Brian Rihlmann


a few days post-stroke
and now with pneumonia
the doctor called out to Nan
from across the room—
and before I could say
Wrong room, pal
Mom was saying—
Yes, yes…this is her

he’d read the wrong name
from his clipboard—
her middle name
I’d never known that before

then he said something
about a feeding tube
and she mouthed the word No
rolling her head back and forth
on the hospital pillow

he pulled me (me?) aside and said—
Decisions have to be made

and I said—
Yes, of course
she doesn’t want any of that
she’s had enough of this shit
she’s 90 years old
ya know?

he glared at me
then turned and
strode from the room
as I imagined squeezing his throat
until his face turned blue

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.