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Friday, December 16, 2005

Poem For Bob Kaufman by A.D.Winans

he walked the streets of North Beach
an ancient warrior with hollow eye sockets
that seared the dazzling lights of the city
of Saint Francis
his eyes boring into you like a silk worm
carrying decades of heavy sorrow
like a bent over hunchback
overcome with the rust of time
flesh stripped to the marrow
the mirror of his eyes doing a slow dance
up and down Grant and Green
a dark shadow riding clouds of Ancient Rain
his life measured in hot jazz and verse
a surreal mirage where hip cats
wailed in perfect rhythm
as he walked an imaginary zoo
looking for tigers to talk to
runaway poems blaring in his ears
like a stuck car horn
the Ancient Rain falling
falling falling
washing away his wounds.

“A.D.Winans is one of the few writers I have met (and I’ve met too goddamned many of them) who doesn’t act like a writer or think of himself continually as a writer and maybe that is why he writes better than they do. I always prefer a poet I can tolerate for more than ten minutes. That’s rare and so is A.D.” – Charles Bukowski.

A.D.Winans is a San Francisco-born poet, writer, editor, biographer and literary dynamo. Born in 1936 he served three years in the US military in Panama before returning in the late 50’s to become a leading light in San Francisco’s North Beach Beat movement. His work has appeared in over a thousand magazines, journals and anthologies and over 40 books of his poetry and three books of his prose have been published. His writing has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, Polish and Croatian. As well as being a member of PEN he is also listed in the Who’s Who of America and has been active in the Folsom Prison and San Quentin writer’s workshops.For 17 years he was the editor of the Second Coming magazine and press, a formidable force in multi (and counter) cultural poetry and an integral part of the San Franciscan poetry renaissance. During this time he became a close friend to such writers as Charles Bukowski, Jack Micheline and Bob Kaufman, a time documented in his book The Holy Grail: Charles Bukowski and The Second Coming Revolution.
A D. Winan’s Poem For Bob Kaufman is a moving tribute to a poet often unfairly overlooked. “The American Rimbaud” Kaufman was a multitude of things: one of the original Beats, a pioneering black poet decades before the emergence of hip-hop, a remarkable street poet whose work had the energy and flow of the jazz music that would accompany his readings. Born in New Orleans, his father a German Jew, his mother a Catholic from Martinique, he joined the US Merchant Marines at the age of thirteen. He spent the next twenty years on the seas, sailing round the world nine times and enduring three shipwrecks before settling in San Francisco. There he joined the first wave of Beats carousing with Jack Keroauc and Neal Casady in Big Sur and North Beach. He produced some of the finest works of that era: Solitudes Crowded With Loneliness, Golden Sardine, The Ancient Rain. Co-editing the magazine Beatitude with Allen Ginsberg he became noted for his poetry performances and his defiant stands against all forms of authoritarianism, which, it is said, often resorted in beatings and arrests at the hands of local police. After Kennedy was assassinated he took a Buddhist vow of silence until the end of the Vietnam War, nearly twelve years later. In 1978 he withdrew into solitude. After a period of declining health, hot helped by his heavy drinking and drugs/electro shock therapy received while a patient in Bellevue hospital, he passed away in 1986. In accordance with his wishes his ashes were scattered at sea.

Copyright A.D.Winans 2005