Real. Buffalo. Poetry. – I Love Being Sleep Deprived in Buffalo

I love songs about heartbreak and drinking white wine into the small hours

And playing with her platinum hair shining in the moonlight and staying up all night

Smoking strong French cigarettes and chatting with a pack of old tarot cards,

Because it’s a bleak world of asphalt astronauts out there as the sun dips below the horizon

And sometimes they can’t break through the storm and land on their feet.

I see them flailing madly in a vain effort to stop the future from happening


And here I am, no different from them, walking around AM Buffalo listening to Sinatra’s

“In the Wee Small Hours” on my first generation iPod, feeling all distant and sleep deprived,

Floating on a star-shaped balloon with a small hole in it, the whole world below me

Is downward spiraling into sadness and hard-working heartbreak

Where it always seems dark inside and out, and monsters are like mushrooms

Growing only in their dark silence. I suppose I’ll be joining them in oblivion soon enough,


But let’s just hope I improve my pillow sanity in the meantime, maybe get some rest

At the tip of the biggest iceberg, something casting a long shadow over urban areas

And melting cars on the street. Something’s gotta give because my steely resolve isn’t enough.

Look, if you’re going out and getting your hands dirty you do it for love, listening to everyone

And buying in. Take me for example: I run into some friends in the parking lot

Of an abandoned 7-Eleven doing drugs around a chicken wing crucifix,


Scajaquada stigmata wounds on the palms of their hands. Yeah, I know what’s going on:

They love Buffalo so much that the city’s wounds have appeared on their bodies.

They’re sharing in the city’s sufferings, participating in its agonizing redemption.

This picture of them makes me wanna cry because they’re perfect. I wanna stay connected

Before the curtain drops, but I’m not ready for someone else’s wounds. I wanna help though

So I grab a soaking wet sponge and squeeze loganberry all over their bodies like cool water.


After soothing their wounds I bid them farewell and walk to gloomy Canalside on Lake Erie.

The lake is dressed to the nines in her beret, red dress, and fox fur. I know I’m awake

But it feels like I’m in a dream. I begin to serenade her some Sinatra like it was yesterday.

Soon after I’m joined by other sleep deprived crooners, some of them wearing crumpled

Dark pinstripe suits, others are tailored to absolute perfection. Together we sing

Like our lives depend on it until the darkness feels more like the sun on a hot summer day.


Here am I reading the three poems here in this YouTube video – “Tailgating at the Gates of Hell,” “I Love Being Sleep Deprived in Buffalo,” and ” It’s Good to Honor the Dead.”


Written by Justin Karcher

Justin Karcher (@justin_karcher) is a poet and playwright living in Buffalo, NY. Recent works have appeared in The Pickled Body, 3:AM Magazine, The Buffalo News, Plenitude Magazine, Buffalo Rising, and more. He is the winner of the 2015 Just Buffalo Literary Center members’ writing competition and has been nominated for Best Writer and Best Poet in ARTVOICE Best of Buffalo the past five years.

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