Portrait of a Young Man in a Dingy Room

In a tawdry motel room

decayed from the Seventies—

wood paneling, moldy green

shag carpet you wouldn’t want

to walk on with bare feet—

a young man of more recent

vintage kneels on the nightmare-print

bedspread in a white jockstrap,

something rather like a corset,

and a black scarf looped

noose-like around his neck,

staring blankly past

the harsh fluorescence intruding

from the open bathroom door

at a black-and-white TV,

its crackling screen displaying

a face open-mouthed, as if in ecstasy

or in pain, and the room door, too,

of turquoise steel, with old-school lock,

stands wide open so that we

are privy to the scene, watching

him as he takes in the imagemh,

and dead-center in the room,

on the floor, a telephone.

Has someone gone for ice

or come for him?

Note: This poem is based on a photograph by Willy Vanderperre which appeared in Arena Homme in 2010.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper


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