Brian Rihlmann


I first discovered the limits of photography
in 2003, after climbing Longs Peak
in Colorado. Elevation 14,259’.
A “Fourteener,” as they say. 
I scrambled over boulders
and through a notch in the ridge
known as The Keyhole,
emerging on the other side to 
dizzying emptiness
a drop-off of a thousand, 
two thousand feet. I swayed, 
steadied myself with a hand
against the granite, as I stood 
at the edge, forgetting to breathe
first falling, then flying
over the valley below
completely alone,
yet one with the wind.

After I got the photos developed
I stared into that flattened 
two-dimensional version of sublimity
and sank. Ruined.
The experience I’d tried to capture
just wasn’t there.
I think I’m beginning 
to see poetry like this.
It’s like saying, “I love you,”
for the first time.
Or later, when you say, “It’s over.”
But there’s a lot missing,
outside the frame.

Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and currently resides in Reno, Nevada. He writes free verse poetry, and has been published in The Rye Whiskey Review, Slipstream, Chiron Review, The Main Street Rag and others. His latest poetry collection, Night At My Throat (2020) was published by Pony One Dog Press.