Poetry from Walter Ruhlmann

The Hole

(previously published in Madswirl)


His obsessions could drive you mad,

they make you feel useful and strong

in the mid-November, warm, low sun,

ants, flies, mosquitoes thrive.


Your obsessions are heavy loads

things you believe to be the truth –

absolute, implacable, unavoidable –

while he keeps on mooning all day.


He feels useless, hollow and cold,

except when he decorated her flat:

pinning your father’s aquarelles

on the abhorrent clinical white walls.


Dizziness as you walked back home,

guts out, sickness, disgust, your eye blinked;

sharp glass debris, broken plastic,

as obsessive as the western wind.


The Key


He said he had the key.

Is this supposed to mean

he locks you up in your flat

all week-long?


His moustached face is repulsive,

red spots, lined eyes,

butterscotch fat, fiat lux,

epiphany came


the day he asked something

awful, absolutely vile,

a question coming from her,

the fat cow.


No bond was there

though brothers we are.

The gossamer was sliced

on a stormy day.



Filth No More


You buried your forties the same year

you left your pride behind.

They call it a stag night

where you longed to dwell

twenty years prior to the funerals.


Since that summer of sin and lust

dust has covered your life,

you were buried yourself

under layers of sand,

saw dust, pollens, soil and dirt.


No more filthy nights out,

no more sinful exchanges,

no more brothers of joy

crushed in feverish arms,

sprayed with sticky juices.


Since that reckless summer,

the summer everything

could have collapsed, crumbled

under the pressure of your hands,

your life has seemed dull, nauseous.


You buried your existence that year,

one night under the moon

as flying saucers flew by

or were they sky lanterns – you never really knew –

since you could not see clearly behind a veil of dew.



Rear Lights


You think you would never use such platitudes as the deafening sound of silence

yet this is what you had in mind that late Monday morning

as you came back from the city of dust where another mole

tried to furrow through your thoughts lasciviously,

and what kept you awake were the red lights of the preceding car.

The radio was off – out of order – you thought – your thoughts fool you

so much lately, and you thought about him, about escaping,

about how iridescent this five-headed lamp is, about the fairies –

they haven’t shown up much recently, probably gone to help

another troubled mind, maybe gone for good, who knows?

They may have never existed. This troubled you. The red lights blazed up.

What if your life had been a long nightmarish lie? A hoax? A fraud?

These lights set fire to your brain, they flickered in this darkness,

the shadow you wrestle in, alone, misunderstood, laughed at –

or so you think. These lights became the eyes of a demon, a sprite,

flashing its eyes at you to warn you of a danger, to prevent you

from falling down in the abyss where silence mutes even itself.



Silence is the Loudest Scorn



Your mother used to say this

each time she didn’t want to be mean

though she was rough quite often:

no sweet words, no candy lies came out

of her mouth. Stale breath, harsh words

masking thoughts of compassion

most of the time.


You remembered this phrase today

as you ironed shirts, shorts, clothes,

it reminded you of afternoons watching TV,

playing in the garden or just mooning

as she spent hours behind the table

making sure the family could look clean

most of the time.


You then thought about these people around you

not answering calls, not saying hello,

not even bothering to lift their eyes

when they walk past you in the street,

or those remote friends on the networks –

vanity fairs, narcissist ponds, puddles,

for most of us.


You expected to become some star,

unreachable, sad, popular.

Vaingloriousness is your weakness.

The hum outside, the storm coming

make you wonder how much scorn

you can cope with, when silence rules

most of the time.



Walter Ruhlmann works as an English teacher, edits Datura, Beakful and Urtica. He has published over twenty chapbooks and poetry collections both in French and English, and hundreds of poems worldwide. His blogs http://thenightorchid.blogspot.fr/ and https://nightorchidsselectedpoems.blogspot.com/