Drowsy from reading, I stretch out on the bed,

near, but not touching, the cat, who likes her space,

and various pasts and futures fill my head

with thoughts, some welcome, others hard to face.


The window, left partially open, admits the wind,

and riding it in, the melodies of birds–

song that trills above the dishwasher’s din;

the thoughts stir feelings too  difficult for words.


The approach of spring always creates

unstable emotions that swirl around and collide:

the wish for freedom bound up with the need to mate;

new dreams mixed in with fear that something’s died.


My love craves exposure, but I’m wary,

even though you’re just imaginary..


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper


From a Line by André Aciman

“You’ll kill me if you stop,” kill me if you go;

you’ll kill me either way, and so

please stay here with me in the moment

and let’s live and die together before

you leave me behind to die again alone.

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

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