Brian Rihlmann

The Blessings Of Uselessness 

Geologist I used to know
has a bumper sticker
on his truck that reads—
Nevada: if it doesn’t grow
you have to mine it.
And it’s true—
we have no equivalent
of the Central Valley.
No vast fields of crops.
No orchards or vineyards.
Not much grows here
except sagebrush.
But there’s something
about all this useless land.
These scrubby, rocky hills
and desolate valleys.
The emptiness of it
redeems me somehow.
It’s like a big middle finger
to people and progress.
Nobody can do much with it.
Nobody wants to buy it or sell it
or develop it.
People don’t flock here
like they do Tahoe beaches in summer,
leaving all their trash behind,
broken glass in the sand.
And there’s nothing out here
they wish to scar with their initials
inside crooked little hearts.
It’s a reminder that being unwanted
can be a real blessing.

It’s Complicated 

As a child the moon
used to follow me
when I was riding home late
from grandma’s in the back seat.
I’d gaze sleepy-eyed
through the window
watching her chase me
through the treetops.

She still followed me sometimes
when I was in my 20s
stumbling home
from the corner bar
on another strikeout night.
Watched over me lonely and pissing
in someone’s shrubbery.

But sometime in my 30s,
I forgot about her
and she grew bitter
and resentful, saying—
Fuck him anyway.

These days I notice her again,
but it’s just not the same
between us. I fear
it will never be.

She doesn’t follow me around anymore.
She hides behind mountains and clouds
as I scan the sky wondering—
now where have you gone?


Brian Rihlmann lives in Reno, Nevada. His work has appeared in many magazines, including Chiron Review, The Main Street Rag, The American Journal Of Poetry, and New York Quarterly. He has authored three collections of poetry, most recently “A Screaming Place,” (2021) by Cajun Mutt Press.

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