4 From Brian Rihlmann

Blue Collar Noir, Brian Rihlmann, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine


we have all suckled
at her plastic breasts
flowing with narcotic milk
sugary sweet

on screen
even junkies
store clerks
and people like us
with something
we don’t see in the mirror

but oh
the weaning
the horror of L.A. streets
the tedium of the office job
the rusted edge of real love
after that

easier to live and die
in that hollowed out space
in the couch cushions
sucked into the sponge
of another’s story

a sanctuary
where every hoarded poison
can be safely spilled




From the warmth
of my driver’s seat,
I watch him shivering
in the cold,
looking young and healthy
but hacking and spitting
gobs of yellow phlegm
in between drags
of his morning E-cig,
blowing mushroom clouds
into the frigid January air.

Before my eyes,
he morphs into a symbol,
and it strikes me just right,
and the laughter
roars from my mouth,
the absurdity bursting forth
like a rush of polluted water
from a fracked and defiled
mountain spring.

My god…
what a marvelous disaster
of a species we truly are,
our big clever brains
like a comet,
a fireball in the sky
growing larger
in broad daylight.



I could post
a poem on Facebook,
words like barbed hooks
festooned with little ribbons
of flesh and soul
and dripping blood…


and get a couple of “likes”
from friends.

Or I could post a meme,
filled with
a dead man’s stolen words
and suffering,

or the pontifications
of celebrities,
movie stars,
silver spoon brats,

or some sentimental, regurgitated,
pseudo spiritual horseshit,
birthed from a mysterious source,

and get a hundred.

You just can’t compete
with the authority
of the anonymous,
the famous,
or the dead…

or the brevity
and neatly packaged,
wrapped up in a red ribbon truth
of the meme.



Things are definitely fucked,

when you read the headline

and your only thought is,

“Shit…another one?”


And you don’t read the article,

because you know the story

like a bad song stuck on repeat.


How everyone in the place

thought it was firecrackers

or a car backfiring

but quickly realized it wasn’t,

and then screamed and ran,

ducking and hiding

in corners and under tables,


while some of the bullets

shattered glass,

and some found flesh,

and the sacrificial blood ran

dark on the floor,


and then one final shot

found its target,

the target

that was the goal

right from the start,


the dead and bleeding bodies

only incidental,

a way to build up to it,

to summon courage

like a better man would have

with whiskey,

like they used to –


a bottle,

and a loaded pistol,

sitting in the bathtub

listening to sad songs

on the radio.


Don’t you guys

do it that way anymore?


Instead, you drag children down

with you into inescapable darkness

to force your own hand,

because how can you

face the world after this?


Now you can do it…

and it almost seems easy.


Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi autobiographical, confessional free verse. Folk poetry…for folks. He has been published in Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, The Rye Whiskey Review, Cajun Mutt Press and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry.

Brian R