Cajun Mutt Press Featured Writer 06/17/20


The insanity peaked as I mopped the
floors at work. I’d pulled the plug several
months before, and drained the ocean of
booze from my system, revealing the bottom—
muck…jagged stones…trenches. Slimy
critters that flopped and screamed…their
eyes burning in the light.

The hospital wouldn’t drug the poor bastards
unless I admitted myself….committed myself.
No. They referred me to a nearby clinic. A
sign read “Walk-ins welcome.” A neighborhood
like a prison. Bars and barbed wire everywhere.
The next morning I waited outside with the
others, until someone unlocked the door.

In the waiting room, a kitten wandered,
rubbing ankles, sitting in laps if we let him,
while we jackhammered knees up and down on
twitchy toes, awaiting the doctor’s blessing.

My turn, finally. I was whisked in to the
doctor’s office, asked questions, rapid fire—
“Suicidal thoughts? Racing thoughts?
Mood swings? Depression? Anxiety?”
His pen etched the page, check, check, check…

It was decided: I was fucked up. A pill would fix it.
A little white pill, same as I’d taken years before.
It had helped…helped loosen the tangle.
Helped the world slide off, and not stick.

It worked again this time, for awhile…until
it didn’t. The critters at the bottom began to
scream again. They used my voice to do it.
Used my brain to plot a terrible, dismal future.
Fuck them. Fuck the hospitals…
the doctors and their dope.

I stopped at the liquor store, bought a bottle,
and drenched those noisy bastards.
That shut them up. For awhile. But then
I heard them, low at first. This time with a
gurgle in their throats, like someone
strapped down, and waterboarded with vodka.

I poured in still more, thinking
maybe I could drown them.

©2020 Brian Rihlmann All rights reserved.


Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi-autobiographical, confessional free verse, much of it on the so-called “grittier” side. Folk poetry…for folks. He has been published in Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry.

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