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.
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.
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
Tonight the moon
is metal. Look up,
your marrow shines
on the sleeve
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.