Spring After a Long Cold Berkeley Winter

By Penny PerrySatherGate

for Olivia





My old four cylinder Pontiac Tempest climbing
green, velour Berkeley hills. Your fiancé, my father
both in jails down south. Plum trees in bloom.
The latest New Directions in our scuffed purses.
Chanting “To a Poor Old Woman,” “Rip Rap,”
“Howl,” we cruise down dark, tree-lined streets past
Van Gogh irises, roses in bloom. One of the ivy-
covered bungalows could be Rexroth’s or Ginsberg’s.

Ginsberg, wild curls, wild arms, words like waves,
a nervous shepherd directing his flock on Telegraph.
You in a pea-green yellow check maternity dress.
The two of us standing in shadows at the curb.

My waitress, your secretary money running out.
Our apartment on Ashby. The oven door that never
closed. The window that never opened. Strawberries
from the co-op. Spiral notebooks with UC Berkeley

on the covers. We wrote all that spring. In love with
William Carlos Williams, his plums, his nasturtiums,
his asphodel, his white space. Our poems, footprints
on the page, we said. Seagull tracks across the sand.

Our hair neatly combed, shoes polished, we slid past
Sather Gate. We pretended we were UC students,
sneaked into the back of Thom Gunn’s poetry class.
The real students, girls from good homes, hawk nests
hair, torn blue jeans, were dropping out. We were
slipping in.


About Penny Perry

A three time Pushcart nominee, twice for poetry and once for fiction, my stories and poems have been widely published in literary magazines. Fiction Daily tagged my short story “Haunting the Alley,” published online in Literary Mama.

My first collection of poetry, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage, was published in 2012 by Garden Oak Press. The collection earned praise from Marge Piercy, Steve Kowit, Diane Wakoski and Maria Gillan.

I was the fiction editor for Knot Literary Magazine, a Middle Eastern literary journal. I was a screenwriting fellow at the American Film Institute, and my movie A Berkeley Christmas aired on PBS. I’m working on a novel about a school shooting.

I write under two names, Penny Perry and Kate Harding.

Photo Credit: Prayitno Photography via a Creative Commons license.

Comments (2)

MillieApril 20th, 2014 at 8:31 am

Such visual beauty for my morning coffee! So much tantalizing back story tempting me to know more. Thank you, Penny Perry!

Coco LeBergeApril 27th, 2014 at 10:45 am

You took me back to 17, living in the Oakland hills, (verdant were they) spending my days on Telegraph Ave playing my banjo for nickels, watching the Berkeley co-ed come and go.
They wouldn’t look at me.
I walked around that campus, wondering what greatness lived inside the rooms I never visited.
Thanks for a new perspective, you always so nicely provide.

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