portion of the artwork for klipschutz's poetry

The Early Bird Catches the World

DATELINE: Walla Walla, WA

The philosophy chair from Whitman College
roller blades circles around us
in a black beekeeper’s mask.
We’re here to greet the dawn with Charles Potts,
on his weekly constitutional up Mill Creek
to the Army Corps of Engineers dam and back.
Elderberry trees along the asphalt path bear fruit.
Herons, mallards, cranes, Sunday solemn,
Sunday silent. It’s we who can’t shut up.

Bukowski is a tough sell with Jensen.
Potts piles on, aslant. He wins. He gloats.
Roethke may be royalty up here,
but Charles leaves him stranded
up a hundred year old beech tree,
crooning Look at me to birds of prey
in Nelson Riddle time. And then there’s Larkin—
off the grid, a blighted branch, a windless bag!
Potts dismisses Ionesco, tosses Corso in the creek.
His lawyer cycles by, that lazy sonofabitch,
a September streak chasing October.

We departed in full dark, the risen sun
sheds reams of light. Charles unspools a yarn,
about a prison guard, his guilt, his suicide.
Clueless, back from two years in Japan,
Charles sees the widow and says, Say hello to Monty.
“Her face looked like I’d slapped her.”

                                                                     Now the day.

Charles Potts: man of letters, horse rancher, raconteur, last publisher of
Charles Bukowski (under his Litmus imprint) before Black Sparrow
picked him up.

Return to Archive

FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 43 | Spring 2014