Skip to main content
1 post / 0 new
126th Weekly Poetry Contest winner: Rust Belt

by stevieslaw



Rust Belt

Sure, we loved the hats and hoopla

the rhythmic chants of lock her up,

but we are not a stupid people.

We know full well this patchy place

between the slag heaps

and the scrub pine--

these crumbling houses perched behind

the padlocked plant once known

for truck tires,

will never be great—

or even good.


You say rust belt

and mean the measure

of empty factories

and gutted storefronts.

The jobs bled out.

The eyesores left behind to moulder.

But the rust is mostly in us.

Too many years of children

born to little hope.

Too many years of promises

from windbags in dingy union halls

and air-conditioned buses

painted red, white, and blue.


This afternoon, I take my maul

to the wood pile

by the rusted chain link fence.

Crisp and clear,

It is a fine day to bust things up--

And the making

of that splintered shattered kindling

with a body that burns

is as near as I will ever come to joy.


first appeared in New Verse News

See all the entrants to 126th Weekly Poetry Contest