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.