Wednesday, July 25, 2018


                     There’s a Hole in my Heart where the Rustbelt was Born
                                               (for Matt and Mark Borczon)

seagulls kite the backdrop
of a white blue sky
then drop around
the Methodist Tower
cross above the Boston Store
the Palace, the Renaissance
then circle round the Warner
to the YMCA then out of sight
around me on the seventh
floor of the Avalon

I walk State. Saturday night
streets are empty. across vacant lots
I count the steeples of three
churches backlit, fading
there’s a wedding in the brewery
at the old train station
there was another
as I left the hotel

they have a beer on tap
named for a woman
who died tragically
they say she still haunts
the back stairwell
another memory
held, desperate
not to be forgotten

then again maybe it’s all memories
I drive down 12th
with its vacant warehouses
Dowling’s Tavern looks to collapse
there’s a mural that depicts
the industry this city was known for
that industry is dead

there is hole in my childhood
where the rustbelt was born
my first memories coming
as the steel industries pulled out
of Pittsburgh. so many brokeback
hunkies shell shocked, not comprehending
the dream was over. the white dresses
soot black by two in the afternoon
gone, the smog cleared and no better
America was found. people left
people killed themselves
people went back to work
maybe it was how it always was
maybe the desperation was only setting in

as I travel around the country
it’s what I look for
my memories of childhood
come to life. Nostalgia to be sure
I find it in cities everywhere
in cities like
Erie, Cleveland, Rochester
Detroit, Youngstown, Birmingham
Milwaukee and more
I’m looking backwards in the ruin

they call it rustbelt pornography
they call it ruin porn
but the only thing dirty
about it is we let it happen
we let the rich slowly rob us
take away our livelihoods, allow us no
option but struggle. the narrative
for our generations are the same
we are lazy this is why we’re poor

I don’t know, the people I know
hustle to make ends meet
the people I know make art
to make some kind of soul
out of their America. the myth
of the dream was just that
just like the myth that there’s
always a job if you work hard
if you behave

we have a presidency that sells
make America great again
as a tag, but there has never
been an investment in America
or the equality of Americans
the poor have always been taught
to fight each other, because of skin
because of jobs, because of a hierarchy
that was put in place
to keep us from looking up
at those above who watch
us steal the crumbs

there is a hole in my heart
where the rustbelt formed
tonight, State street sleeps
uneasy and desperate
the seagulls are laughing
we share memories of America
that was never made of us
that was never made for me

--Jason Baldinger

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