"What They Were Called" and "The Next Battle"

What They Were Called

“you were about three” she said
“sitting in the basket
of the shopping cart
and you just stared
and stared….
and i was terrified
of what you were gonna say
but you didn’t say anything
just stared”
until then
i had only seen
white faces
so it was understandable
that i was transfixed
as i would have been
by anything nameless and new
i can even imagine
my little boy’s eyes
wide with wonder
as they absorbed
this new fact about the world
i learned
all about “them”
from older men
and other kids
who grew up
in that same suburban town
and what they were called
been digging out
those slivers
ever since



The Next Battle

at the coffee shop sits a tattered poncho
a man beneath, voice like artillery shells
fired from beneath a redbeard jungle
he used to work the ranch
and how sharp the knife
that he used to castrate the horses
and on about the jungles of Vietnam
and bayoneting gooks through the ribs
though he was too young to have been there
as the people shift in their seats
and cast glances toward the owner
from sideways jackrabbit eyes
the guns go silent
when he’s asked to please leave
he nods, he understands
shoulders his garbage bag
and walks out into the morning chill
toward the next battle



Brian Rihlmann

Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and currently resides in Reno, Nevada.  He writes free verse poetry, much of it confessional.  Folk poetry, for folks.  He has been published in The Blue Nib, The American Journal of Poetry, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, Alien Buddha Zine and others.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 22:53