Fate

Walking her little yappy dog

on the trail through the mountain pasture,

the tourist woman would have been trampled by cattle

spooked and protective of their young

if she, as well as several of the cows and all of the hundred-odd passengers and crew,

had not been killed by the defectively engineered passenger jet crashing just there and then.

The dog escaped unharmed and ran off into a nearby wood, where, at dusk, with surprising boldness, it took up company with a passing pack of wolves.

So, in a sense, the story ended well, just not for the woman, or the people on the plane, or the sacrificial cows.

Cooyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper

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Barking Time

On Wednesdays at noon,

if the weather is good,

they test the tornado sirens,

and the dogs on the street behind me

join in, turning their howls

to harmonize, but the test

blasts through a solid minute,

longer than the dogs can

hold out without a breath,

and, one by one, their voices

drop our of the chorus;

but the siren, mechanical, controlled,

trails to silence when its time is up,

while the dogs, being dogs,

will still have their day.

 

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