A.D. Winans

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 Twilight Years Poem

I remember a poem by William Wantling
about how he never wanted to be a poet
that he would carry a lunchbox
just like the rest of them
if only the strange mutterings would leave him alone

Having turned eighty-four this year
I share those thoughts
the years behind me leave me naked
as a dead man's shadow

these strange words rattling inside my head
like a bag of marbles rolling along a warped floor.

84 years feeling like the worn impression
on a buffalo head nickel
holding on to these fading visions
like an immigrant unable to escape the old country

the moods come and go
like cloud banks sinking slowly
like the Titanic
ghosts roam the deck dressed
in words of fire

each day brings yet another illusion
harsh as a hobo's dreams
as I sing the song of my chosen grave

My words dance like a ballerina on a high tension wire
with no safety net below
while a friend of mine considered a success
in the business world
tells me like him
I should make a list of priorities
and stick by them no matter what

but the hooks are too far in
too high up into the gut
to do anything about

A poet is like a train
a romantic trip back in time
he is good for a laugh or two
someone on special occasions converse with
sleep with and always someone to stay away from
when he is down and out

d.a. levy was dead right
“some people cannot beat the system
and poets can't even pretend
they are beating the system”


A.D. Winans is an award-winning San Francisco poet and writer with over sixty books published.  Awards include a PEN National Josephine Miles Award for excellence in literature, a PEN Oakland Lifetime Achievement Award and a Kathy Acker Award in poetry and publishing.  He edited and published Second Coming Magazine/Press from 1972-1989.