2 poems by: brian rihlmann

pretty amazing

I unload the empty trays
from the van and notice
one is broken. No pieces
missing, but this is
one of the things they
warned me about.
I show the kitchen boss
and he says Oh yeah…
toss that one for sure.
I finger a sharp point
of the shattered plastic
and say I guess that
would make a good shiv.
They can make one
out of just about anything,
he says. It’s pretty amazing.
I go out through the side door
and toss the deadly tray
in the dumpster. I congratulate
myself for possibly saving
a life. Then I look east
toward the horizon and
wonder just how vicious
I might become if someone
told me I couldn’t see it


I think you’re back in Sacramento now,
from a few tidbits I found online.
You’re not on social media at all.
As social a critter as you were,
I’m puzzled by that—
are you still dodging warrants
and using fake identities?
I remember driving you down
to Social Security that time.
I didn’t think you’d get away
with using a dead woman’s name,
but you skillfully spun your tale—
how terrified you were when he
grabbed you and snatched your purse;
how you screamed for help
but there were no heroes around.
And everything was in there—
your ID and Social Security card
and even the rent money, too, and
then you threw in some tears to seal the deal.
You charmed the grizzled bureaucrat,
and should I have been surprised?
How could they not buy it?
You played innocence
as well as anyone I ever saw.
But this is all hindsight—
I was 22 and somehow,
I didn’t see how you’d fooled me too;
(or I did and just didn’t care)
even despite warrants, track marks,
and smeared lipstick;
all those agonizing wee morning hours
I filled trashcans with beer bottles
and ashtrays with cigarettes
smoked down to the filter,
as I waited on you to come home
from yet another “girl’s night out.”

a poet with an angle

she’s a poet
with an angle—literally
every one of her photos
taken from the same
high perspective
as though I’m looking down on her
while she sucks me off—
those big doll eyes, red lips
and push up bra
that infinite cleavage
but I’ve learned from awkward encounters
with horny strangers or hookers
first met online
just how much that particular
deceptive angle may hide
I used to comment favorably
on her poetry
though it wasn’t really my style
but today
when I saw her face
her cleavage
from that same angle
for about the hundredth time
the only comment I
wanted to make was—
Can I cum on your tits?
but then I’d be a pig like all the rest
and anyway
she’d probably have responded
just like the last girl I asked
in real life
which was—

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