AMERICA: A New Poem by A.D. Winans

By A. D. Winans

Drummed out of the infantry of death
I came back to you carrying
the poems of my soul
opened the door of life
and found only death inside

I have read the State of the Union
and listened to the state of the econom
in a state of hysteria

America where
the poor and the black
are sentenced to Attica
and the rich serve time
in San Clemente

where the coal miner’s lungs
are used for corporate profit where
the only sound that can be heard
is the opening and closing
of the downtown Bank of America

where the angry voices
of suburban mothers
can be heard preparing
their children for death
amidst the hurried jerks of masturbation
coming from the university closets

where the blank faces move like
a pendulum in a grandfather clock
pointing in the direction
of the once proud hobo
now auditioning for a spot
on the next reality show

where the elderly are treated
like boxcars
kept idle unemployed
forced to walk the streets
like an unacceptable poem

where the politicians sold
the country to General Motors
and AT&T
and gave the people buffalo stew
Tom Cruise and scientology

Reader’s Digest has renewed
its option on the education system
the mafia weans the poor
on drugs while IBM and Coca Cola
compete for the nation’s heart
as cancer and cardiac arrest
ride high on the charts followed
by Dow CHemical and DDT
a hard combination to beat

this is not your land
it was never your land
it belonged to the American Indian
long before you raped and plundered her
and moved on to Mexico
for your next conquest
and the Indian never a greedy landlord
was willing to share it with you
but raised on the credo of winner take all
you set out to kill them
tribe by tribe slaughtering the buffalo
the the proud warriors with rifles
gatling guns and broken treaties
and when that failed
you killed them with alcohol starvation
missionaries tuberculosis religion
measles and small pox
and western civilization
left behind your death mask
at Wounded Knee and Salt Creek
where you massacred them
in large numbers even as you would later
do with Asians with napalm bombs
in Vietnam

you chased Geronimo into Mexico
Desecrated the bodies of women
and children
left behind a trail of genocide
wherever you went
maiming killing tribe by tribe
these proud warriors
who wanted nothing more than
to live in harmony with the land

where capitalism farms out jobs
to cheap labor foreign countries
no longer having a need
for the American work force
bleeding dry the productivity
of underdeveloped nations

where 1% rules the wealth of the land
and the 99% are left to fend for themselves
where over 20% of the population
of the richest country lives in poverty
where old men and women who work hard
all their lives for the right to a pension
wake up and find themselves laid off
given a two week severance check
made to seek a living at half their former pay
men and women who have worked all their lives
only to witness their employer go belly-up
and find there is no pension fund left for them

you can find them anywhere
on park benches or wandering
lonely supermarkets
or sitting at neighborhood bars
nursing their drinks
like a blood transfusion
while our congress men and women
dine in splendor
at restaurants with fancy white linen
with waiters who make more money in tips
than the minimum wage they toil for

these are your people too
yet you treat them worse as animals
in a human zoo

they come in different flavors
like life savers
some thin and balding
some fat and sweating
some complaining bitterly
and with just cause
some too proud to let
the pain show
these forgotten heroes
from ordinary walks of life
trapped by false promises
trapped by a belief in a system
that has abandoned them
men and women who suffer in silence
who die unnoticed
to be carted off in a meat wagon
to be buried deep in the ground
like a bag of rotting bones

it’s the way of life
it’s the way of capitalism
it’s the way of cockroaches
and mice
it’s the American way
it’s the system
where just staying alive becomes
a small victory

America whose answer to crime
is more prisons filled with more
men and women of color
lost souls who cannot make it
on minimum wage
or no wage at all

where politicians and banks
looted the land
made millions at the expense
of the working class
and displaced them from
their homes
with a cold calculating expertise
that would make a bank robber
blush with shame

where the CIA engages
in illegal and immoral acts
where the President
signs death warrants
on those in foreign lands

where labor unions
are being systematically destroyed
where women’s rights are spit on
where the Supreme Court
has been taken over by politicians
dressed in black robes

where God has become
a billion dollar TV industry
and gangster rap replaced
the national anthem

where the narc’s of New York City
spawned from a generation
of gangsters grows fat
on the fears of faceless junkies

where holiness is found
in the bowels of Buddha where Christ died
on the cross
and the police were quick
to take his place

I listened to your bi-centennial
message dripping blood
like a butcher’s apron
heard the drums salute
the ghost of Custer calling
her children to muster
the magic Ohm of Ginsberg buried
deep in the bowels of asshole billionaires
who don’t know
the difference between
a poem and a dollar
the American way
if you can’t kill them
buy them into the system

where The Pentagon
is the name of the game
no money for the sick and lame
In God and corporate America
we must trust

where Walt Whitman’s children
are forced to breathe in
black exhaust fumes worse than
an x-ray of a coal miner’s lungs

the years grow heavy
in the cavity of my heart
leave me feeling like
an army mules carrying
a cargo of death
each year sweetened with
my thinning blood

who stood tall in invading Iraq
the day the music of the Reichland played
and thoughts of the Fuehrer rode high
in the heads of the Pentagon masers
the day the Bismark was played
in the sea of the Persian Gulf
and power once again became something
more than a Detroit-made machine

you are living on borrowed time
there will come a day when
your troops are sent to guard
the doors of our cities
in the interest of corporate welfare
afraid the walls will come tumbling down
as some day they must
here in America where
the rich eat the flesh of the poor
like frenzied cannibals dining
at Burger King
the government and corporate America
partners in crime

where the cold face of ownership
preens her face around each corner
ignoring the streets filled with homeless
the landlords duly protected
by laws of office and power
here in America
where money and real estate rule
here in America
where the power of the few
laugh at the powerless of the many
here in America where
the unemployed are pitted against
the educated hucksters chauffeured
in air-conditioned black limousines

there will come a day when
the populace will dance
in the streets and the people
will have cause to celebrate once again
for even the dullest of politicians knows
the reign of the lion ends with age

there will come a day when
the people will shed the skin
of their masters
their restless tongues
no long panting like
the tongues of tired dogs

you are the only country
I have known
and I have no longing
for Cuba or Russia
but I’m a man
I’m a poet
I’m the energy running through
your veins
all too aware of the storm troopers
of justice who would turn off the beauty
like a rusted faucet
these men in blue
who sniff the blood o my wounds
like a hound dog crossing
a river of blood
their sirens wailing in the night
play sad tunes outside my window
like a poet forced to read under water
where twice dead and once resurrected
he turns over in his grave
but the finger he raises
is jammed back down his throat until
the shit he shits is theirs
and the blood they bleeds is his
and the cries united
fill the air like a lonely bird
lost in flight

A.D. WINANS is a native San Francisco poet and writer. He edited and published the Second Coming for 17 years. He is the author of over 50 books and chapbooks of poetry and prose. In 2002 a song poem of his was performed at Alice Tully Hall in New York. In 2006 PEN National awarded him a Josephine Miles Award for excellence in literature. In 2009 he was presented with a PEN Oakland Lifetime Achievement Award.






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