Julia Vinograd, Berkeley's poet of the street, talks to Osha Neumann, artist and attorney, in front of the renowned People's Park mural Neumann helped create. Lydia Gans photo



by Julia Vinograd

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 a part of my own as well.
Oh, leave them alone.

The Flowering of the Colorful

by Mary Rudge

It was tie-dye on the peace march,
tie-dye in the park
tie-dye “in the sky with diamonds”
singing through the dark
when the Beatles were imagining
and Deadheads came to town
and in Berkeley Wavy Gravy
was more king than clown —
was mayor more than
ice cream flavor — every pantry full
of sharing in abundance
and no need for choosing “dull”
Love-Ins, Be-Ins, fields and meadows
it was a new beginning
of a garden on the sidewalks
in a world where peace was winning,
leaving money and technology
and other things-gone-wrong
for all colors celebrated
and poetry, dance and song
let free-wheeling color-wheel
the drab majority still mystify
with Tree-of-Life true values,
and tie-dye multiply.
For an era flowered here
telling of youth compelled to try
peace, love;
the psyche’s history holds it,
not to fade or to deny.
Together, colors permanent,
no time change can defy,
with tie-dye still a rainbow sign
of dreams that never die.

Remembering People’s Park

by Julia Vinograd

I remember trading a poetry book for
a potted plant from a street vendor
and bringing it to the park
only to be told it was a house plant,
it wouldn’t grow outside,
didn’t I know anything?  No, I didn’t.
I think it was a poinsettia. I put it
down and pretended it wasn’t mine.
Planting surged around me like waves.
Bare backs heaving small trees
into big holes
to shouted orders and many hands
grabbing at once. Spades and picks,
flying earth and shaken petals.
I didn’t know anything
but I didn’t go away.
Then tear gas and time. Wings of war.
The cyclone fence, storms in the street
and James Rector dead.
Each spring the flowers are as young
as they were that morning
when I didn’t know anything
but I didn’t go away.

Teargas dispersed the crowd at Dwight Way and Telegraph a few minutes before the Alameda County deputies came down the street with their shotguns. Kathryn Bigelow photo. See more photos at the People’s Park website: www.peoplespark.org


The Universe’s Ancient Light

by Arthur Fonseca

gazing through the field of view
projected from the jewel within your heart
your organism exudes emotion
in liquid form of imperceptible density
shifting focus, color and intensity.
from the central flower grows
whorls and flows
changing form and perspective
moving patterns in fluctuation
feelings become memories in gradation
floating remnants of past incarnations
streaming with the strength of feeling
weightless… soothing… invisible… healing
the colors of remembered dreams
charged with the force of spirit,
an astral song, yet we barely hear it
in this pool of felt memory we are floating
surrounded by our solid light coating
where the mundane obscures the sublime
we are bound to matter, blind to dreamtime
with that charged aura
as you channel power from the flora
from the flexibility of your field
using nature as your shield
with compassion for all your relations
creating love with inspiration
Become a conduit for the starry night
for it is the universe’s ancient light
that shines through your will.

Do Unto Others

by George Wynn

Some people
stay the same
no matter how
much they pray
Catholics with
suspicious eyes
walk out of St. Patrick’s
down Mission Street
giving homeless people
looks of disdain
Some po’ folks get angry
some cover their eyes
to hide their pain.

How Sad He Must Be

by George Wynn

When the flashbacks come
he goes off by himself
to Muir Woods
to see images he alone
must watch for endless
moments of torture and
when he comes home
his friends who have
not been to the war
laugh and talk but
he does not

For All the Danny Boys

by Claire J. Baker

I imagined I was a baritone
singing “Danny Boy” on a small
rosy stage in Shangri-La.
Lambs minced down from green
pastures, stood listening,
their little bells stilled
like a held breath.
They seemed to sense that Danny,
their much-beloved shepherd,
was off to war — that whatever
the season in Shangri-La
Danny was not coming back
until every war had ended.

Master Sergeant on the Street

by George Wynn

“One third of the nation is
ill-housed, ill-clothed, and ill-fed.”
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Master Sergeant on the street
tells me I hear
myself breathing
how much longer
is it really what I want?
I barely survive
it angers me
things should have
been better at 65
It’s a damn shame
no one’s in charge of
making things better