East Bay
East Bay
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Julia Vinograd a.k.a. the Bubble Lady passed away on December 6, 2018
by Lynda Carson (tenantsrule [at]
Friday Dec 7th, 2018 4:31 PM
Below are a few poems that Julia Vinograd has published with Street Spirit.
Julia Vinograd a.k.a. the Bubble Lady passed away on December 6, 2018

By Lynda Carson - December 7, 2018

American poet Julia Vinograd a.k.a. the Bubble Lady, a longtime contributor to the Street Spirit newspaper sold by the houseless/homeless passed away yesterday at the age of 74. Often Julia could be found on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. Years ago she was displaced by a fire at the Berkeley Inn.

Julia Vinegrad got a lot of attention when she blew bubbles during the People’s Park uprising back in 1969, and has been a Berkeley fixture for many years. She will be missed by many.

Below are a few poems that Julia Vinograd has published with Street Spirit.

Lynda Carson is a longtime contributor to Street Spirit.

Anniversary Party at People's Park 
by Julia Vinograd

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 bare 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 climb ourselves
like dancing up a rusty fire escape
to steal the fire.

 by Julia Vinograd

The crowd shrugs off their eyes like soggy spitballs.
A grunge tribe share day-old donuts in the rain,
their belts low slung
down to the crack in their butts.
A wheelchair veteran with ghostfires
licking at his wheels.
Empty paper cups on mock fishing poles.
Their chants aren't words anymore,
"spare change" is spoken dandruff
and must be brushed away;
what would a girl say if a new shirt
gets covered with begging dandruff?
Not even cruelty. Sometimes I wish it were.
The crowd hates the other football team
or politicians
but they don't hate what doesn't exist.
The stolen shopping cart isn't there,
even though it's pushed by a skinny scream
piled high with junk and topped with a toy pink plastic phone.
Lovers leaning into each other
in a winter doorway aren't there.
A mother aiming her crying child at the crowd isn't there.
Sparechangers spend their days being erased like typos.
Saying "I am so alive, I'm here, sort of,"
is hard, mind-breaking work.
Goth girls play at being vampires
but it's spare changers who cast no reflections,
no one wants to see.
If a tired guy with a cardboard sign has a small fuzzy puppy,
the puppy gets a smile.
The crowd feels guilty enough about people they love;
there's no guilt left over for anyone else.

John The Baptist On The Street
 by Julia Vinograd

Skinny, tattered jacket, tangled wild beard,
sharp knees on the sidewalk
outside a sandwich and salad shop;
a John the Baptist woodcut.
Someone had given him a plastic container
of salad-to-go instead of spare change.
He howled, head thrown back,
dirty fingers clawing limp cringing lettuce
till even the celery whimpered and bled.
His rage worked magic on mayonnaise 
and carrot peelings.
They became the torn fur of a small desert 
animal that didn't get away.
He snarled, scattering bones in all directions.
John the Baptist turns wherever he is into desert.
He preaches to stones, lizards and cactus
in their own language.
When the cops came on a noise complaint
he didn't fight them the way he fought his salad.
He didn't answer their questions, only waited.
Either they'd go away or take him away.
Either way they weren't real to him.
Messiahs come and go, like the tide, in and out
but the Baptist's still blocking the sidewalk,
raging, radiant and waiting.

Street Crazy Playing A Flute
 by Julia Vinograd

Her mind ran over her face like a train wreck.
What was left twitched, at off moments.
But she played a wooden flute
as if her hands belonged to someone who never worried.
Thin shoulders huddled around the music,
stuck in a pile of clothes that would rather be in a closet.
Might've been young if she'd been someone else.
A cold grey evening.
People hurried off the street before it didn't rain,
nobody stopped to watch her play.
She blew elbow-shaped notes and chords
stamping like boots for warmth, almost a crowd
but no faces, she always had trouble with faces.
Inside, people made dinners.
Hospital food had been beef stew without the beef
and frightened jello.
Her flute craved candied roses and catastrophes.
She'd passed a restaurant once.
Thru the window she'd seen lobsters piled on a tray
and bright small sharp instruments
either for cracking shells or brain surgery .
Her flute poured out soft warm buttersauce
into the cold evening till if you were a lobster
you'd love to be eaten. She'd been 51/50'd briefly.
She hadn't noticed enough to be annoyed
except they defined her flute as a hard object
and took it away. Now she had it back.
What would've been a smile for someone else
crawled onto her face.
Her flute played Mount Rushmore for a closing flourish,
not president's faces (she always had trouble with faces)
but a mountain-sized hot fudge sundae with a cherry.
Then she put down the flute.
When the silence came looking for her
she ran away.

For the Death of a Friend
 by Julia Vinograd

Ben Jr, captain. Dead. Blown up in Iraq.
That's all I know.
Your father wants a poem.
I know him as Ben, not Ben senior.
Your being dead hurts more than the war,
how can he think about politics?
He's thinking about the last time he saw you 
and what you both said and didn't say
and should've said and all gone now,
all gone.
Or when you decided you were too old
for a baby name he gave you
or an argument about a friend or a girl
or how homecooking was just for kids.
But you always knew your Dad would be there 
for you no matter what you both said.
You died alone.
You died alone.
He blames himself. He loves you.
You'd be indignant, you were your own man
not just someone's son.
But I'm writing this poem for someone's son,
and yes, you loved him
no matter what you both said.

by Julia Vinograd

It's Valentine's day.
Do our fighter jets drop lace-trimmed
red plush hearts instead of bombs?
A litter of love over targets on a map?
Hearts that say "darling" and "forever"
in a gold-scrolled language
the people they fall on can't read.
It's Valentine's day.
Do machineguns start shooting
the very best dark chocolate creams
instead of bullets, smearing brown faces black
and bringing back memories of poison gas?
Anything they haven't seen before
must be trying to kill them.
It's Valentine's day.
Do we send diamond engagement rings
in white, silk-lined boxes 
to everyone who lost a loved one in the killer wave?
Tell them all their memories are caught inside
and they'll try to eat diamonds,
what else do they have to eat?
It's Valentine's day.
Do the homeless scrawl shaky hearts 
on their cardboard signs in hopes
of kisses tossed in their plastic cups?
It's Valentine's day.
On every battlefield in the world 
does spilled blood turn to long-stemmed 
American Beauty Roses, 
the petals brushing faces of the wounded so gently?
Grown men no longer strong enough
to crush a rose in their fists.
It's Valentine's day.
It changes nothing.

Street Teenagers Blocking the Sidewalk 
by Julia Vinograd

One of them draws a chalk dragon on the sidewalk
with his blue green purple fingers.
His leather jacket's creaky as rusted armor
and the colors wound his knees.
People walk to their jobs avoiding the dragon's teeth.
His girl has blonde dreadlocks and her pet white rat
climbs in and out of her yellow silk sleeve.
Every time its pink eyes peer out
she leans down and whispers "boo" and the rat
scuttles back in and winds up clinging for dear life
to the side of her soft neck.
Her smile floats like a wished-on dandelion seed,
the next wind can blow it away.
Two grinning crouched guys drum on a garbage can,
their dirty ankles are slim as statues,
while a third guy kisses a wine bottle
and sometimes his mouth-harp.
He doesn't look at a bluejeaned redhead
who is dancing her heavy breasts at everone else.
When they get enough spare change
they'll make a dollar sign out of pennies.
They sit on the sidewalk, a plastic bag of day-old 
pastries pushed from hip to warm hip.
They're blocking the sidewalk,
they're making building blocks of light and air
and then breathing on them. All fall down.
A passing little boy reaches pudgy fingers
for the rat's curling tail
and his mother drags him fiercely away,
scolding in a voice like breaking teacups.
The chalk dragon drinks spilt tea.
 The wine bottle's empty.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at]

Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Her booksRobert NorseSaturday Dec 8th, 2018 12:32 PM

We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


donate now

$ 162.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network