Swim Meet

Two male show-offs first,
then a brown-suited female
and her bright-hued mate:
Flutter, flap, splash into glide,
four ducks off the starting block.

Copyright 2014
T. Allen Culpepper

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Working His Look

Smart-kid stylish, half nerdy, half cool:

Brown hair a little messy on top but regularly cut,

round wire glasses on smooth face with rosy cheeks,

wearing an open lightweight beige cardigan

over a striped boat-neck tee and high-waisted

black thigh-high shorts that show off hairy

legs long and lanky but shapely, not bony,

stretching into buckled black mid-length boots—

but a look for everyone, but one that he has nailed.

 

Copyright 2014

  1. Allen Culpepper

Clothes Horse

Appearing in a magazine whose editors

perennially advise ‘wear grey suits’

and whose actual readers wear their

plaid shirts and selvedge jeans with

simple trainers and plain brown boots,

he advertises the latest line of Versace,

the line of his body tilted back in profile,

hips thrust forward in leather trousers

adorned with copper studs and chains,

shoulders arched way back as if he’s

leaning against an imaginary wall

(a pose that’s hard to hold when

standing, but perhaps he’s on his knees,

kept just out of the shot), so that the

unbuttoned silken shirt—its black

background figured with large, circular

images of a feather-headdressed Indian

mounted on a dappled horse, unexpectedly

bridled, and bordered with colour-bold

geometry at collar and tail—

unfurls, flaglike, in the electric breeze

of an out-of-frame fan, coincidentally

revealing his muscular abs and pecs,

gym-chiseled and bottle-bronzed,

tousled golden-blond mane meticulously

misted with a spray bottle to make him

look just a little sweaty, though his skin

looks perfectly dry, his angled jaw firm,

lips petulant, and eyes shadowed, turned

slightly toward the viewer, their gaze

combining invitation with challenge,

as if he would allow you to mount

but probably throw you. Maybe, though,

he would leave you the shirt as he

galloped off into the dull grey backdrop

probably chosen to please style editors.

 

Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

 

A Strand of Hair

 

His slender face, angular-nosed,

capped by dark-brown hair

styled to the left, perfect but

for one dangling strand, the

tiny flaw that saves beauty

from impossibility, beard neat

but not too much so completing

the facial frame, contrasting

with clear, white skin; simply

but attractively dressed in black

Henley, buttons undone, uncuffed

grey jeans encasing long legs

dangling from the bar-height

chair, long-toed feet in flip-flops

crossed; mouth serious, mostly

focused on his work, but with

some effort—from time to time,

he raises his eyes and scans the

room, or checks his phone, smiling

only then. Not sure whether

his work is scholarly or businesslike,

his exact age also hard to call,

though he’s clearly young. At

the coffeehouse alone, but looks

likes he should be the boyfriend

of someone, whether he is or not.

But then he could be the type

who takes it all too seriously,

making long-term plans too

soon, the kind of man who

doesn’t fear commitment but

expects too much of it too soon,

and though that’s not what I need

right now or maybe ever, that

fallen strand of hair

might lasso and corral me.

 

Copyright 201

T. Allen Culpepper

Michaelmas Time

For James Crane, who reminded me of the term “Michaelmas daisies”

 

The blurry haze beginning to clear

just after the canonical hour of Terce,

filtered sun warms my skin as I

drink coffee on the front porch

on a Saturday morning in late

September, the calico cat drowsily

draped over the other chair, as

morning glory wakes and spreads

in worship its blossoms, which oscillate

in the wind like members of a charismatic

sect at public prayer, but the liturgy

does not lack irony, for is not only

the morning glory that blooms;

so too do the lavender-blue asters,

named by the Greeks for their

starry flowers, elsewhere known as

Michaelmas daises because their

season climaxes on the feast day

of the archangel-general—coincidentally

falling—as Lucifer fell from heaven

to piss on everyone’s blackberries—

near the autumnal equinox, reaching

their height as he descends from his,

harbingers of shortening days, the

waning of summer’s sun-filled hours,

the expansion of dark night from which

we call on the godlike Michael

to protect us, when the scholars

begin to sequester themselves

in the halls of learning to resume

with re-awakened vigor after

recreational holiday-making, the

excavation of their various

esoteric profundities, and a

quarter-day of reckoning as well,

when, along with the bannock-cake,

one’s goose is cooked. But aren’t the

purple asters lovely, breeze-ruffled

in softened sunshine?

 

Copyright 2014

  1. Allen Culpepper