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Three poems by Sara Ries Dziekonski

Our Diner’s Red

neon sign hums while most

of the world slumbers, metal-panel

gown aglow in the sunrise. Rust.

Ketchup with drowned bits of home

fries and sausage link butts, the scrambled

days of lightning lunch breaks.

Cracked knuckles of blue collar workers,

tomato soup sweating in the steam table,

my raw hands when I scrub the pots and pans.

Strip steak my father slices then slaps

back in its blood. Paprika. Diner bones.

Newspaper headlines.

Wednesday’s special:

Beef lasagna, with sauce that dots our shirts

when we stand by the stove and stir.

The penny gumball machine

by counter one. Grill press to my chest

when a customer won’t say thank you.

Luden’s wild cherry throat drops

in the smudged glass jar above the grill

my brother and I suck on like candy.

My father’s face when I forget to hang

an order. The ring rings, rush of a full

house. Order up.

The smell of liver & onions, strawberry

rhubarb born from the oven. My mother’s rouge,

her full-hearted Hello. Diner love.

The silent worker

who could rub two words together

and make a fire.

Woman Truckers’ Poem

Found poem from npr’s article, “Truck Driving Has Long Been A Man’s World. Meet the Women Changing That.“

Drive a week;

make a thousand.

Quick dollars.

See the country

from the cabin of a truck,

no manager over her shoulder.

But also sleep in cots,

risk blood clots.

Among the most dangerous jobs,

hauling 70 feet of truck.

First climb into a truck—

many get intimidated.

Everything is bigger—

mirrors, wheel, gearbox.

At refueling stops, some men

give smirks or side-eyes.

It doesn’t bother her.

Her mother also drives.

Hear her say Sexism on the road

doesn’t deter me from driving.

Hear her say Guys,

you better watch out

‘cause from now on

this right here

is a woman’s industry.

Turn the key, change gears.

Feel the subtle shift

in the engine’s rumble.

Feel the power.

See the atmosphere

transform, how

everything changes.

Metal Moon

Tonight the moon

is metal. Look up,

your marrow shines

on the sleeve

of sky.

Moon, my

communion wafer

and the table

where my ancestors

sit up high.

Tonight, the moon

is an operating table,

hooked stars steep in our blood.


the moon is metal.

Sara Ries Dziekonski (Sara Ries), a Buffalo native, holds an MFA in poetry from Chatham University. Her first book, Come In, We're Open, which she wrote about growing up in her parents’ diner, won the Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition and was published in June 2010 by the NFSPS Press. Her poem, “Fish Fry Daughter,” was selected by Ted Kooser for his American Life in Poetry column. Ries Dziekonski taught composition and literature at Erie Community College before teaching for SENA in Colombia. Her chapbooks include Snow Angels on the Living Room Floor (Finishing Line Press 2018) and Marrying Maracuyá (Main Street Rag 2021), which won the Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Competition. She lives with her husband, son, and cat and works for Keep St. Pete Lit as an editor and creative writing teacher. She is the co-founder of Poetry Midwives Editing Services which she offers through Keep St. Pete Lit.

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