Poem: Beach Street

Beach Street is not by the sand
or even near the beach.

Named after Ashland pioneer
Henry Beach Carter, it is near
Southern Oregon University,
where thousands of students –
and their teacher/mentors –
(with Beach Street residents and the community)
inspiring music, art, sports and learning.

To the north, Beach Street ends at
Siskiyou Boulevard and
Ashland High School,
where young actors, athletes and adults
are shaped and forged.

To the south, Beach Street ends at the
Siskiyou Mountain range,
where mountain hikers and mountain bikers
find a paradise to explore.

Actors, doctors, students, families, business people
and more all share Beach Street with
deer, bears, raccoons, turkeys and
massive trees full of squirrels and jays.

Peter Finkle   April 7, 2018

Poem: 4th of July in Ashland, Oregon

C’mon everybody,
don’t delay.
We want to claim our spot
on the parade route
before the excitement 
explodes like fireworks.

Heads tilt
as the low-flying jets zoom overhead.
Heads swivel
as friends, neighbors and local celebrities
pass by, and all this
before the parade even begins.

I laugh to hear my friend mutter
   “only in Ashland”
as the parade flows by with
grass-skirted hula dancers, followed by
kilt-wearing bag pipers, followed by
the Jewish temple Klezmer band, followed by
Jesus carrying his large wooden cross.

The young ones 
are wide-eyed for
unicycles and stilt-walkers,
ever-alert to leap
for incoming candy.

We admire classic old cars and wild art cars,
we cheer young gymnasts
back-flipping their way down Main Street,
we clap along with the enthusiastic,
tie-dye clad Ashland Middle School band.

After the parade,
we gather as a community in Lithia Park
to hear the entire
Declaration of Independence,
to remember
why we celebrate this day.

Poem: Gil’s Restaurant

Walking in Friday evening 6pm,
The patio seating is packed,
The inside seating is packed,
Beer and conversations are flowing.

It’s a tap beer kind of place.
I’m not a tap beer kind of guy — but I don’t give up.
It’s a pulled pork kind of place.
I’m not a pulled pork kind of guy — but I don’t give up.
They have nachos — small and large,
and I am a nachos kind of guy.

I am sitting here eating
the messiest, tastiest, most-fun-to-eat nachos
I have ever had.

Even the small basket
is overflowing with a messy, tasty,
Yes — even nutritious — combination
of chips smothered with
cheese and beans and tomatoes and guacamole
and cabbage and jalapeños and secret sauce;

And the line of people all (well, almost all)
half my age
ordering their Friday evening beer on tap
never ceases
as I eat and read and write this poem.

(written May 16, 2016 while eating at Gil’s)

Poem: Noble Coffee Roasting

This week I stopped by Noble Coffee Roasting on 4th Street in the Railroad District for the first time in a couple of years.  I am not a coffee drinker, so I don’t “haunt” the many excellent coffee shops and roasters in town.

I used to play tennis with Jared, the founder of Noble Coffee, back in the day when he had time to play tennis (back before teenage children and a growing business).  Serendipity: I entered when Jared and his wife/co-owner Carolyn were both at work in the shop and had a moment to speak with me.  I was inspired to write this poem as I sipped and savored.

Note: I am working on articles about Holly Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and A Street, so look for more street scenes soon.

Noble Coffee Roasting

Youngers with laptops are tapping.
Elders with journals are writing.

Coffee is brewing…hiss…pour…smile.
Accompanying the savory sips,
I see a room filled with lively conversing,
Hard work and quiet contemplation.

Now, one step back:
The Probat roaster looks regal
In its place of honor behind glass;
Without it, the “Joe” wouldn’t have its “Mo”
And the awards for Noble wouldn’t Flow.

Now, two steps back:
I see walls filled with coffee bean photos,
Coffee processing photos,
Colombia, Bolivia, Honduras, Costa Rica.

Now, three steps back:
The people behind the beans look out at me
From their own places of honor.
These are the farmers owner Jared knows,
Cares about, and supports
With his dollars and his recognition.

I look back at a Tolima, Colombia coffee grower,
Almost life-size on the wall beside me,
Holding a big blue bucket
Of ripe red cherries.

Bing cherries?   No.
Sour cherry-pie cherries?   No.
Ripe red coffee cherries?   Yes.

Coffee cherries?  Really?
Coffee cherries bring a new twist to Noble:
The coffee caffeine buzz is LOW.
The antioxidant health boost is HIGH.

So Jared’s creativity, his entrepreneurial spirit,
And his caring for coffee growers
All kick into gear, mingle, merge and make
A refreshing, healthy, brand new, carbonated
Coffee cherry beverage: Noble Tonic.

This morning I am also in the Flow, so
Even before I sit down by the big blue bucket photo,
Even before I get educated about coffee cherries,
Owner-wife Carolyn offers me a taste of “Noble Tonic,”
And its light refreshing goodness gives me a smile.

Despite having entered Coffee Heaven,
Despite being surrounded by odors of Coffee Beans
And photos of Coffee Beans
And tables filled with Coffee Lovers,
I order a Masala Chai.

My Masala Chai at Noble Coffee Roasting

To my surprise,
Carolyn treats me to my very own
Latte art heart
In my cup of Chai.

Enough writing.
It’s time for me to slow down, sip and savor.

Tolima, Colombia coffee grower with a bucket of coffee cherries (Photo at Noble Coffee Roasting)

Poem: Geppetto’s Restaurant (1977 – 2011)

Following the theme of Ashland history from my previous post about 4th of July parades 100 years ago and more, here is more recent history.  Here is a poem about a favorite Ashland restaurant for 30+ years, that sadly is no more.
(Fuzzy photo of Geppetto’s front in the old days)

Geppetto’s Restaurant (1977 – 2011)

Your reputation precedes you
And brought me to your door –
Yes, the first door I entered
The day I first arrived in Ashland –
I entered to enjoy the “world famous eggplant burger,”
And I return for it again and again

Best eggplant burgers
Best parade wontons
Best wait-staff tattoos
Most unusual friendly wait-staff
Most stunning madrone wood sculpture
On the back room wall

Definitely an Ashland restaurant institution…
Where I feel right at home

(Written on my check: EPBgro, translated as eggplant burger with grilled onions – $6.75)

Peter Finkle, written July 30, 2009


Poem: My City – Ashland

My City – Ashland

Ashland, farmers market

Chicago is the muscular city of Carl Sandburg
New York is the always-awake, bright-lights city of Frank Sinatra
San Francisco is the City by the Bay where Tony Bennett left his heart
Ashland is my home for 26 years
Ashland has small town feeling every time a visitor is greeted with a smile
Ashland has big city excitement every time the curtain opens on another world-premiere play
Ashland is a magnetic haven for seekers of spiritual consciousness, breakthrough creativity and mountain trails

Poem: I Walk Ashland

I Walk Ashland

I walk Ashland
For communication and community.
103 miles of streets.
22,000 humans (approximately).
Many neighborhoods.
Countless stories.
As I walk every Ashland street,
I will write
What I see, hear, smell, touch and taste.
I will observe,
Listen to stories from “locals,”
Take photographs,
Write poems,
Communicate creatively.
I will share
My sights and insights, and
Encourage community.

Peter Finkle
April 5, 2018