Tag Archives: Glen Campbell

Buffalo

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By Dana Janine Diamond c1993

What did I know of poetry?
White snow and dreams
empty trees below my window
sledding and screaming in the fresh, cold air
When summer came at last,
we played in the tall, blonde weeds
next to the creek
all the houses were built on swampland
we had lovely duck ponds in the yard

In the years before we wanted fences
they sat out back
in their lawn chairs on the edge
of the yard, sunning themselves
my grandmother spoke only Yiddish
her grandmother understood only Greek
they talked for hours and hours
days without purpose
other than just to be

Jazz in underground clubs
and hippies from Chicago
playing folk guitar
in my polished blue living room
I waited in the wings
while Steve sang
“City of New Orleans”
my brother was alongside him
under the spotlight
I was nine
and that’s what I knew

Manicured suburbia
with movies and Niagara Falls
donuts with powder on top
and shoplifting in shopping malls
Buffalo.
home of the spicy Buffalo wings
we traveled in packs
venturing into basements,
and haunted houses
surreptitiously playing
Spin the Bottle
with rum and coke
I don’t ever remember
liking the boys I kissed

Every summer I drove
to Fantasy Island
with my Dad
to hear Glen Campbell
sing
and see the showgirls
lift their legs
“The Sterile Honeycomb”
he wrote.
Arthur, my brother’s friend. Before
he successfully attempted suicide.
So, I knew that poets died
and that made sense to me

I read everything he wrote
and then I started writing
at fifteen, just when my brother stopped.
he moved back home from California
I thought I could not live here
because my brother left
I thought my spot was in the wings,
waiting for songwriters
to sing
I thought I could not write poetry
and survive
I knew that good poets died
and became better ones.
I write stronger now
for having died

Here, alive in the West
Or there, at that time
Snowdrifts or Western sea line
the smell and feel of summer grass
is the same
resting quietly, close to the ground
the poet is reclaimed.

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