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A D Winans’ Marking Time by Jannie M. Dresser


A D Winans moves swiftly between sardonic and droll, the beat and the impassioned voices. He is a master of the clean one-liner, not needing punctuation to interfere with statements that shock by their candor and grace. Few writers can excuse themselves from respecting the rules of English writing, needing those little glyphs of punctuation and capitalization to guide us, but Winans wins his right to be a more stripped-down, somewhat prosaic poetry because of the clarity he creates in his choice of words. Here’s “Letting Go”, short but emotionally punchy and imagistically complex:




The last desperate thread of love

A shoe print in the mud

Next to the public phone booth

Her talking to her new beau

Not noticing the love beads

I bought her in Mendocino

Left behind in the circle

Of my footprint

Like a tribal elder offering

A small piece of his heart


Love and lost opportunities for love, sex and missed chances are frequently themes in this book, along with the foibles of others who grab for attention such as poseur poets, music and musicians who give more than they take, friendship, aging and the vagaries of American culture are recurrent subjects in possession of Winans’ imagination. “Poem for Allen Ginsberg” updates "Howl” with idiosyncratic parallelisms:




I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by greed

Naked under their fashion designer clothes

Driving themselves through congested city streets

Looking for non-existent parking spaces

Aging hormone driven biological clock mothers offering

In public their purple veined near perfect breasts

To baby sucking zombies

Who stock market driven sipped Starbuck’s coffee

While chatting aimlessly on their cell phones…


Yes, but tell me how you really feel? Winans’ grasps the contradictions in our compulsive do-it-till-you-drop and never-reflect-or-apologize dominant culture. But just when you start feeling a bit overwhelmed by negativity, he turns to humour:


Holy is the sock

Holy is Swiss cheese

Holy is the ATM machine

Holy is Cable Television

Holy is the condom

Holy is the U.N.

Holy is pop culture

Holy is Bank of America





As with Zawinski, Winans also describes a poetry reading, but focuses on the performing poet’s perspective rather than the response of the audience, as his narrator/poet/self requires a mother’s-little-helper to venture to the podium, then takes full command:


For thirty minutes

They sit quietly

Like birds in a nest

Their eyes devouring the silence

Before the poem


The first poem cuts into them

Like a machete


Winans is a poet tackling the aging process head on, and he doesn’t find much about it that is pretty (aging’s not for sissies). Yet, his characters are more than the sum of their parts, as in “The Old Italians of Aquatic Park”:


Have the smell of garlic and pasta imbedded

in their skin, Italy beating in their heart

The old men of Aquatic Park are dying off

With grace and dignity and a love for the old ways

There is something sad about being Americanized

There is something sad about growing old

The bocce ball rolls slowly along the grass

Coming to rest like a hearse parked at an open grave


In fact, the young do not escape life any better in the view of Winans’ somewhat jaundiced eye, as in “Un Titled” where an old man/ young man point/ counterpoint structure elucidates:


Old man hobbling on cane

Young man feeling no pain

Old man singing the blues

Young man in spanking white shoes

Old man with no teeth

Young man balling under the sheets

Old man in Palm Beach

Young man out of reach

Old man with young dreams

Young man unraveling at the seams


Threaded in and around poems of upstart poets and aging Beats, are poems where life’s meaning is found in music, companionship, the richness of memory, and the anticipation of poems yet to be written. As Winans’ sums up in “Rainy Day Thoughts”:


Every cloud does not have a silver lining

A dead man casts no shadow

The man who has the last laugh

Is the first to be laughed at

Sticks and stones will break fragile bones

Names numb and kill the brain

Here today gone tomorrow

One part joy

One part sorrow