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

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Long Night Moon

After a storm, the drapes of rain are drawn,

but a low ceiling of clouds still obscures

the fullness of the December moon,

making darker the longest night of the year,

with Mercury and Jupiter conjoined,

as stars fall behind the heavy barrier,

and Earth’s upper half leans backward until

it reaches the maximum tilt of winter solstice,

inviting winter in, but also promising

the turn of the wheel toward another spring.

A cold midwinter moon, a long night moon,

at the solstice ritually fired and feasted;

the decorative evergreen branches, cut, must die,

except as symbols, but the trees live on.

Next day, the sun rises late, but rises still,

and blazes bright until its early setting.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Not My Wedding, Not My Royals

On accidentally being in London on the day of the royal wedding

Harry and Megan never consulted me

before scheduling their royal wedding for when

I would be making my very first visit to England,

and my invitation got lost in the Royal Mail–

they might at least have invited me to the reception–

so while they were saying their vows at Windsor Castle,

I was touring London’s parks and squares,

where people congregated to enjoy

a fine spring day in a celebratory mood;

only the monarchists interpreted the lovely weather

as a sign of heaven’s blessing on the couple,

but even republicans were game for a picnic and a pint.

In Green Park and St. James’s, the tourists

strolled about, taking the royal air

despite Her Majesty’s absence from Buckingham Palace,

while locals sat around chatting or walked their dogs.

In Russell Square, twenty-somethings sunned themselves shirtless,

and loners read novels on shady benches

under gnarly plane trees leafy and green,

against one of which a terrier relieved himself.

Two uni students on a coffee date

at the Italian cafe in the corner

spoke of their studies, politics, life, and themselves

over cappuccino ordered so late in the day

that the Italians surely snickered in laughing derision.

At the adjacent table, three English generations–

father, son, and father’s father–drank pints

from tall, thin pilsner glasses, and in

the trio one could see three ages of man.

The young man, blond and bright, drew my eye,

but I pondered his father’s thoughts, and feared

that I share most of the grandpa’s years.

An Asian family talked little but exchanged

glances charged with centuries of meaning,

and two elder gents, one armed with a can,

the other in a driving cap, commented

dryly on perpetual injustice

and chuckled at the antics of a pair of corgis;

I wondered if Virginia Woolf had dogs,

and, if so, how they coped with loss.

Over in Soho pretty boys sat on the lawn,

gossiping and drinking beer from cans;

the mood was about the same, though the denim

was slashed more artfully and the humor a bit more arch:

With the aid of a paper mask, someone had dressed

the statue of Charles the Second in Meghan drag.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

 

 

Icon

Bob Dylan just won the Nobel Prize for literature,

but chances are I’ll never have that honor.

Maybe it’s only because I’m a terrible singer.

No, wait, that can’t be the problem.

Maybe it’s because my poems don’t make sense.

No, that can’t be the problem either.

Maybe it’s because I live in Oklahoma,

don’t carry a guitar, and don’t have rock-star hair.

Not to say his lyrics aren’t brilliant, they are,

but it takes more than words to be an icon–

it takes time and place and hair and guitars.

 

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

Again

Some nights the old fears come back,

rustling around the door as dusk

bleeds light from the sky and then

making houseguests of themselves,

hogging the pillows, drinking up the wine,

demanding too much attention, but here

they are, and like forgotten cousins

or friends from lives you thought had died,

they must be entertained, and so

you dance with them and listen to

their talk and take a certain comfort

in their familiar spirits, but still

you wish they’d go and leave you to

the loneliness they represent.

 

Copyright 2016

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

Blue Toenails

Though they won’t prove his most notable feature,

his ripped-up over-decorated jeans

attract my notice first in the mid-American airport,

perhaps because, having just returned from Europe,

I’m more sensitive to our less formal

way of dressing in the USA.—-

 

Turns out that we are taking the same flight,

so I have the opportunity

to take a closer look: earlobes stretched

with big piercings, shaved arms and head

as well, under baseball cap, sleeve tattoo,

interlocking tribal red and black.

In his twenties, well-built, muscular,

with his girlfriend, who’s hot-looking, blond,

but minus his alternative look.

 

I run a gaydar scan, but it comes back

negative, even after, at the

baggage claim, I see that he has painted

his toenails a brilliant sparkling blue.

That’s pretty brave here in Oklahoma,

and I admire him for having the balls

to do his thing, fuck the stereotypes.

 

And yet, despite myself and even though

what the breeders do in bed is not

a topic that I tend to ponder a lot,

I can’t help picturing him on his back,

his legs in the air, and her, equipped

with strap-on, pounding him until he screams.

 

Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper