Not My Wedding, Not My Royals

On accidentally being in London on the day of the royal wedding

Harry and Megan never consulted me

before scheduling their royal wedding for when

I would be making my very first visit to England,

and my invitation got lost in the Royal Mail–

they might at least have invited me to the reception–

so while they were saying their vows at Windsor Castle,

I was touring London’s parks and squares,

where people congregated to enjoy

a fine spring day in a celebratory mood;

only the monarchists interpreted the lovely weather

as a sign of heaven’s blessing on the couple,

but even republicans were game for a picnic and a pint.

In Green Park and St. James’s, the tourists

strolled about, taking the royal air

despite Her Majesty’s absence from Buckingham Palace,

while locals sat around chatting or walked their dogs.

In Russell Square, twenty-somethings sunned themselves shirtless,

and loners read novels on shady benches

under gnarly plane trees leafy and green,

against one of which a terrier relieved himself.

Two uni students on a coffee date

at the Italian cafe in the corner

spoke of their studies, politics, life, and themselves

over cappuccino ordered so late in the day

that the Italians surely snickered in laughing derision.

At the adjacent table, three English generations–

father, son, and father’s father–drank pints

from tall, thin pilsner glasses, and in

the trio one could see three ages of man.

The young man, blond and bright, drew my eye,

but I pondered his father’s thoughts, and feared

that I share most of the grandpa’s years.

An Asian family talked little but exchanged

glances charged with centuries of meaning,

and two elder gents, one armed with a can,

the other in a driving cap, commented

dryly on perpetual injustice

and chuckled at the antics of a pair of corgis;

I wondered if Virginia Woolf had dogs,

and, if so, how they coped with loss.

Over in Soho pretty boys sat on the lawn,

gossiping and drinking beer from cans;

the mood was about the same, though the denim

was slashed more artfully and the humor a bit more arch:

With the aid of a paper mask, someone had dressed

the statue of Charles the Second in Meghan drag.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

 

 

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Marble

A slab of grey-streaked marble cloud

leans against the pale blue sky

not yet gilded by the sun,

like a piece of construction material

tilted up to a just-primed wall

at a building site, in wait

for the workers to arrive

and fix it to its proper place;

then red-eye planes like diamond knives

saw sharp lines through the sheet of stone,

cutting it into squares of tile.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Sleeping Together

I’d praise how  our bodies perfectly entwine,

if this were some romantic verse. It isn’t.

It’s the cruder modern kind in which

your bony elbow jabs me in the ribcage,

your razor toenails scrape my naked calves,

and your hard cock that gave me pleasure before

kind of annoys me now that I want to sleep,

but when you roll over, you take all the covers with you,

leaving me cold.

Like us, that story’s old.

In my fantasies, you’re someone who

doesn’t concuss me with flailing arms or keep

me awake some nights with raucous snores,

but in reality, that’s not even half–

the book would have at least a hundred pages.

The sex is fine, but sleeping with you’s a bitch.

Yet my love, my love, is still consistent:

I wrote you this poem, and it even rhymes.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

No Sense in It

The voices that flash before my eyes

smell like duct tape fresh off the roll,

like plastic and glue and mechanical things

that some people could fix, the ones who rise

as if dawn will judge their souls

and finish their coffee before birds sing,

the bitter before the sweet, and the voice

feel bitter, not sweet; the harshest ones

strip the hair from my legs like tape

ripped from it, the agony like the choices

that confound when the sun

drags in the problem of the day–

something that taste’s like the cat’s fresh kill

and rings in my ears like the victim’s blood

still wet on the sacrificial stone.

It’s a dream that strangles my will,

stabs me with splinters of dead wood, dead would,

and keeps me cocooned in bed alone,

washing down the flashing screams

with the vintage smell of fear.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

 

Glow

Green-gold sunlight seeps

through granite clouds, lightening

the gloom for a breath,

as when someone beautiful

appears at a a dull party,

and like the beauty who can’t

be bothered to stay,

then sneaks off again somewhere

as fat raindrops splash the curb

like champagne bubbles

against the side of a glass,

in preparation

for a maudlin toast.

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

 

 

Hawk

So fearless, the hawk
circling higher than I can
look without my head
swimming in a dizzy pool,
but he preys on what
he surveys, whereas
I can only try
to coexist and avoid
being preyed upon myself.

Copyright 2018
T. Allen Culpepper