Panic Attack

Panic swoops down and preys on him:

a fearsome, famished raptor

ripping apart his flesh

with razor-claws,

digging in through muscle

to devour the organ meats,

savoring his heart and brain.

This is the point at which

the nightmare is supposed to end,

but he’s been wide awake

from the beginning,

and the scenario’s stuck

in a replaying loop.

When he tries to tell others

how it works,

they always advise,

“It’s OK, calm down, it’s

only in your head.”

But that is where he lives.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

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Awkward

You probably saw them at the Pride festival,

three teenage friends walking around together,

two of them in regular summer street clothes—

shorts with T-shirts, tanks tops, flip-flops,

the third, blond and skinny, in little red trunks, but

then later on, with afternoon waning toward evening

and the crowd thinning out, a second one of them

has stripped down to briefs, but having shed his clothes,

doesn’t quite know what to do with them,

so he stands there holding them in a bundle

under his arm, looking awkward, not because

of shyness about his near nudity, but just because

of having that wad of clothes to tote around,

you’re hoping that he’ll say what the fuck

and just toss them into the first trash barrel he says

and scamper freely off, but of course, he won’t;

he’ll just juggle the bundle around all evening.

And you realize that most of us act a bit like that;

we can tug off our inhibitions or emotional baggage

or whatever superficial stuff we need to let go of,

but having taken them off, still carry them everywhere.

Copyright 2015

T/ Allen Culpepper

Wine Merchant

In the market stall,

he sits on a stool,

wearing a red plaid shirt,

trucker cap, and blue shorts,

hawking locally made wines,

extolling this and that one,

a cut young man with eyes like wells—

if he leaned back against a wall,

you could jump in them and dive down

to another hemisphere’s dawn—

and a handsome face adorned

with blond scruff—adored wine-god

of a more recent vintage—

and from this point of vantage,

I’d say that what he pours

I’d drink and ask for more.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Unexpected Beauty

image

Delicate petals

of pale lavender and white,

strewing yellow confetti

from their perch atop

sturdy stalks stair-spiraled

with slender leaves, coloured as

with drops of spilt wine,

wildflowers displayed

against crisscrossed green grass blades,

rising from wet sand

at the shallow edge

of a small, clear lake,

its surface rippled

by a breath of wind.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Lexi’s Flowers

For Alexis Sheeley

Green space pods hover

over green-and-black bullseye

arrowed with feathered purple tendrils;

fuchsia petals wave like flags;

and pale pink twin poms

float on rippled water pooled

in a crystal bowl

pedestaled on steel-supported glass:

flowers fruited by

attentive cultivation

of a gardener

coaxing their colours from them.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper