Sheila-Na-Gig online


Robert L. Dean, Jr.

Robert L. Dean, Jr. is the author of The Aerialist Will not be Performing: ekphrastic poems and short fictions to the art of Steven Schroeder (Turning Plow Press, 2020), and At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, 2018). A multiple Best of the Net nominee and a Pushcart nominee, his work has appeared in October Hill Magazine; Flint Hills Review; I-70 Review; Chiron Review; The Ekphrastic Review; Sheila-Na-Gig online; Shot Glass; Illya’s Honey; Red River Review; KYSO Flash; MacQueen’s Quinterly; River City Poetry; Heartland! and the Wichita Broadside Project. Dean is event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music, held annually in Wichita, Kansas. A native Kansan, Dean has been a professional musician and worked at The Dallas Morning News. He lives in a one-hundred-year-old stone building in Augusta, Kansas, along with a universe of books, CDs, LPs, an electric bass, and a couple dozen hats. In his spare time, he practices the time-honored art of hermitry.


Olduvai. The word itself
bears the burden of age, carries
the echoes of the first cries of us, birthing

from the vulva of Mother Earth,
flaking chert, cracking wildebeest bones,
licking the marrow, bashing the

brains out of anything we are
hungry for, stumbling into
words, into a language

of more than grunts and groans
and wringing of hands, spreading out
across the continent, a small but mighty

army tramping the face of creation,
swimmers of seas, rafters of oceans,
warriors, tourists, journeymen

on the worktable dust of the
planet, making, shaping, bending,
breaking, leaving fossil footprints,

pot shards, fragments of us and
those who oppose us, raping and pillaging
our cousins Neanderthalensis,

our brothers and sisters Denisova, our
new found friend Canis familiaris nipping at
their retreating heels, until we reach

the limit of all there is, spark two stones
together, charcoal “we were here” stencils
of our opposable-thumbed hands on the

walls of Pettakere, Maltravieso, chisel
our fear, our prey, our wonderment, ourselves
across the body of the Mother, raise

glistening eyes to the starry void, discover
the infinite, and vow that we shall have
that, too.

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