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Benjamin Brindise is a Teaching Artist at the Just Buffalo Literary Center. He has been a guest speaker at a number of institutes for higher learning across New York state and Canada discussing such topics as: A Story of Failure, Poetry and Mental Health, Introduction to Poetry Slam, and Transparency: On Being Understood. He represented Buffalo, NY, in the 2015 and 2016 National Poetry Slam and most recently returned from The Whistle Stop '16 Poets and Comics Pre-Debate Tour, having his work featured in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Fredonia, and Toronto, ON.

1 poem by Ben Brindise

7 a.m. in Buffalo


It's 7 a.m.
and the radio is banging away about how the Bills are awful -
I have this feeling that if I close my eyes and let go of the wheel
I'd end up crashed into something that someone would have taken a picture of
and hashtagged: That's so Buffalo

The flames would eat up the rust on the side of my car
and in my dying moments
I'd think about some weird metaphor for the collapse of the steel industry
Going out on some narrative my location has always bolted me to

This all feels normal
I'm very used to this at 7 a.m.

Jack Eichel has just busted his leg
Years of being bad on purpose just to finally see some glimmer of hope
and it goes out like a capped candle
Second chances skating on icy rinks that leave it almost impossible to stand up
It makes you wonder if second chances are real -
or if they don't just shove you out there to see what you look like scrambling

I come around the curve to the 290
and right before it splits to take me away from Tonawanda
I see these balloons on the road sideThey're
dipping their heads on the shoulder
drifting up away to let their ribbons come to rest among the uncut grass -
They're the kind I used to sell to flustered single mothers at Dollar General
shining silver, the material like some star ship beneath your fingertips

And in that short period of time
the span that coffee will wash away when
sleep still dances on your eyelids
and you ask yourself what the fuck you are doing
doing what you're doing without ever asking yourself why you're doing it


When you wonder if this is all it is -
The same construction zones where you can't go over 45 mph for 6 months at a time
or wide right, or Jack Eichel busting his fucking leg the day before the season starts

In that time I start to ask myself if we aren't all just balloons floating on the roadside
being pushed around by whatever we happen to be surrounded by
put there as placeholders for things that could have had a choice

Memories deflating
Our lives -
memorials made of air

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