6 Poems by A.D. Winans


she grooves with time
day time, night time
be bop jazz time
dances with timeless time
all rhythm no rhyme
birds in flight flap their wings
copulate with the wind
a magician’s illusion where
time and words move from celibate
to wild orgy
feed off the flesh of the other
pause in roller coaster freeze
stop motion
she sings her song
another day another night
bitch slaps father time
kaufman, son of jazz
in her heart
micheline in her blood
jazz in the Fillmore|
jazz on the Harlem rooftops
full moon rising
with poems that dig into my bones
lubricates the gears of my mind
lost in a haze of motionless motion


sitting here
at Martha’s Coffee Shop
my eyes lock in on
a petite young woman
with a body only the young possess
my mind on fire with lost Adonis visions
my body bartering for time

she seemingly unaware
of my eyes undressing her
me an old man with groaning limbs
a once proud hawk turned
into a buzzard groveling for road kill
she with near perfection
picks up her cell phone
speaks in an angel’s voice
a smile on her lips
my imagination undressing her
tasting the rose bush between
her legs

the warmth of flesh
the warmth of youth surrenders
to this old man
who becomes young in mind
with the flick of an eyelid
the rhythm in my blood
strong as a young hawk tasting
the wind on his wings


When I was young
I drove to Salinas
And ran through the bean fields
Pretending I was James Dean in East of Eden
And stopped off in Monterey walking Cannery Row
Imagining 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
A piece of God’s country
But the rents were high and the job pay low
So in 1964 I took my first full time job in Modesto
Driving on weekends to Stockton’s public square park
To drink with the winos

In Crow’s Landing I drank with unemployed Mexicans
At run-down cantinas
In North Beach and the Mission District
I hung out with deadbeats and losers
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
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


there having a rumble
at Ellis and Eddy street
and the police are slow to respond
you can see the rage
in the Chicano’s eyes
smell the fear in Whitey

the Blacks are shucking and jiving
and rolling dice while placing
bets on winner and loser alike
the street whores move down
a block or two to ply their trade
one white, one Asian
one spade
the cops arrive at last
dispense the players like bit actors
auditioning for a role in the big show

small town punks gather themselves
run for cover
don’t stop to look back
head for crack house
to bide their time
like a stoned Jesus
hung out to dry
on your mother’s clothesline


Old songs with half-forgotten lyrics
play inside my head
older still movies play
on the bark of my skin
Oklahoma, South Pacific, West Side Story
singing on the tip of my tongue
humming my way back to yesterday
left alone with ghostly echoes
that serenade the dead

I can almost feel the ignited passion
lost lovers draped on my bed
tasting the melody riding up and down
my spine
Memories of my parents old Victrola
vinyl records spinning
on a balanced groove
a love affair so fragile
it was like trying to thread a needle
in the teeth of a storm
Fading fading fading
like an old flame sipping
on a cup of coffee
at my favorite cafe
a smile on her face
fingers snapping foot tapping
to the music that made us as one
Evaporating in the face of dawn
like clouds taking foreign shapes
like the smoke rings my father
blew my way as a child
Frank Sinatra crooning
in the background
the way of music sex love
and death playing
to an audience of one


Vietnam 1972
South Vietnamese airplane swoops low
drops canisters of death
like pigeon droppings from the sky
lethal tails of yellow and purple smoke bombs
light up village like a Christmas tree

a nine-year-old girl caught in a ball of fire
her clothes burned from her body from
intense inferno heat
naked, screaming, “too hot too hot.”
American troops behind her
as she flees from her village
tears running down her face
blobs of sticky napalm
melted through her clothes
and layers of blistered skin
like intense lava from a volcano

taken to a field hospital
30% of her body scorched raw
as TV pundits played their spin
this war that we could never win
those eyes those innocent eyes
forever burned inside my head

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