Sprawled on the grass beside his bike

in Sempione Park on a warm spring day,

nearly naked, just short shorts and sneakers,

dark-haired and fit, with smooth, hairless

chest and slightly hairy legs, he stretches,

adjusts the position of his right arm,

with which he has been shielding his face,

pats his lean abs with his left hand,

then shifts again and slides both hands

over his torso, now glistening with sweat.


At this point, were he in a porn film,

one hand would drift into his shorts,

and a handsome stranger would suddenly

emerge from the bushes, and after

a bit of carefully orchestrated foreplay,

do him hot and heavy on the bicycle,

but this is reality, so he just writhes

a bit in the warmth, not that I’m watching.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

Dietro Vetro

Piazza Duomo from Novecento

Umbrellas, red, blue, purple, yellow, and pink

dot the rain-drizzled piazza in front of the Duomo

the mellow light of early evening bathing the crowd

assembling for a political rally, the scene viewed

through a high-up window in the Museo del Novecento,

reflection and shadow lending it a surreal glow,

the piazza like a chessboard with human pawns,

the long-standing facades opposite a reminder

there’s nothing new under the sun or moon, and though

my Italian’s not good enough for me grasp the details

of the politics, I know it’s politics—there’s a party

and an anti-party, and things are more complicated

than they seem, and yet the differences are not so great.

I ask a waiter at a café alongside what’s going on.

It’s he who tells me the event is political—speakers

will follow the band, the cans of beer in everyone’s

hands a little lubrication to ease the entry of the message.

Back at my hotel, I ask the night clerk what he knows

about the event. It’s news to him, but we agree

that politics, however important, however necessary,

interferes with proper digestion and is best kept behind glass.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper


Cowboy hot as the summer evening,

shirtless in serious boots and high-rise jeans,

abs tight enough to make me grieve

that he’s packing up his gear and leaving.


He’s been fishing in Braden Pond,

reeling for small fry with his rod.

If he widened his range of prey,

something else might come his way.


But he mounts his red steel steed

and leaves all the boys in need.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

Milano in Haiku

Corso Vittorio, Westward

Arrival by air.

Green Malpensa Airport,

walk for what seems miles.


Malpensa Express:

No stops, but don’t expect speed,

past graffitied walls.


Cardorna subway:

train zips between piazze—

cheap and fast and clean.


Spires of pink marble,

La Madonnina watching,

impressive Duomo.


Climb to rooftop height,

get city panorama,

alpine glimpse when clear.


Kids hang out of steps,

chatting or grooving to tunes,

not missing action.


Stone lion in the square:

everyone wants a photo,

one dude climbs and rides.


Hotel Nuovo,

Piazza Beccaria,

tricky to locate.


The philosopher

Cesare Beccaria

surveys namesake square.


Flags of many hues

greet shoppers on the corso—

stores, bars, gelato.


Fashion-conscious men

with scarves, trousers rolled just so;

women in high heels.


Saffron risotto,

local meat perfectly cooked,



Galleria shows

work in glass and iron and stone,

alta moda shops.


Fancy windows on


displays leather goods.


Sempione Park

offers refuge from traffic,

break from city life.


Church like San Marco—

a different kind of refuge,

one these days less used.


Find buon espresso—

Bars Camparino, Brera,

and Madonnina.


Museums of art:

annunciations, crosses,

suppers, pietas.


Museum shows art,

students outside give promise

it will continue.


Mercatini crowd

entertained by musicians—

noon outdoor concert.


Local lunchers join

hungry sightseeing tourists

on Via Dante.


At Sforza Castle,

it’s school kids on class field trips,

learning history.


It all ends too soon,

the city now part of me,

but can’t take it home.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper





Blue Toenails

Though they won’t prove his most notable feature,

his ripped-up over-decorated jeans

attract my notice first in the mid-American airport,

perhaps because, having just returned from Europe,

I’m more sensitive to our less formal

way of dressing in the USA.—-


Turns out that we are taking the same flight,

so I have the opportunity

to take a closer look: earlobes stretched

with big piercings, shaved arms and head

as well, under baseball cap, sleeve tattoo,

interlocking tribal red and black.

In his twenties, well-built, muscular,

with his girlfriend, who’s hot-looking, blond,

but minus his alternative look.


I run a gaydar scan, but it comes back

negative, even after, at the

baggage claim, I see that he has painted

his toenails a brilliant sparkling blue.

That’s pretty brave here in Oklahoma,

and I admire him for having the balls

to do his thing, fuck the stereotypes.


And yet, despite myself and even though

what the breeders do in bed is not

a topic that I tend to ponder a lot,

I can’t help picturing him on his back,

his legs in the air, and her, equipped

with strap-on, pounding him until he screams.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper