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Dear Rod Mc Kuen:

I was very much touched by your letter to me after reading my interview with Akbar.  My response to the questions was spontaneous and was unedited except for minor grammar glitches.  Thank you for saying I always "exceed” your expectations of me.  I'm not sure this is always true, but it was kind of you to say it.

For what it’s worth, I admire and respect your work as well.  Being a native born poet, I enjoyed Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows when I discovered it early on in my writing. 

I’m sorry to hear about the death of a family member.  And I too love cats.

My situation with my sister was much like the one you related with you brother. The old saying about good coming out of bad things applies with me. My sister took me in after the fire and we have come to terms and buried the past.  I have also gotten a chance to know my nephews and nieces whom I had little or no contact with in their growing years.

So there are 150 years between you and your brother and 144 years between my sister and I.

I am saddened over your loss of Kubby and I can feel even from here the loneliness you feel.  Like you I covet solitude and can never get enough of it, which a lot of my friends can’t seem to understand.  The fire has left me depressed more often than not because of the loss of solitude I had before the fire.  I have mended fences with my sister, but with her in the house most of the time and my nephew too, and his child spending alternate weekends here, and constant visits from my sister's daughter, I have to find solitude outside the house.  In Marin where she lives I need to take drives elsewhere to find solitude with nature.

 You never fully appreciate what you have lost (my place in San Francisco) until you no longer have it.  So yes you’re right on the money when you say that you know I “feel the same about the productivity and solace of being alone."   And this very solitude has produced most of the greater part of my body of work.

I long to get back to my apartment and return to a semblance of what my life once was.  I will not fully know how much I lost until I go thru boxes of salvaged books and papers that somehow survived the fire and water damage done by the fire department.  Fortunately the bulk of my writings, including my books, are at my Brown archives.  I was lax in sending them material over the last several years, and all of the correspondence from those years went up in flames.

I found what you had to say in  your letter very touching and I’m glad you have found a kingship in "my words" written over the many years, no make that decades.   And I’m also glad the interview with me makes "a presumptive friendship" with me "important."  Because after reading your letter I feel a kinship with you as well.  And nothing presumptuous about it at all.

Your letter was not rambling at all.  As for restless sleep, I have suffered from chronic insomnia for well over 20 years.   A curse that only one who suffers from it can truly understand.  I need to take over the counter PM pills to get perhaps five hours of restless sleep a night.  I take an anti anxiety pill twice a week (so as not to become addicted) which does a bit of a better job.

Many thanks for thinking of me, especially given your own set of circumstances. 

Scotch was never my drink.  Vodka in my younger days.  Now it’s an occasional martini or glass of wine and a rare shot of the hard stuff on a special occasion or two.

I smiled at your remark about the academicians.   We are indeed all out there in the same boat, so to speak, although some seem to be on yachts and others on rowboats.  Indeed we should be "bailing" instead of "throwing mud at one another."

Much love back at you,

a.d. winans (aka: Al).

-- wrote:
Dear AD,
I put off reading Akbar's interview with you until I could safely squirrel away some time to really read it. I knew it would be worthwhile and as I suspected the answers blew away the questions. You always exceed my expectations of you.

Lots of excuses for setting aside pure and thoughtful enjoyment such as perusing words from a poet and human being I admire and respect. A member of the family wasted away and died - just a cat to anyone who thinks being owned by a feline, silly, stupid or just plain weird, but Kubby was the closest thing I had left to a family.

I haven't heard from one brother since he was, after much petitioning brought handcuffed by plain clothed guards, from some penitentiary or another, to Mom's funeral some decades past. Long ago we had stopped getting along when we were just getting along and not relating. The other brother? We are too close. Life was never easy with him and I'm sure his appraisal of me would be the same. Still I love him and would do anything for him but our life together seems increasingly a series of threats and demands by him and negotiations or silence from me. I am too old to quarrel and find it a waste of time so the silences between us grow longer.

Last month I turned 74 and he, like you, is 71 - born three years and two days apart we celebrate our birthdays on the day between . . . so on April 28th we turned 150.

Losing Kubby only amplified my sense of aloneness, not solitude, I covet solitude and can never get enough of it. I know you feel the same about the productivity and solace of being alone, your poetry, approach to it and your forty year fight to have time alone to write ring clear.

Other excuses; deadlines not met, promises not kept, mail unanswered, as always saying yes to every project offered and only fulfilling a portion of them. Making endless lists, feeling guilty about not cleaning up my room . ..let alone my life. And, on and on and on. (What guts to complain about every flat surface in my room being taken up with stuff when your rooms and world have recently burned down.)

I hope you have waded through all this AD because it's a preamble to what I want to say about the kinship I found in your words. Having your poetry to rely on is something, but overhearing your conversation with an interviewer starts to make a presumptive friendship with you important.

It's after 4:00 am here, as it is up north with you, and I haven't yet gotten to the meat and spuds of what I want to address, I'm rambling and growing tired -- though I know it will be another sleepless night. Even changing the trusty right hand to the left, thus attempting to entice and surprise my dick, doesn't seem to work any more but I'll get through this night and morning as I do the rest.

Wanted you to know in the meantime that I'm thinking of you and that your words are spinning in my ears. With a clearer head & maybe no scotch I'll continue, maybe even before cleaning my room.

Please remember that poets go on forever, whatever that is and the best that can be said for academians is that they had a nut named after them. All of us are out there in the same leaky boat and we should be bailing instead of throwing mud at one another.

Luv and all that goes with it,