parts not clear

Our Nervous Friends [erasure]

Erased from Our Nervous Friends: Illustrating the Mastery of Nervousness by Robert S. Carroll. New York, 1919. Courtesy of Project Gutenberg.

her earliest recollection, parts not clear
there were her father, her mother
face so strange, so strange
white cloths, his head, strange faces
not seen before, strange stillness
strange new fear

her father did not move
so quiet, memories blurred
not sure which memories
grown from what she heard
the funeral, never forget
silvered handles, shining coffin
women in black, her touch
the prettiest things ever seen

run away, frightened, empty
her father thrown against a tree
fractured skull
unconscious and buried
shiny coffin, silver handles

instincts of the herd

Instincts of the Herd erasure

Erased from “Imperfections in the Social Habit of Man.” In: Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War by W. Trotter. London: T. Fisher Unwin Ltd., 1916. Courtesy of Project Gutenberg.

first feeling of the ordinary citizen
fear—immense, vague aching anxiety
the individual fears for future
food supply, family, trade

with fear, a heightening of intolerance of isolation
loneliness urgently unpleasant
the individual experienced desire for company
and even physical contact.
in such company aware of
confidence, courage, and moral power

isolation tended to depress confidence,
company fortified it.
the change in frigid atmosphere
of railway train, omnibus, and all such meeting-places
was most interesting

most striking of all was
the strength and vitality of rumour,
startling evidence that a stronger force than reason
was at work in formation of opinion

non-rational opinion so widespread,
such opinion spread so rapidly, established so firmly.
the successful rumours invaded all classes.
the observer found self irresistibly drawn to
acceptance of popular belief

allied with accessibility to rumour was readiness
with which suspicions of treachery and hostility
grew and flourished
about anyone of foreign appearance or origin

attempt to discuss origin and meaning of
various types of fable epidemic in opinion—
we are concerned with their
immense vitality and power of growth

strange sea creatures

Strange Sea Creatures

Erased from “Strange Sea Creatures,” in Pleasant Ways in Science, by Richard A. Proctor. New York: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1905. Courtesy of Project Gutenberg. [click to enlarge]

so-called fabulous animals
the merman, zoologically possible, of course,
the unicorn, the dragon, the centaur,
the minotaur, the winged horse,
recognized as known forms.

the sea has been misunderstood,
land cannot long escape.
the most powerful and ferocious beasts struggle.
savage man must be killed
and the true appearance of the animal determined.

powerful winged animals remain mysterious,
a mighty bird might swoop down and disappear.
from time to time the strange winged monster
would be seen hovering.

savage races of man, animals now extinct.
power of the winged enemy,
sea creatures monstrous.
we remain ignorant.

hidden beneath the waves
creatures of the deep sea expose themselves,
men counter-attack.
great sea creatures, monsters of the deep
seen only for a few moments,
sinking back into the depths, a mystery.

repetition of the story
the creature, its true nature recognized.
understand then the fabulous creatures,
remarkable, the monsters of the deep sea,
understand the truth.

triviality of trivialities

Erased from As a Matter of Course (1894) by Annie Payson Call

Erased from As a Matter of Course (1894) by Annie Payson Call

[click image to enlarge]

quest of the simple life pt. 1

Quest of the Simple Life Pt. 1

Erased from The Quest of the Simple Life (1907) by W. J. Dawson [click to enlarge]

city of health

city of health

Erased from Hygeia: A City of Health (1876) by Benjamin Ward Richardson [click image to enlarge]

We meet to study and exchange thought on every-day life.
Our existence in pain
what means for removal of conditions?

What methods of making known conditions control?
Mental serenity exist with animal poverty
shadow of disease, shadow of health.

These objects, our suffering,
our happiness to trust another object.
Not to be, we may become known,
but we never know, who are ourselves,
unseen to ourselves—our mission.

We, more than any, yet foresee
the results of labour may extend unborn.
A few writing the day
sang self to immortal rest.
A few might see living
work was triumphant.
The momentum, the masses,
crude and selfish,
have no such intent.

Let us die!
That has been the password with them.
We of modern thought have knowledge that we never die,
that no one has ever died,
that our change into motion is our own.
Transitoriness, that we are the waves-
motion made on the shore.

Thus we feel this object, our exertions fit those
who extend advantage to those live,
that thousands wafted by
life represent ultimate life.

another excerpt from ‘book of thoughts’

The first few pages of Book of Thoughts, an ongoing erasure project

[click images to enlarge]





Source: Waring, George E. Draining for Profit, and Draining for Health. New York, NY, 1867. 

a condition, more or less clear,
always unmistakable

sometimes standing
dark wet streaks
when dry sometimes
a fluttering distress
curling, cracking, feeble
spindling, shivering

winter stretched its crown
the quarantinerank growth
dank miasmatic fogs

recognize these indications
of the drainer
remove the causes

excerpt from ‘book of thoughts’

© 2013 S. D. Stewart

Excerpt from Book of Thoughts, an erasure text.

Read another excerpt from Book of Thoughts at Ink Sweat & Tears.

erasure published


My erasure text, part of a larger work-in-progress called Book of Thoughts, was published the other day at Ink Sweat & Tears, a U.K.-based poetry and prose webzine, whose “tastes are eclectic and magpie-like.” I like that.


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