Bean Train

The coffee roaster
looks like a locomotive,
the old-school steam kind,
green-sided and silver-stacked;
stationary, off the rails,
it’s time stopped halfway
across the Great Plains,
the Pacific coast
no longer even a dream.
But now it cures the magic beans
that jolt zombies back to life
and fire imaginations,
energy transferred from plant
by machine to hipster kind.

Copyright 2018
T. Allen Culpepper


Rain Memory

Digging out the rain gear for an uncharacteristically wet week in Tulsa

brings back a vision of my undergraduate days in another T-town,

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where rainy days were more routine than

exception, splashing through puddles from dorm to biology class

in a mass of oxford shirts and khaki, plastic slickers and duck boots.

Carless, I walked everywhere, paying little mind to the weather,

except for choosing the rainy days to show up for all my classes

so I could skip and lounge beside the duck pond on the sunny ones.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Leaving Albuquerque

The conference over, the city lies

quiet under a bright but chilly

morning, and my good trip has

gone a bit too long, the excitement

of new people, places, and ideas

having faded when my mood took

an anxious turn. And now my

flight is canceled, and there’s

a long wait for the next one,

and worries about when

I’ll get home.


But the airport observation deck

at least affords the mountain

views that have eluded me

for most of my stay, blocked

by commercial towers and bits

of scruffy urban sprawl. Here

the blue-grey peaks push up

from flats of dry, brown grass,

and a white wave of cloud

rolls up behind the ridge.


To settlers and adventurers, these

imposing peaks have proven

themselves both obstacles to

movement and gateways to

opportunity, but to me today

their rugged beauty is neutral,

a background of seeming stability

and permanence—though I know

that Nature takes a different

view—contrasting with the

temporary anxious flux of my

travel complications.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper






Cloud Dragon

A cloud-dragon glides

in on winded wings,

breathing sunset fire.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper



Blue. Just

a drop at first, but

it spreads until

it permeates



Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper



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



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 burr already formed

on one stem that, picked up

and snapped, releases

the South’s essential scent.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper