Brian Rihlmann

GRACE, OF A KIND

not too many years ago

I wound up at a red light

next to a carload of teenage boys

whose speakers shook the pavement

I caught the eye of one of them

and glared a moment

before rolling up my window–

a useless gesture

when I looked over again

they were all looking back

and, of course, laughing

I held up my middle finger

for a good ten seconds

while they laughed even harder

at my disapproval

the light turned green

they made a left as I went straight

the whole lot of them grinning like fools

and waving bye-bye

I smile now, as I think of those

little bastards

and remember similar incidents

from when I was young

getting drunk 

and singing metal songs all night

as we poured gasoline on our fire 

and the other campers screamed at us

to Shut the hell up!

we laughed

we didn’t care

Go fuck yourselves

if you don’t like it!

we weren’t afraid of shit

it was grace, of a kind

I don’t know 

what else you’d call it

and I don’t know

where it goes, either

—–

THE COST OF A MONTH

I remember how you laughed

on the drive downtown, when I 

almost turned down a one-way

at Sierra, because you were

squeezing my cock through my pants.

You looked good on my arm, though,

that night at the Legacy, 

in your tight jeans and high heels.

I never missed an opportunity

to check our reflection in windows, mirrors.

You dragged me into a club,

insisting I’d have fun.

I don’t dance, I said,

but you said don’t worry,

and after a few drinks,

you danced for us both.

I stood at the bar as you

moved around me 

like I was a pole in a strip club;

swaying, gyrating, grinding,

squatting down on your heels

and coming up slowly,

your hands never leaving me.

And everyone was watching.

There was no NOT watching.

The girlfriends glared

and whispered in their men’s ears:

what a fucking whore!

And the men nodded

as they stole glances,

and adjusted themselves

through their pockets

and I grinned, grinned, grinned.

Of course you turned out to be

just what they said,

and in about a month,

you were tired of me 

and then you were gone,

off to grind on somebody else.

I was about to say 

at least it never cost me 

more than some drinks

and a few dinners…

but that was eight years ago

and I’m still writing about it…

so you tell me.

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