At a conference with some students I’m advising,

the day’s last session ending, I’m taking

a late-evening walk across the campus

that we’re visiting, strolling around its

little pond and central buildings,

having been stuck inside all day

and feeling just a little claustrophobic.

The evening’s cool and pleasant

after a day unseasonably warm,

and the sprinklers have come on,

misting the air and wetting the sidewalks,

and suddenly I’m transported backward

thirty years in time to my own alma mater,

pacing the quadrangle late at night

when I’m lonely and can’t sleep,

or stumbling home, with or without my mates,

after a night out at one of the bars

along the strip. The memory has come

to me unexpected, and I’m not sure

if it’s a happy one or sad.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper


Running for Kentucky

In U of Kentucky blue,

traveling for a track event,

college athletes good-looking and lean,

all friendly, but polite and quiet.

Most are dressed in warm-up pants

or sweats as they check in

and find their hotel rooms,

but one, light and graceful

on his feet–I think of Shakespeare’s

Tempest Ariel–wears his

running shorts as streetwear,

made of the lightest nylon,

and so little of it that they

reveal more than they cover,

clinging to his body’s contours.

He seems totally un-self-conscious,

not trying to show off,

though surely he must know

that he looks good in them,

that watchers admire his toned

and shapely legs, speculate

about the removal of those

shorts, about what’s underneath.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper

On His Board

On a Friday afternoon in late September,

sun’s heat too intense for the season–

later there will come a storm–

he makes a lazy, graceful loop

around the plaza adjacent

to the Student Union on his skateboard,

back straight, but whole body tilted

slightly backward from the ankles.

He has dark, straight hair, just

long enough to have a bit of bounce,

wearing battered faded jeans,

cream sweater with sleeves pushed up.

Next time he circles by, he has

stripped off the sweater, and,

like the afternoon, he’s hot,

chest lean and sinewy,

chained cross at his throat,

moving with the board

as if it’s a body part,

apparently unconscious of his watchers–

I’m sure I’m not the only one.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper