Pink Azaleas

The pink azaleas fade the fastest,

their festive petals turning a nasty brown.

All year they’ve waited for their glory moment,

the sudden burst of bloom that makes them

special among the other shrubs,

but their faces once revealed begin to crumple

and decay, so that within in a week

they’re like aging drag queens

holding out for one last show

before saying goodbye to the stage.


Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper


Nôtre-Dame des flammes

Even the holy water of the Seine,

the re-baptism by fire-brigade hoses,

could not prevent Our Lady’s

close encounter with the hellish flames

sent to test her fortitude and mock

her claims on eternal existence,

and yet, despite her scorched tresses,

her toppled aspirational crown,

the burning in her mediaeval gut,

her heat-forged spirit endures,

hard as the stone of her towers

still raised Orans-style toward heaven,

signaling the path that her body,

like her spirit, will ascend

at resurrection.


Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper


April is a month, the month if you’re a poet,

at least two months if you’re an academic,

not the cruelest month maybe, but the fullest,

and, as Lou Reed warned us, it’s always,

always back to the rain, cold and heavy

as the seasons fluctuate, trying to settle

on spring but not quite succeeding yet.

We did our pilgrimages last month,

for spring break, beaches and mountains

this century’s shrines of choice,

and the land here’s not dead,

except figuratively, maybe, spiritually;

the azaleas, oblivious, threaten to bloom.


Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper