Noe Valley Voice November 2005

To Be a Poet in America

Poems by A.D. Winans


Leaving your home
Not wanting you to walk
Me to the car because
I'm no good at goodbyes
And you tired and me tired
And the dog dog tired
Battling the commuter traffic
My thoughts on Saturday's play
And Sunday at the park
With banjo tunes dancing inside
My head
Riding me all the way home
With you on my mind
Pushing past hurts aside
Thinking of the perfect love
The kind where there is nothing
Negative to say
The kind you would repeat
Over and over again
To get it down right
A love so binding
It sticks to the marrow
A love so strong there
Is no yesterday tomorrow
Just the now
A love where regrets
Are a bill that never comes due


Your memory returns to haunt me
The way you looked at me when
Undressing for bed
The way the moonlight peeked
Through the window shades the
First time we made love
Leaving me feeling like a voyeur
Resting in God's favorite easy-chair


a microphone inside my head
static playing mad tunes on my tongue
a lonely grasshopper without wings


Old ghosts stand guard at deserted Playland
At Ocean Beach
The fat lady sings no more
The funhouse torn down
Like my old high school
The sand dunes filled with debris
A lone ship in the distance
The waves dashing along the shore
Bring back old memories of old
San Francisco drowning in quicksand fog banks
My eyes a piece of dead driftwood floating
Aimlessly out to sea


Daughter that I never had
Tugging at my arm-sleeve
From death's still sleep
Hanging heavy as an anchor
Rooted to the tip of my tongue
Your vision riding high in the
Retina of my third eye

I toss restlessly in half-sleep
A tugboat captain throwing
You a lifeline towing
You gently through my dreams


the storm
lets up

the birds
take flight

neighbor's dog
shakes water

drops in
sprinkler fashion

a cavalry
of children

magically appear
in rainbow splendor

sun peeks
from clouds

smell of spring
in the air


to be a poet in America
is to be faceless
like the Indian on an old
Buffalo Head nickel
to be a poet a prophet
a shaman
is Boxcar Willie
riding the rails without
a guitar
to be a poet in America
is to be invisible


A.D. Winans, a native San Franciscan, is a poet, writer, and amateur photographer. "I grew up in the Haight-Ashbury when it was a working person's neighborhood," he says. He has lived in Noe Valley on Clipper Street for over 15 years and, approaching 70 years of age, has taken part in some of the great literary traditions of the city. In 1958, after returning from military service in Panama, he began hanging out in North Beach with Beat Generation luminaries like Jack Micheline, Bob Kaufman, Jack Spicer, and Richard Brautigan. "I also know Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and published him in my literary magazine, Second Coming, and he has published me in two City Lights anthologies," Winans adds.

Winans' latest book of poems, This Land Is Not My Land, was published this year by Presa Press. He has also published a biography of Charles Bukowski, as well as several other poetry collections. Winans says his favorite Noe Valley hangouts are Café XO and Martha & Brothers, the former for its relaxing atmosphere and the latter for its great coffee. No coffeehouse poet, Winans only writes verse when the mood strikes him, "and there can be dry spells of weeks, sometimes months." Last Page readers are fortunate to benefit from one of his fertile periods.

The Noe Valley Voice invites you to submit fiction, literary nonfiction, or poetry for publication on the Last Page. Mail manuscripts, which should be no more than 1,500 words, to the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Or e-mail Please include your name, address, and phone number, and an SASE if you want your manuscript returned. We look forward to hearing from you.