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What Happens to the Sky When a Broken City Jumps for Joy

Buffalo Bills beat Baltimore Ravens
advance to first AFC Championship game
since 1993, reports of fireworks
being set off across Western New York
the sky blasted into tiny pieces

the sea-creatures of the Southern Tier
swimming to the surface after years of drowning
and the oxygen tastes so, so good
a necessary relief from all the disappointment
we’ve experienced

God, government, the gridiron
it’s all been a mess
a huge understatement, I know
but they’re important, the little things
that give us hope, and when Taron Johnson
snatched that pick 6, it felt like a miracle

like a dream where you come across a horse
with a broken leg and you stare at it for a while
unsure of what to do and then a lightbulb goes off
how you suddenly remember that you’re carrying a backpack

full of old newspapers and a pair of scissors
so you start cutting up obituaries of loved ones you’ve lost
all the articles about your neighborhood, how resurgence
has come and gone, the false promises of a better life for everyone
how you fashion a paper crown out of the ink and the lies
and place it on the horse’s head

then you wait for hope to recycle movement
for it to strengthen bone, for it to speed up atoms
until we all can run like laser beams into the future
a celebration worth having when we feel whole again
it’s a moment most of us will remember
for the rest of our lives, but some things still don’t add up

after the game, Carly’s like, “It’s sad that bars are closed
because they’d be making a lot of money right now”
and as we’re driving on the 290 on our way home
we have to navigate through all the drunk drivers
and on the side of the road, there are billboards from the FBI
seeking information about the U.S. Capitol violence

then Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” comes on the radio
and the lyrics really hit home, about how
we’re all waiting so long for our love vibration
meanwhile everyone’s honking but no one crashes
and when we get home, our jubilant neighbors are smoking
in the driveway and they’re like, “Go Bills!” and we get to talking
about that amazing interception and what a sad, crazy
magical year it’s been, in more ways than one

then as I’m falling asleep, I check Twitter for Bills news
and see that a bunch of fans are celebrating the big win
in Niagara Square and it feels weird because a few months ago
the Square was jam-packed with peaceful protestors
and brutal cops, songs of justice and a river of blood
now there’s a different kind of pandemonium
well, at least there’s happiness tonight, a city full of people
forgetting about everything else, and I’m no different

the next day, I’m out for a walk on Richmond
and there’s this snowbank that someone has painted “Go Bills” on
the bright red cutting through my eyes
and suddenly I envision a bunch of children armed with brooms
sneaking out the windows of their hungover homes
while their parents are still passed out with smiles on their faces
and the kids start cleaning the streets, tenderly sweeping up
last night’s blown-off fingers, whatever it takes
to pick up the pieces, because maybe, just maybe
this is a new vibration

Written by Justin Karcher

Justin Karcher is currently working from home. Since he is no longer spending time getting to and from work, he is finding some extra time to work on his poetry.

View All Articles by Justin Karcher
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