Sic Transit

Robert L. Penick

The fog is burning off Interstate 71 and it looks like the steam that rises when a piece of hot iron goes from the crucible into the water. The trees have waited later than ever before to turn, but this late October is brilliant. If you were religious, you’d feel like you were in a church, a grand testament to a cognizant artist-god with an extensive palette. You search the radio and voila! the appropriate movement of The Four Seasons completes the effect.

Then you see the cop sitting in the median with his radar gun. You tap hard on your brakes, thinking there’s always a jerk (or a group of jerks, or bureaucracy of jerks) dragging their hands across a beautiful sky or an idyllic moment. He doesn’t pull out, but he’s scotched the magic. You continue on, but begin to think.

Back at home, the thermostat sticks, the refrigerator gurgles, and the windows have gone so long without cleaning they look like soiled microscope slides. No telling what’s growing on that patio door. Who knows what ejaculate landed on the bay window, or why crows leave tin foil on your porch. You are so glad you’re not there right now. The wildlife could be plotting against you, Jehovah’s Witnesses perhaps massing down the block, a particularly virulent cloud of swamp gas might be drifting toward your house at this very moment. Vampire locusts crawling out of the ground; the possibilities are endless. Here on the road no one knows you, could care less if you flunked out of med school or are afraid of the dark. Out here, the night doesn’t scare you. The highway is democratic in its anonymity. Up ahead in Interstate 90 and New York. Another step in your monastic walk.

The poetry and prose of Robert L. Penick have appeared in over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and Slipstream.  More of his work can be found at