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Julia Vinograd's People's Park Poems

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Julia recites her People's Park Poem #1 in 1991. (1200k)

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People's Park
We will defend this place
Till the last drop of beer
And the first drop of rain.
People's Park
The wizards in old tales used to bury their hearts 
    in secret places
and unless you dug up the heart and destroyed it
they were invulnerable and heartless.
Part of my heart is buried in People's Park.
Not all of it
not even the largest part --
other places, people, and I'm no wizard
so I keep some of it myself.
Part of my heart is buried in People's Park.
Leave it alone.
It's the part that will never be reasonable
never grow up and know better and do worse.
It's young.
Breathing is sweet to it and wild and scary.
It remembers meeting soldiers' bayonets 
     with daffodils.
It remembers tear gas drifting over swing sets.
It will always be young.
Leave it alone.
I go to the Park sometimes to talk to it
-- not often.
Time passes and it doesn't always recognize me.
But it tells me there are many hearts buried 
   with it
all young, all proud of what they made 
    and fought for.
Do not disturb them.
Do not build on them.
Do not explain that times have changed.
Do not tell them it's for their own good.
They've heard that before. 
They will not believe you.
There are many hearts buried in People's Park,
and part of my own as well.
Oh leave them alone.

Julia Vinograd, All rights reserved

People's Park
This is People's Park
where tattooed fighters planted rose tattoos
and roses grew
blood red.
It's not a peaceful place.
The vines are tangled with our nerves.
Grass untidy as a drunk's beard.
Trees grow shopping carts.
Bushes grow sleeping bags.
Lilies of the valley smoke cigarettes 
they just bummed, but with such style.
Here are sunflowers that'll steal your backpack 
when you're not looking,
daisies crooked as game booths at the circus
and violets sticking out
their impudent purple tongues.
Or is that us?
I don't know. It doesn't matter.
When people come to Berkeley
they always ask to see People's Park
and when I show it to them
they don't see it.
Next time
I'm not going to walk them a few blocks,
watch their faces and try to explain.
Instead, I'll show them my hands.
"Here's People's Park", I'll say.

from Julia Vinograd's Blues for the Berkeley Inn
Julia Vinograd, All rights reserved