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Poem of the Week: Eulogy for the New Buffalo or The Pursuit of Beauty is Killing our Children by Lizz Schumer

By Lizz Schumer

I’d know your poetry anywhere

I whisper to the topography of lonely melodies

Winding their way down West Side streets

Pocked with potholes, choking on heroin burnouts.

My feet stumble over cracks in the sidewalk or

I can’t stay upright through this noise pollution

Like tattered star-torn flags waving in restaurant vents

Grease-soaked breezes for a polluted afternoon.

And I ask myself: Why do I capitalize your name

When you’re no longer god or fallen savior

Your pronouns on an old receipt, crumpled

Kept in my back pocket where it festers, oozing.

Homeless prophets eulogize their city

On corners the yuppies own with fresh-mowed lawns

And me in my leather shoes and fringed kimono

Am part of the privilege, the taproot of the problem.

But you don’t appear in windows on these streets

Your face never squatted porches smoking.

I feel safer here, away from something sacred

Incense can’t compete with pizza fumes.

You’re no priest, no altar boy kneeling

And no one confesses secrets in your sacristy

As I wept beneath your strained glass windows

Dreaming of a city with less crinkled spires.

Coming home as twilight lingers, crackles

Driving the wrong way down the Kensington, wondering

How many more babies have to die, break needles

Before we admit we’re still the problem.

Contributor’s Note: LIZZ SCHUMER is a journalism professor at Canisius College and teaches creative writing to high school students through National Geographic Student Expeditions. She is the author of the novel “Buffalo Steel” (Black Rose Writing, 2013) and is a contributing writer for a number of local publications. Her work can be found online at lizzschumer.com.

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