Up and to the office, where by and by Mr. Coventry come, and after doing a little business, took his leave of us, being to go to sea with the Duke to-morrow.
At noon, I and Sir J. Minnes and Lord Barkeley (who with Sir J. Duncum, and Mr. Chichly, are made Masters of the Ordnance), to the office of the Ordnance, to discourse about wadding for guns. Thence to dinner, all of us to the Lieutenant’s of the Tower; where a good dinner, but disturbed in the middle of it by the King’s coming into the Tower: and so we broke up, and to him, and went up and down the store-houses and magazines; which are, with the addition of the new great store-house, a noble sight.
He gone, I to my office, where Bagwell’s wife staid for me, and together with her a good while, to meet again shortly. So all the afternoon at my office till late, and then to bed, joyed in my love and ability to follow my business.
This day, Mr. Lever sent my wife a pair of silver candlesticks, very pretty ones. The first man that ever presented me, to whom I have not only done little service, but apparently did him the greatest disservice in his business of accounts, as Purser-Generall, of any man at the board.

come and go to sea
with the bark of our guns

all of us disturbed
by the new use of sticks

pretty ones that have only done
business as a board

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 8 November 1664.

Once butter-fat and milky, marrow
gelling into brittle feather bone,

quill, gladius— What the year
seems to have done to all softness

inside me. You too? And the scrolls
of beautiful wood carved with signs

we treasured as talismans: they’ve
been hacked into a hundred pieces.

Hide one under your tongue, take
another and burn to ash then drink

as if a potion. Bury a few in the hearts
of seeds you’ll plant in earth, in water.

Let the rest go with the stars. Crickets
in the fire will feed our hunger. Before we

take them into our bellies, we thank them.
We thank every little thing that enters

us like a word, a sword, a sound— the way
a newborn’s cry cuts through a fog of blankness.


In response to Via Negativa: Radical.

In Maytime, we leaned out of second-
floor windows to wait for a procession

of saints to pass our street. A band of rag-
tag brass led with solemn march, the off

tones somehow tender to the ear. Such
pageantry for which the neighbors put

together statues’ robes finished with a bit
of velvet trim, lace rick-rack at the cuff;

their crowns repainted with metallic sheen.
And bearing each aloft, a comely schoolgirl

hailed by us as queen and court: each gowned
and rouged as though the road to heaven

or at least to church was a kind of red
carpet, the people on each side occasionally

reaching out to touch a graven cheek or garment
hem, wrangling for a sliver of the holy.


In response to Via Negativa: Angler.

The pump for water, the mossy step. The door we couldn’t close in damp weather, the screen coming loose from its frame. The landlord warned about the basement: how the laundry machines were in the far corner, but there might be loose hardware strewn across the floor. We tried to clean as best as we could, thought it was hard to see by the light from one dim bulb hanging from the ceiling. Winter mornings, we’d wake to find bread bags chewed through on the counter— crumbs trailing toward the gap at the bottom of the kitchen door. Maintenance crew came by to set some bait on a flimsy trap; they returned a day later when we phoned. It had caught something— Roof rat, they said, donning rubber gloves to pick up the creature taking shallow breaths in the corner. Its nose was a pink nerve twitching, its small dark eyes signaling that it knew now we could not live together.

Up and with Sir W. Batten to White Hall, where mighty thrusting about the Duke now upon his going. We were with him long. He advised us to follow our business close, and to be directed in his absence by the Committee of the Councell for the Navy.
By and by a meeting of the Fishery, where the Duke was, but in such haste, and things looked so superficially over, that I had not a fit opportunity to propose my paper that I wrote yesterday, but I had shewed it to Mr. Gray and Wren before, who did like it most highly, as they said, and I think they would not dissemble in that manner in a business of this nature, but I see the greatest businesses are done so superficially that I wonder anything succeeds at all among us, that is publique.
Thence somewhat vexed to see myself frustrated in the good I hoped to have done and a little reputation to have gained, and thence to my barber’s, but Jane not being in the way I to my Lady Sandwich’s, and there met my wife and dined, but I find that I dine as well myself, that is, as neatly, and my meat as good and well-dressed, as my good Lady do, in the absence of my Lord.
Thence by water I to my barber’s again, and did meet in the street my Jane, but could not talk with her, but only a word or two, and so by coach called my wife, and home, where at my office late, and then, it being washing day, to supper and to bed.

wren like a public hope
little but neat

as well-dressed as the barber
in a street of ash

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 7 November 1664.

(Lord’s day). Up and with my wife to church. Dined at home. And I all the afternoon close at my office drawing up some proposals to present to the Committee for the Fishery to-morrow, having a great good intention to be serviceable in the business if I can. At night, to supper with my uncle Wight, where very merry, and so home. To prayers and to bed.

in the raw present
I fish to be serviceable
and to pray
and to be

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 6 November 1664.

There is a ticking underneath
everything— by which I mean

not only the dark pulling
at the edges, but also the light

reflecting off the surface.
Sometimes I tell myself

it’s only a crow in the yard,
savaging the last fruit

that clung past summer—
Other times I watch small

dark serifs travel across the sky
and wonder how a body can know

when it’s time to fold itself
into the long, hard distance.


In response to Via Negativa: Reference point.

Up and to the office, where all the morning, at noon to the ‘Change, and thence home to dinner, and so with my wife to the Duke’s house to a play, “Macbeth,” a pretty good play, but admirably acted. Thence home; the coach being forced to go round by London Wall home, because of the bonefires; the day being mightily observed in the City. To my office late at business, and then home to supper, and to bed.

at dinner
I bet on the bone

fires serve
the city up

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 5 November 1664.

Waked very betimes and lay long awake, my mind being so full of business. Then up and to St. James’s, where I find Mr. Coventry full of business, packing up for his going to sea with the Duke. Walked with him, talking, to White Hall, where to the Duke’s lodgings, who is gone thither to lodge lately. I appeared to the Duke, and thence Mr. Coventry and I an hour in the Long Gallery, talking about the management of our office, he tells me the weight of dispatch will lie chiefly on me, and told me freely his mind touching Sir W. Batten and Sir J. Minnes, the latter of whom, he most aptly said, was like a lapwing; that all he did was to keepe a flutter, to keepe others from the nest that they would find. He told me an old story of the former about the light-houses, how just before he had certified to the Duke against the use of them, and what a burden they are to trade, and presently after, at his being at Harwich, comes to desire that he might have the setting one up there, and gets the usefulness of it certified also by the Trinity House.
After long discoursing and considering all our stores and other things, as how the King hath resolved upon Captain Taylor and Colonell Middleton, the first to be Commissioner for Harwich and the latter for Portsmouth, I away to the ‘Change, and there did very much business, so home to dinner, and Mr. Duke, our Secretary for the Fishery, dined with me. After dinner to discourse of our business, much to my content, and then he away, and I by water among the smiths on the other side, and to the alehouse with one and was near buying 4 or 5 anchors, and learned something worth my knowing of them, and so home and to my office, where late, with my head very full of business, and so away home to supper and to bed.

long awake
my mind like a lapwing
all a-flutter
or a lighthouse coursing
away and away

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 4 November 1664.

Fog and rain. The stream runs brown—

It rankles to think my thinking
may senselessly inhere, be merely
in here

I do not mean to say desire is everything.
But earth will do to exhume a heart.

My nostalgia is never a lovely wishing but instead
soldiers marching through yellow fields, dizzy with nausea.

Dress of milk and wire.
Threaded hearts,
barbed ornaments.

Let us eat what makes us holy
before the next war comes.

[source texts: Dave Bonta, Sylvia Curbelo, J. Allyn Rosser, Donika Kelly, Nicole Cooley, Hadara Bar-Nadav, Emily Jungmin Yoon, Ghassan Zaqtan (trans. Fady Joudah)]


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.