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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 18


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

In Crow’s Landing I drank with unemployed Mexicans
At run-down dives
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
Growing thinner like their paychecks 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 today
Waiting on god or pneumonia
To walk them to the grave

  A.D. Winans