Toledo City Paper joined The Fair Housing Center, the Arts Commission and the Toledo Lucas County Public Library asking Toledoans to submit short poems inspired by their zip code — with the number of words in each line of the poem determined by the corresponding digit in their zip code.
The contest, which began in 2016, this year received over 250 submissions. Here’s a small selection of entries which scored highly with our judges.
The winners will be determined during our 419 Day Celebration, from 5:30-7:30pm on Thursday, April 19 at Main Branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (325 N. Michigan St.) in downtown Toledo.
43613 resident for two years.
Putting my boys to sleep in the city, all I want to do is to sit on my porch, look at the stars in the sky while listening to the vehicles on the highway. Instead, I hear random gunshots and numerous of dogs barking.
Midnight stars shine above
Sounds of gunshots
Vehicles on highway racing fast, loud
Kids fast asleep
43614 resident for about 30 years.
I have great memories of growing up in 43614 and the area has so many hidden gems! Kids from the area know the thrill of sledding down the huge hill by Harvard Elementary and the excitement of a fresh donut from Wixey Bakery.
On Harvard’s frozen hill
we caught snow
in our mouths, then thawed our
with Wixey’s chocolate glaze.
Monclova, home of homophobes.
Ku Klux Klan
In hooded robes, with those
Trump Pence posters
A most deplorable home to bloated voters.
43614 resident for roughly ten years.
I walk to Delaware Park when I need to get away from the roar of the trail and a few summers ago, I met a rough looking red fox. I’ve been calling them “Ghost” and I see them pretty often. If you need anything else, please let me know.
there’s a fox that
lives in Delaware
Park. He watches from the bushes,
pretend I don’t see.
43615 resident for four and a half years.
The inspiration for this poem came from a neighbor of mine who is also one of my mom’s students. Lately, he has been riding his bike through the neighborhood everyday, and it never ceases to make me smile.
to the autistic boy
who just learned
to ride a two wheeled bike
for wind on my face
43612 resident for 18 years.
What inspired my poem was finding out an old friend of mine lost his life from a heroin overdose, less than a mile from my home. It affects so many more people than you realize, and it’s a sad reality in many neighborhoods.
Silence, until you hear
the ambulance sirens.
Your friend took his last breath;
East Side/43605 resident for three years.
My poem was inspired by a need for change in my neighborhood. A lot more could be done to address economic injustice, homelessness, mental health issues, etc…, but priorities seem to lie elsewhere for now.
I see systemic poverty
ugly and unnecessary
potholes and panhandlers proliferate so abundantly
Naively I dream of possibilities
43613 resident for most of my life.
This poem was inspired by an abandoned car with a beehive in the engine block. I am interested in nature reclaiming the vestiges of industry.
Pokeweed around the Pontiac
in the backyard,
a beehive in the engine block,
oil and honey.
43609 resident no longer, but I spent many years there as a kid. My parents still live there, so I’m still in that area on a regular basis.
When I was 13, I used to wait for the bus with a group of kids who were into heavy metal and were not interested in being my friends. To pass the (pre-smartphone) time, I would daydream about dorky stuff like instruments of the orchestra, my stamp collection, and horses.
I’m in seventh grade
Waiting for TARTA
On the steps of El Tipico
(no one waiting here speaks
to anyone else)
The others: smoking, sneering; Me: pretending I’m a horse
43614 resident for three and a half years.
When we first moved here, my husband and I struggled to find a place that felt like home to us, but then we found our little rental property near the Maumee River in south Toledo. We love walking our greyhound in our beautiful neighborhood overlooking the water.
We chose this house
near the river,
the dryness of our skin pulling
closer to the water
When the neighbors moved
And left me
Washed away with the sidewalk chalk,
Once the sun reappeared
And now I need
A glitchy GPS
To get around a place
I thought I could never forget.
(But I did)
Outside the house, waiting
To go in.
I’m nervous to see the inside
The door opens and I gasp–
Ice in the river
Spotted tiger lillies
Ants in the grass and
Cicada shells on the pines
Community homes line up
Unity sign-up, Now!
Our homes are not a dump
( Unspoken Politics)
Manhattan, LaGrange, Stickney, Central
Heritage, history, heart
Known as the Old Polish Village
Where my great great grandparents got their start
Dale’s colossal pancake breakfast
12 o’clock sun
Safety colored grass and family
Short drives and corn fields
Vast potholes litter roads
Garden, zoo, museum
Streets cracked and broken, like citizens
Lively; spring’s beginning
Up in the fort
Built for two
I spent my summer nights reading
(Only sometimes past my bedtime)
With the string lights and warm breeze guiding me
kids flock about houses
playing with nature
meeting your friend around the corner