Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Wrong’ and other poems by Brian Rihlmann

By: Brian Rihlmann


I sit with the sun at my back
and stare at my shadow
its hair moves
its shoulders rise and fall
after awhile the thought enters—
the shadow’s not me
any more than the sun is

a while longer
and the sun disappears
behind a cloud
and my shadow is absorbed
in the larger one
now covering this part
of the earth

it gets cold quickly
and as I begin to shiver
I see
how wrong I was



I think
it must be easier
to be completely caught
how a spider swaddles a moth
in silk
and saves it for later

than to have one leg
or a wing
hanging out
just enough to make you believe
you COULD get free
if only you pulled
or flapped a little harder

maybe the predicament
is more like a Chinese finger trap
where towards—
not away
is the solution…

towards the pain
and the horror
towards the other’s hand

I shiver
and pull my knife



Post-rain, post-seven
days of grey skies—
a clearing. Mount Rose, Queen
and weather-maker, stands
white in crystalline gown
and crown of cloud.
No rainbow above—it lies
here, scattered, a million
drops in the grass at my
feet, clinging to the eaves and
winter branches, tiny prisms that
shimmer and vibrate when a
breeze blows, multicolored
eyes that blink in and out of existence,
like they say everything does,
down to the subatomic—
everything just a vibration,
like the temporarily sustained
wail of a guitar string, a
dance of flames or lovers, the
light from a burned out star
that shines defiantly across a
chasm of a hundred million light years.



there are times
yes, oftentimes…
when the soul is small—
tiny as the boy
kicked down the stairs
for the sin of being literally less
in this material world

ask the squirrel
and the sparrow
about their darting eyes
and their secretive ways

ask the boy
why he loves
those silly ninja movies
so much

why he dreams
of those graceful assassins
moving invisibly, noiselessly
through the night

cloaked in black
deadly swords gleaming
in dark scabbards

how they vanish
before their enemies
in a haze of smoke
in hallways…locker rooms…

he’d love to be able
to do that



Dad walked up to me
in the backyard looking sad
put a hand on my shoulder
and told me she’d died
and I said “oh”
not knowing what else to say

I felt nothing, particularly
just an odd solemn silence
I remember how everyone
talked more quietly
moved more slowly
I guessed that was the thing to do
I tried to follow their steps
to play along

at the funeral mom and I approached
her casket and stood there, looking in
she appeared clownish, unnatural
her thin hair fluffed
her cheeks too red
but beneath, she was grey

Mom looked tired as she
stared at her own grandmother
sighed, and said,
“Well….she lived a long life”
and even then, I remember thinking
“But not a very happy one”


Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and currently resides in Reno, Nevada. He writes free verse poetry, and has been published in The Blue Nib, The American Journal of Poetry, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, and others. His first poetry collection, “Ordinary Trauma,” (2019) was published by Alien Buddha Press.

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