A.D. Winans

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Artwork by Gene McCormick


When I was publishing
Second Coming
I would get telephone calls
From poets late into the night

Some of the callers
Had high pitched voices
Some so shrill
I could barely make out
A word they said

Some wanted me to publish them
Some were angry because
I hadn’t published them

Some were willing to barter
Promising me a reading alongside
A prominent poet
At a local or international
Poetry reading

Some female poets were willing
To share my bed
For a nigh or two
All for publishing a single poem

These poets all had
One thing in common
They didn’t place much value
On themselves

They complained
The grants were rigged
They blamed the establishment
They blamed other poets
They blamed the fates
Not one of them blamed themselves

Most of them never worked
A blue-collar job
Seeing poetry as a Holy thing
Too Holy to get dirt under
Their fingernails  

If these poets
Had spent half as much time
Writing as they spent complaining
They might have published
A solid poem or two

I never published these poets
And with the passing of time
I’d see their names in print
In this magazine or that magazine
And not long afterwards
I’d see the name of the editors
Appear in a magazine or anthology
Edited by one of these very same poets

Many long years have passed since
My publishing days
But I notice the game has not changed
Only he names of the players    



When I was young
I drove to Salinas
And ran through the bean fields
Pretending I was James Dean
In East of Eden
Stopped off in Monterey
To walk Cannery Row
Imagined myself packing sardines
In between Midnight conversations
With Doc and the boys

Driving to Carmel
I scribbled a poem on a cocktail napkin
That later became the Title
For my first book of poems
But the rents were high
And the job pay low
So in 64 I took my first full time job
In Modesto
Drove on weekends
To Stockton’s public square park
To share a toke with the wino’s

In Crow’s Landing I drank
With unemployed Mexicans
At run-down cantinas
In North Beach
I drank with fallen angels

In the Mission
I hung out with the down and out
Street people fighting junkie tremors
And cirrhosis of the liver

In the Fillmore I cut my teeth on jazz
Let Billie Holiday patch up
My bleeding heart

In the Portrero I saw
The last of the factory workers
Growing thinner like their paychecks
Fearing for their jobs

In the Tenderloin I drank
With whores and prostitutes
Who opened their pocketbooks
As freely as their legs

On Market Street
I witnessed panhandlers crouched
Like criminals in open doorways
A short distance from the Jesus freaks
With God’s billboards pointing
The way to heaven

At the old Southern Pacific Railway Yard
I saw the last brakeman smoking a cigarette
With eyes vacant as an empty satchel
While on the other side of town
High on top of Nob Hill
Society ladies sat in chauffeured limousines
White poodle dogs nestled
Between their piano legs
Unaware of the dredges of humanity
Walking Third and Howard Street
Drinking cheap port from brown paper bags
Starving cold disheveled
As the homeless are today  
Waiting on god or pneumonia
To walk them to the grave    


A.D. Winans is a native san francisco poet who is geographically challenged and long ago lost the map to where he was going. http://www.adwinans.mysite.com