The Bluejay of Fear

The jay was beautiful once, in his feathered garb of regal blue,

but now he’s only dead, gone the way of all flesh and fowl,

and though I’m not the assassin–the cat has brought him in,

as nature-programmed hunters do–yet still I feel the guilt

for this handsome creature unjustly slain. So runs the elegy

I’m composing in my head as I pick up a couple of feathers

dropped, and the cat, having grown bored with the game,

leaves the scene.

But then I realize the bird remains alive,

perched on the kitchen curtain-rod, first thinking he’s badly hurt,

de-winged, unable to flay and stuck in purgatory,

but when I approach, he takes flight, heading every which way

but out; with doors and windows open wide, the bird flies

into the wall, and I marvel at the lack of brains that

often accompanies unearned beauty.

I cannot catch him,

or shoot him, or guide him; the attempt goes on for hours,

until, like Poe’s raven or the mariner’s albatross, his presence

dooms me to the memory of regret. Having provoked me

into agitation, he settles and grows quiet, spends the night

on his perch, head tucked under wing, in the way of birds,

as I toss in troubled dream state, and not until the next

midmorning, when the cat’s interest returns, does my

blue-winged demon depart with a raucous squawk

by the obvious escape right previously unseen.

He’ll have

a story to tell his avian cronies of his traumatic, near-death

experience, and I’ll be haunted by his image, with half-open

beak and the same stupid, black-eyed terror that I

sometimes feel myself.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

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Separation

Summer, I love you once and doubtless will again;

for sure I’ll miss your warm and humid breath some months from now,

during the short, cold days and frigid nights of February.

But at the moment, on this your last day with me for a while,

I have to say I think some time apart will do us good,

let us cool down from our heated altercations

so we can start afresh next time.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

A Southern Eclogue

Adapted from Virgil

Cory the farmhand burned with love

for the pale-skinned Alex, the boss’s favorite.

Cory knew he had no chance, but he

would still hang out in the pine grove

and holler out his misery:

“Alex, you are way too cruel.

Don’t you even hear me at all?

Don’t you feel a little pity?

You’ll be the death of me if not.

Even the animals come to the shade

with me in the heat of the day and let

me pet them. And when the workers come

back home tired out from bailing hay,

Tess cooks up some food for them,

and they’re all joking with each other,

but I am all on my lonesome,

going back out in the sun to try

to figure out where you’ve run off to.

I’d be better off putting up

with moody Mario or Malcolm the tease,

both dark-haired, not blond like you.

But don’t obsess with color, handsome;

white privet blossoms fall to the ground,

just like dark hyacinths get pulled.

You just look down on me, Alex,

if you notice me at all.

If you bothered to ask, you would know

that my dad is rich, and one day

I’ll inherit his land and stock.

I see you and love what I see,

but I’m pretty hot myself;

I was looking at my reflection

in the catfish pond today,

and I’d be a match for Denny, that boy

that everybody raves about,

even if you were doing the judging.

I wish you could be happy living

with me in a rustic cabin in the woods,

going deer-hunting when we’re not herding cows,

or drinking on the porch and singing

country  songs when we finish our chores.

I have a guitar, and I reckon

I can play about as well as Monty can.

And I know where to find

a couple of whitetail deer

I was saving to stalk with you,

but my cousin Theo wants to hunt them,

and I guess he might as well,

since you don’t want any favors from me.

Oh, come on, handsome boy, and bring

me a package. But, no, I know

you won’t, and I’m just making myself

miserable for nothing. Yet and still

I know the woods, and like a wolf

eats up a goat that eats the grass,

driven by instinctive hunger,

I want a taste of you; my love’s

a fire that no one can put out.

But if you won’t put out for me,

or even look my way and smile,

I guess it’s time to hit the road

and find myself another Alex.”

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

 

 

 

 

Yes, the Fall, But Oh That Rise! Icarus Reconsidered

In the end our rebel dies,

but what a meteoric rise!

Better to fall from a flaming star

than never to soar so high and far.

Imagine the youth’s incredible rush:

Drugs, sex, and rock in one great gush!

And the thrill of that still in his eyes

as he drops from the skies.

The officers call in one fatality,

but death gives him immortality.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Old

You’re only as old as you feel, the adage states,

an appealing fantasy, but clearly untrue,

as shown by wrinkled skin and added weight,

the piper’s bills for what you used to do.

Even if your step still springs, it hurts,

though you can’t recall what made it so.

Motivation comes only in spurts;

metabolism has begun to slow.

The actors that you watched as teens on screen

have been divorced three times and have grandkids;

it’s not something you thought you’d ever see.

Basically your youth has hit the skids.

It could be worse, of course; you’re not dead yet–

but you’d better hurry with goals unmet.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper