B. Diehl


In my current fantasy, I dig you up
from your grave and drag you back
to our old guitar-practice space in your mom’s
rickety garage. Your mom isn’t home; she’s on
a long vacation at some private island because
she won 500 zillion dollars from a scratch-off.
The clear water there is healing for her.
Reminds her of how pure your eyes were
before the drugs made them resemble oil spills.

As I prop you up on a wooden stool
and place your favorite Fender on your lap,
2 clumps of cemetery mud
fall from my matted hair,
taking the bad thoughts with them.
Then, one falls from yours, too ––
and everything feels right. You were
never exactly a fan of cleanliness.

You were, however, a fan of the Misfits.
So I stand across from you
with my Epiphone, strumming
the opening chords of “Hybrid Moments.”

And I watch your motionless fingers ––
like I’m waiting for them to join in ––
and it’s okay that they don’t
because the feedback
from your amplifier is in perfect key.

And I notice that your nails are broken
and painted in grime ––
as if you had tried
clawing your way out of your casket.

This is a sign that I made
the right choice by bringing you here.

Now your feedback rises in volume,
drowning out my playing. Your eyes are closed,
of course –– and relaxed-looking ––
just as they were the last few times we hung out.

But this time, you aren’t high.
You’ve been blessed with emotional blankness.

You are no longer caught in the spell
of a witch named Addiction.
You are no longer the rope
in a game of tug of war
between Too Much and Not Enough.

Beyond the garage window, I can see
that the final snowfall of the year has ended.
I start thinking of the seasons as people,
visualizing Spring stabbing Winter in the chest.

This image makes me wince
because death is stupid.

I look back at you.

Suddenly, aloe plants sprout
from your fingertips.
Your skin takes on a bright-yellow glow.
You jump up from your stool and smash
your guitar into 1,000 pieces. Then you laugh
and you hug me and you kick over
your screaming amplifier ––
and there are sparks
shooting out of the wires, and the power
goes out, and I can’t see you
anymore, but I know you’re still there.

You have to be.


B. Diehl is the author of the poetry collections Ballpoint Penitentiary and Zeller’s Alley. His work has been published by Hobart, BOAAT Press, Literary Orphans, Words Dance, Maudlin House, CLASH Media, and other venues. He is also one of two editors of Philosophical Idiot. When he is not doing writing, editing, or breathing in dust at his warehouse job, he is usually hanging out with his cats.