Cover Boy

The boy could be an angel or a porn star:

close-cropped hair and clean-shaven face;

shirtless, his chest muscled, smooth, and lean;

eyes that say, “I might have done or not,

but with you, I’m definitely going to.”

His mouth open just enough to kiss,

he’s the personification of seduction.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

The Confessor’s Breath

Among the holy and royal ghosts still haunting

the chapels and passageways of Westminster Abbey

stirs the spirit of Edward the Confessor,

seventh son of the Unready, successor

to the Danes, precursor to the Normans,

a saint English, Roman, and Orthodox, hardly

a perfect man, but a capable and celibate king

who trusted that God would choose the next monarch

since he couldn’t be bothered with producing heirs.

With him the House of Wessex revived and expired.


Signs in the abbey describe his shrine as delicate–

something the man was not; accounts describe

His Majesty as tall and blond and dignified,

the epitome, in fact, of ideal ruler–

forbidden to the tourist hordes, open only

for private prayer, by whom unspecified.


And perhaps the restricted access contributes

to the shrine’s mysterious pull, or maybe

the attraction comes by way of age,

from cold stone hewn in Anglo-Saxon times

scarcely imaginable in 2018,

or maybe it’s only because the abbey itself

rose from Edward’s Norman-Romanesque dreams,

or because his tomb was opened at least twice,

allowing ectoplasm to enter the air,

wafting about the soaring nave, still echoing

with the chants and hymns of monks and choristers

from stacked centuries come and gone.


But in any case one feels something,

whether true believer or doubting Thomas,

whether it’s the lingering breath of St. Edward,

or only of so many ordinary passers-through.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Not My Wedding, Not My Royals

On accidentally being in London on the day of the royal wedding

Harry and Megan never consulted me

before scheduling their royal wedding for when

I would be making my very first visit to England,

and my invitation got lost in the Royal Mail–

they might at least have invited me to the reception–

so while they were saying their vows at Windsor Castle,

I was touring London’s parks and squares,

where people congregated to enjoy

a fine spring day in a celebratory mood;

only the monarchists interpreted the lovely weather

as a sign of heaven’s blessing on the couple,

but even republicans were game for a picnic and a pint.

In Green Park and St. James’s, the tourists

strolled about, taking the royal air

despite Her Majesty’s absence from Buckingham Palace,

while locals sat around chatting or walked their dogs.

In Russell Square, twenty-somethings sunned themselves shirtless,

and loners read novels on shady benches

under gnarly plane trees leafy and green,

against one of which a terrier relieved himself.

Two uni students on a coffee date

at the Italian cafe in the corner

spoke of their studies, politics, life, and themselves

over cappuccino ordered so late in the day

that the Italians surely snickered in laughing derision.

At the adjacent table, three English generations–

father, son, and father’s father–drank pints

from tall, thin pilsner glasses, and in

the trio one could see three ages of man.

The young man, blond and bright, drew my eye,

but I pondered his father’s thoughts, and feared

that I share most of the grandpa’s years.

An Asian family talked little but exchanged

glances charged with centuries of meaning,

and two elder gents, one armed with a can,

the other in a driving cap, commented

dryly on perpetual injustice

and chuckled at the antics of a pair of corgis;

I wondered if Virginia Woolf had dogs,

and, if so, how they coped with loss.

Over in Soho pretty boys sat on the lawn,

gossiping and drinking beer from cans;

the mood was about the same, though the denim

was slashed more artfully and the humor a bit more arch:

With the aid of a paper mask, someone had dressed

the statue of Charles the Second in Meghan drag.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper




A slab of grey-streaked marble cloud

leans against the pale blue sky

not yet gilded by the sun,

like a piece of construction material

tilted up to a just-primed wall

at a building site, in wait

for the workers to arrive

and fix it to its proper place;

then red-eye planes like diamond knives

saw sharp lines through the sheet of stone,

cutting it into squares of tile.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Sleeping Together

I’d praise how ¬†our bodies perfectly entwine,

if this were some romantic verse. It isn’t.

It’s the cruder modern kind in which

your bony elbow jabs me in the ribcage,

your razor toenails scrape my naked calves,

and your hard cock that gave me pleasure before

kind of annoys me now that I want to sleep,

but when you roll over, you take all the covers with you,

leaving me cold.

Like us, that story’s old.

In my fantasies, you’re someone who

doesn’t concuss me with flailing arms or keep

me awake some nights with raucous snores,

but in reality, that’s not even half–

the book would have at least a hundred pages.

The sex is fine, but sleeping with you’s a bitch.

Yet my love, my love, is still consistent:

I wrote you this poem, and it even rhymes.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper