a.d. winans | nine poems

A.D. Winans and Bob Kaufman


He walked the streets of North Beach
An ancient warrior with hollow eyes
That seared the dazzling lights of the
City by the bay
His eyes boring into you
Like a drill
Carrying decades of heavy sorrow
On his back
like a bent-over hunchback
Overcome with the rust of time
Flesh stripped to the marrow
The mirror of his eyes doing a slow dance
Up and down Grant Avenue
A dark shadow riding clouds of
“Ancient Rain”
His life measured in hot jazz and verse
A surreal mirage where hip cats
Wailed in precision rhythm
As he walked an imaginary zoo
Looking for tigers to talk too
Runaway poems blaring in his ears
Like a stuck car horn
The Ancient Rain falling
Washing away his wounds

A.D. Winans and Jack Micheline


He was the high note of a wailing saxophone
The spark that ignites a fire
He was a fifth of Jack Daniel’s
A glass of imported beer
A shaman
A vagabond poet shuffling words
Like a river-boat gambler

Ravished by illness
Ravished by time
He painted his visions on canvass
In parks in bars and coffee houses
His poems singing out across the
Streets of America
Pure innocence
Pure genius
Spinning words that hung in the air
Like a hummingbird drunk on the
Pollen of life


I see her two
three times a week
sitting on the balcony
when weather permits
here in old Italy town
in what is left of North Beach
her robe slightly parted
thumbing through the pages of a book
taking no notice of the people down below

standing to stretch, she yawns
legs like sturdy pillars that stretch
to reach the sky into the boundaries
of my mind
my eyes begging to read the pages
she turns with sensual fingers
wanting just one quick look
one intimate journey into the pages
into the space between the
parting of her robe
a journey to forbidden places
a flight back in time
to another place another world
high on a balcony where
I too ignore the
people coming and going
down below


On my way to Lackland Air Force Base
The train stopped to take on passengers
Giving me the chance to get off
Stretch my legs and relieve myself

On returning from the men’s room
An elderly black man approached me
Wanting to know where the restroom was
And when I pointed in the direction
Of where I had just come from
He shuffled his feet nervously
And said, “No, the colored room”
And being naïve and from the North
I had no idea what he was talking about
When suddenly a woman came running
Out from behind a concession stand
Her face red with anger
Yelling for the old man
To leave me alone
As I tried in vain
To calm her down
Telling her it was all right
He was only looking for the
Men’s room
“That boy knows where the colored room is”
She said, shooing the old man away
As I boarded the train
Turning to see him
Bent over a “colored” only
Water fountain
Ss the train picked-up steam
Sparks flying from the tracks
Taking me on my way
To becoming a man
Where I would have
My serial number branded into
My head
And made to wear a dog tag
Around my neck
To remind me
I was the property of Uncle Sam


They had this bar at Ocean beach
Called the Chalet
It used to be a hangout for vets
The American Legion boys
Most of them fat and balding
The years piling up like litter
One so old that
He claimed he was gassed in
WW 1
You never knew whether
To believe him or not
He just sat there staring
Talking into his beer
Humming a song:
And using terms like
Dough Boy and Pill Box
And you just somehow knew
He had to have been there
Was still there would always be there


He walks the streets of North Beach
Looking like an old man
With eyes empty as a broken parking meter
Unemployable weighed down by the years
His mind heavy as an anchor dragging the
Bottom of the ocean floor
Forgotten rebel playing old ballads
In the shipwreck of his heart
His mind destroyed by shock treatments
And one too many police batons
At night he dreams
He is riding with Geronimo
Has imaginary conversations
With Charlie Parker
Rides the ferry with Miles Davis
Getting off at Bourbon Street
To down a drink with Kerouac
He shares a cigarette with Charlie Chaplin
At the old Bijou theater
Walk the battlefields with Walt Whitman
Rides the plains with Red Cloud
In search of the last buffalo
Walking the streets of North Beach
In search of the elusive ginger fish smell
Death a sightless chauffeur
Waiting like a concubine facing another
Apocalyptic day


Once addiction sets in
There is no stopping it
You become a serial killer
Attacking the keyboard at will
Your mind working in shifts
Strange creatures live inside your head
Show no mercy give no ground
Forcing your fingers to do their bidding
Writing down your thoughts in your
Loose-leaf notebook

The city is your slaughterhouse
Like a wife it accommodates your moods
Doesn’t seem to mind you giving
Her a bad name
You walk her streets a hungry vampire
Lapping up your own blood
On nights when blood transfusions
Are not enough


In search of a fix
Burned spoon hovering over
Hot flame
Like a moth drawn to a light-bulb
Arm stretched tight with rubber band
Liquid death riding sunken vein
Resembling a cowboy looking
Forward to the last trail drive


I was looking at my scrapbook
the other night while listening
to an old Dylan record
and there I was in my youth traveling
traveling from California to Arizona and places
and places further west
heading in so many directions
it was like getting lost in the trick-mirrors
at the old fun house
and there were the women
then young girls
free flowing spirits who gave
their minds and bodies
at the slightest invitation
and nights too lying alone
in tangled sleep feeling like a deer
caught in barbed-wire
or sitting hunched over cold and disheveled
at the local Greyhound station
fighting off the eyes of leering men
who preferred boys to women
Now sixty-five and counting
I realize I was there and back so fast
like a train running out of track
returning home carrying my life
in a Knapp-sack
the days the months the years
hung out to dry
like your mother’s washing
on an old clothesline

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.