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

 

Reader

He brings his bike, which doesn’t have a kickstand,

into the coffeehouse, so you can’t help noticing

as he moves around the room trying to find

the best place to lean it, but you would have

noticed him anyway, first because he’s cute,

vanilla-skinned and blond, but second because

when he settles into a chair by the window

and reaches into his pocket, what comes out

is not a smartphone but a book, an actual

printed-paper book, serious-looking,

without pictures, and then he begins

reading it, attentively, by choice,

without a highlighter, so seductively

that you want to read with him.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

 

The Spirit of Love: A Blank-Verse Sonnet

Two male lovers intertwined in a Celtic know

of fuckery: a mythical amalgam of two heads,

two backs, four arms, four legs, four dangling balls,

and two erect penis, one inside

the other man from behind, pumping away,

filling his yearning void with love’s expanse,

building toward the gradual but still sudden

convulsed transfusion of spirt pure and white

in this all-consuming consummation,

the physical enactment of urges probably resulting

from a chemical imbalance in their brains

that has soften hearts and hardened cocks.

And what will happen after the spirit’s spent?

They’ll say, “Our love came quickly; then it went.”

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Today’s Special Feature at the Burger Bar

Maybe some kind of local entrepreneur;
he has that cleaned-up grunge does business
look: tall, though not excessively; slender
but not too skinny; wears his golden-blond
hair pulled back into a short ponytail,
but with loose strands falling to frame
his handsome, regular-featured face
with closely trimmed blond beard. I can’t
see his eyes from my place in the queue,
but I’m guessing they’re grey-blue if not
emerald green. His clothes are casual
but smart; he’s made the effort without
overworking it: grey chambray shirt
over light teal cotton jeans with dress
oxfords, cap-toe, oxblood, plain but
tasteful, well polished, made from good
leather. He’s with a friend, or just
a colleague maybe—or they could be
part of a group of four, though they came
in a little later than the other two, but
all are dressed nicely as if for work,
and all show a bit of flair through hairstyle
or a statement clothing item. Only he,
though, has the natural good looks
and effortless style to stand out
in any crowd, even the lunch crowd
at the downtown burger bar.

Copyright 2015
T. Allen Culpepper

Carpe Dickem

In the season of procrastination and allergies

I’m lingering over a post-luncheon coffee,

and with nothing else of interest in the offing,

my gaze wanders around at the guys.

Clichés are forthcoming here, no doubt,

but one can be, I think, allowed, along

with photographs of the first daffodils,

pink azalea buds, and random sprouts,

in spring one poetic bout with passing

time, fleeting youth, seizing days, not missing out.

 

Let’s set a scene then, and off we’ll go:

two college boys on a coffee date

at a popular local watering-hole,

one whiter than white, the other mixed race,

both cute, young, bearded, in T-shirts,

and those trendy lightweight short-shorts

that cling like boxers to the interesting parts;

the white one’s been to his stylist

for the haircut du jour, long on top,

buzzed back and sides, hairy legs, and on

his feet, leather high-tops, the other dude,

smoother, sporting white canvas sneaks.

They occupy the corner café table,

sitting, talking, laughing too loud at whispered

jokes; two queer blokes, not really drinking

their mostly decorative cafés-au-lait,

so gay in every sense and so very young!

 

One glance at them, and my thoughts are

flung back to when I was their age

of similar bent but in such different days,

and I wonder how things might have ended

if I’d had that kind of beginning

and hadn’t gone off to college in eighty-one,

when AIDS was new and running rampant.

 

Happy for what they have now right here,

but a bit resentful maybe of past fears

and attitudes that made it hard for me

to take what to them must seem freer.

Not that I haven’t had myself a life,

but finding my path did take a while,

and I missed some chances along the way;

I’m thinking, for example, of Eben at the lake

that day we took a ride after class:

He was clearly fishing and I liked the bait,

but only nibbled when I could have swallowed

hook, line, and sinker as we wallowed

in the grass. We stayed friendly but

of course he never made another pass,

and then, well nothing, except that the memory

has suddenly surfaced these thirty years hence.

 

I’m not the kind to interrupt the chat

of strangers when they’re on a date,

but if by some quirk of fate, I were not

invisible to the eyes of youth and they

were to turn to the old dude and ask

for words of wisdom about love,

and life, and lust and such, I’d say,

if you’re into him, then have a go at it.

Time is ticking and youth won’t last,

so make a move and find your groove–

go ahead and seize the dick.

 

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper