"Factory Hands" by B. Diehl

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Back inside the hollow abyss
of migraines and time clocks,
I’ve got on my steel-toe boots
and my factory hands.
At the conveyer belt,
I sort bicycle parts by color.
A monkey with one limb
could do this job. Not
a second goes by
where I don’t feel fruitless.

To pass time, I start peeling
a blister from my thumb,
and everyone watches
with their cyborg eyes.

Something about these people
makes me more alienated than usual.

They don’t know I write poetry.
They don’t know my zodiac sign.
They don’t know I’ve been jumping
from shrink to shrink for years,
collecting diagnoses like baseball cards.
They don’t know about the freckle
on the underside of my penis.
They don’t know my favorite food,
song, movie, feeling, or number.

I don’t even know their names.

Someone to my left makes a comment
about the weather outside.
Someone else asks me if I’m watching
“the game” on Monday.

For some reason, I want to assemble
a bicycle and ride it
straight into the trash compactor.

Perhaps that would give my coworkers
something of value to talk about.

Am I supposed to glad
that my wallet is getting thicker?


All I can think
is that I hate the way it feels
in my pocket. There is
no room for poems anymore.


"Xanax & Chocolate" by B. Diehl


When the clock’s hands strangle
the honeymoon phase, I’ll remember today.

When the laughter turns to crying
and we glare more than fuck ––
when the passion starts to shrivel
in a drought of lust, I’ll remember today.

When this quiet bedroom becomes
a full-blown warzone
and our hearts are fighting to the death ––
when flower-vases shatter upon
peeling-paint walls, I’ll remember today.

I’ll remember today ––
your hand on my chest, your Xanax tongue
against the roof of my mouth. Today:
before “darling” and “baby” are replaced
with “asshole” and “douchebag.”
Before a light caress turns
into a close-fisted punch. Before my knees
are bruised from begging you to stay.
Today: before our chocolate charisma
melts in the poison sun. Before the thorns
grow bigger than the head of the rose.

Today, you are far from gone.
Your eyes are loyal dogs. They do not
wander. They’re fixed on me
as though I’m made of something pure.

But even as you’re perched
on my bed with that firecracker grin,
and the past and the future simmer
in the dreamy heat from the present ––
and even as you lean in for another kiss
while everything around us
runs like fresh paint
on the hottest day of the year,

I think you should know
that I already miss you.