Red Gym Shorts

Advisory: Sexually explicit.


I’d totally do the dude in red gym shorts,

flip-flops, and nothing else if I had the chance.

His graceful beauty sparks desire, but it’s

his casual unawareness of it that fans

the flames into a raging forest fire.

At least a head above me, but not too tall,

dark hair, scruffy beard, and laughing eyes

behind rectangular glass that make him look

intelligent and cultured.  The lightweight shorts

drape his glutes as if custom cut and ripple

in the wind like a red flag  piped

with the white of unconditional surrender

flying over his hairy tan legs. A T-shirt

scrunched up like a towel hangs at his waist,

his naked torso mostly smooth, his nipples

small and firm and needing licking; he’s lean

but not skinny, with the kind of physique

bestowed by nature rather than the gym,

the smooth curve from waist to shoulders like

an open highway I would love to drive.

He’s not parading himself but watching the floats

in a Pride parade, and when he raises

a hand to shield his eyes from the sun,

he exposes a furry armpit I’d like to smell and taste

before tonguing my way down from his sternum

all the way into those shorts to see

what gift could be unwrapped for me to suck on.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper


Twenty-five years of celebrating Pride:

In Pensacola, rainbow kites on the beach,

the white-trunked young man whose name I missed,

but whose image the sun burned into my brain.

Joy, but then the deal with nails and tires;

for every up an equal and opposite down.


OKC with Boys One and Two:

the one who would drop me quickly and rightly,

the other, for whom “it’s complicated” would be

the understatement of two centuries.

But there were drinks and drugs and kisses and hugs,

awkward talks, weird sex, and messy break-ups.


Then in Tulsa, Brookside and Cherry Street,

Mohawk and Veterans Parks, dancing in clubs,

but also protesters and shouted offensive remarks;

now East Village, where the party’s taken hold.

Once there were hordes of pickets along the route,

whereas today one sad man held a sign.


I’ve gone alone, with a partner, and in groups,

had good times and some that weren’t so gr

and I’m not the nostalgic type, but still I miss

past faces that I no longer see–

grown old, moved away, or just lost interest;

a few have died, but most are just too busy.


But anyway it’s mostly for the kids,

and it’s good to see them parade their colours

more openly than we would ever have dared.

So politics is shit and hate still rumbles,

but the rainbow flags are flying high,

and A and B are not your only choices.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper


The Confessor’s Breath

Among the holy and royal ghosts still haunting

the chapels and passageways of Westminster Abbey

stirs the spirit of Edward the Confessor,

seventh son of the Unready, successor

to the Danes, precursor to the Normans,

a saint English, Roman, and Orthodox, hardly

a perfect man, but a capable and celibate king

who trusted that God would choose the next monarch

since he couldn’t be bothered with producing heirs.

With him the House of Wessex revived and expired.


Signs in the abbey describe his shrine as delicate–

something the man was not; accounts describe

His Majesty as tall and blond and dignified,

the epitome, in fact, of ideal ruler–

forbidden to the tourist hordes, open only

for private prayer, by whom unspecified.


And perhaps the restricted access contributes

to the shrine’s mysterious pull, or maybe

the attraction comes by way of age,

from cold stone hewn in Anglo-Saxon times

scarcely imaginable in 2018,

or maybe it’s only because the abbey itself

rose from Edward’s Norman-Romanesque dreams,

or because his tomb was opened at least twice,

allowing ectoplasm to enter the air,

wafting about the soaring nave, still echoing

with the chants and hymns of monks and choristers

from stacked centuries come and gone.


But in any case one feels something,

whether true believer or doubting Thomas,

whether it’s the lingering breath of St. Edward,

or only of so many ordinary passers-through.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

After the Chocolate Bunny’s Gone, Even the Ears

Late afternoon on Easter Sunday: Downtown’s

as lonely as my living room now that

the celebrations have all ended–the processions

long over, the dishes washed from brunch,

the lilies already beginning their wilt–and I

am cycling around deserted streets under

granite-coloured skies threatening the storms

that come up suddenly in unstable spring;

I’m delaying the necessary return to the old

routine of Sunday-evening fears, drifting

through restless dreams into Monday’s panic.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

M Appears in Jeans and Boots

At the street party in the afternoon,

he wears a subtle plaid poplin short-sleeve,

green and blue on white, khaki shorts,

and brown loafers, driving mocs more specifically,

classic, rather conservative, a touch more formal

than I am expecting among the T-shirts and flip-flops,

to say nothing of dubious boas and body glitter.


Rejoining me later on to look for dinner,

he has been home to change, and the transformation,

when I first see it, takes me somewhat aback:

tight snap-front western shirt, ripped-up jeans

he says his parents hate, holes big enough

to reach a hand inside, battered boots,

heavy, in which walking seems a struggle.


He’s said he’s bored with Tulsa, but he’s dressed

in a costume designer’s idea of Oklahoma,

though of course not wholly un-ironic,

shit-kickers with no intention of kicking shit.

That’s not to say that he does not look good,

but rather that he appears in masquerade,

as himself, a youth of twenty-four.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper