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Ode to South Pasadena

By Ron Koertge, South Pasadena Poet Laureate

Post Date:12/20/2018 2:05 PM



Ron Koertge, South Pasadena’s first poet laureate,  has written “Ode to South Pasadena.”  It’s a commemorative poem about the city, looking back as it also celebrates South Pasadena’s vibrant present.

Koertge is a widely published writer and recipient of many awards. As the City's poet laureate he is an ambassador for poetry, reading his poems and poems by others at various functions all around the city. 


Ode to South Pasadena
Ron Koertge
South Pasadena Poet Laureate


Water made the orange groves possible though all that remains now is
                  the name of a boulevard that celebrates them just as Mission Street
and El Centro celebrate the heritage of the city. Today kids in orange-and-
          black drink root beer floats at the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda
Fountain as they flirt with their phones.  Parents wait for a table at Gus’s
            Barbeque, and grandparents snap pictures of toddlers around the
enormous Moreton Bay Fig Tree by the library as they remember when they
               were children grinning into their own fathers’ cameras. The Cawston
Ostrich Farm is just a memory but the Dinosaur Farm opens at ten a.m.
              Waiting on the shelves at Vidéothèque are films that debuted at the
Rialto Theater in 1925. Hollywood has a second home here, transforming
                 parts of the city into Indiana or Massachusetts. Then crews dismantle
everything the next day, leaving the neighborhood intact just as relentless
   freeway fighters kept the city whole and undivided. Beauty is
everywhere in South Pasadena. Early morning light, yellow and mild like
                 a shawl that has been laundered a few times, falls across joggers and
commuters. It wakes the parrots that circle and squawk.  Passengers on
        the Gold Line put on their sunglasses. Just below Grand Avenue,
a pair of coyotes make their way back to the arroyo. As a truck bound for
    Trader Joe’s rumbles by, they slide into some shrubbery and
disappear. On the lawn a sign says HATE HAS NO HOME HERE.
A house sparrow and a robin land and begin to sing.

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