Garfield Cemetery

The tide has come in this morning.

Across the channel, England recedes,

nearly obscured in a political fog.

Here, on the coast of Brittany,

the surf laps against the beauty

of the Iroise beach, stretching

itself as a lazy cat might do

in the still-sleepy light

of the just-awakened sun,

and the fishing waves bring in

their morning catch, huge feline eyeballs

encased in petroleum-derived plastic,

and, looking into those glaring globes,

I feel a certain nostalgic sadness

mixed with fears of global warming

and the likely destruction of our planet.


Tristan found the same thing yesterday,

Claire and Simon, the day before;

the discoveries rang in our ears

like the hell’s-bells-on jangling

of a novelty telephone from the 1980s.


The tide–read this stanza metaphorically–

once delivered organically-sourced,

environmentally-friendly products,

like driftwood and such, that kept us

aligned with the then-robust natural world,

but now its dredgings render the eternal

waste of reckless overconsumption.


Hey you, whom I can’t quite

commit myself to loving

but actually do rather like,

let’s at least be good to each other,

and maybe go out to that new

Italian place to drink red wine

and  eat lasagne, because

the brave new world has shown

itself cowardly and mean,

all its promises broken.

And here we are on this lovely beach,

even here assaulted

by the detritus of popular culture

molded in orange plastic.


Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper

St. Patrick’s Day, Tulsa, 2019

The church shifts it forward this year–

Sundays not being for single saints–

but the festival-makers stretch it

out over the whole weekend, this

everyone-Irish feast that everyone except

the Irish celebrates, knowing little of Patrick,

but assuming his fondness for stout ale

and the occasional whiskey for breakfast,

all things green, and maybe having heard

something about his chasing snakes away,

But his day here is a kind of rite of spring,

especially this time around, coinciding

with the start of spring break for local colleges,

and morning has broken blue-skied and sunny,

and though nature’s show of green

is limited mostly to early-bird weeds,

the trees are budding with potential,

the odd tulip blossom trying to open,

the songbirds lilting an Irish air.

The street parties will draw big crowds

on a day like this, almost perfect,

and maybe Padraig, reanimated, would

be appalled, but maybe he’d just raise

a slainte, join in and dance an ecstatic reel.


Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper



Walking her little yappy dog

on the trail through the mountain pasture,

the tourist woman would have been trampled by cattle

spooked and protective of their young

if she, as well as several of the cows and all of the hundred-odd passengers and crew,

had not been killed by the defectively engineered passenger jet crashing just there and then.

The dog escaped unharmed and ran off into a nearby wood, where, at dusk, with surprising boldness, it took up company with a passing pack of wolves.

So, in a sense, the story ended well, just not for the woman, or the people on the plane, or the sacrificial cows.

Cooyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper