Light redactions

To White Hall, having first set my people to worke about setting me rails upon the leads of my wife’s closett, a thing I have long designed, but never had a fit opportunity till now. After having done with the Duke of Yorke, I to Hales’s, where there was nothing found to be done more to my picture, but the musique, which now pleases me mightily, it being painted true. Thence home, and after dinner to Gresham College, where a great deal of do and formality in choosing of the Council and Officers. I had three votes to be of the Council, who am but a stranger, nor expected any. So my Lord Bruncker being confirmed President I home, where I find to my great content my rails up upon my leads. To the office and did a little business, and then home and did a great jobb at my Tangier accounts, which I find are mighty apt to run into confusion, my head also being too full of other businesses and pleasures. This noon Bagwell’s wife come to me to the office, after her being long at Portsmouth. After supper, and past 12 at night to bed.

white lead paint
the president leads us
in confusion

*

head too full
of other pleasures
his long night


Two erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 11 April 1666.

On the shore

Up betimes, and with my Joyner begun the making of the window in my boy’s chamber bigger, purposing it shall be a roome to eat and for having musique in.
To the office, where a meeting upon extraordinary business, at noon to the ‘Change about more, and then home with Creed and dined, and then with him to the Committee of Tangier, where I got two or three things done I had a mind to of convenience to me. Thence by coach to Mrs. Pierce’s, and with her and Knipp and Mrs. Pierce’s boy and girle abroad, thinking to have been merry at Chelsey; but being come almost to the house by coach near the waterside, a house alone, I think the Swan, a gentleman walking by called to us to tell us that the house was shut up of the sicknesse. So we with great affright turned back, being holden to the gentleman; and went away (I for my part in great disorder) for Kensington, and there I spent about 30s. upon the jades with great pleasure, and we sang finely and staid till about eight at night, the night coming on apace and so set them down at Pierce’s, and so away home, where awhile with Sir W. Warren about business, and then to bed.

wind music
in a house by the water
night coming on


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 9 April 1666.

Ridge lines

Up betimes, and first by coach to my Lord Generall to visitt him, and then to the Duke of Yorke, where we all met and did our usual business with him; but, Lord! how everything is yielded to presently, even by Sir W. Coventry, that is propounded by the Duke, as now to have Troutbecke, his old surgeon, and intended to go Surgeon-General of the fleete, to go Physician-General of the fleete, of which there never was any precedent in the world, and he for that to have 20l. per month. Thence with Lord Bruncker to Sir Robert Long, whom we found in his closett, and after some discourse of business he fell to discourse at large and pleasant, and among other things told us of the plenty of partridges in France, where he says the King of France and his company killed with their guns, in the plain de Versailles, 300 and odd partridges at one bout.
Thence I to the Excise Office behind the ‘Change, and there find our business of our tallys in great disorder as to payment, and thereupon do take a resolution of thinking how to remedy it, as soon as I can. Thence home, and there met Sir W. Warren, and after I had eat a bit of victuals (he staying in the office) he and I to White Hall. He to look after the business of the prize ships which we are endeavouring to buy, and hope to get money by them. So I to London by coach and to Gresham College, where I staid half an houre, and so away home to my office, and there walking late alone in the darke in the garden with Sir W. Warren, who tells me that at the Committee of the Lords for the prizes to-day, there passed very high words between my Lord Ashly and Sir W. Coventry, about our business of the prize ships. And that my Lord Ashly did snuff and talk as high to him, as he used to do to any ordinary seaman. And that Sir W. Coventry did take it very quietly, but yet for all did speak his mind soberly and with reason, and went away, saying, he had done his duty therein, and so left it to them, whether they would let so many ships go for masts or not: Here he and I talked of 1,000 businesses, all profitable discourse, and late parted, and I home to supper and to bed, troubled a little at a letter from my father, telling me how [he] is like to be sued for a debt of Tom’s, by Smith, the mercer.

up on the ridge
walking alone in the dark
my quiet hips


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 21 March 1666.

Chill

Up and to the office, where busy all the morning. At noon dined in haste, and so my wife, Mrs. Barbary, Mercer, and I by coach to Hales’s, where I find my wife’s picture now perfectly finished in all respects, and a beautiful picture it is, as almost I ever saw. I sat again, and had a great deale done, but, whatever the matter is, I do not fancy that it has the ayre of my face, though it will be a very fine picture. Thence home and to my business, being post night, and so home to supper and to, bed.

noon has a barb
here in my shed as ever
the air of night


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 20 March 1666.

Winter Trees: a videohaiku sequence

still from Winter Trees


Watch on Vimeo
or watch on YouTube

Now that winter is finally winding down here in central Pennsylvania, I thought I’d better wrap up a series of winter-themed videopoems I’ve been making. If you follow me on Twitter (@morningporch) or Instagram (@neotoma_magister), you may have already seen some of these (in lower-resolution versions)—indeed, one of the reasons I limited their length to a minute was so I could share them on Instagram.

Almost all of these were shot on an iPhone, with the exception of “cabin fever” which used footage from a game cam which our neighbors kindly installed in the attic of my parents’ house to try and determine how the bait was disappearing from a squirrel trap without triggering the trap. (Turns out an adventuresome short-tailed shrew was the culprit.) The footage that sparked the series was shot by Rachel from Amtrak as she neared Plummer’s Hollow in December; having upgraded to a newer model, she gifted me her previous iPhone, which is the source of almost all the footage here. All the extra sounds are from freesound.org, and all were public domain (CC0), because I wanted to avoid having to include credits in order to provide an uninterrupted, continuous viewing experience of the YouTube playlist or Vimeo album.

The haiku were prompted by the footage and exist in dialogue with it. I present the text below solely for the benefit of the visually impaired, and urge everyone else to experience them as part of the videopoems. This is partly because I think the video medium goes some way toward solving a problem that readers can encounter with haiku on the page (or screen): how to give each one enough time and space? At normal reading speed, much of their suggestive power is lost.

Winter Trees

winter trees
the hobo is missing
one of his fingers

*

January
the shrinking circle
of my needs

*

cold snap
the one-take tune I make
breaking icicles

*

snowflakes
on my bald head
tapping woodpecker

*

subnivean
I tunnel through the day
half awake

*

Groundhog Day
the former coal town living
off a shadow

*

cabin fever
today’s potato flaky
as old wood

*

meltwater pool
the way my reflection
keeps shivering

*

cold moon
of the month I was born
ass-first

*

space
between night-time snowflakes
for warp speed

*

walking the line
on both sides the same
light rime

*

ice form fits
each body
of water

*

a flutter of snowflakes
a flurry of snowbirds
an afterlife of seeds

*

as above
so below
the color of absence

*

Presidents’ Day—
to build a fire
any refuse will do

*

no dark side of the moon
where a Chinese probe
is growing plants

*

unplowed road
someday the mountain itself
will bury us

*

white-footed
the way my memory places
mouse tracks in snow

*

porcupine squeezing
through a deer fence seems
somehow proverbial

*

winter sun
hoisting all its bristles
into the treetops

*

spider on the snow
the granularity of land
underfoot

*

you dance with everything you’ve got
wind
trees

Folded

Up, as I have of late resolved before 7 in the morning and to the office, where all the morning, among other things setting my wife and Mercer with much pleasure to worke upon the ruling of some paper for the making of books for pursers, which will require a great deale of worke and they will earn a good deale of money by it, the hopes of which makes them worke mighty hard.
At noon dined and to the office again, and about 4 o’clock took coach and to my Lord Treasurer’s and thence to Sir Philip Warwicke’s new house by appointment, there to spend an houre in talking and we were together above an hour, and very good discourse about the state of the King as to money, and particularly in the point of the Navy. He endeavours hard to come to a good understanding of Sir G. Carteret’s accounts, and by his discourse I find Sir G. Carteret must be brought to it, and what a madman he is that he do not do it of himself, for the King expects the Parliament will call upon him for his promise of giving an account of the money, and he will be ready for it, which cannot be, I am sure, without Sir G. Carteret’s accounts be better understood than they are.
He seems to have a great esteem of me and my opinion and thoughts of things. After we had spent an houre thus discoursing and vexed that we do but grope so in the darke as we do, because the people, that should enlighten us, do not helpe us, we resolved fitting some things for another meeting, and so broke up. He shewed me his house, which is yet all unhung, but will be a very noble house indeed.
Thence by coach calling at my bookseller’s and carried home 10l. worth of books, all, I hope, I shall buy a great while.
There by appointment find Mr. Hill come to sup and take his last leave of me, and by and by in comes Mr. James Houbland to bear us company, a man I love mightily, and will not lose his acquaintance. He told me in my eare this night what he and his brothers have resolved to give me, which is 200l., for helping them out with two or three ships. A good sum and that which I did believe they would give me, and I did expect little less.
Here we talked and very good company till late, and then took leave of one another, and indeed I am heartily sorry for Mr. Hill’s leaving us, for he is a very worthy gentleman, as most I know. God give him a good voyage and successe in his business. Thus we parted and my wife and I to bed, heavy for the losse of our friend.

paper heart
my wife and I heavy
for the loss of our friend


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 2 March 1666.

Teeth of the storm

Up, and to the office, where busy all the morning. Late to dinner, and then to the office again, and there busy till past twelve at night, and so home to supper and to bed.
We have newes of Sir Jeremy Smith’s being very well with his fleete at Cales.

the din of ice
busy as we eat

supper and news


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 17 February 1666.

Interloper

Up, and to the office. At noon, full of business, to dinner. This day comes first Sir Thomas Harvy after the plague, having been out of towne all this while. He was coldly received by us, and he went away before we rose also, to make himself appear yet a man less necessary. After dinner, being full of care and multitude of business, I took coach and my wife with me. I set her down at her mother’s (having first called at my Lord Treasurer’s and there spoke with Sir Ph. Warwicke), and I to the Exchequer about Tangier orders, and so to the Swan and there staid a little, and so by coach took up my wife, and at the old Exchange bought a muffe, and so home and late at my letters, and so to supper and to bed, being now-a-days, for these four or five months, mightily troubled with my snoring in my sleep, and know not how to remedy it.

in this cold rose
a moth
having a sleep


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 10 February 1666.

Winter trees

A new videopoem using footage that Rachel shot from the Amtrak back in December. Do read her blog post about that journey, which includes a different clip from the same footage. I particularly liked this observation:

Trees! So many trees, their leaf-free branches strobing the setting sun when it was behind them, turning pink gold when it shone on them, revealing the geological contours through their branches of the land on which they grow.

Landscape scenes shot from moving trains or cars are so common in videopoetry, they’re almost a cliche, but this is a new variation on that theme, I think.

No change

(New-Yeare’s Day). Called up by five o’clock, by my order, by Mr. Tooker, who wrote, while I dictated to him, my business of the Pursers; and so, without eating or drinking, till three in the afternoon, and then, to my great content, finished it. So to dinner, Gibson and he and I, and then to copying it over, Mr. Gibson reading and I writing, and went a good way in it till interrupted by Sir W. Warren’s coming, of whom I always learne something or other, his discourse being very good and his brains also. He being gone we to our business again, and wrote more of it fair, and then late to bed.

New Year’s
drinking interrupted
by rain again


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 1 January 1666.