Circle

Sometimes you want to stomp

on the circle of the cycle

of this whole crazy circus

and squish it into something

flatter, with sides and angles

and corners you can knock

your knees on and get

your bearings even if hurts,

but since there’s no way

to get yourself on top,

you just pump in more air

and keep rolling around again.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

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Pine

Hand-sized pine-limb tips,

wind-blown to the ground,

crunch and slide underfoot

during a walk after rain,

their needles still green,

a tiny burry already formed

on one stem that, picked up

and snapped, releases

the South’s essential scent.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

Boxing Day 2017

Patchy sunlight seeps through the grey December sky,

diffusing itself over the aftermath of Christmas

in the recycling bin–bottles and boxes, bits of ribbon-bows

and colored paper–and, on the table, panettone crumbs,

on what’s usually my favorite day of the Christmas season,

Boxing Day, St. Stephen’s feast, the day after the big one,

when the mood remains festive and the lights still twinkle,

but the anxious rush has calmed; this one, though, hasn’t started

right–a cold opossum rummaging through the garage predawn,

backed up bathroom pipes first thing in the morning,

so I sit here drinking coffee and worrying about that,

and about the little things–the brake light that’s out,

the cat’s dental appointment with the vet, the paper

that already should be written. Not a total crisis,

not the zombie apocalypse or the heat-death of the universe,

but it’s not always the avalanche that gets you; sometimes

it’s all the little slides.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

 

Against the Law

“New Research Shocks Scientists: Human Emotion Physically Shapes Reality”–headline from the Enlightened Consciousness website

 

Though lacking the patience for methodical proofs,

any poet could have told them what the shaken

scientists found: Emotions defy the laws of physics,

shoving their hands down inside our genes

to make us writhe and dance; emotions seduce us,

drag us into bed and fuck us over, but it’s reality

that wakes us up with chainsaw snores

or rancid morning breath.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

 

The Skeleton Dance

Death crawls behind my eyes

like darkness seeping from the end

of the tunnel that drains the light

of day away at dusk and blackens

it for night, pulling down the sun

and sucking its stellar siblings into airless

voids that snuff out their lambent fires;

but then my dilating pupils draw in

the rising moon that makes death’s

frail bones glow white, its bleached teeth

grinning from cheekbone to cheekbone

as it resurrects itself, tilts back its skull,

and rattles its feet into the dance.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

The Unslept

In the wind of the night,

a dog howls at the crescent

moon fractioned against

the round shadow

of its former fullness, leaking absinthe

dreams over the restless, fretful earth,

troubling its insomniacs

with wide-eyed consciousness,

as if Lethe flowed around them

but they somehow remained completely dry.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper