Drummers on stage,
circles of people whirling,
rags and feathers.
We’re a tribe, we’re on the cover
of National Geographic
where native women
carry baskets on their heads,
bare breasts swaying.
We don’t have any baskets,
we’ve got some basket cases
and a few girls shrug their shirts off
while freckles pour down from the sky.
A bottle of red wine goes around a circle of reddening faces,
brighter than blood.
Broken teeth grin.
Beer cans blossom.
Enough spills for our thirsty ghosts.
Lovers’ hands get big and blurry.
We’re a tribe,
we move in mystic circles,
like the drunk said when the cop
told him to walk a straight line.
Damp grass licks our feet
like a puppy’s tongue.
Half the people here
can’t do anything but magic
and magic dissolves in the rain.
It rained yesterday,
it will rain tomorrow
but today we’re having a party
in the hole of a hostile donut.
The thing about the park is
you can’t just go there
unless the park comes out to meet you.
Today it has.
We’re a tribe.
In spite of a sound system from hell
we’re using the music to
like dancing up a rusty fire escape
to steal the fire.
Julia Vinograd was Berkeley’s informal “poet laureate.” Her poems about Telegraph Avenue and life in Berkeley in the late 60’s and beyond were beloved by many. She died in December, 2018.