Three Poems from Brian Rihlmann

MIDDLE FINGERS

I watched from across the room

as he stabbed the keys

with his middle fingers

as though every letter

and every word

was saying

“Fuck you!”

“Fuck you!”

“Fuck you!”

 

and I thought—

“A poet!”

 

I looked closer—

the tailored suit

the clean shaven face

every hair on his head

in perfect order…

 

then I saw the Wall Street Journal

on his table

and deflated—

 

a business man

 

too bad…

I’d have liked to read

some of that shit!

 

maybe I’ll start typing

like that…

see what comes out

 

HEMOPHILIA

 

more are hemophiliac

than is usually realized

 

and it’s not

a recent phenomenon either

despite all the shouting…

 

Cain?

even God himself

or the current tough guy

in the mansion

 

after the first few—

or 10 or 20…

we learn to avoid

the sharp edges

 

I’ve heard it said

to lean in

to become inured

thickened

 

but I’m a big coward

and there’s already

so much blood

 

you can’t go anywhere

without slipping in pools

 

“Oh!  I’m sorry!”

“Is that yours?”

“No…I think it’s mine…”

 

people stalk and creep

with eyes askance

faces war painted

 

in crowds

a crimson fog appears

 

if you squint

you can see it

hovering

 

as it dampens

and unites us

unknowingly

in red

 

PROPAGANDA MACHINE

 

sometimes

a joke is made

and it doesn’t seem

to cost you much

you smile

or even laugh

along with the others

and it’s a genuine laugh—

even you bought it

and surprised yourself

 

but later

after the moment’s faded

as you sit in a room

alone

the machine clicks on

so softly

and does what it does

 

you don’t even hear it

humming along

as it dissects

and analyzes

and feeds you a steady stream

of propaganda

until you’re knotted

until you seethe

until the next time

you see that motherfucker!

Brian R