Robert L. Penick

All Right, Bob, you’re in the home stretch now.Lean forward and letyour momentum carry youinto the last furlong,the last hundred strides,reaching out and pulling groundbeneath you, past you,leaving it behind likethe fog of December breath orthe girl you briefly knewin high school. Run, now, like a champion,like an animal, crazed with love,with a desire for another lungfulof oxygen, another fifty yardsat whatever pace possible.The finish line awaits.Run.

The Last Hours of Melville Snatchko The subject was agitated in the morning.This was reported by a neighbor, who heardthreshing noises through the wall andthe subject shouting, “Damn, damn, damn!To hell with everything!” Subject had been making referencesto Sisyphus for several days,in regard to both the IRS andcatching up his rent. Upon exiting his dwelling, subjectwas observed wearing the same shirtas the day before, a well-worn Polothe colors of mustard and regret. Subject tapped at his wristwatch,took it off and placed it in his pocketbefore stepping into the street.Shoelaces were tied and the bus driverreported a look described as M A D G L E E as the subject went under the bus. Based on this informationthe finding of accidental deathis hereby overruled.

Valentine He stands there, dripping on the carpettowel cinched around his waistvibrating like a Shakerat Sunday service. Eyes big as Christmas wishesproject his desireinto the universeand the dark hallway. Soft as a breeze, he croonslike Otis Reddingon Lover’s Prayer:“Honey, put down the knife.”

The work of Robert L. Penick has appeared in over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and The California Quarterly. He lives in Louisville, KY and previously edited Ristau: A Journal of Being. More of his writing can be found at