Robert L. Penick ~ Three Poems

After the Plague

Dandelions rock­et­ed up
from side­walk cracks,
joy­ous, unrestrained,
seeds of sun­light in
fields of quiet.

And the fish multiplied
expo­nen­tial­ly, like
God promised in some
irra­tional book
of ancient fiction.



A mes­sage for the horse-faced boys and girls
who will nev­er know love,
pear-shaped, with pig eyes
and dan­druff dust­ing their shoulders
like they are fig­ures in snow globes,
exist­ing apart from the world,
no oxy­gen, no warmth,
and only inter­mit­tent light:

There is a fine thread with­in you all
that no one has man­aged to cut
or knot or pull loose from you
and that is your beau­ty, your grace,
and your sym­me­try. Hold them out,
both hands, palms upward and open.
See the great gift you’ve been hiding
in each clenched fist.


All that I have done

in this life has been an attempt
to gild every rust­ed bot­tle cap,
every bro­ken window,
every bent, use­less swing set
in every back­yard, with glitter,
with star­dust, with the magic
that chil­dren know when they
watch an air­plane pass over
and have the impos­si­ble proven.

I have built this great castle
only to find the wiring faulty,
a draft in the bedrooms
and the floors uneven.

This view, though, of sunlight
warm­ing the west side
of each tree and lamppost
can­not be matched.


The poet­ry and prose of Robert L. Penick have appeared in well over 100 dif­fer­ent lit­er­ary jour­nals, includ­ing The Hudson Review, North American Review, Plainsongs, and Oxford Magazine. His lat­est chap­book is Exit, Stage Left, by Slipstream Press.  The Art of Mercy: New and Selected Poems is forth­com­ing from Holm Press, and more of his work can be found at