is out of light
is out of land
is running out of ore
In response to Via Negativa: Groundsman.
is out of light
is out of land
is running out of ore
In response to Via Negativa: Groundsman.
Up, and walked to my Lord’s, and there took my leave of him, he seeming very friendly to me in as serious a manner as ever in his life, and I believe he is very confident of me. He sets out this morning for Deale. Thence to St. James’s to the Duke, and there did our usual business. He discourses very freely of a warr with Holland, to begin about winter, so that I believe we shall come to it. Before we went up to the Duke, Sir G. Carteret and I did talk together in the Parke about my Lord Chancellor’s business of the timber; he telling me freely that my Lord Chancellor was never so angry with him in all his life, as he was for this business, in great passion; and that when he saw me there, he knew what it was about. And plots now with me how we may serve my Lord, which I am mightily glad of; and I hope together we may do it.
Thence to Westminster to my barber’s, to have my Periwigg he lately made me cleansed of its nits, which vexed me cruelly that he should put such a thing into my hands. Here meeting his mayd Jane, that has lived with them so long, I talked with her, and sending her of an errand to Dr. Clerk’s, did meet her, and took her into a little alehouse in Brewers Yard, and there did sport with her, without any knowledge of her though, and a very pretty innocent girl she is. Thence to my Lord Chancellor’s, but he being busy I went away to the ‘Change, and so home to dinner. By and by comes Creed, and I out with him to Fleet Street, and he to Mr. Povy’s, I to my Lord Chancellor’s, and missing him again walked to Povy’s, and there saw his new perspective in his closet. Povy, to my great surprise and wonder, did here attacque me in his own and Mr. Bland’s behalf that I should do for them both for the new contractors for the victualling of the garrison. Which I am ashamed that he should ask of me, nor did I believe that he was a man that did seek benefit in such poor things. Besides that he professed that he did not believe that I would have any hand myself in the contract, and yet here declares that he himself would have profit by it, and himself did move me that Sir W. Rider might join, and Ford with Gauden. I told him I had no interest in them, but I fear they must do something to him, for he told me that those of the Mole did promise to consider him. Thence home and Creed with me, and there he took occasion to owne his obligations to me, and did lay down twenty pieces in gold upon my shelf in my closett, which I did not refuse, but wish and expected should have been more. But, however, this is better than nothing, and now I am out of expectation, and shall henceforward know how to deal with him.
After discourse of settling his matters here, we went out by coach, and he ‘light at the Temple, and there took final leave of me, in order to his following my Lord to-morrow. I to my Lord Chancellor, and discoursed his business with him. I perceive, and he says plainly, that he will not have any man to have it in his power to say that my Lord Chancellor did contrive the wronging the King of his timber; but yet I perceive, he would be glad to have service done him therein; and told me Sir G. Carteret hath told him that he and I would look after his business to see it done in the best manner for him. Of this I was glad, and so away. Thence home, and late with my Tangier men about drawing up their agreement with us, wherein I find much trouble, and after doing as much as we could to-night, broke up and I to bed.
we come to the park
with a barber’s cruel hands
but the land’s new contractor is a mole
and it is out of light
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 18 July 1664.
I have yet to become the bowl that can hold
without breaking; that, left out on the balcony,
would not get kicked into a corner or fall
without shattering on patio tile below.
So far I have opened to rain and the overflow
of what’s poured into me. The taste of salt
is a most familiar tonic. Sometimes I long to be
the flat and even surface of a dinner plate,
to be the forgettable saucer on the coffee table:
what doesn’t brim so much as to be unbearable.
In response to Via Negativa: Guest.
(Lord’s day). All the morning at my office doing business there, it raining hard. So dined at home alone. After dinner walked to my Lord’s, and there found him and much other guests at table at dinner, and it seems they have christened his young son to-day — called him James. I got a piece of cake. I got my Lord to signe and seale my business about my selling of Brampton land, which though not so full as I would, yet is as full as I can at present. Walked home again, and there fell to read, and by and by comes my uncle Wight, Dr. Burnett, and another gentleman, and talked and drank, and the Doctor showed me the manner of eating, turpentine, which pleases me well, for it is with great ease. So they being gone, I to supper and to bed.
rain on my table
eating with great ease
the one supper
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 17 July 1664.
Up in the morning, my head mightily confounded with the great deale of business I have upon me to do. But to the office, and there dispatched Mr. Creed’s business pretty well about his bill; but then there comes W. Howe for my Lord’s bill of Imprest for 500l. to carry with him this voyage, and so I was at a loss how to carry myself in it, Creed being there, but there being no help I delivered it to them both, and let them contend, when I perceive they did both endeavour to have it, but W. Howe took it, and the other had the discretion to suffer it. But I think I cleared myself to Creed that it past not from any practice of mine. At noon rose and did some necessary business at the ‘Change. Thence to Trinity House to a dinner which Sir G. Carteret makes there as Maister this year. Thence to White Hall to the Tangier Committee, and there, above my expectation, got the business of our contract for the victualling carried for my people, viz., Alsopp, Lanyon, and Yeabsly.
And by their promise I do thereby get 300l. per annum to myself, which do overjoy me; and the matter is left to me to draw up. Mr. Lewes was in the gallery and is mightily amazed at it, and I believe Mr. Gauden will make some stir about it, for he wrote to Mr. Coventry to-day about it to argue why he should for the King’s convenience have it, but Mr. Coventry most justly did argue freely for them that served cheapest.
Thence walked a while with Mr. Coventry in the gallery, and first find that he is mighty cold in his present opinion of Mr. Peter Pett for his flagging and doing things so lazily there, and he did also surprise me with a question why Deane did not bring in their report of the timber of Clarendon. What he means thereby I know not, but at present put him off; nor do I know how to steer myself: but I must think of it, and advise with my Lord Sandwich.
Thence with Creed by coach to my Lord Sandwich’s, and there I got Mr. Moore to give me my Lord’s hand for my receipt of 109l. more of my money of Sir G. Carteret, so that then his debt to me will be under 500l., I think. This do ease my mind also.
Thence carried him and W. Howe into London, and set them down at Sir G. Carteret’s to receive some money, and I home and there busy very late, and so home to supper and to bed, with my mind in pretty good ease, my business being in a pretty good condition every where.
how to let them contend
how to clear myself
from any expectation of people
their promise left me raw
to free the flag in my hand
I carried it everywhere
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 16 July 1664.
Every story begins
in rupture: ice falling
from the sky, a mountain
that convulses with smoke.
Didn’t they teach that all
earthly plots mirror
what wheels in the skies
overhead? The king lies
unseeing in his cold, hard
bed. No one can rouse him.
And the queen? Deranged
by all her losses, she travels
the countryside, promoting
her new line of black and white
clothing, her gospel of stark
forms. The land can only mourn:
weeping shriveled kernels of grain,
pouring poison into the throats of fish.
I never understood why the antidote
to stasis should be more stasis: standing
motionless while predator birds circle
and sniff, make as if to peck out your eyes,
tear your face to shreds. The Beloved says,
No, they are meant to teach patience. With all
my heart I love the Beloved too, but also
I believe in the potency of weapons. I have
but a few: given the right conditions, some
of them could singe, some of them could burn.
In response to Via Negativa: Mare Frigoris.
Up, and to my Lord Sandwich’s; where he sent for me up, and I did give my Lord an account of what had passed with my Lord Chancellor yesterday; with which he was well pleased, and advised me by all means to study in the best manner I could to serve him in this business. After this discourse ended, he begun to tell me that he had now pitched upon his day of going to sea upon Monday next, and that he would now give me an account how matters are with him.
He told me that his work now in the world is only to keep up his interest at Court, having little hopes to get more considerably, he saying that he hath now about 8,000l. per annum. It is true, he says, he oweth about 10,000l.; but he hath been at great charges in getting things to this pass in his estate; besides his building and good goods that he hath bought. He says he hath now evened his reckonings at the Wardrobe till Michaelmas last, and hopes to finish it to Ladyday before he goes. He says now there is due, too, 7,000l. to him there, if he knew how to get it paid, besides 2000l. that Mr. Montagu do owe him. As to his interest, he says that he hath had all the injury done him that ever man could have by another bosom friend that knows all his secrets, by Mr. Montagu; but he says that the worst of it all is past, and he gone out and hated, his very person by the King, and he believes the more upon the score of his carriage to him; nay, that the Duke of Yorke did say a little while since in his closett, that he did hate him because of his ungratefull carriage to my Lord of Sandwich. He says that he is as great with the Chancellor, or greater, than ever in his life. That with the King he is the like; and told me an instance, that whereas he formerly was of the private council to the King before he was last sicke, and that by the sickness an interruption was made in his attendance upon him; the King did not constantly call him, as he used to do, to his private council, only in businesses of the sea and the like; but of late the King did send a message to him by Sir Harry Bennet, to excuse the King to my Lord that he had not of late sent for him as he used to do to his private council, for it was not out of any distaste, but to avoid giving offence to some others whom he did not name; but my Lord supposes it might be Prince Rupert, or it may be only that the King would rather pass it by an excuse, than be thought unkind: but that now he did desire him to attend him constantly, which of late he hath done, and the King never more kind to him in his life than now. The Duke of Yorke, as much as is possible; and in the business of late, when I was to speak to my Lord about his going to sea, he says that he finds the Duke did it with the greatest ingenuity and love in the world; “and whereas,” says my Lord, “here is a wise man hard by that thinks himself so, and would be thought so, and it may be is in a degree so (naming by and by my Lord Crew), would have had me condition with him that neither Prince Rupert nor any body should come over his head, and I know not what.” The Duke himself hath caused in his commission, that he be made Admirall of this and what other ships or fleets shall hereafter be put out after these; which is very noble. He tells me in these cases, and that of Mr. Montagu’s, and all others, he finds that bearing of them patiently is his best way, without noise or trouble, and things wear out of themselves and come fair again. But, says he, take it from me, never to trust too much to any man in the world, for you put yourself into his power; and the best seeming friend and real friend as to the present may have or take occasion to fall out with you, and then out comes all.
Then he told me of Sir Harry Bennet, though they were always kind, yet now it is become to an acquaintance and familiarity above ordinary, that for these months he hath done no business but with my Lord’s advice in his chamber, and promises all faithfull love to him and service upon all occasions. My Lord says, that he hath the advantage of being able by his experience to helpe and advise him; and he believes that that chiefly do invite Sir Harry to this manner of treating him.
“Now,” says my Lord,” the only and the greatest embarras that I have in the world is, how to behave myself to Sir H. Bennet and my Lord Chancellor, in case that there do lie any thing under the embers about my Lord Bristoll, which nobody can tell; for then,” says he, “I must appear for one or other, and I will lose all I have in the world rather than desert my Lord Chancellor: so that,” says he, “I know not for my life what to do in that case.” For Sir H. Bennet’s love is come to the height, and his confidence, that he hath given my Lord a character, and will oblige my Lord to correspond with him. “This,” says he, “is the whole condition of my estate and interest; which I tell you, because I know not whether I shall see you again or no.” Then as to the voyage, he thinks it will be of charge to him, and no profit; but that he must not now look after nor think to encrease, but study to make good what he hath, that what is due to him from the Wardrobe or elsewhere may be paid, which otherwise would fail, and all a man hath be but small content to him.
So we seemed to take leave one of another; my Lord of me, desiring me that I would write to him and give him information upon all occasions in matters that concern him; which, put together with what he preambled with yesterday, makes me think that my Lord do truly esteem me still, and desires to preserve my service to him; which I do bless God for.
In the middle of our discourse my Lady Crew came in to bring my Lord word that he hath another son, my Lady being brought to bed just now, I did not think her time had been so nigh, but she’s well brought to bed, for which God be praised! and send my Lord to study the laying up of something the more!
Then with Creed to St. James’s, and missing Mr. Coventry, to White Hall; where, staying for him in one of the galleries, there comes out of the chayre-room Mrs. Stewart, in a most lovely form, with her hair all about her eares, having her picture taking there. There was the King and twenty more, I think, standing by all the while, and a lovely creature she in this dress seemed to be.
Thence to the ‘Change by coach, and so home to dinner and then to my office. In the evening Mr. Hill, Andrews and I to my chamber to sing, which we did very pleasantly, and then to my office again, where very late and so home, with my mind I bless God in good state of ease and body of health, only my head at this juncture very full of business, how to get something. Among others what this rogue Creed will do before he goes to sea, for I would fain be rid of him and see what he means to do, for I will then declare myself his firm friend or enemy.
I have a secret hate
like a private sea
that taste of ships put out to rust
that anything other than desert
for a voyage to white hair and ill health
my head full of how to get rid
of my enemy
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 15 July 1664.
Only twice in my life did I see
my father naked, unpeeled from his
careful clothes— once, through a keyhole:
Sunday afternoon, the bedroom door locked;
pale sheen of his thighs glistening under
my mother’s. I tried not to make a sound,
not even when one of them got up to drape
a shirt over the doorknob— a little light
goes through the weave of cloth, and the view
ripples. The second and last time, he lay
on a makeshift pallet on the hospital floor,
debris from earthquake tremors around us.
Nurses had thrown the covers back as they
went to work with paddles for the shock.
His body bore all the marks of time
passing, passed— the blueing flesh,
the wrinkled sex, thinnest vein of blood
beginning its slow trek down the side
of his mouth. Over and over, hands like doves
tried to pull him back. But he was gone,
into that sheen more inscrutable than the sun:
into the silence that let us see how hills
and orchards went on for miles, how light had
slipped off what used to robe the tender organs.
In response to Via Negativa: Felled.
For years I tried to be
that kind of relative others
sent letters to, with a paper
outline of a foot tucked into
the last page: size 6 1/2, black
patent leather please. Then
laptop, digital camera, Hills
Bros. coffee, bags of Hershey’s
kisses. The smell of mints
and chocolate, milled soap,
toothpaste. I save these in brown
boxes, in my house overrun with ink
and paper. In the margins, I write
apologies before folding these
into envelopes stamped with wings.
In response to Via Negativa: Ordure.
My mind being doubtful what the business should be, I rose a little after four o’clock, and abroad. Walked to my Lord’s, and nobody up, but the porter rose out of bed to me so I back again to Fleete Streete, and there bought a little book of law; and thence, hearing a psalm sung, I went into St. Dunstan’s, and there heard prayers read, which, it seems, is done there every morning at six o’clock; a thing I never did do at a chappell, but the College Chappell, in all my life.
Thence to my Lord’s again, and my Lord being up, was sent for up, and he and I alone. He did begin with a most solemn profession of the same confidence in and love for me that he ever had, and then told me what a misfortune was fallen upon me and him: in me, by a displeasure which my Lord Chancellor did show to him last night against me, in the highest and most passionate manner that ever any man did speak, even to the not hearing of any thing to be said to him: but he told me, that he did say all that could be said for a man as to my faithfullnesse and duty to his Lordship, and did me the greatest right imaginable. And what should the business be, but that I should be forward to have the trees in Clarendon Park marked and cut down, which he, it seems, hath bought of my Lord Albemarle; when, God knows! I am the most innocent man in the world in it, and did nothing of myself, nor knew of his concernment therein, but barely obeyed my Lord Treasurer’s warrant for the doing thereof. And said that I did most ungentlemanlike with him, and had justified the rogues in cutting down a tree of his; and that I had sent the veriest Fanatique that is in England to mark them, on purpose to nose him. All which, I did assure my Lord, was most properly false, and nothing like it true; and told my Lord the whole passage. My Lord do seem most nearly affected; he is partly, I believe, for me, and partly for himself. So he advised me to wait presently upon my Lord, and clear myself in the most perfect manner I could, with all submission and assurance that I am his creature both in this and all other things; and that I do owne that all I have, is derived through my Lord Sandwich from his Lordship. So, full of horror, I went, and found him busy in tryals of law in his great room; and it being Sitting-day, durst not stay, but went to my Lord and told him so: whereupon he directed me to take him after dinner; and so away I home, leaving my Lord mightily concerned for me.
I to the office, and there sat busy all the morning. At noon to the ‘Change, and from the ‘Change over with Alsopp and the others to the Pope’s Head tavern, and there staid a quarter of an hour, and concluded upon this, that in case I got them no more than 3s. per week per man I should have of them but 150l. per ann., but to have it without any adventure or charge, but if I got them 3s. 2d., then they would give me 300l. in the like manner. So I directed them to draw up their tender in a line or two against the afternoon, and to meet me at White Hall. So I left them, and I to my Lord Chancellor’s; and there coming out after dinner I accosted him, telling him that I was the unhappy Pepys that had fallen into his high displeasure, and come to desire him to give me leave to make myself better understood to his Lordship, assuring him of my duty and service. He answered me very pleasingly, that he was confident upon the score of my Lord Sandwich’s character of me, but that he had reason to think what he did, and desired me to call upon him some evening: I named to-night, and he accepted of it. So with my heart light I to White Hall, and there after understanding by a stratagem, and yet appearing wholly desirous not to understand Mr. Gauden’s price when he desired to show it me, I went down and ordered matters in our tender so well that at the meeting by and by I was ready with Mr. Gauden’s and his, both directed him a letter to me to give the board their two tenders, but there being none but the Generall Monk and Mr. Coventry and Povy and I, I did not think fit to expose them to view now, but put it off till Saturday, and so with good content rose.
Thence I to the Half Moone, against the ‘Change, to acquaint Lanyon and his friends of our proceedings, and thence to my Lord Chancellor’s, and there heard several tryals, wherein I perceive my Lord is a most able and ready man. After all done, he himself called, “Come, Mr. Pepys, you and I will take a turn in the garden.” So he was led down stairs, having the goute, and there walked with me, I think, above an houre, talking most friendly, yet cunningly. I told him clearly how things were; how ignorant I was of his Lordship’s concernment in it; how I did not do nor say one word singly, but what was done was the act of the whole Board. He told me by name that he was more angry with Sir G. Carteret than with me, and also with the whole body of the Board. But thinking who it was of the Board that knew him least, he did place his fear upon me; but he finds that he is indebted to none of his friends there. I think I did thoroughly appease him, till he thanked me for my desire and pains to satisfy him; and upon my desiring to be directed who I should of his servants advise with about this business, he told me nobody, but would be glad to hear from me himself. He told me he would not direct me in any thing, that it might not be said that the Lord Chancellor did labour to abuse the King; or (as I offered) direct the suspending the Report of the Purveyors but I see what he means, and I will make it my worke to do him service in it. But, Lord! to see how he is incensed against poor Deane, as a fanatique rogue, and I know not what: and what he did was done in spite to his Lordship, among all his friends and tenants. He did plainly say that he would not direct me in any thing, for he would not put himself into the power of any man to say that he did so and so; but plainly told me as if he would be glad I did something.
Lord! to see how we poor wretches dare not do the King good service for fear of the greatness of these men.
He named Sir G. Carteret, and Sir J. Minnes, and the rest; and that he was as angry with them all as me.
But it was pleasant to think that, while he was talking to me, comes into the garden Sir G. Carteret; and my Lord avoided speaking with him, and made him and many others stay expecting him, while I walked up and down above an houre, I think; and would have me walk with my hat on.
And yet, after all this, there has been so little ground for this his jealousy of me, that I am sometimes afeard that he do this only in policy to bring me to his side by scaring me; or else, which is worse, to try how faithfull I would be to the King; but I rather think the former of the two.
I parted with great assurance how I acknowledged all I had to come from his Lordship; which he did not seem to refuse, but with great kindness and respect parted. So I by coach home, calling at my Lord’s, but he not within.
At my office late, and so home to eat something, being almost starved for want of eating my dinner to-day, and so to bed, my head being full of great and many businesses of import to me.
love is fallen upon me
like cutting down a tree
to make better light
with my whole body
I appease my desire
to be nobody
but I see how fanatic tenants
would garden on so little ground
being almost starved
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 14 July 1664.