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