et a comfortable chair, my old paisano,
Comes Giacomo Foley and Nina Serrano
They’ll fill you with nonsense and crazy wisdom
They’ll point out our president really is dumb
They’ll sing and they’ll laugh, they’ll cry, Ay, Caramba!
Jack Foley will tap and Nina will rhumba
They read you old poems that bounce off the walls
They’re poetical pals and of course lively pols
They’ll sing and they’ll laugh, they’ll get deep into funk,
They’ll open wide Madame Pandora’s trunk
They’ll tell you the truth (they’re on KPFA!)
And like the old Supe, they’ll go “up and away”
To where the police and the dodos can’t catch ’em
And there they will make up wild plots, and they’ll hatch ’em
You’ll like their verses (they’re SUBversive too)
Serrano and Foley—what hullabaloo!
Serrano and Foley: WOOF!
(They write doggerel too!)
A special feature of today’s hour will be a tribute to the wonderful Berkeley Street poet, Julia Vinograd. Julia is currently in a difficult financial situation—and health situation as well. Her publisher, Bruce Isaacson, has started a special GoFundMe, Julia Vinograd Cancer Support, at
Today’s show will present Julia at her lyrical and feisty best—as well as poems celebrating her by Jack Foley, Jan Steckel and Judy Wells. Julia’s latest book, just out from Zeitgeist Press, is Between the Cracks.
It’s not the wars or gangs or even families fighting
after hard work, and the food always tastes the same
while outside the summer window butterflies dance.
Everything dies, sooner or later.
Winning or losing, everything dies.
Birds splatter the heads of statues
and fly away. Children play hide and seek with the wind,
the wind always wins. Horizons swing like unfurling wings
Lie on your back on a weed-wild hill
and stare up looking for the sky pulsing behind the sky.
The game of pain plays and stays and repeats
that everything dies sooner or later.
But the sky behind the sky tells you its secret
close in your ear and warm against your lips:
Reach out and touch, bend and believe.
Everything lives, leaf, bird, blackberry.
The world is too big to lose.
(For the condemned to death poet in Saudi Arabia, Ashraf Fayadh)
I don’t want to speak of beheadings
it causes me cold terror
That’s what it’s supposed to do
Keep poets silent
So only praise poems
to the censors, judges and jailers are allowed
Keep poets silent
So corruption, greed and might prevail
So like the emperor’s nightingale
the poets’ voices will fade away
But poets stand with poets
The scratch of pens
clicks of computers
piles of poems and petitions
across languages cause ripples
of sound waves and protest
Causing the miracles of freedom I’ve seen
Like when the Pen Club in Germany protested
Fayadh’s sentence was reduced to jail time
Like when the Salvadoran prison crumbled
in the earthquake
the poet-guerrillero Roque Dalton stepped out
and a network of clandestine comrades led him to liberty
like when world committees organized to “Free Angela Davis”
John Lennon and Yoko Ono composed their song “Angela”
The Rolling Stones in England recorded “Sweet Black Angel”
Cuban national poet Nicolás Guillén wrote her adoring poems
All demanding “Free Angela”
-And so she was
Like when the solidarity slogan “Give me Five”
recited and sung by poets
echoed around the world
for the imprisoned Cubans in US jails
for attempting to stop Miami-based terrorism
People rallied in DC visiting congress
on the 5th of every month
until one Senator
Patrick Leahy of Vermont interceded
The fierce sperm of Cuban Five US prisoner
Gerardo Hernández flew to fertilize
Adriana Pérez’s waiting frozen egg
So after high stakes diplomacy involving presidents
when the “5” went home to freedom and families
Baby Gema was born!
-Miracles can happen when poets stand for poets.
FOR THE MARVELOUS, LAUDED STREET POET OF TELEGRAPH AVENUE
Of the bright and dark
Streets of this West,
I think of you this night
Of the phantom full moon
And the skulls and heads
And black clothes
That make you look
Like a perpetual Halloween.
Of the bubbles, the quick wit,
The half smile,
The way with a phrase,
“This was a lady
Trying to be
Of the famous limp,
The ability to turn fools,
Skewered, into a line of verse,
The deep, light laughter,
The slight touch of gray showing beneath the hat,
The seller of your own
The laughing eyes—
You fill my mind this night of your sickness
This night when your studied, careful independence
Is no longer possible,
And I think of the many poets
Who have entered hospitals
Who have been tended, not read,
Placed in the care of hands
That do not open books
The wounds life visits upon us all
As we sit in this café of many entrances
But only one exit
And sip our lattes, our cappuccinos, our espressos, our macchiatos
And talk and dream—
On a street that dreams
It is not a street