“The Whole Point of the Game” By Brian Rihlmann

 

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THE WHOLE POINT OF THE GAME

the headline of the article
said something about
dodgeball being dehumanizing
he ridiculed it, of course
this “friend” of mine
said we’re turning
our kids into a bunch of pussies
blah, blah, blah
and though I didn’t read it
it brought back memories
of those rainy days
in Junior High
when I last played the game…

how some poor kid
smaller or weaker
or fatter or bookish
was always singled out
while we—
like little savages out of Golding—
all pegged him at once
usually aiming for the face
a bloody nose
or broken glasses
was glorious
and celebrated with
high fives and riotous laughter

I’m sure
for the rest of the day
those kids sat in class
with swollen, bee-stung faces
and pondered the sin
of being smaller
or weaker
or fatter
or bookish

and did this toughen them up
and help them become
happy and well adjusted adults?

I could ask
but it’s the damndest thing…
we haven’t kept in touch.

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About the Author: 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, Cajun Mutt Press and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry.
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More By Brian Rihlmann:
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Image Credit: Lewis W. Hine “The Dumps Turned Into A Children’s Play Ground.” (1909) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

“Unknown Soldiers” By Brian Rihlmann

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UNKNOWN SOLDIERS

There ought to be
a monument,
a sort of war memorial
for workers killed
on construction sites,
in industrial accidents,
for those chewed up
and spit out
by the cruel machinery.

For migrant workers,
underpaid foreigners
crippled by cut corners,
then banished
from this promised land
of stone faced natives,
not so far removed.

For those whose true genius
was stamped out in childhood,
and their lives burned up,
firewood reduced to ash
by the slow flame
of factory drudgery,
by the booze and pills
that made enduring it possible.

Unknown soldiers
fighting daily battles
every bit as important
to our way of life
as men in uniform.

But such a monument
would cover half the country
in a black granite slab,
a giant tombstone
where fields of grain stand tall.

So there will never be one,
of that I am certain,
just as I am certain
that somebody,
somewhere, someday,
will hate me
for writing this.

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About the Author: 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, Cajun Mutt Press and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry.
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Image Credit: Lewis W. Hine “Doffer Boys, Macon, Georgia” (1909) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program