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    Room 64 • Poetry Hotel 

Six Poems / A.D. Winans


Strangers have taken over
my body, shameless homesteaders
who stake their claim
like old time California gold miners
The men are elderly with gray beards
and drive horse and buggy carriages
the women wear dresses that hug the floor
there are no children, no dogs
just one black cat with a pointed tail
The town crier keeps me awake all night
a court jester roams at will through my dreams
a king dressed as a queen winks at me
an army of red ants crawl inside my head
A monster hides under my bed
Waits to be fed
a midget woman courts my favors
offers herself in twenty-eight exotic flavors
the night collapses like 
a home under the weight of a bulldozer
I’m summoned to appear before
a military tribunal
my good conduct medal called into question
A rip-tide tears at my brain cells
my landlord cancels my lease
my trial winds up in a hung jury

The bailiff writes down his cell number
tells me to give him a call
whispers he has a hot three-some 
he thinks I might be interested in
The son of Frankenstein
shows me the way to the rooftop where
down below a faceless mob waits
with pitchforks and firebombs
A drummer boy from the civil war
works his way into my heart
Betsy Ross hands me a confederate flag
The President drowns in fake news
spreads lies like fertilizer 
the public eats it up like
a leech feasting on a raw wound
The night an insatiable nymph
dines on my flesh leaves me
for a dead man
laid out beneath a sea of stars


visions of the past float like dead wood
through the river bank of my mind
white bra and red-laced panties
lay on the floor next to the bed
memories of drinking tequila
with glasses dipped in salt
as I slowly moved down
your soft underbelly like
a moth undressing a light bulb
feeling like a blind man learning braille
for the first time
and I was there the night
you put your fist through the window
swearing you saw God in your reflection
yelling mantras no one understood
as the people below the window
looked up wondering what
the screaming was all about
I was there the night at the bar
when you hit the guy by the jukebox
over the head with a beer bottle
leaving seconds before the cops came
and though I should have
I didn't give them your name
I was there the night at the graveyard
when you visited the grave
of the only man you ever loved
and as too often the case
you left a bad taste in my mouth
like an altar boy hiding a wafer
under his tongue hoping
the Priest won't catch him in a lie
I was there the night you sat alone
at San Francisco International airport
with only fifty-cents in your pocket
watching people greet their loved ones
at the arrival gate
I was there the night they took you away
to Langley Porter psychiatric clinic
where you soared like a bird in flight
never to return to earth as we know it
I was there the day the crucifix carrying Priest
said his black magic mumbo-jumbo
words over your grave
looking like a caterer serving food
at an unattended banquet
I was there the day they buried you
in a shawl of unwritten poems
and I drank a toast to our unspoken love
long after the others left remembering
that white bra and red-laced panties
the night we lifted boulders
from the chest of Jesus and hurled them
in the face of God



Going to run for political office
On a pledge to make poetry an institution
Going to rattle the white mans power cage
Show them the meaning of real rage

The preacher man doubts evolution
The con man doesn’t believe in revolution
The priest has run out of absolution

No more autographs no more forced laughs
No more hanging around the zoo swapping
Stories with gurus

Going to smoke me some dope
With my good friend the Pope
Going to make love nice and slow
Read me some Edgar Allen Poe
Lose myself in the Jimmy Fallon show

Going to make a cameo appearance
On the late night show 
Play me some John Lee Hooker blues

Going to penetrate a prerogative
Bugger the cosmos
Evolve evolution into a revolution

Put anarchy on the stock market
Nuke technology, outlaw e-mail
Declare Da Da the official
English language

Going to hang religion from a tree
Make John Brown the new National Anthem
Turn outlaws into in-laws
Landlords into donors

Going to pay homage to a whore
Put Bukowski’s face on Mount Rushmore

Going to name a bus after Rosa Park
Put a little nookie in every fortune cookie
Expose Saint Nick as a chick with 
A twelve-inch dick

Going to invite Trump’s old lady
To ride through the streets of Chinatown
In a see-through nightgown

Going to sing a ballad with Lorca
And a band of gypsies
Stop off at the manager
Have a long talk with the Lone Ranger
Going to put an end to hemorrhoids
Outlaw humanoids
Going to offer a truce
Bring back Lenny Bruce
Make politicians ride the caboose

Going to go back to school 
Erase the golden rule
Going to feed a vulture
Starve off mass culture

Going to turn evolution into a revolution
Make poetry an institution



at eighty years
the sun beats down on me
like the gleam in the eye
of a butcher lowering a hammer
on the head of an unsuspecting cow
being led to the slaughterhouse

the memories circle me like
old time Indians circling
a wagon train

I walk backwards into my birth
each new year like
a sharpened knife in the hands
of a trembling surgeon

lost in insomnia like a blind man
walking a dark road in 
the dead of night

waking like a shotgun blast
in a killing field
lost in a language
I can not translate

the priest passes 
the collection plate
rejects my confession
my sins laid out like 
a sea of stars in 
a far away constellation

all my poet friends take sides
purity versus the hucksters
God’s choir plays bagpipes
refuse to play referee

the creaking coasters
of my grandfather’s rocking chair
sing in my one good ear

the Holy Ghost devours
me like a python
my childhood like a bat
in a dark cave waits for God
to come out of the closet
and deliver the long
promised resurrection


AT 80

You realize you’re not immortal
Parents long buried
Friends fallen by the wayside
Like spring leaves from an aging tree
Arthritic Bones that creak and moan
Mile walks turned to blocks

The years pass by like a track sprinter
Bring me to my mother’s grave
Her tombstone chipped
The words fading

No such fate for me
I’ll go the way of the Indian
My flesh given to flames
No dirt No worms
No suffocating box

Ashes and bone my fate
Monterey or San Francisco Bay
The sunset my head stone
My poems my marker



Live for the moment
the past is a ghost riding
an empty midnight train

sing like a hammer sings to a nail
tread softly thru the night where
dreams lay like land mines
ready to explode on the tattooed dawn
run barefoot with children in the park
listen to the sound of their breath
drown in the innocence of their eyes
 ignore your enemies false prophets
drowning in quicksand

wrap your head in a song bag
lock your ego in the clothes closet
wear the eyes of an owl
write words soft as chalk
strip the flesh to the marrow
be a one person choir
light up the sky like a million fireflies
in flight to mate with the stars


About the Author

A. D. Winans (b. 1936), is an American poet, essayist, short story writer and publisher. Born in San Francisco, California, he returned home from

Panama in 1958, after serving three years in the military. In 1962, he graduated from San Francisco State College.He made his home away from home

in North Beach where he became friends with Beat poets like Bob Kaufman and Jack Micheline.

He was the founder of Second Coming Press, a small press based in San Francisco that published books, poetry broadsides, a magazine, and

anthologies. He edited Second Coming Magazine for seventeen years from 1972 to 1989. Winans became friends with Charles Bukowski, whose work

he published. He also published Bukowski’s then-girlfriend, Linda King. Other writers he published included Jack Micheline, Bob Kaufman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Levine, Josephine Miles, David Meltzer, Charles Plymell. etc.. In 2002, he published his memoir, The Holy Grail:

Charles Bukowski & The Second Coming Revolution.


A.D. Winans has had poetry, book reviews, and short stories published in over 2,000 magazines and anthologies. He has written 63 books of poetry,

and two books of prose.A song poem of his was performed at Alice Tully Hall, New York City. In 2006, he was awarded a PEN National Josephine

Miles Award for excellence in literature. In 2009 PEN Oakland presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015 he was a recipient of a

Kathy Acker Award in poetry and publishing.

His latest book, San Francisco Poems published by Little Red Tree Publishing, CT, includes an extended biography with many photographs, plus 99

poems, old and new. In 2016 he appeared in a documentary movie on the life of poet Bob Kaufman. The movie was premiered in April 2016 at the

San Francisco International Film Festival.

Acknowledgements: "Going to Make Poetry an Institution", "Broken Promises", and "At 80" previously appeared in Paris Poetry (2019); "It Serves

You Right to Suffer" was previously published by Factotum Press (1996) and Bottle of Smoke Press (BOS).


Photo of Author: Copperfield's Books, Petaluma, CA, May 9, 2015; event for poet Harold Norse hosted by Todd Swindell.  

A.D. Winans.jpg
ADW and RFK.jpg

A.D. Winans and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Washington, DC, 1966

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