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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 9: August 2021
Poem: 158 words
By Brian Rihlmann

Laughing at Shadows

my friend T 
the atheist/communist 
is telling me 
my son has no God concept 
I’ve explained it’s just something 
people believe out of fear 
his son’s 13 and now T 
is slipping him small doses 
of Emma Goldman 
and his own theories about 
the second amendment 
and equal pay for doctors 
and dishwashers 
better be careful, I say 
or he’ll rebel by becoming 
a red hat wearin’ 
bible thumpin’ 
gun totin’ member of the 
young republicans’ club 
he stares off for a moment 
eyes hollow as his brain 
chews my words 
until he sees me laughing 
and joins in 
truth is—
I don’t know why I’m laughing 
whether I’m joking or not 
but he thinks I am 
so I let him 
we laugh at gods and guns 
politics and death 
we point and laugh 
at their shadows 
keep our eyes fixed 
only there 
like children laughing 
at shadow puppet wolves 
that cannot bite them 


Brian Rihlmann
Issue 9, August 2021

lives and writes free verse poetry in Reno, Nevada. His work has appeared in many magazines, including The Rye Whiskey Review, The American Journal of Poetry, The Blue Nib, Cajun Mutt Press, Fearless, Heroin Love Songs, Chiron Review, Slipstream, and The Main Street Rag. His latest poetry collection, Night At My Throat, was published in 2020 by Pony One Dog Press.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Three Poems by Rihlmann in Cultural Daily (21 October 2020)

Book Review/Interview: Brian Rihlmann, Ordinary Trauma (Alien Buddha Press, 2019) by George Anderson in Bold Monkey Review (16 March 2020)

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