Two poems by Brian Rihlmann


Night’s Grace

 

a predawn Sunday morning 

the beauty of the still slumbering city

her neon streets placid and empty 

as the face of a woman 

who drives you mad

when she’s awake

but at least you love 

to watch her sleep

love to lie beside her

and listen to her breathe

when she is as far from you

as the stars, dreaming

and you tell yourself 

that this means something 

that this means anything 

that this peaceful eggshell surface

swaddled in night’s grace

is thick enough 

to bear your heaviness 

through another day 



Route 80


at work, I step out for a little break

behind the building 

about a half mile away 

is the interstate—route 80


a couple thousand miles east 

and about forty years ago

a man came home late from work

he came through the door

with a blast of winter air

saying Big accident...

route 80 was like a sheet of ice

a tractor-trailer jackknifed—


but his story was interrupted 

by his only son

who rushed him

slammed into him

like a pint-sized linebacker 

and grabbed him

around the waist


and the man grunted

and tousled the boy’s hair

and said, Easy, son....

today was a tough one


the boy stood there

hugging his father

he stepped up

onto his steel-toed boots

as Dad walked them both

around the room


the boy could smell oil and machinery

feel the cold emanating 

from those blue coveralls 


now, as he watches the traffic 

whizzing by

or sometimes 

when he’s caught in a bottleneck 

on old 80 himself

breathing exhaust fumes 

and grinding his teeth

he remembers 




Brian Rihlmann lives and writes in Reno, Nevada. His work has appeared in many magazines, including The Rye Whiskey Review, Fearless, Heroin Love Songs, Chiron Review and The Main Street Rag. His latest poetry collection, "Night At My Throat," (2020) was published by Pony One Dog Press.



Two poems by Brian Rihlmann