By Robert L. Penick

“I’m telling you, Melville, it’s gotten to the point where, if I croaked, the newspaper would refuse to publish my obituary.”

“Ferber, the writing game is like that. Everyone goes through dry stretches.”

“Not like this. I’m Moses in the desert, here. You know who’s rejected me twice in the past four months? The Poet’s Pendulum.”

“Never send work to a rag with a name like that. Aphrodite’s Quill. Zeus’ Inkwell. The Bard’s Conundrum. They’re either lonely hearts clubs or put together by poetry guilds or something equally offensive.”

“That’s what’s so bad. I’m even banned from the leper colonies. And I can’t get a publisher to look at my collection, Ode to Fat Cats and Dead Robins, without paying a $28 reading fee. I’ve had work rejected by Northeastern Idaho University Press. How is that even possible?”

“There are hundreds of publishers, Ferb. You just have to find the right one and make a good pitch.”

“What about Friesian Press? They’re near you in Lexington and you went to MFA school with the editor. You could agent me. Fifteen percent of nothing.”

“We didn’t get along. I told him his work was an embarrassment to eunuchs everywhere. If I walked into his office, he’d probably chase me out.”

“Not if you walked in with a gun.”

“I don’t think that’s a viable marketing strategy. Perhaps you should move on to non-fiction.”

“I would, if I knew the material better.”


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