The Ramingo’s Porch – Four Poems By Brian Rihlmann

Ramingo Unknown Author's Immage


none of them ever admitted it
at least not that I remember
the whole village of fathers
and father figures
that raised us to be men
all silent about an animating force
as common as an itchy ballsack

but they all grew up
with the same John Wayne horseshit
the six guns in surgeon steady hands

a world where
you can tell the bad guys
not just from the black hats
but because they’re the only ones
that tremble under fire

it would’ve been nice to hear
from one of them
that the first time they had a fistfight
or went up on a high scaffold
or made love to a woman

that they were scared

but they didn’t say that
they said “don’t be”
another “thou shalt not”
another lie
we couldn’t live up to
a failure that stabbed at us
a hundred times a day
that we finally learned
to wash down with booze
and cloak in manly anger

just like they did



they had set the price
for his hours
for days he would now spend
within a new set of walls

it hardly seemed fair
but he was in no position to bargain
with the unemployment nearly gone
and the rent coming due

and anyway
it was shameful
to be on the dole
(everyone said so)
to spend days in the sunshine
drinking beer by the river
playing his guitar
or staying in bed
with his girlfriend until noon

but here was dignity
a good steady job
forty hours plus overtime
half hour for lunch
to be belittled and shoved around
by the boss man and told
“we’re working twelves this week”
and if he didn’t like it
“there’s the door”

but every two weeks
came the big reward

he remembered as a boy
hearing a man talk about the future
and how machines would do all the work
and everyone would lead lives of leisure

he thought about that
as he worked the first
of many long days
moving cardboard boxes
from one place
to another



in twilight rooms
across the land
boys pump away
rattling headboards
with their eyes closed
dreaming of porn starlets

and the girlfriends know

she knows
when she tries turning his head
to kiss him
and look into his eyes
but he won’t

so she rakes her nails
across his back
and bites her lip
and blinks away tears
as she waits for him to finish

and after
if he notices her eyes are wet
she’ll say it’s just the emotion
and “i love you”

then he’ll smile
and kiss her with his guilty mouth
heading off to the bathroom
as she soaks the pillow
with muffled sobs
and drys her eyes on the sheets
before his return



the first ones that came here starved
and ate rats and leather
and later their dead

so maybe that did it
a horror seared
into our collective memory

but the solution
of more
eventually results
in the problem
of too much

when the solution
to too much
is a prescription
of still more
you have insanity

we call it “America”

but would i dare complain?

i love our megachurches
and superstores
the comforting familiarity
of our corporate brands
arches and mermaids
dotting the landscape
like crucifixes
along the old roman road

and god bless
our gas guzzlers
big screen TVs
and McMansions
and the limitless ocean
of credit at our fingertips

tap and click
and millions of packages
keep moving
and everyone’s working now

our cities spread
like desert landfills
and even the seagulls
grow too fat to fly

so let us praise
our brazen leaders
and businessmen
with their selfless ways

for they are thinking
only of our best interests
when they shout “heretic!”
at anyone who dares
utter the word

because nothing
is worse
than not enough


Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi autobiographical, confessional free verse. Folk poetry…for folks. He has been published in Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, The Rye Whiskey Review and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry.


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