The Limits of Artistry

Jet trails scratch pink clouds

brushed across pale blue canvas,

slashed with palette knife,

the artist in frustration,

unable to paint the sky.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

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It Is What It Is

It Is What It Is

 

Arms raised behind his head, black mesh T-shirt

pulled up to reveal taut abdominals, just lean,

not overworked at the gym, not-quite-obscurity

making nipples more tempting, back stretched into arch,

as if he’s been caught in the act of removing the shirt

on a warm spring day, but clearly staged, hands placed

a little too high, their angle slightly off, the shirt

positioned by someone who’s not wearing it.

The mop on his head, brown with reddish highlights,

flying toward wildness, would be a touch too long

on a dude five years older, but he’s still young enough

to work it; just the right amount of hair on chest

and abs, trailing to pubic bush edging out

of hip-hugging red leather moto jeans. Only his

face remains enigmatic, one side mostly hidden

by cascading mane, hazel eyes blank as marbles,

telling no stories; mouth slightly open, poised

as if to receive a kiss prompted by the early

stages of arousal, but showing just enough

of the interior to hint that his teeth are

perhaps not his best feature; his expression

one-third sleepy youthful freshness, one-third

stoner’s glazy oblivion, one-third teenager’s

leave-me-alone annoyance. If you met him

at a Saturday-afternoon street party, and

that’s where it would inevitably be, of course,

everyone a little sweaty, fuzzy-buzzy from

draft beer and sunshine, his look would lure

you into bed and leave you wide awake

and restless, watching his naked slumbering

respiration, waiting for him to sleep too late,

wake up bitchy, and leave you for

whatever excuse he can think of.

 

 

Note: The poem was inspired by a photograph in Out, but the character invented to inhabit the image is purely fictional.

 

 

Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

Magic Coins

Drive-by double-take:

Painted store wall urges,

“Redeem magic coins here.”

The place I’ve sought for decades!

But, damn it, where did I hide those coins?

 

Back home, sifting through drawers:

unshredded documents, forgotten manuscripts,

unreadable floppy disks, music on fucking cassettes;

letters from exes, expired meds,

keys to doors that exist only in the long halls of memory.

 

But, of course, no magic coins;

there will be no redemption.

 

Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper