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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 9: August 2021
Poetry: 73 words [R]
213 words [R]
By Brian Rihlmann

Two Poems

An Extra Breath
We sat on a bench 
by the river’s edge, 
talking and laughing, 
then you reached—
toward me I thought—
and with your finger 
tore a tangled spider web 
between the slats, 
freeing a little grey moth 
caught there 
beating frantic wings. 

It perched on your finger 
a moment, 
until you held it aloft 
and gently blew, 
smiling as it flew. 

I breathed an extra breath 
as something in me 


—Published previously in Hello Poetry (October 2018); appears here with poet’s permission.


Things I’ll Remember
the empty skies, streets, and shelves 
signs on every shop door 
how it snowed late on the flowers 
already blooming 
how the weight of it 
broke certain branches 
but not others 
the jungle gym at the park 
wrapped in yellow caution tape 
vibrating slowly in the breeze 
how that little boy cried 
because he couldn’t use the slide 
how I sat on an empty bus bench 
and watched the cars go by 
studying the taut faces inside 
some of them masked—
maybe all of them—
how I reached out for my guitar 
more often, remembering 
how it cured me of more than one 
panic attack, the steel strings 
like a security blanket 
how walking through my neighborhood 
I felt the urge to wave 
at every stranger who passed 
on the opposite sidewalk 
how I reached out to people 
I hadn’t talked to in years 
just to ask: how you doing? 
how often I thought of those 
whose fingertips I brush daily 
at ATMs, doorknobs, gas pumps, 
how we trade skin, DNA, our lives, 
while picking fruit at the market 
how we are the very air and sky 
breathing each other every moment 
whereas before, I trudged most days 
completely alone, touching no one, 
now I never felt so strangely... 


—Published previously in Lummox Poetry Anthology #9 (2020); appears here with poet’s permission.

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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