Like the others at the zoo,

he’s in the uniform, khaki and black,

but his shorts are shorter and cut to

show off his glutes; shirt’s not a sack,


but to his torso perfectly tailored–

and boots, not cartoonish trainers.

Black shades add a little mystery.

probably knows science, but could help me make history.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper



Snow-Leopard Cub


Seeing us through the panel glass

but unable to discern our tell-tale scents,

he rolls onto his back, showing his belly,

comfortable in our presence, and we in his,

perceiving no danger, taking on faith the strength

of the untested transparent barrier between us.

Dropping his head backward over the platform edge,

as if waiting for a chin-and-ear scratch,

tail dangling over the side, occasionally

thumping against the wooden supports,

he looking for all the world like a cuddly spotted housecat,

except for that lethal hundred pounds.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper

Changing Face

A college student probably,

though he looks as if he’s come

from work rather than class,

in dressy pale green shirt,

tie in a darker shade,

pressed stone chinos, stylish

shoes, grey suede lace-ups

with white rubber soles, no socks.

Tall, slender, looking rather lost

with his coffee cup in hand;

borrows a pen from the barista.

Returns to his table, stares at it

for a while—maybe he’s a little

homesick at the start of term.

Then, with concentration, writes

rather furiously.  At first I think

he’s filling out an application,

but no, it must be something

for class; he makes notes on

a single sheet of paper atop

a notebook. Now he seems

a bit agitated, restless leg

he can’t keep still. Types

on his laptop haltingly,

looks stressed, runs his hands

through his hair—thick, dark

brown, medium length, layered.

Types some more, then suddenly

a smile. Has he solved the problem

or distracted himself with email,

Facebook?  Expression changes

again, more serious, but also

calmer, legs still pumping, but

with less agitation.  Stoically,

he takes a sip of coffee.



Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper


You wouldn’t mistake him for a model,

not because he lacks beauty, but because

his beauty takes a less ostentatious form,

slouching against the corridor wall,

toying with his cell phone while he awaits

a class.  His heathered-blue tank top

reveals shoulders strong but not overworked

at the gym, chest hair but not too much,

a realistic tan, one shade lighter on chest

and shoulders than on the forearms bent

forward. Dark jeans, slim but not too skinny,

desert boots taupe at its darkest edge,

strap of cross-body bag striped diagonally

across his torso.  His face regular-featured,

just faintly stubbled, dark hair in a Caeser cut;

he seems quiet but perceptive.  In a different

context, with him older and me younger,

I’d like to meet him, find out more.

Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper