Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Half a Lifetime By Robert L. Penick


At thirty years old, you sat in the grandstand

at Churchill Downs, working the Racing Form

and hitting the pint of peppermint schnapps

you kept nested between your feet. No one up there

but you, the wind forcing the proud and the 

comfortable into the clubhouse.


It was Thanksgiving, again, and this killing 

of the day was the best you could imagine.

Somewhere, a worthless brother was hitting

every charity dinner in town, filling up

his refrigerator with enough grub to feed

three families. 


An associate was holed up at the Motel 6,

smoking crack with a woman whose chancred lips

would never heal. In retrospect, you could have

done worse, performed less honorably, chosen

an even lower path to crawl. But you stayed silent

and apart, your every ticket uncashed. 






In addition to The Rye Whiskey Review, the poetry and prose of Robert L. Penick have appeared in well over 200 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American ReviewPlainsongs, and Oxford Magazine. The Art of Mercy: New and Selected Poems is now available from Hohm Press, and more of his work can be found at theartofmercy.net

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