How to Get to Heaven from Ohio

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
Best in Show

How to Get to Heaven from Ohio
Eileen Klug


1. Put your feet up on the dashboard after removing shoes and socks.
Your feet will be warmed by the sun and you will want to

2. Smoke all of the cigarettes, back to back, blue smoke ascending
to the blue sky. This is your offering and the oblation,
this is you tasting your soul. This is you, needing
your own sacrifice, demi-goddess that you are.
This will come in the form of your

3. Stop at Grandpa’s Cheesebarn. Taste samples, revolving around the store
like stars around a cheese moon, stuffing your face
and giggling in a suspiciously mousey way, but

4. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t ever feel guilty for needing
the open road and rainstorms, for singing at the top of your lungs.
This is your heaven and highway and it is time to

5. Make peace with your life. Offer yourself to yourself and lick
the postage stamps that will send you home. Be a skeleton
made entirely of backbone and wishbone.
Be made of mostly heart-muscle and everything else. In the car, pray
to things that will cause problems: hamburgers, sunsets,
Marlboros, old age, youth, highways, the sensation of love
on cold skin, tea. This will make you

6. Shiver for your life—shiver as though everything depends on it.
Never mind the air conditioning—you will shiver your way in to heaven,
way above the roof of the car you were born into.
You will vibrate like a rocket launching into space, leaving
warmth and a handful of coins in the pockets
of your leather jacket—now the shell where you, heaven, and hell
once were. But

7. Don’t cry. You’re not gone. You are from the earth
and of it and always crashing
back to there, exactly where you could be
and exactly how you should be now,
and exactly as you once or always were. I promise, you will

8. Be again.

about the author
Ellie Klug is a junior at the University of Dayton. Originally from Cincinnati, she now lives in Dayton studying psychology and women and gender studies alongside her “Dayton family” and dog, Arrow. Ellie loves performing spoken word poetry, and most recently did so at Celebration of the Arts, held in Dayton’s Schuster Center.