a.d. winans | lost and found poems


During Air Base Defense training
The DI took us on a field exercise
Bagged a rabbit
Took out his survival knife
And slit it up the middle
Slid his hand inside
And came out with its guts
Then drank of the blood
Smiling as he said:
“It makes a man of you.”
Two, three others jumped right in
As others screamed in joy
Or agony
One leaving his breakfast
On the ground
The beginning of 13 weeks of hell

The day we graduated
We wore the smell of death
Like a whore’s sweet perfume


During introduction
We were given a survey
To fill out
And asked some questions
By the DI
About our religious affiliation

When the Sergeant asked me
What religion I was
I answered Protestant
And when he asked what denomination
I was
I answered Protestant
Not being up on religion that much

The sergeant didn’t like my response
I think he thought
I was a wise-ass
He asked again what denomination I was
And I responded in a like manner
Until I found myself taken
To the company barracks
By a pimply faced corporal
With a demented smile on his face

Once there I was made to strip down
To my shorts
And ordered to sit down
On a straight-back chair
While the two men proceeded
To use me for batting practice
Asking the same damn question
Over and over again
And my response was always
The same

Finally they grew tired of the game
And told me I could get dressed
That they would put down atheist
And why didn’t I just say so
In the first place
And save everyone the trouble


At Lackland Air Force Base
In San Antonio Texas
Home of the Alamo
The DI put us in formation
And introduced himself to us
One fat boy
He called Porky Pig
And gave him a shot to the gut
And said to another dude:
“How did the food taste?”
And the dude answered
“Good Sir.
And the DI punched him too
And said,
“You’re a liar
It tasted like shit,
Didn’t it?”
And the kid tried hard
Not to cry and said,
“Yes Sir.”
And the DI said,
“How in the hell do you know?
Are you a shit eater?”
And the boy said,
“No Sir”
And the DI said,
“Well I think you are.”
And told the corporal
To take down his name
They’d get back to him later

This kind of abuse went on
Week after week
On the final week
When we graduated
I learned the DI
Had served in Korea
And was a decorated hero

In town
He said his job was
To make men of us
Raising his drink
And toasting to us
But when you looked him
In the eyes
It was like seeing a tombstone
Staring back at you
And that boot-camp speech
Was like a death charm
I will carry with me
To my grave


in Panama
at intersections
they posted a national guardsman
who sat on a tower
with a view of the passing traffic

with an over ride control
of the traffic lights
when they saw a Gringo approaching
the intersection
they would wait until he entered
and change the green light
to red
so that it looked like
you had run the light

they worked as a team
with another national guardsman
stationed across the road
who would pull you over
and demand your license

those of us schooled in the game
kept a $5 bill tucked inside
the plastic container separating
the license
but this time the rules
had changed
the guardsman pointing
to the opposite side of the road
where a smiling Lieutenant
was sitting in his jeep
it would be $10
this time

I smiled and told them
and watched the young girl
who was with me scream
in Spanish at the startled guardsman
who apologized profusel
as she took down his name
and the name of the Lieutenant
who looked to be worried
from his position
on the other side of the road

we laughed together as I drove away
this time the game had failed them
the woman at my side
the daughter of Del Vie
the head of the Secret Police
and an avid baseball fan

I pulled down the window
and breathed in the fresh air
heading for the baseball stadium
where I would don the colors
of the base team and go 0 for 4
but it didn’t matter
I had already won before
the game began

afterwards we would fuck
the night away
my mind on the startled looks
on the faces of those guardsmen
the only time I recall
being on the winning side
of what was otherwise
a fixed game

A.D. Winans | Found Poems missing from my PEN National Josephine Miles literary achievement award‏.

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