A Tantrum for Charles Potts

A Tantrum for Charles Potts (AKA Baba Hard Ass)
by Joshua Lew McDermott
I read Yellow Christ “Tantrum”
to two girls in a brown kitchen
from an apartment building
my parents happened
to live in thirty years ago
because the poem
spoke truths about my adolescence.
They wanted to know how it would feel
to stick one’s penis
in a milking machine.
I told them
if they want to understand
the sensation of being a man
to start at dick
and work backwards.
In your first letter you said
“technology has left me more or less adrift.”
That about sums up the zeitgeist for
my peers – bastard sons of baby booming
fascist A-rab lynching tea party
bankers who turned us into
cast aways on a sea of internet flash images
and HTML code even we have yet
to match in banality.
Did you foresee the counterculture
the mind expansion
the liberty-friendly information age
being the carrot in the
rabbit cage of consumerism
constructed by Wall Street ad-execs?
The hipster scene is giving me the blues.
In rural Eastern Idaho
there are cottonwood trees
like the legs of babes
next to the wet river
which snakes up to their crotches (as I’m sure you know).
I canoe that river
each year with my father
and we stop at the cliffs of swallows
or beneath the huge eagles
and jump below the green water
an emersion back into the womb
of the Earth
the woman he and I have been speaking about
since I was born – us “just a phase
life passed through” between
her daughters.
I cut open the box of books you sent me
with the key to my dying Honda
and was grateful for your advice
do some good work
take care of yourself.
If my mother
was around and had to
accept my life as a poet
I think she would approve of such grounded teachings.
As for Joseph Smith
the meaning of life
the death of the American Dream
and all that jazz –
I’ll continue to be sidetracked
by all the lovely words
and leaves on the trees
that are waiting to be picked
by Idaho sons like me
and Baba Hard Ass himself.

0 thoughts on “A Tantrum for Charles Potts

  1. That’s one helluva poem! It certainly follows Mr. Pott’s admonishment: “I really feel that if someone has something to say, they should just spit it out.” i appreciated the contrast between the man-made and ‘earth mother’ in this piece which certainly have assuaged my doubts as expressed in a recent poem of mine stating ‘nature is just another CGI…’. Anyways…
    Found this on Charles Potts (who i am assuming is the same fellow mentioned in title and referenced here and there by H & H editor/founders (and inspiring the Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band)
    (but could be entirely wrong)from http://www.usu.edu/ust/index.cfm?article=50149 “Charles Potts,[is] a prolific poet from Idaho, with ties to some of the great American writers such as Charles Bukowski and lesser known poets like Charles Foster.
    Potts grew up raising Appaloosa horses on a ranch in Mackay and thought he would write novels after reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky. However, while attending Idaho State University he became a protégé of the celebrated American poet Ed Dorn, whose work convinced Potts he no longer wanted to write books.
    “The brevity, the succinctness and the depth that you can get with poetry — that really appealed to me,” Potts said. “I really feel that if someone has something to say, they should just spit it out.”
    And for nearly 50 years he has.
    Potts’ poetry was first published in the periodical Wild Dog in 1963 and he has continued to publish poetry ever since. He founded Litmus Inc. in Seattle and Berkeley, which printed numerous first editions, including Bukowski’s “Poems Written Before Jumping Out of an 8-Story Window” in 1968.
    Potts also established The Temple magazine, named for the Masonic building it occupied in Walla Walla, Wash., which published poetry, translations of Spanish and Asian poetry and first-edition books by from 1997 to 2002. Over the years, Potts has worked as a publisher, poet, banker, real estate broker and horse breeder.
    “I’ve had a lot of different lives,” he said. “I don’t know quite what to make of that. Life goes on so long. I never wanted to force myself onto the public.”
    His interests and worldview have changed, too.”
    thx for sharing!

    1. Great comment. And that’s the correct Charles Potts. Potts has helped H&H as an entity and many of it’s writers develop over the years and continues to inspire. Obviously, we’re not the only ones. Great poem as well.

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