The Last Ones
They seemed easier to spot thirty years ago,
or perhaps my eye was keener.
The freaks, the misfits, true artists
who wagered their entire lives on
finding the perfect ending to a poem,
or a melody that would break hearts
for a hundred years.
These people stood out like chancres
on the flesh of blind, blinking society.
Their dress and manners signal fires:
We are different: We breathe different air,
exchange foreign coin. We are sedition.
They strayed from the herd and
set their course from novel stars.
Now the world is redivided between
the angry and the scared, no room
at the margins for painters adding gilt
to a picture so tightly framed.
Still, at bus stops and in supermarkets,
perhaps at the DMV, you’ll see a secret
sculptor or finagler of verse.
The poetry and prose of Robert L. Penick have appeared in 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, and more of his work can be found at theartofmercy.net