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SURVIVAL SONG by A.D. Winans

(For a dead comrade)

This poem is for you Irwin Altman
And for Ed “Foots” Lipman too
For every poet who ever paced the cell blocks
Of San Quentin, Folsom, Attica, and Neil Island
Or gave his life in the  peoples struggle
Of Chile, Cuba or Nicaragua

This poem is for those who walk the
Dream of freedom with guerilla visions
In their hearts and eyes

This poem is for those who gave their lifeblood
To wash the streets free of oppression
For those who rest in heroic and not so heroic graves
In the struggle for human dignity

Poet of blue denim jacket
Mechanic of whispering trees
Walking the execution yard
Over the sleepy tresses of rain
The imaginary and not so imaginary
Shattering of the skull

I sit here one in my seventy-fourth year
Thinking of long unwritten poems
Thinking of young boys who have fought the real war
Of grieving mothers and widows
Thinking of young girls with color-book eyes
Young women in black suspender belts
And knee high leather boots
With revolutionary roots

Thinking of how the words come to late
And never say enough
Knowing that in the Buddha Temple of life
All things must die
Knowing there is no survival
No tarot cards horoscopes or incantations
Too bring back the dead

I walk the midnight supermarket of death
Thinking of Lorca and that long dirt road
Thinking of the execution wall the hangman’s noose
Ethnic cleansing ovens and genocide
Hearing the gypsy ballad that sings to the heavens
Knowing there is a strange code to this language
We are addicted too

As Gene Fowler pointed out to me
Evil spelled backwards is live
Being made into a State automated robot is evil
But dying is not evil
For it is in its whole the disintegration
The Bacterial feeding which in turn is a live process
And so the fight goes on and must go on
Until every street has been cleared of assassins
Until every newborn is encircled in a poem

The spirit lives on the vision remains
Even as we retreat Into the depths of our being
Listening to the blood beat solid against the hands
Knowing there are secrets in the bones
That cannot be denied or sold out
To the whims of others

Sleep well my brother
Only the flesh is gone
Your strength lives on in those who dared
To reach out and kiss the sun

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