Reasoned from a Line of Sophocles in Translation

Suppose this business was inspired by gods.

What then can we mere mortals hope to do,

with our lesser nature, foolish sods,

but surrender to their capricious coup?

 

We stand exposed to lightning bolts from heaven,

shot down like bottles lined up on a shelf,

in rapid sequence, five and six and seven,

without means to defend ourselves.

 

Note: From Robert Bagg’s translation of Antigone, published by Harper Perennial.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

 

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Fashionisti Fucking

It’s always very stylish, of course,

preceded by hair and makeup,

manscaping and pedicures,

the soundtrack from a Paris runway,

expensive designer garments artfully shed,

the Hermes scarf maybe left on,

the pleasure definitely faked,

the mess cleaned up immediately.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Breakup Sonnet on a Random Line from Shakespeare, Taken Out of Context

I could not stay behind you, my Desire,

though my failing was not for want of love.

Your ambition I admired, your fire,

but for both of us it wasn’t enough.

We began on equal terms, two hearts,

partners in a balanced relationship,

but I was cut as you became the star;

you gulped the wine that I could only sip.

Sometimes I was content to hold the ladder

steady as you climbed up to the roof,

but, always left behind, I grew sadder,

lonely—not, as assumed, aloof.

When, against my will, you set me free,

I tried to climb, but fell, without you to help me.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Notes: The line is from Twelfth Night, but the punctuation, capitalization, and context have been altered to change the meaning. The poem is also partially a response to the song “The Good Side,” by Troye Sivan, imagined from the opposite point of view.

Pondering Porn

Advisory: Sexually explicit

So many of them won’t show their faces,

but the Canadian dude has the balls,

even if he’s a slutty bottom by his own

description, to stare defiantly into the cam

as he impales his hole on an enormous

dildo and rides it, moaning, until he cums,

and, yeah, it’s hot when it’s in progress,

but afterward, awkward questions

trouble the viewer: Who’s exploiting

and who’s exploited? Who’s happy

and who’s reaching out for help?

Is this harmless pleasure or some

kind of sad perversion? Has the

bottom boy actualized his desires

or only limited his future options?

If he’s headed for a fall, how much

responsibility does the viewer share?

Does this exchange reflect the beauty

of sexual diversity acknowledged,

or does it merely show lust run rampant,

devoid of love, without connection

to a soul-mate, isolated even

from human touch?

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

 

Transfiguration

At home, sequestered in his room,

ears headphoned, eyes fixed on

his laptop computer screen; in his

classes at the community college,

getting his basics out of the way;

at work, waiting tables for tips—

in so much of life, he’s merely

human, if even that–but in the gay

club after hours, when the DJ cranks

the music, a little drunk, a little high,

he sheds his mortality along with

his shirt and dances his way

through the glittering lights

into the realm of gods.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper