Two New Poems by Winans


a friend of mine tells me
I need to stop dwelling on the past
that nostalgia is an anchor
that will weigh me down
he's like the lyric
to that Hank Williams song
"I saw the light, "I saw the light."
a song he sang to Minnie Pearl
his feet sticking out the side
of an open convertible
on its way to Memphis
I'm still groping for that light
a hundred shadows from my past
hitchhiking along for the ride
angels have traded in their wings
for a ticket to my dreams
the phantom of the opera
has a front row seat in my nightmares
mutilated poems wrap them self
in my arms
pit tomorrow against yesterday
nomadic thoughts camp inside
my brain cells
master to none  servant to many

old flames light  burned out torches
in my loins
there is no place to flee
no resting stop at the end
of a long journey
from here to nowhere
I spend the afternoon
at Martha's coffee shop
with hot coffee and a newspaper
for company
tomorrow those same
newspaper lines
will be past history
should I pretend
they never existed?

I am ten months into
my seventy-seventh year
winter will soon be here
with her cold claws
and heavy rain
forcing her way into the walls
of my mind
were she of human flesh
she would crack open
my memory vault
find miles of past memories
that flow like Li Po poems
down a river old as time
should I ignore her
tell her to come back next winter
that now isn't the time?

I have written one too many
memorial poems
for friends who have passed-away
should I shut them out of my mind
focus on tomorrow
build a graveled path that leads
to the promised land?
my emotions are trapped in quicksand
no place to run  no place to hide
endless chatter comes from
the 4-walls where death
hides between the cracks
the past is my lover
she clings to my body
like a child to a mother's bosom
she sleeps in my memory cells
like a phantom bank that accepts
only deposits  refuses withdrawals

I think of her
like I think of San Francisco
the city of my birth
the salt air smell at ocean beach
the Marina Greens
north beach and the Fillmore
all filled with memories

my past is my present
the future a gypsy fortuneteller
my existence
a slow chugging locomotive
on an anonymous journey
known only to the conductor
punching invisible tickets
in the hands
of faceless passengers

I drove the freeway to Tucson
1060’s Hipper Era
pulled over twice by the police
long hair and California license plates
got me  two citation warnings

three days in redneck country
was like a year
drinking at Western bars
with cowboys who eyed me
like I was an Indian escaped
from the reservation
unsure why I had come here
nothing beautiful nothing natural
except for the stunning sunset

a poet friend calls me
says Ginsberg has flown back
from India to become the resident
Guru of the Haight Ashbury
while I rack up a third warning ticket

cowboy drunks give new definition
to the word redneck
no room for compassion here
no room for poets
words like a campfire
with no match to light them
die in the desert heat

I pull up roots drive north
the death mask sunset
rides a passing cloud
I stop in the desert
pop open a bottle of water
have a one way conversation
with a cactus plant
wonder what my shrink
would think
the beauty of solitude
I could have
a million conversations
in a single morning dialogue

I return home keep
a notebook by my bed
write down my dreams
but when I wake in the morning
someone else's handwriting
is on the pages

no one will analyze
the blood between the lines
see the ghosts walk the halls
restless souls from my past
that stalk me like a starving wolf
in the dead of winter
looking to fill his hunger
on wild game
or words that cling to flesh
like scraps of exotic food