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Robert L. Penick

bob lion iii

The poetry and prose of Robert L. Penick has appeared in well over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and Hawaii-Pacific Review.  He edits Ristau: A Journal of Being and, in 2018, won the Slipstream Press chapbook competition.  More of his work can be found at

The night keeps to itself

all the broken pieces
that have fallen from you
during the day.
The silent joy of
knowing your connection
to sun and sky,
hearing a bird speak
and knowing approximately
the implication.
A cloud’s message:
Not yet, but soon.

All your meaning lost
at stoplights and timeclocks,
every nuance ruined
by thinking ahead, and behind.
The night has collected
every artifact,
every map to yourself
that you have scattered
while traversing the day.
Each kept safely in its palm
until you find your way back.


All you have to do
Is mete the seconds out,
Like air bubbles climbing
Up a glass of water.

All you need to see
Are the breaths flowing out
From your body,
Each a delicate prayer.

Maintain this practice
And attain pure silence
In your bare, dumb heart.
Peace will shine in neon.

What Every High School Senior Should Know

Gravity isn’t your friend
Free Financing is never free
And that defense attorney
Is not on your side.
The word “forever” is used
Much too often in
Romantic relationships.
(Pro tip: Substitute
“until you hit me.”)
Walking beats running and
Preparation beats Providence.

Prioritize and move forward
Because age is an ogre
That never stops to take off
His shoes to rub his feet.
He wants to eat your soul,
Your strength, your eyesight
And every dream you’ve dreamt.
Eat well, dress warm,
And don’t ever look back.
You’ll see it all
From the finish line.
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