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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.

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