Cyclist

Inside the coffeehouse, standing with hands on his bike,

a white racer, not new—there’s tape on the saddle,

as if on the verge of departure, but making

no perceptible movement toward the door,

lingering instead to converse with a friend

seated at one of the small, square tables

near the counter, with a book and a cortado,

but remaining standing himself, as if inseparable from the bike,

in dirty white joggers pushed up to his knees

and a faded black V-neck, not cut deep,

but just deep enough to reveal a hint

of chest hair along the clavicle, his face freckled

by the sun, arms marked by cycling scrapes,

and his brown hair, kind of messy, not badly cut,

just not fussed over, spilling out from under

a backward baseball gap, one strand drooping over his brow,

drawing attention to his eyes, and what seductive

eyes they are, flickering bright, their color shifting

from hazel to blue to grey and back again,

and I’m hoping that he’s not noticing my glances,

even though I’ve chosen a seat facing him

so that I can steal them as I work, taking sips

of coffee as an excuse to look up from my laptop,

not only his appearance attracting me

but also his posture, his demeanor, his seeming

comfort in his skin, peace with his soul,

as the light glitters in his eyes and joy escapes

when a toothy grin registers a joke,

and as I pack up to go, he’s still standing there,

with his bike, in the coffeehouse, and two weeks later,

he’s still standing there, with his bike,

in my mind, his image lodged there yet.

 

Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper

 

Advertisements

Resignation

This is our life, our own special hell.

Try as we might, we’re still doomed to failure,

with no goods to bargain, no souls to sell.

 

It’s all vanity; trouble’s stickier than blood.

Forget your ambitions; you might as well sail your

little paper boats in puddles of mud.

 

I’m not pessimistic, just being real;

our wills are constrained like pent-up jailbirds,

so it’s easier to deal if you forget how to feel.

 

Armour up like a knight, but stay in the castle.

It’s dangerous out there on quests for the grail; turn

back now to safety, it’s not worth the hassle.

 

Limit to the back yard your adventurous forays,

because heroes are heroes only in stories.

 

Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper

Commuter Sentence

Driving toward the cathedral in the morning, its spire

a compass needle center-lining the street,

the direction seems inevitable, if not exactly

intentional, a lucid focus in the sleepy haze;

wake and work–it’s something, it’s  what we do

to keep the anxious-making world at bay,

or at least dilute the concentrated panic.

 

But in the traffic-crazy evening rush,

the needle has broken off, and puzzle-pieces

of clouds drift apart like renegade republics

dislodged from their positions on the map.

Sunset’s coming, but I’ll see it in the

rearview mirror while I’m riding east,

back into the chaos, as the credits roll.

 

Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper

Out of Reach

Always just slightly out of reach,

on the edge of the bed, the edge of his seat,

hand on the doorknob, warm spot cooling,

always about to be, maybe already, somewhere else,

but there’s no transporter, no vanishing-cabinet,

no magical disappearance, still here in his way,

and so you reach, you’re always reaching,

arm extended, just inches from a hand to hold,

a foot or two from the full embrace

that you need so badly, and maybe he does too,

if only arms were longer, space less infinite.

 

Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper

Eden Falls

edenfallsphoto.jpg

It must be an ancient place,

the way the mountain has eroded,

maybe sacred once to one tribe or another

in a time when life was simpler, more elemental,

and still it feels like a sanctuary–cool, dark, and silent,

but for the soothing fall of holy water,

and the avian choristers’ anthem.

Translucent green leaves filter the sunlight,

dark branches like the leading

between colored pieces of stained glass

telling old stories too distant to easily believe.

Like an empty cathedral, a tranquil, reflective space

that fills with one’s own belief or doubt.

But these stones were never hewn by human hands;

there’s no need for a preacher’s pulpit or bishop’s chair,

or even the allusion to some lost paradise

from which this place takes its name,

because divinity comes here

to touch the earth, to breathe the air,

to mingle with the waters.

 

Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper

 

I’m attempting to learn Danish, so just for fun (bare for sjovt), here’s my attempt at a translation into Danish:

Eden Vanfald

Det kan kun være en gammel sted,

på grund af hvordan eroderet bjerget,

måske hellige en gang til en stamme eller en anden

i dag da levet var enklere, mere elementære,

og stadig er det som en helligdom—

kølig, mørke, og næsten stille,

selvom den beroligende falde af helligt vand,

salmen sunget af fugle.

Gennemsigtig grønne blade diffunderer sollyset,

deres mørke grene som bly

mellem stykker af farvet glas

at fortæl historier for lang væk til at tro nemt.

Som en ledig kirke, et roligt rum som fyldes op

med mands egen tro eller tvivl.

Men disse sten blev aldrig skåret

af menneskers hænder;

der er ikke behov for prædikants eller biskops stol,

eller for allusionen til nogle tabte paradis

hvorfor den tager dens navn,

fordi kommer guddommelighed her

til at røre jorden, til at trække vejret i luften,

til at blande med farvandet.