Wednesday, December 5, 2018

POEM ON THE PASSING OF JULIA VINOGRAD, STREET POET

Ah, Julia, named after a city of vines,
your knitted cap, a badge of the troubadour,
artist, wordsmith, I never knew you well,
but the street corners of Telegraph rose up
to greet you like feral cats weaving
invisible shackles with their thin bodies,
saying the poet is come.
The Bubblelady is come with her magic wand,
welcome words feeding the pigeons at dawn.
The fog weeps and mourns in tendrils
for the passing of the daughter of the street,
the poet-chronicler of alleyways and corners.
Yes, the street mourns for you,
it will miss the caresses of your jade eye
as you turned the suffering of those
sleeping in doorways into a cloak
of humanity and hope. Perhaps
someone will place a bronze star,
or a bench with a bigger-than-life sculpture
of you hawking your books to unsuspecting tourists
in front of Moe’s Books for you,
Poet Laureate of the streets.

First draft, well, third or fifth draft...
On the passing of Berkeley’s famed street poet, Julia Vinograd.

Ah, Julia, I never knew you
well, but the street corners of Telegraph
rose up to greet you like feral cats
weaving invisible shackles with their tails,
saying the poet is come.
The poet is come. Welcome.
Welcome words feeding the air
at dawn. The fog weeps and mourns
in tendrils for the passing
of the daughter of street poetry.
Yes, the street mourns for you,
it will miss the caresses of your jade eye
as you turned the suffering of those
sleeping in doorways into a cloak
of humanity and hope.


And John Oliver Simon too, he and Julia both sold their poems on Telegraph in the early days. John may have been in the same UCB classes as Julia. They both sold broadsides on the Avenue bearing the initial T unto the 21st c., carrying the message to the people. That's how I first met Julia, with John, we made our chapbook, Falling to Sea Level at Krishna Copy, where Julia also made her chapbooks. Jai always gave poets a special bookrate. Then we'd slip over to Caffe Med, and sip lattes on the balcony. Sometimes she joined us. Sometime Richard Silberg. They'd talk of poetry while the metal chairs whispered and groaned ghost phrases, trying them on for size to the throngs huddled below.



Berkeleyside tribute
“Telegraph Avenue was her stomping ground, her nation. She spent her days at the Caffe Med, drinking coffee, watching the world pass by and writing poetry. The City Council gave her a lifetime achievement award.”

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