Pot And Sticks
Charles Arnold Poole, called Cap by his family and Charlie by his friends, was born the youngest
of three children. Poole was afraid of his father‘s anger and often felt picked on, even though his
sister Debbie was the oldest and tried to protect him. As Poole got older, his emotional wounds
pushed him to alcohol and drug use. While he made a few close friends, he never felt at ease
with people, and he lived much of his life in a small cabin in rural North Carolina.
I first met Poole sometime in the early =90s at a cabin center called Blue Ridge Assembly in
Black Mountain, North Carolina. Although he was uncomfortable around people and liked to
keep to himself, he was in a way quite extroverted. He was a loud talker, enjoyed making jokes
and laughing at them, genuinely interested in good conversation, and enjoyed a few beers. He
also appeared to be quite handy around the place: he could build a good fire and was willing to
help out any way he could.
While I genuinely liked him and enjoyed his company, Poole‘s lack of social skills made for a
challenging relationship. For the fifteen years I knew him, our conversations were kept to a
select few topics: family, his home, and the English language. Family was fairly easy: he was my
uncle by marriage. His home was more interesting a topic. After that day in Black Mountain, he
moved down to Marshall, North Carolina, a fifty minute drive from where I lived. He bought
some land in the rural mountains there, and lived in a small house, Walden-style. He cut his own
wood to heat one room of his tiny house in winter and used a cold stream to preserve perishable
food. He had internal plumbing and a phone for emergencies, but few other modern
conveniences. His house was perfectly situated in a meadow, surrounded by trees (sticks, as he
called them), on a mountain, and set part way in the ground, which provided natural AC in the
summer months and protection from the cold winds in the winter. I was quite interested in his
way of life. He took a job as a pizza delivery man, but quit after a short time. He went back to it
a few times, just long enough to get some needed money in his pocket.
The English language conversation had two main variants: proper grammar and poetry. I enjoyed
the former and regrettably, entertained the latter. He would try to engage me in discussions
about poetry in general and poetry he wrote, but I did not allow the conversation to go past small
talk. He did tell me once that he didn‘t write a lot of poetry -- he wrote only in sudden fits of
inspiration, which came quite rarely but also quite forcefully. In this same conversation he read
me a -cute | poem he had written recently, but because it wasn‘t -serious | poetry, I dismissed
him. He wanted to read some of my own work; I had little intention of following through and
never sent him any.