Dead Beat Dad & More Poems by Brian Rihlmann

 
i.
 
Deadbeat Dad
 
my poems are my children
and I’m their deadbeat dad—
I create them, love them,
nurture them for a little while
a few hours…a day…
sometimes a week
if that’s what it takes
until I feel they’re ready
or I’m just tired of them
then I boot them out
I open the door and say—
you’ve gotten all I have to give
so go on now
you’re free
get out there and live
go see what they’ll make of you
just don’t expect too much
 
sometimes they don’t want to go
they look back at me
from the front steps
they plead with their eyes
and their sad little faces
but I set mine to stone
and shut the door
 
like any parent
of course it pains me to know
they may be mocked
or laughed at
or misunderstood
they may wind up
rotting in dumpsters
or abandoned in dark
and dusty corners
but there’s always the possibility
of being found by someone
who needs them
someone who hears
what they have to say
and that’s the best
a deadbeat dad like me
can hope for
 
ii.
 
One Day Much Too Soon
 
she walks unsteadily as a toddler
and trembles as though terrified
always a nurse by her side
I’ve watched her come and go
from the house next door
diminutive and middle-aged
with pageboy hair and thick glasses
but I haven’t seen her
since the ambulance came that day
and I haven’t heard
the unearthly sound she makes
halfway between a laugh and a cry
I never knew which
maybe she didn’t either
but now as I stand outside, listening…
the absence and the silence
reminds me of all we get used to
and all the strangeness we’ll miss
one day much too soon
 
iii.
 
One Hand On Her Ass
 
If a young man
ever sought my advice
I’d tell him this—
don’t kick yourself too much
not over the times
you stumble and fall
not over the time
you think you’ve wasted
lying there
until you’re able to get
on your feet again
and not over all the people
you believe you’ve let down
because the world
couldn’t possibly go on
without you, right?
don’t kick yourself
for any of it
in fact make a habit
of not kicking yourself—
life’s a cranky old mare
she’ll kick you plenty
stomp you when you’re down
she doesn’t need
any of your help
oh—and if you have to walk
behind her
keep one hand
on her ass
and stay as close
as you possibly can

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
Brian Rihlmann:
 
Brian Rihlmann lives and writes in Reno, Nevada. His poetry has appeared in many magazines, including The Rye Whiskey Review, Fearless, Heroin Love Songs, Chiron Review and The Main Street Rag. His latest collection, “Night At My Throat,” (2020) was published by Pony One Dog Press.
 
 
 
 
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times at Artvilla.com ; his publications include
 
All the Babble of the Souk , Cartoon Molecules, Next Arrivals and Moon Selected Audio Textual Poems, collected poems, as well as translation of Guadalupe Grande´s La llave de niebla, as Key of Mist and the recently published Tesserae , a translation of Carmen Crespo´s Teselas.
 
You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)

THE REAL LIFE. A Poem by Brian Rihlmann

 

A man wakes up,
climbs out of bed and
brushes his teeth.
He sees his face
in the mirror,
but in his mind
he’s already out there
stuck in morning traffic.
 
And while he sits
in the driver’s seat
and stares
at the taillights
ahead of him
on the freeway,
he’s already at the office.
 
And all day at the office,
as he squints into the glare
of his computer screen,
and glances at the clock,
while his fingers
tap at the keyboard,
he’s home on the couch,
television aglow,
glass of scotch in his hand.
 
Get through the day,
numb, forget,
and repeat.
 
There’s time yet,
for the real life
to begin…
maybe tomorrow.
 
Years,
whole lives
flow by
on rivers
of tomorrows.
 
Death comes for him
with a shrug and a sigh,
like a cat burglar
who got a bad tip
about a house
and was expecting
much,
much more.
 
 
 

 
Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi autobiographical, confessional free verse. Folk poetry…for folks. He has been published in Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry
 
 
 
 
 
 
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; his publications include
 
All the Babble of the Souk , Cartoon Molecules and Next Arrivals, collected poems, as well as translation of Guadalupe Grande´s La llave de niebla, as Key of Mist and the recently published Tesserae , a translation of Carmen Crespo´s Teselas.
 
You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)

GRIEF COUNSELOR . A Poem by Brian Rihlmann

 
We sat at the bar
sucking back beers
in that smoky roadhouse,
and you went on about it,
and finally said,
“I mean, where is he?
Where did he go?”
 
Your father, gone,
three months ago
in a freak accident,
his pickup winding up
on its roof in a ditch
for no apparent reason.
 
You looked at me,
and my lame answer
limped out,
“I believe that
when you’re gone,
you’re gone.”
 
Spoken like a good
and faithful atheist.
My truth telling
a matter of principle.
 
You stared at me, nodding
and biting your quivering lip,
Adam’s apple working
as you tried swallowing
the bitter fruit
of my honesty.
 
I saw it, and quickly said,
“But what the hell do I know?”
 
And some years later,
I remember you
angrily saying
that when we die
we just rot in the ground,
and I winced
at how you spit
those words out,
and wished I’d lied
way back then.
 
 

 
Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi autobiographical, confessional free verse. Folk poetry…for folks. He has been published in Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry
 
 
 
 
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; his publications include
 
All the Babble of the Souk , Cartoon Molecules and Next Arrivals, collected poems, as well as translation of Guadalupe Grande´s La llave de niebla, as Key of Mist and the recently published Tesserae , a translation of Carmen Crespo´s Teselas.
 
You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)