Spokes

Bicycle wheels spin;

the spokes like chrome knives

shining in the sun

slice the passing world

into sweet wedges.

 

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

Ride

Hop on take off dodge car dog on porch barks cat crossing street runner short shorts young mother with stroller kid too old pedal spin pick up speed turn lights go yellow red green [push off go through crossing around park pond twice watch out geese maybe three times break orbit asphalt bumpy man with cane yellow hydrant red octagon stop almost not quite it’s clear green street signs one missing sun warm heating up roll sleeves mauve crepe myrtle keep pedaling time running short hurry one more loop construction avoid breeze now cool fresh still summer fall coming traffic cross turn shift brake release shift pedal harder spokes twirling blur slow roll brake stop off lock stow cats one stroke each head to shower not really time but early morning bike ride fast.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Modern Prints: A Haiku Series

Race (1)

Horses abstracted

to their motion, thus stretching

jockeys into track.

Tube Train (2)

An elasticised

throat lozenge by mishap sucked

down esophagus.

Stairs (3)

Big rippled dildo

erect and masturbated

by a spiral hand.

Lines (4)

Unexpectedly

poetic in their motion,

linemen far aloft

among salt-shaker

insulators risk the shock

of High-Modern life.

Service (5)

Waiters learn forward

in a yoga fold over

trays of flat dishes.

Tour des Tournants (6)

Pedaled wheels cycling

around a tight spiral bend

through ribbons of fence.

 

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

 

Note: The poems are based on Modern Times: British Prints of the 1920s and 1930s, which was on show at the Philbrook Museum of Art.  Each haiku corresponds to a print specific print, as indicated:

(1) Racing by Sybil Andrews

(2) Tube Station by Cyril Power

(3) Tube Staircase by Cyril Power

(4) Fixing the Wires by Lill Tschudi

(5) Waiters by Lill Tschudi

(6) Tour de Suisse by Lill Tschudi

Rainbow

rainbowjulyleonsignleonchurch

So it might or might not be significant

that I happened to be riding my bike

along the rough stretch of Third Street

also known as Leon Russell Road

and had just passed the old church

where Russell did some recording once

when I saw the rainbow arching

over the street and thought: “Rainbow.

Oh, a rainbow, and a nice one.

But that’s weird because it hasn’t rained.

[Beat.] Oh shit.” And then it rained.

Hard. Big hard drops of blinding rain.

But the day had been miserably hot,

and the big hard drops of blinding rain

were cool, almost cold relatively,

and even though they kind of almost

hurt, it was in a good way, like

being in a needle shower

at a bathhouse in Hot Springs, Arkansas,

a simile which probably won’t make

much sense if you’ve never done that,

but if you have, you’ll know exactly

what I mean. But either way, it doesn’t

matter. All that matters is that the big,

hard drops of blinding rain that

pelted me like a needle shower

were cool and they felt really good,

and there was a rainbow, and the

whole thing might have been

Leon Russell’s fault.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

At the Farmers’ Market on the Fourth of July

By way of preparation, I breakfast on ice cream

and strap a small American flag on a plastic stick

to the handlebars of my bike with a band of Velcro:

I will be cycling to the farmers’ market on the Fourth of July,

dressed for the occasion in a red-and-white T-shirt

over bright blue yoga shorts, accessorized with

the inevitable bandana. We had rain yesterday,

and today hasn’t heated up too much when I start out

at eight-thirty; it’s not a long ride—through Turner Park

and the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood, then south

on St. Louis—badly in need of repair, my pavement-

pounded joints inform me—to avoid the traffic

on Utica and Peoria. When I cross under the expressway

and pass the cone-hatted musician always stationed

just outside the barriers, playing unfamiliar tunes,

I know I have arrived at my destination—the popular

Saturday-morning market in the middle of a street

in the middle of a city in the middle of America,

the Cherry Street (it’s really Fifteenth) Farmers’ Market

in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Parking the bike, detaching the basket,

and exchanging my helmet for a patriotic baseball cap,

I slip into the crowd, taking, as usual, a stroll through

the length of the market, assessing the options,

vegetable and human, before I commit myself to any

purchases, not above, I admit, snapping the occasional

cell-photo of a hot, or just interesting-looking, guy

who might turn up in a poem later, because, hey,

everyone in town is here: the young parents with babies

in strollers or trussed up on the backs of dads

or against the breasts of moms; the families with a kid

and a half; the serious cyclists in tight shorts and tank tops;

the gay boys in their flip-flops and espadrilles;

the women in their floral maxi-dresses; the muscle-men

all pumped up in their flag-adorned T-shirts;

the glittery women of a certain age; the blond-haired

hippie couple, the chic in beads and braids, the handsome

dude bearded and barefoot; the elderly lady

in a sun-hat, walking with a cane and drinking hot coffee

despite the now-blazing sun; the thirty-somethings

with their yoga mats; the dignified middle-aged

Asian woman above-it-all elegant in a long striped

sheath; the preppy kids in big sunglasses;

and the stars of the show—the dogs sniffing everything

out and soaking up the fawning attention of strangers.

And the crowd mills and swarms and circles,

ogling the displays of produce and flowers spread

enticingly under bright white canopies:

the blackberries that will sell out so quickly,

the juicy red tomatoes of every size and variety,

the rich yellow squash, the leafy green carrot tops

hanging from bags and baskets, the purple flowers

at the stall near the west end. And the overheated,

young and old, cooling off with an icy probiotic

pop-on-a-stick from Jared’s ice chest.

And so it’s done: I’ve seen the sights, spent

my money, filled my basket, greeted a few friends,

swum the channel of flag-adorned garments,

dodging prams and skateboards. I linger for a moment,

not quite ready to leave the spectacle behind, but

then I finish my popsicle, lick my sticky fingers, drain

the last bit of water from my cup and toss it in the

trash barrel. I re-attach the now-packed basket,

hang my cap from the handlebars, buckle up my

helmet, unchain the bike, and I’m off,

homeward bound, independently alone

on another Independence Day.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Dream 517

Cycling on the underside of the superhighway

over a bridge in an unspecified foreign country,

I go into a spin, U-turn suddenly, and find myself

surrounding by thugs with wrenches, who, though

I pedal faster and faster, shouting obscenities,

keep pace with me, lock their wrenches onto my bolts,

loosening nuts mercilessly until my bike flies

apart in the wind and I fall upward into the noise

of an alarm-clock siren. Waking, I throw up my hands

and wail, pondering a universe beyond my control.

 

Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper