Lawn-Work Tanka

Out front with edger,

blue T-shirt and orange shorts,

head with blond stubble,

doing Saturday lawn work

in big Italian sunshades.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper



Apres Soleil

Masculine beauty personified

in satiny red shorts,

blond-haired and golden-skinned,

ambling shirtless and barefoot

(sneakers in hand, bottled

water glinting in sunlight,

backpack’s slender straps

X-ing back and shoulders).

in a lazy diagonal across the green

on the year’s first autumn day.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper




Ideas Apart, Emotion Together


Two firm believers

in contradictory faiths

disagree, shake hands.


Two firm believers

in contradictory faiths

argue, share a meal.


Two firm believers

in contradictory faiths

debate, exchange hugs.


Two firm believers

in contradictory faiths

respect each other.


To firm believers

in contradictory faiths:

Love is possible.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper

Sonnet: To My Cat Sweetie

I cannot claim that you do not shed,

nor can I pretend that you enjoy the brush.

You often wake me demanding to be fed,

and you howl even when I beg you to hush.


More than once you have made me bleed

with undeservèd wounds from sharpened claws,

and when you’ve crossed the fence, you pay no heed

to my pleas to climb back over because


otherwise I must trespass and force

my way through prickly limbs and tangled vines

to reach you there, non-chalant, of course;

any accusations you deny.


But when you snuggle up, though I start sneezing,

your warmth comforts me; I find it pleasing.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper


A week shy of autumn,

still too warm despite the passing front,

I’ve set out chrysanthemums—

not just my usual gold ones,

but crimson too, and purple.


The reds bring memories

of undergraduate homecoming weeks

in late fall when nights

were growing chill and crisp,

with bonfires, concerts, parties.


The antebellum heart

of my southern campus adorned

with potted ones, white

intermingled with crimson,

the colors of the college.


The other colors recall

a newspaper publisher for whom I worked,

who on any occasion

festive or congratulatory

decreed, “Send a pot of mums!”


Though for some, mums

conjure funerals, and the literary-minded think

of Faulkner’s gothic Emily

or the smell of disappointment

in the story by Lawrence,


for him they were

outward and visible signs of inner joy;

for me they always signal the approach

of bright blue skies and sweater weather,

of October, the month of my birth.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper