Detail of “Satyr Holding Putto,” unknown artist, bronze and cut stone, collection of Philbrook Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma


Bare-chested six-packed satyr,

torso strong, masculine, and beautiful,

his caprine lower half undepicted,

leaving his goat phallus to the viewer’s imagination,

lifts a nearly naked putto—the tiny bit of drape

calling attention to the nudity rather than masking it–

on his broad right shoulder, the satyr’s arms

forming an ellipse, right bent at elbow, so that

the putto’s left foot rests in the palm

of the satyr’s hand, the left arched overhead

to grasp the youngster’s upper arm,

that motion mimicked in reverse by the putto’s

right arm similarly bent toward head.

The bearded, balding satyr inclines his head

to look up at the boy, the goat-man’s eyes

full of mischief, his lusty grin hard to read—

lust for life or lust for something darker?

Should we interpret the putto as outward

and visible sign of the satyr’s inward and spiritual child,

as an object of the satyr’s lust, merely as a child

reared in nature’s ways by Silenus’s band?

Clearly the faun fawns over the child,

but with what intent?


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper



Painted on the Seine

Unreal city rising from the river and veiled in mist,

not Eliot’s grey and sickly-yellow urban desolation

rendered in sharp, black mechanically-struck words,

not Eliot’s vast, impersonal Thames-banked London at all,

but Monet’s Vetheuil, a village of pink, peach, and lavender

perched above a Seine of dappled blues and greens,

the town’s structures clustered as if drawn together

and upward by the tower of its church, the scene

not really even drawn but somehow brushed into being

without outline by human hand deftly dabbing paint,

reflection in the water no fainter than the upright

image that it mirrors with perfect imperfection,

a fairy city that might not be there at all.



Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper


Portrait of a Young Man on a Lazy Sunday

Languidly he moves, in baggy navy shorts,

loose-fitting aquamarine tank top revealing

smooth sun-kissed shoulders with just

the faintest freckling under the tan,

his feet in summer-Sunday flip-flops,

everything about him relaxed and fluid,

possessed of a lazy grace; lazy grin

over scruffy blond beard, slouching

in a cafe chair, legs stretched out and crossed.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper