Blood, Skill, and Mercy

While I read, sitting on the porch

on an Indian Summer evening,

fiction in which the boy narrator

retells to his grandmother the story

of a tiger and a rabbit, the ones

from Winnie-the-Pooh, my tomcat

bounds past, mouthing the bunny

he has half-slaughtered, slinging

blood like a red-wine christening,

to remind me that our domestic

animals, no matter how cuddly, remain

killing machines, that life is short

and nature cruel, that sacrifice

allegedly pleases the capricious gods,

and helpless to do otherwise, I

mourn the young rabbit, celebrate

the formidable skill of the hunter,

drink the wine, burn some incense,

and petition divinity for mercy.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper


The Death Dance of the Fig Wasp

Compelled toward her irresistible doom,

she lustfully orbits the still-firm pod

until natural necessity drives her

into a frenzy and she burrows herself

into the inverted flower of maleness,

shedding her instinctual caution,

sacrificing her capacity for flight,

plunging headfirst where many like her

have gone before but never returned,

martyring herself to the reproductive

process so that a future generation

of wasps and figs can survive, though

she herself will not; and so, wingless

and mired in the airless moment,

with no past or future to call her own,

she takes the mother’s chance,

creating new lives for death.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

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Various Forms of Faggotry

We didn’t often agree,

the twins and dykes

and vegan queers

and bitchy queens

and next-door boys

and marriage partners

and party fags,

but that one semester

we gathered every week

in solidarity against

the breeders, homophobes,

and mid-American haters,

and then we went

our separate ways

to engage in our

various forms

of faggotry.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper