Like roving warriors, errant knights,

shriveled by hard-fought campaigns,

wandering widows or homeless orphans;

or like a people heaven-chosen

to trek their way across the world

to stake western claims for Asia;

but despite their unsought arrival,

their condemnation as weedy invaders,

and the perils of their journey

from damp, infertile, untilled soil,

these blossom-wielders, if they escape

pulling and pesticides, persist

undaunted, spreading their tiny, delicate

flags in a wide diaspora

of the virgin’s color, blue,

that hue rarest among flowers,

opening for only a day before

they droop and furl, leaving only

coarse green leaves animals eat,

having been beautiful only briefly,

for that moment of first sight,

when the viewer sights the flags

but has not recognized the bearer.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Zoo Scenes: A Haiku Series


The rhino wallows

in rain-renewed stinking mud

as rhinos will do.



Upside down he sleeps,

hind legs propped against the wall,

black bear belly-up.


The tiger’s a tease,

roaring his presence, pacing

just inside den’s door.


Solo seal stretching

on the platform with back bend

a yogi would envy.



Can’t think what they’re called,

with gazelles’ grace, goats’ hunger,

mowing down the reeds.


Lions reclining

in coats of majestic gold,

monarchs at leisure


Giraffe obliges

his admirers by dining

right beside the fence.


The snow leopard naps

as a lazy housecoat would

up on the wire bridge.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper


Hop on take off dodge car dog on porch barks cat crossing street runner short shorts young mother with stroller kid too old pedal spin pick up speed turn lights go yellow red green [push off go through crossing around park pond twice watch out geese maybe three times break orbit asphalt bumpy man with cane yellow hydrant red octagon stop almost not quite it’s clear green street signs one missing sun warm heating up roll sleeves mauve crepe myrtle keep pedaling time running short hurry one more loop construction avoid breeze now cool fresh still summer fall coming traffic cross turn shift brake release shift pedal harder spokes twirling blur slow roll brake stop off lock stow cats one stroke each head to shower not really time but early morning bike ride fast.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

A Sledding Accident

Rage, that’s all I could feel,

Running with Jim Carrey

After a few drinks at happy hour.

It had been as awkward

As a prom date on Pluto.

After I got all dressed up

In my coarsely woven

Wool crop top and

Purple autumn rain boots,

He had the never to bring

His seal along, and as if

The third wheel weren’t bad enough,

The trail was a bumpy as a needle

Hitting a record with a jerk

During a fracking earthquake.

I was so mad it wasn’t citrus

I put in his hummus,

It was death by poison.

I would’ve got away with it too,

if it had snowed,

but it hadn’t,

so I just sat there on my sled

waiting for winter,

but the cops got there first.

Note: My results from a random-word poetry exercise I did with my students in class last night.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Poetry Writing: A Crash Course

Crap rhymes with sap,

avoid o’er, e’en, and hap;

Shakespeare counted on one hand’s fingers.

Beyond that you’re mostly just stringing

some words together, doing some lines*

(*or glasses, bottles, pills, injections, or whatever).

Telling’s no good, but showing’s real fine.

Roses are tired, so give them a rest;

we readers would rather you wouldn’t confess.

A verse is a stanza, but some poetry’s verse.

This advice won’t save you, but it won’t make you worse.

Never mind the wasteland; you’re living in it.

And that wheelbarrow poem don’t mean shit.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Pivotal Sunday

The joy of warm sun

on bare shoulders, legs stretched out

on a front-porch chair,

coffee and a magazine,

cats resplendent in gold rays,

on this pivotal Sunday

between my summer

and full immersion

in the academic sludge

of another start-of-term.

Temperatures have dropped

from oppressive to just hot,

and in the breeze I’m feeling

the first vague hint of autumn,

the potted flowers browning,

but the crepe myrtle

holding on to glory days

on a professor’s

new year’s eye, the new

beginning before

the old seems ended.

But fittingly, this last day

has dawned a thing of beauty,

bright sun in the kind of sky

that must have inspired

the blue field of our state’s flag.

I could stay here contented

until lunch at least,

but it’s not to be;

I’m down as intercessor,

so I can’t skip church today,

though I wonder what worship

could exceed this holy state,

what obligation

could truly merit

getting dressed, going indoors,

but still I must intercede.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Word Porn: Haiku Erotica [Advisory: Sexually explicit]

Advisory: This one is sexually explicit. Please don’t read it if that is inappropriate for you.


Like feral gazelles,

the slender youths conjoining

for the sport of it.


Mohawked Sebastian’s

tongue approaching Nigel’s lips,

open to receive.


Open at both ends,

he hungrily takes their cocks,

one sucked, one fucking.


Foot up on the chair,

displaying stretched cock and balls

between his spread legs.


Bound up in the sling,

slave takes his master’s lashes,

saying, “Thank you, sir!!”

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper