant. Staid here till night: then set Mrs. Pierce in at the New Exchange; and ourselves took coach, and so set Mrs. Horsely home, and then home ourselves, but with great trouble in the streets by bonefires, it being the King’s birth-day and day of Restauration; but, Lord! to see the difference how many there were on the other side, and so few ours, the City side of the Temple, would make one wonder the difference between the temper of one sort of people and the other: and the difference among all between what they do now, and what it was the night when Monk come into the City. Such a night as that I never think to see again, nor think it can be. After I come home I was till one in the morning with Captain Cocke drawing up a contract with him intended to be offered to the Duke to-morrow, which, if it proceeds, he promises me 500l..

ringing bells speak to me
stories undo me

who could refrain from the temptation
to imitate birds and dogs

to home ourselves
in the bone

and see how many there were
on the other side


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 29 May 1666.

summer sidewalk

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Shot along Notting Hill Gate (confusingly, the name of a street) in London, from a bench facing away from traffic… toward the Art. Unlike graffiti, official street art only looks good after it starts to get grubby, I think. Abandoned shopping carts/trolleys, on the other hand, have that haiku-ready wabi-sabi quality from the outset.

The white daylily opens its throat

in the middle of the sympathy bouquet 

and sends out its pungent note.
The roses and carnations can't compete,

but they would rather smell like vanilla
or melted crayons. I read somewhere

that perfume was invented in order to mask
the smell of bodies that couldn't bathe

every day or didn't want to. I wish
I didn't have to taste the cocktail

of acid and bile that swirls around
my insides when I'm driven

to the apex of anxiety, but I haven't
learned to pretend disinterest.

The flowers are a composition that means
we're beautiful because we're going

to perish. They're paper-white, eggshell-
white, ivory beginning to yellow. And

even after they're gone I smell their
sorrowful musk in my hair, on my fingers.