Khoi Phuc

by Charles Potts

from Berkeley Daze



Dear Laffing Water
Don't hold a place for me to read. Still working on Japan. Only, 2 persons, plane fare as personal check from Fulton wd induce me to change my mind. Dust Mote reviewed Litmus 5, mentioned Krech, Blazek, etc, not my work. There is absolutely no excuse, they can go to hell. Perhaps if you had not liked my work, all this would be coming out different--as it stands, I can maintain my reserve. Diane Di Prima spent the day with us on stopover from Vancouver. She is where Jones & Wieners are at. Very very sad. Did not read my work when handed to her. Did not ask me to read to her. I hope she will somehow get reborn. This country is too sad. I'm leaving. New York killed Diane.

Keep yr head
somehow. Still thinking about a book, let you know

Khoi Phuc

Ordinarily a letter from Khoi Phuc was a jolt of no predictable order. Occasionally they would contain new poems, great poems, or particularly incisive remarks about books or questions I had asked him. Once he wrote and said the proper Chinese thing to do would be to ball Pat Parker's socks off, which I suppose I would have done anyway. Or at least was anxious to do it again. It all seemed to make sense after Pat and I came together. In fact it made so much sense, that way, that it began to make the sense, the rest of it just something to get thru until you could be back in your baby's arms.

"Hi," she said, standing in the doorway. Late afternoon visit and we get naked. Before that it's her butt and her smile that turn me up, my hardon was smoking and she whispered, "Go down on it wif your mouf," and I'm dragging a tongue from inside her mouth, around her little sweet ears and across her boobies, I just have to stop and suck each one a minute, she is breathing through her mouth, I stick my tongue on her belly button as hard as it will go and then hair on the end of my tongue is not growing finer, neck bent over too, hands lifting under her legs, I get a warm wet groove on the top and lick on into it, pussy pussy pussy makes the world go around, she's on her hands and feet with her torso lifted off the bed a few inches, I'm on my knees between her legs and she slides around me, we rock and groove on into the dark. She tells me a story.

"You don't know what it was like man, all those people there for the third or fourth time, all looking at you like you're lower than earth, the dirt, plus the pulling on the inside, but I got out of that, and I ain't going to go back, gawd yes its hard, but I can't go back, everybody there wants out," and as she talked she warmed up the room. It became a different place with her voice filling it up. She sitting with her arms around her knees and her back to the window, I could barely see parts of her face lit up in a crescent by the light coming in at one side of the shade, until it got dark completely, then we pulled up the shade and more lite came in, street lite, under the bulbous rays of, love is made in the city. "It's so good to talk to you, you know, sometimes, it's all one thing and nobody gets to know anything."

—For some ungawdly reason, Adler and Simon showed up one day with a red rap horn, a bullhorn for controlling crowds or making yourself heard outside in a stiff wind. Red horn of power, they were like children over. I hated to touch it at first. We went over to San Francisco State and sold a few magazines. John Thomson, alias J Poet, was with The Rabbi, Alta, and myself, as well as Andy Clausen. He read his long poems outside the front of the student union. Few stopped to listen, they were too uptight and backed off with their own bored vibes to get into anything deeper than their own heads. We sold some magazines though. Andy was pissed that nobody was listening to him.

In the back of the truck on the way, he related that he had been fighting with Linda. "I think I'm going to try being a queer for a while."

"Why?" J Poet interjected, "because you think they don't have the same hassles?"

"Yeah, I suppose," Andy replied, his arms wrapped around his body rolling around on the floor of the van in lover's agony.

Alta wanted to stop and visit Blazek. I was reluctant, and she took my reluctance for something about not wanting to troupe in with her because of her and Lorelie being women. What it actually had to do with was the facts that Jan and I had paid a visit to Blazek when Kepley first came down, just after I had moved into Oakland. I had been thinking of paying him a visit the first opportunity and Kepley and I were in San Francisco, in the neighborhood, so we said, why not. It was a nice visit, Kepley showed Blazek the collages and Blazek was impressed with them. "I hadn't expected anything this lush." Later Blazek had sent me a congratulatory note about Litmus 8, which I scorned, mainly because I had gone so far beyond thinking that it was any good, also some poems which I had returned with a crabby letter. Upon which he tried me with another envelope full of poems, which also went back. I was not particularly sure that Blazek wanted to see me. Much less an entire vanload of poets. Fortunately or unfortunately, he was not at home.

It led Alta to say, "I don't think some of the poets in Berkeley understand women."

To which I had to reply, "I don't think some of the Berkeley poets understand men, either."

So we left it at that and went down onto Haight Street, selling poems and John Poet and I got enough from one young lady to buy some goodies at the market. J Poet had misplaced Simon's copy of The Book of Changes. The Rabbi was in a rage, though Thomson was a bit absent minded, he had just left it on a bench. Happily, it was found.

The Rabbi had come over to the house on Fulton street, near to the time we got it all together there, with Alta and The Book of Changes, and cast an oracle for me, and then for himself, then for Vanish, Edy, Alta, and Lorelie. Kepley had passed out of the proceedings and returned only as we were all thinking of our various "roles in the revolution," as The Rabbi had put it. Kepley came back into the room announcing, as he did occasionally, that he was the only member of the "Holier Than Thou Church", and everybody was holding hands in a big circle sitting in the middle of the room on the floor. He joined the circle, a man without an oracle. The 7th bar in the hexagram. I got Hexagram 26, leading to 19. Edy's oracle was 39, Obstruction, also changing to 19.

When we went to San Jose for the campus party that was going on down there, Andy didn't accompany us, and we sat watching, Vanish was back with us these days, a play take place before a crowd of a few hundred people. Immediately after the play had terminated, I took the red rap horn and began spewing out, "Hexagram 24 No Hangups," but I was a real "crowd pleaser" as the Rabbi said, and there were only the merest handful of people still listening when I had finished.

The Rabbi read a poem and then John Thomson asked everybody to join hands and then he read some of his poems. It and they seemed to impress the people who were strangers who had stayed, as well as the people in our troupe. I had, when I had the red rap horn, it seemed to be you couldn't speak without it in public, it was like the floor, people carried around with them, blown it. A conch, I have the floor it seemed to say. I named the fountain, "The Andy Clausen Memorial Plunge," where he had taken off his clothes in order to get people to listen to his poetry. A different kind of floor, horn, power.

Carter was there from Portland with a big sombrero and a busfull of posters made of his drawings and he was selling them left and right. Later back at Fulton Street, Carter and Ben Hiatt and somebody else I didn't know was crashing at my room in the house. Naked men walking to and fro. I had gotten so loose lately that it was all turning me on. Perpetual hardon that I had for Pat, tho I didn't see her much oftener than once a week. If anyone had asked me, I could have probably gotten into head with the boys.

Once a teenager in Levi's had accosted me on the street and asked me if I knew of a place where he could crash. I told him no, because I didn't know exactly how to take him through the changes of knowing that we would have to take other people through the changes at the house, and if they would say yes. It didn't really matter whether they would say yes or not, although we did have a lot of people crashing around that time, but they were mostly friends, so that might have had something to do with my voiced reluctance, and we didn't have a lot of room to crash in addition to the eight people who were living there already. He said he was from Sacramento. I got the impression that he had just left home in his cowboy boots and jeans. There were times I wished I had taken him home with me and made a lover out of him.

As I wasn't seeing Pat often enough. Once I tried to call her, but it didn't work out. We couldn't talk much on the phone, so I let it pass. Meanwhile I had taken to wearing her necklace outside my sweater, letting it pendulate from side to side as I ripped around town going nowhere fast.

I had a few fast words with Carl Worth about the review of his art show that I had published in the Barb. I got out by saying that I had said if anybody wants to say better about this show, let them, and in fact, somebody had written back to the Barb, one of the artists in the show, and the Barb, with guacheria style had put it in under the headline, LISTEN LAFFING WATER. Which made a double dirty joke of it all, as one of the chief accusations the latter had made of me was that I was merely on a get famous trip. Maybe they weren't as bad as I thought. On the evening of the 3rd Art Center reading, I had been telling the Rabbi as we went to another nearby location of the city parks department, to get some tables and chairs for the reading that hadn't been secured before hand, of the last fist fight I had been in.

Smokey and I were cruising down Twin Falls on our way out on Kimberly Road. I was driving and this Riviera kept trying to almost run into us. "Go ahead and hit 'em," Smokey had roared in a drunken not quite stupor. But I was too careful, and after a couple more passes, they might have just been drunk too, I was relieved to see them turn off ahead of us, but as we went through the lite, Smokey rolled down the window and yelled, "Adios, mothers," and they whipped a U turn on the right turn they had made leaving us, and pulled alongside again. Alongside of this beat 56 Oldsmobile I had lost the brakes on coming down the east side of Donner with a u-haul full of Smokey's furniture from San Jose in the back of, a few months before my first trip to Mexico.

"Pull over," the guy riding shotgun said, as I rolled down my window in response to repeated gestures on his part. I considered it briefly and then without thinking further, whipped to the side of the road. So quickly that they didn't have time to do more than pull over also, but too fast as they ran through an irrigation ditch and stopped halfway up on the lawn of a trailer court. Amazingly enough this guy who was driving who came around the end of his car, wanted to talk. What shit thinking I would stop to talk to anybody wearing a PKA sweat shirt that late in the night, and so I just walked up and belted him in the mouth. We had a brief drunken tussle, deciding breathlessly to call it a draw and turned around, as our slugging had taken us halfway across the street, and there was Smokey, half the size of the man he was holding down with his foot.

"He bit me, he bit me, disinfect it," Smokey was doing a mock screech the rest of the way home. This story had apparently overloaded the Rabbi's adrenaline circuits, for when I got back to the readings, the Rabbi had thrown Paul X. out of the readings with a further promise to "break him in two." Either for not having any money, or refusing to pay, or for wanting to read, or maybe even for general obnoxiousness, I never quite puzzled it out. The poets for that night were Richard Krech, John Thomson, who had brought me some chocolate chip cookies, and Marianne Baskin. Paul X. was walking around outside on one of the fireplaces in the upper part of Live Oak Park, first on one foot, and then on the other. I went over to listen to his tale of woe, and he read me a poem that he was carrying with him on a sheet of paper.

"It's a good poem," I offered, when he had finished reading it.

"It's a great poem, Charlie Potts."

Well, I don't know about that. It's not bad."

"It's a great poem," he continued. But I had to go take the tickets, what were all these hassles for. Worth and I were still keeping a measured cool distance between ourselves, although we were icily polite.

He had said before, "I've heard your poems now," which he hadn't when he first gave me the tour of his art show, "and I can tell where you're coming from. You think you want to be your generation's Baudelaire," which had taken me by surprise. Knowing diddly shit at the time of what Baudelaire was into, but it gave me a chance to see where he was at, this monkey business of not being able to take me as the one I am, but rather as the type they could most comfortably fit into what they thought they knew of the world. I'm the Laffing Water of my time, I thought of saying. Too bad for them.

I had received my score from the post office test and it had been a 93-94 range, and everybody from the letter on down indicated that that was a high score, and that I could expect a job soon. Unhappily it came at a bad time. It said to report for work on the 7th of May at 2 p.m. at the main post office. I considered taking it for a time, but then decided that the readings needed me more, if I could just get through this period, I could tuff it out until my number came back up in two or three months. So I asked them for a rain check, explaining that I was doing something important that simply couldn't wait and that couldn't be done if I had of taken the job. They seemed to understand, and said to go ahead and take the powder.

Kepley was having trouble getting even his living money expenses from the venerable patron who had sent him off in such raptures of innocent glee a few months earlier. And though he had said he would send money to print the color cover, we finally decided that it wasn't to be forthcoming, and so took the cover in to Kirwain and had it done in black and white. We were anticipating the guts from Ben L. Hiatt any day now.

Earlier Sunshine had lost his job and had went to Sacramento to complain to the authorities as he thought some shit was being dripped on his head. It was a thing to do in those days, to go to Sacramento, Kepley had recently, to help Hiatt out a bit and to forget temporarily about the big hassle he was having with his patron.

The COSMEP readings were almost upon us, only one more Art Center reading, and then they were there. Vanish had returned and went walking with Edy one evening. I had noticed her and The Rabbi giving each other strange looks in the kitchen one night as we went out for a reading, but decided it was no affair of mine. We had been in the lobby of the Straight Theatre, waiting for the beginning of the KPFA reading with Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, and Skip Upton, to begin, when the Rabbi confided to me that she needed a fucking. I shrugged him off.


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