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Brian Rihlmann





That’s All


what makes the night—

the night

the darkness—

the darkness

is precisely

the absence of light


you can imagine

the dawn

the sunlight

peeking through the forest


but imagining it

doesn’t brighten the path


so you force your eyes open

wide as you can



and flinch

until morning



a line, (a short blue one)


The Mystery


whether you jump

into the mystery

or are shoved

you’ll find it



and then

do you fall

or fly?



on your faith


is there a bottom

or not?


it can’t be falling

when you never




a line, (a short blue one)


No One Can


he comes in

ten minutes late

sits at the desk

beside mine

sighs, and says

“man.... I wish it was 4 already”


I chuckle and nod

then buckle in for the ride

I tap away

break for lunch at noon

breathe a thousand breaths

think a million thoughts


about 3:30 we look at each other

he says “almost over”

I lean back in my chair, “yep”


“almost over”

is supposed to be

a good thing

in this context


yet the lives

are the days

and the hours

and the minutes


I almost ask him

the obvious question

the “where does it go?” thing


but he won’t be able

to answer that

no one can


it’s 4... quittin’ time

I punch the clock

trot out to my car

gotta get ahead

of the pack



a line, (a short blue one)



A Great Job


She gave me

the standard bravado

about how her job

was the greatest:


“I get to dress up

and do my makeup

and look pretty...”


“Uh huh.” I said


“ the money is great

and I set my own hours

and only see the clients I want.”


“Sounds pretty great,” I said.

“maybe I should try it.”


She laughed,

then knelt down

between my legs

and unzipped my fly.


As she worked,

my eye wandered,

and caught the gleam

of a glass pipe

on the nightstand.



a line, (a short blue one)



My Demons Are Not Night Owls


i never have nightmares

my demons are not night owls

they don’t sneak out at 3 a.m.

to terrorize me

with their shenanigans


they rise before dawn

when i do

no matter how quietly

i slip out of bed

and tiptoe to the bathroom


there they are

perched on my shoulders

staring back at me from the mirror

as i rub creases from my face


they begin whispering

about the time

i’m brushing my teeth


and waltz through my head

all day long

clomp and stomp

of clumsy steps

on the hardwood


by nightfall leaning

against each other

shuffling their feet

like the last couple standing

in a marathon dance contest


they collapse eventually

they’ve gotta sleep

sometime too


maybe that’s the upside

to all this



a line, (a blue one)


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