4 Poems by Brian Rihlmann

NOT A PEEP
men who believe
manhood
is taking it all
whatever they throw at you
without making a peep—
abuse
humiliation
90 hour work weeks
even war…
war against the enemies
of soft cunts in suits
with clean hands
with full bellies and wallets
and blood drenched souls
men who swallow bitterness
like double shots
of the vilest rotgut
and pretend to smile
men drilled with the notion
that the good life
is gritted teeth
and white knuckles
and that heaven
always comes later
much later
WHAT A GLORIOUS END!
every spring
he takes his boys to a pond
where they catch dozens
of tiny perch
little creatures
that wiggle and flop
on the grass
having no idea
of the darker nightmare ahead
they don’t know
they’ll be kept alive
to have the rusty barbs of hooks
shoved back into their mouths
to dangle from invisible threads
in a bigger body of water
to tempt bigger fish
to be swallowed by them
to be dragged, half-eaten
into the boat with them
thrashing in the net
and later
to become man
to feed his flesh
his soul
his terrible gods
and their terrible purposes
A FAT HAPPY SLOB
I wish I was
a fat happy slob
six corn dogs for lunch
and video games all night
caring about nothing
but my next meal
and Sunday’s game
where I’d sit on the sidelines
chili stains on my shirt
and shout out
the quarterback’s
every mistake
I’d waddle and puff
through the days
laugh at anyone
tormented by life
anyone who agonized
about lost love
I couldn’t be broken
and I wouldn’t have
to give up
I never wanted much
anyway
I’d laugh
at their anger
not understanding it
at all
I’d laugh
with no inkling
that the one
whose face I laughed in
wanted to murder me
in the night
that he tossed
and tied the sheets
in angry knots
as I slept
a dreamless sleep
CANNIBALS
the terrors
of the wilderness
or of a room alone
a mind alone
are still preferable
to the terrors
of the crowd
the tiny bites
taken by tiny men
with sharp and tiny teeth
cannibals who nibble
at my soul
to fill their vacancy
I’d rather be
thrown from a ship
Mid-Atlantic
and eaten by a shark
Brian R