I had great fun sketching caricatures of the other participants in the Chikaskia Literary Festival last week, but of course I couldn’t sketch myself while presenting. Thanks to a cellphone video clip by my friend Carol, though, now I can!


Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Turn Left at Nowhere

In a place that’s maybe not

quite in the middle of nowhere

but isn’t exactly near anywhere either,

a shaggy-haired septuagenarian

with a handicapped sticker

on his well used car from the square years,

a cigarette in one hand, and a cell phone

in the other sits holding up traffic

for a long time at the four-way stop,

as if carefully considering which route

to take, though from my perspective

behind him, the three possibilities

look exactly alike.

Finally, not because he succumbs

to pressure (oddly no one even honks),

but just because he is ready, he

turns left, putting down neither

his cigarette nor his phone, so that

it’s not clear how, or whether,

he is steering. Nevertheless,

I turn and follow him because

I think he must know something

I don’t, guided by an intricate

system of smoke signals, or

by an alien voice in his ear.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Literary Festival

Just an informational post. If you happen to be in or near Tonkawa, Oklahoma, USA Sept. 24-25, check out Chikaskia Literary Festival at Northern Oklahoma College.  I’ll be reading at the 10 a.m. session on the 25th.

Thursday: 12:30 p.m. registration and books for sale
1 p.m. Joey Brown, Heather Levy, Kirk Ashworth
2 p.m. Dorothy Alexander, Leah Chaffin, Mike Rishell, 3 p.m. Jill Hawkins, Britton GIldersleeve, Todd Fuller
4 p.m. Brent Newsome, Tim Bradford
4:45 Student showcase
Friday: 8:30 am registration, books for sale, coffee
9 a.m. Jason Christian, Trey Moody, Rob Roensch
10 a.m. Carol Johnson, James Brubaker, Bayard Godsave, Allen Culpepper,
11 a.m. Jenny Yang Cropp, Paul Austin, Jill Talbot
Noon. Lunch.
1 p.m. Featured reader Rilla Askew

Scenes from the Thirteenth Night

Scenes from the Thirteenth Night


“Oh, Seb, I thought we’d never be together,”

Antonio whines as they lie in bed entwined,

his dark curls resting on Sebastian’s chest.

And Sebastian strokes that hair and responds,

“I told you, Tony, ‘Livia was just a practical move;

it’s you I’ve always loved, from that first time at sea.”


“’Cesario,’ Olivia says to Viola,” that’s what

I’ll always call you, Love, ‘cause even though

your secret maidenhead’s what I wanted to claim,

I still like you looking all butched up in your boots.

“Call me what you like,” Vi replies, “as long

as I can get you out of that silk gown

and fifty layers of undergarments.”


“Feste, sweet Feste, I’m such a fool for you,”

Orsino admits, “and I love it when you come

round here to fool around with me.”

“But, Orsie, there’s no greater foolishness

than fooling with a fool,” jokes Feste,

“though I concede I want to take advantage

of your folly—and take your ducal scepter.”


“Malvolio, you’re so uptight,” Andrew says;

“what you need’s to relax and have a little fun.”

“But Andy, how’m I supposed to loosen up

when I’ve just been bashed by obnoxious

Toby and that wicked wench Maria?

What I need’s to get my revenge on those assholes!”

“The past is past, Mal, just let them go

and pound my eager ass instead.”

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper


Driving past the park on Sunday,

a sudden memory from years ago:

Like a new bride, I wore white,

a bright white sweatshirt. It

was the worst possible choice—

might as well have flashing neon—

for sneaking in well past curfew

to fool around with my not-even-really

boyfriend there in the dark

on a see-saw, except that nothing

really happened, just a kiss

or two and some silliness,

and then a quiet, edgy conversation

when, by the time I finally got

into it, he no longer was.


Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Grading on Sunday

September’s still hot,

even in early morning,

but the sun feels good

on muscles sore from yoga

as I drink coffee and grade

papers from last week,

slow and groggy on the porch,

as a dry breeze stirs

crepe-myrtle branches

hung heavy with bloom,

and mark the peaceful stillness

of the napping cat

stretched out in the small shadow

cast by snapdragons

and wonder if she

can simply think of nothing,

for my thoughts run everywhere,

like monkey-children

on a holiday from school,

and as their play escalates,

my work shifts to slow motion

in the Sunday warmth.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper