Poetry from B. Diehl

Harold Picked a Winner
Standing in line at a Starbucks with you
after a night of uncharacteristically heavy drinking ––
scotch on the rocks and

Your friends are with us and keep talking about
how your one sorority-sister has a big nose
and looks a bit like Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants.

But with you by my side, I don’t mind the gossip.
I don’t even mind that the cashier is openly picking his nose;
I don’t imagine brownish-green boogers, floating in my latté.
So long as you’re laughing, I feel just fine.

There’s just something about you, sweetheart.
I saw it last night, and even now, when I’m sober.
It’s like your smile has a sound
that fills my inner-demons’ ears ––
and they can’t even hear when the summoner calls.

While standing in this line, I don’t mind it’s slow pace.
I’ll stand here all day long, listening to you laugh
at your friends’ cheesy jokes (stolen from Twitter
or some popular movie about college partygoers).

The line moves up; it’s almost our turn.
And the cashier –– “Harold,” according to his nametag ––
is still digging for gold (or maybe itching his brain).

I look back at your face ––
such little makeup, such natural charm ––
and I take out my wallet, happy to pay
(despite my usual reluctance to spending).


At the register, Harold just picked a winner.

And for once in my life,
maybe I did, too.

Phantom Limb Syndrome

You tightened that tourniquet
and sawed me right off,
losing three pints of blood
before torching the stump.

And when you awoke in the ambulance
with your vampiric smile,
spiteful as a wasp (against the gore and the pain),
you said to yourself, “I finally won.”

But now,
you walk with a limp
and the kids all point and laugh ––
nailing that sad-eyed mask
right back on your face.


your act is over; the curtains are closed.
And I’m waiting backstage with a dirty syringe ––

to inject it into your heart and veins:
this high-current fear ––
to dress your supposed “steel nerves”
in a thick coat of rust.


I’ll fucking haunt you forever.


Presidents’ Day
Sitting on the toilet,
you can’t focus on your newspaper.
Something is happening outside ––
ambulances, police-cruisers, fire trucks, gunshots.

You pull a sheet of toilet paper from the roll ––
rough, dry, might-as-well-be cardboard.

Then there you are, tearing up your hemorrhoids:
breaking the skin, feeling the burn, throbbing in pain ––

bleeding and wiping your ass ––

while miles away,
the president wipes his
with your tax dollars.


Premonition in the Parking Lot of a Waffle House
At any moment now, your car will pull up:
the very Honda (championship-white)
you were driving at the time I met you.
And Morrisey’s “Suedehead”
will be playing through its speakers:
the song you’ve had on repeat
for the past four years.

I know you’ll be wearing blue
because that’s what you always wear ––
likely, a blue dress from H&M,
with skinny jeans (one size too small)
dollar-store flip-flops,
hair pulled back in a ballet bun.

And I’ll be waiting by the door ––
still in my early twenties, but feeling fifty-five,
six-foot-zero and one-hundred thirty-nine pounds,
reeking of Bengay and menthol cigarettes,
in need of a shave (which you’ll tell me yourself).

When you approach me with a smirk,
we’ll exchange a one-arm hug, walk in,
and take a seat at the far left corner of the joint
(next to that same window
I remember gazing through,
placing myself in the mountains, the clouds,
the passing cars of strangers on the highway ––
doing my best to escape until the storm
of your one-sided arguing began to clear up.)

I’ve already taken two Advil tablets
for when Jane, the waitress, arrives at our table,
uttering out in that eerie, high-pitched voice,
“Wow, I haven’t seen you two together here in ages!
She’ll talk and talk and talk,
and you’ll politely decline a menu
because you’ll already know what you want:
three eggs (over easy) with rye bread, bacon, home fries.
And you’ll roll your eyes
when you hear me order my usual plate of

Then we’ll have the same conversation
we’ve already had about a million times,
where I’ll admit that I miss you,
and you’ll say you’re confused ––
that you’ve been looking at schools in New York.
Or thinking of getting a passport.
Or switching to girls. Or becoming a nun.

I’ll make many valid points ––
some old ones, some new ones,
but the English language is not endless.
(There are only so many ways to say,
“Face it: there’s nothing left to lose here.”)

When you start getting bored,
you’ll let out a dramatized yawn
without covering your mouth.
“I’m tired,” you’ll mumble, motioning to Jane.
“I need something to wake me up. Ugh.”

And with my tongue gone dry
and my water glass drained,
as I’m sitting there, aging,
stirring my ice, I’ll get that feeling again:
theme-park dizziness from the cycle of you ––
a rabid cycle that will not collapse on itself,
a flesh-eating cycle that belongs in the ground.

So when your coffee arrives
(with exactly three teaspoons of sugar
and two fat-free creamers),
this time, don’t use a coaster.
Leave a moisture-ring behind
when you get up and leave.

The perfect circle will remind me
that I’ve done all I can.


Modern Romance
His blade hides in the sheath,

mimicking the lions of the yellow grass.

Two washrags bathe in a turpentine-tub,

ready to undraw her beauty.

A claustrophobic Jack Daniel screams and kicks,

begging her stomach for regurgitation.

Her eyelids close, reopen ––

seemingly all within a bad joke’s lifespan.

Now, squeaking bedsprings and sadistic moans,

they muffle out the only source

of comfort for her imaginative hope:

a rerun of Law & Order,

streaming on the tube.

A pulse stops.

Denial floats facedown

in a fishbowl spiked with

amphetamine salts.

Oh, how could this have possibly happened?!

Vulnerability unmasked,

a con artist’s skin revealed ––

sixteen-year-old immaculacy slain

by the grinning reflection
in her dilated pupils.


Sixteen Again
I’ve been wanting to tell you
that even though you like Green Day,
I still think you’re punk as fuck.

And I’ve been thinking about your favorite dress:
the baby pink one you decorated with safety pins ––
the one that says, “Hey, I’m a sensitive girl,
but I’m certainly not afraid to kick someone’s ass.”

You have no idea how crazy I am
about your well-rounded taste buds.

When you’re near me, I’m sixteen again ––
romantically offbeat and starry-eyed ––
an uncut Shakespeare with two left hands.

I want to spend an entire week
counting the constellations
in your sun-induced freckles.

I want the ballad of your voice
dancing in my ears at sundown ––
even when I have to wake up
at 4:30 in the morning for work.

And I want you to know
that if your lips were razorblades,
I’d still go in for the kiss.

Does that sound crazy? Maybe so.

But the heart is vicious.
(Isn’t that why it’s caged?)


cram me in between grad school and work ––
and I won’t complain that the space is too small.
Uncoil the scroll of your emotional health ––
and I’ll blot out the stress with my poured-out guts.

If you’re happy, I’m ecstatic.
And that probably means I love you.

So if you want to watch Eat, Pray, Love
for the 27th time, I promise:
unlike last time, I won’t break into a snore
before the end of the opening credits.

And I don’t care
if we’ve only been dating a month,

a week, or even a day.

You don’t have to be embarrassed
when you ask me to buy you tampons.

And if you need a good laugh,
I’ll face-plant into a mud-puddle ––
even if it means ruining my favorite outfit
or breaking my nose
in three different places.

You’re everything to me ––
and I’m not even mad at you
for making me sound
like a fucking cornball in this poem.

Let’s just run away,
the way they do in all those
overdramatic romance films.

We could become roadies
or uncultured backpackers
in the world’s art-capitals,
detached from the “man”
and his grip on our throats.

We can spend our time
for shit we can’t afford,
yet remain totally content
in our 24-carat love.

And every morning, I’ll thank you for teaching me
that perfection does exist (it’s just imperfectly defined).

I know relationships are slot machines,
but you’re worth every risk.

And if love is for fools, throw me a tambourine.

I’ll wear it as a crown.

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  1. Pingback: “The World Smells of Boogers” – Poetry by B. Diehl | FLAPPERHOUSE

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