Mantelpiece Tableau

The white stag prances

fearlessly among tigers,

secure in the pride

of his majesty, almost

too good to eat;

and the tigers,

satiated, for the moment,

from a prior kill, humor

him, drowsily bemused

by his recklessness,

but disinclined

to hunt.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper


Too Much

It might have been the bills piling up,

or the dishes, or the vodka bottles,

or the impending deadlines for dental

appointments and vet visits and paper

submissions, a careless glance at the calendar,

that buried him under the covers

that morning he couldn’t get

out of bed, couldn’t get

up, couldn’t get

a promotion, a raise, couldn’t get

psyched up, couldn’t get

laid, couldn’t get

his ducks in a row, couldn’t get

a hold of himself, couldn’t get

no satisfaction, couldn’t get

a life, couldn’t get

the courage to end it,

couldn’t get

on with it,

lying in the dark,

tired of lying,

tired of darkness,

tired of anxious anxiety,

tired of depressing depression,

tired of maniacal mania,

dangling from both disordered poles,


sinking into the mattress,

curling into a fetal ball,

pulling the covers over his head,

panicking as he attacked

the alarming clock.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

Morning Sun

The hungover sun,
still pale from last night,
blankets itself in clouds
and reaches red-fingered
for the snooze button:
Just ten more minutes;
the planets can wait.

Copyright 2017
T. Allen Culpepper

The Worms Are Coming

Though drinking only coffee,
methought the lawn did move,
and I was not mistaken:
A thousand thousand warrior worms,
making their circuitous march
behind waving blades of grass,
like the soldiers bearing branches
that made the Birnam Forest walk.
Their mission remains classified,
but I fear the plot’s not comic.

Copyright 2017
T. Allen Culpepper


When the heat arrives, around half-past July,

time shifts into a different dimension:

Not-a-morning-persons sip coffee on front steps

in their underwear at dawn; restless dogs drag

their lagging humans along the streets on midnight walks;

high noon drops the dead weight of silent stillness

over thirsty lawns toasted crisp and brown,

petunias and impatiens limp and yellow,

wilted over their funereal pots, a calico cat

melting in the meager shade of a sad azalea,

her breath her only motion. A dry wind rises,

swirling dust and rustling the crepe-myrtle branches,

but it brings no comfort, no relief from the sun god

relentlessly blessing his subjects.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper