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When Severed Ears Sing You Songs – Justin Karcher’s Book Launch

Buffalo poet Justin Karcher will be celebrating his new book launch at Alley Cat on Allen Street, Wednesday, February 8. If you’re a fan of Karcher’s work, or you’re a fan of the local poetry scene, come out and support Karcher and his talented friends for the book launch and readings.

Alley Cat does an excellent job of supporting this city’s creative talents. They feature a wide array of musicians, poets, etc., in a setting that is very conducive to this sort of live art performance.

The event is being hosted by Hosted by CWP Collective Press, which had the following to say about Karcher (who has been featured on Buffalo Rising a number of times):

Step right up and bear witness to the whisky soaked ravings of a madman. One of the last in a dying breed of true artistic geniuses. A poet, who serves them straight up, un-muddled, no chaser. Get out your cookers and tie off, draw this up and find a vein, catch a nod with the genuine heavenly muse. Come along on this Rust Belt adventure. Belly up, Justin is pouring thimblefuls of the good stuff he keeps beneath the bar. Not for the faint of heart or heartless feigners. This is the real deal, un-cut, small batch Buffalo poetry. -Nathanael William Stolte, Co-Founder of CWP Collective Press

When Severed Ears Sing You Songs – A collection of poems about battling addiction in Buffalo.

Featured Poets at the event:

  • Justin Karcher (reading from his new chapbook)
  • Megan Kemple
  • Ben Brindise
  • Aidan Ryan
  • Nathanael William Stolte

When Severed Ears Sing You Songs – Justin Karcher’s Book Launch

February 8, 2017 | 8pm @ Alley Cat | 199 Allen Street | Buffalo NY

See Facebook event

Following is one of Karcher’s latest poems, titled:


The Rise and Fall of the Canalside Christmas Tree

Part One


It’s December 3rd

And I’m walking along the water at Canalside

Toward the big Christmas tree near First Niagara Center.


Not really big. This is Buffalo after all.

It looks mangled, uneven, not lush,

Like that tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas.


Tonight is the lighting ceremony

And everyone seems excited and ready for it,

But I’m not, because I read the news today,


Like that Beatles song, and I read that hundreds of babies

Are expected to go through withdrawal this year

As the opioid epidemic continues in Erie County,


Babies who can’t self sooth, with rub marks on their faces,

Their knees and their elbows from trying to comfort themselves

Against the linen. A lot of mothers are in fear.


So, yeah, the Christmas tree looks like a syringe aimed heavenwards

And I know that when the lights get turned on,

The sky will go numb and no fat messiah will come


And up in the sky youthful clouds will overdose and spit out smelly snow

And all the old clouds will roll around in the mess and cry about

What could’ve been and down here on the ground,


All the hourglasses will be body bagged in frostbite

And me and everyone I know will be enthroned in used tissues

Making origami spirit animals out of the things that make us sick


And deep down, we’re hoping it’s true that times of tragedy

Reveal true leadership, that when all is said and done,

We’ll climb to the sky and resurrect all the dead clouds –


Then we’ll carry them on our backs until we’re in a different sky

Looking down on a different Earth, a different city,

And all those youthful clouds that had so much potential


Will rain out their regrets and snow out their silences

And this different Earth will be flooded

With flowers that understand pain and failure.


When the Christmas tree bursts into fake flames,

I’m sitting on a bench across from the Tim Hortons

Chain smoking strokes and getting dizzy. Suddenly


I’m hit by sadness and now I’m getting desperate,

So I grab my iPhone, go on YouTube and look up Christmas commercials

From the 80’s. I want to miss my childhood again.


I want my faith restored, to believe in a gentler form of capitalism,

For Nintendos of hot chocolate to melt the heroin in my heart

Until my power’s back on and I can leave the house again


Without the world always going to shit. I want to play outside

And shove my face into buffets of the freshest snow,

Eat a world that isn’t getting warmer. I want to have drinks with polar bears


In ice bars at the edge of the universe. I don’t want kids to die.

I just want the world to be a better place. The anger is rising though

And there’s no telling where it will end. Drug dependent babies everywhere


Will burst out of their prenatal coffins like little Nosferatus

Or like betrayed toys on Christmas morning

Breaking out of their boxes just to scream at us,


To tell us that playtime’s over, that it’s time to get real,

Like that show on MTV but it’s not like the old days anymore.

So I guess we must all go bulimic on our nostalgia


And get it out of our systems. We look fat and disgusting

Because of the things we cling to, ignoring everything going on around us,

And it’s like we wear our nostalgias around our necks like nooses


And when there’s always a noose around your neck,

It’s always that much easier for the world to hang you out to dry.

We must be stronger – now, more than ever. Now I want a drink


To forget about all this stuff. These days, I guess righteousness

Is like a mayfly, having too short a lifespan. I don’t know,

Maybe I’m jealous of drug dependent babies,


That they came into this world gripping addiction

While me and everyone I know are desperate to get it.

Now I’m staring at all the families circling around the big Christmas tree


Singing slaver songs and snuffing out reality.

I finish my cigarette and head to Panorama on Seven nearby

Where Dale feeds me Old Fashioneds until I’m good and drunk


And feeling old fashioned myself like a medieval town crier.

Now I’m ready to bawl my eyes out with any stranger ready to play.

As I exit the bar, I notice the big Christmas tree is still all lit up


And the light is so blinding and scary like something out of Genesis.

I imagine me and everyone I know being swallowed up by its flames.

I know what I must do: I walk up to the big Christmas tree and undo my fly.


I begin to piss all over it hoping it will put out all those little flames.

I put everything I have into the piss – all my anger, nostalgia, sadness,

Hope for the future, but the big Christmas tree, it just keeps burning,


Because no matter how much piss you have in you, you can’t put out a fake fire.

Now I’m dejected, aware of all the failure inside me, so I fall to my knees

And light up yet another cigarette, because cancer seems like a real good idea now


And suddenly, I hear the cries of babies all around me – roaring out of the distance,

Roaring from across the water – and then I see them, crawling toward me,

All the drug dependent babies. They’re coming for us all, for revenge.


I begin to crawl toward them too, hoping we can meet in the middle,

But deep down, I know that’s not enough – now, more than ever.

I will let them kill me and there will be a smile on my cold, dead face


When they dump my old fashioned body into the water.

There will be an even bigger smile on my cold, dead face

When my ghost listens to them conquer the city and then the world.


Part Two


Yesterday I watched men wearing neon beanies

Take down the Christmas tree at Canalside.


I was chain smoking

And impressed with their surgical precision.


Their chainsaws were singing

Like drunk actors at karaoke.


I was taken aback by the fact

That no one else was watching.


It made me angry, because it seems so many of us

Just half-ass our way through life.


During the lighting ceremony,

There were families everywhere.


Where was everyone

When the tree was cut to pieces like a steak?


It’s important to experience both a rise and fall.

One must first self-destruct to truly appreciate a rebirth –


And these days, when everything around us is being cut to pieces,

I think it’s important for us to throw our whole bodies into the American surgery.


We can’t just pay attention when things are pretty;

We must get our hands angry and dirty.


All of our fists, including our hearts, must rise up in protest.

Bring on the chainsaws.


It is our responsibility to reassemble

And be as strong as we can possibly be.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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