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How to Write a Poem in Toledo, Ohio

Start with the churches, those brilliant buildings
standing at the center of every neighborhood.
Forget about the priests, except that geezer

who murdered the nun thirty years ago,
his retrials repeating at least once a decade.
Hang out with your union-hating buddies,

get them drunk on Buckeye Beer and spend
three hours calling them fascists. Learn how
to hop fences as a child. As an adult,

learn how to hop curbs in your 4x4.
In high school, excel at earning Cs.
Then get straight As in college before

dropping out like your father (if your father
wears a suit like my father, find another hero
to satisfy your bullshit bohemian worldview).

Eventually, you’ll have to park at the K-Mart
where the toughest kid in school admitted
he was in love with me, a light from the bell tower

of a nearby church shining halos on us,
or so I like to remember it. Tell your teachers
you’re making films about your suicidal friends.

Always use the word film so they can see
the New York skyline in your eyes. When you talk,
talk a lot about Jean-Michel Basquiat,

even though you can’t correctly pronounce his name.
Only shop at local stores that still wear
the Toledo Pride stickers because, here,

pride is a bumper sticker you can brand your car with.
Become addicted to something that reminds you
of sitting on your father’s lap. If you manage

to leave, don’t forget your blue collar genes,
tight as denim, sharp as a vinyl needle.
Here, we fray. Here, we rust. Remember that.  


Anthony Frame is an exterminator who lives in Toledo, Ohio, with his wife. His first chapbook, Paper Guillotines, was published by Imaginary Friend Press, and recent poems have been published in or are forthcoming from Harpur Palate, Prime Number Magazine, Third Coast, The Meadowland Review, Northwind Magazine,andBigger Than They Appear: An Anthology of Very Short Poems (Accents Publishing 2011),among others. He is also the co-founder and co-editor of Glass: A Journal of Poetry. Learn more at http://www.anthony-frame.com/.