Not a Prophet

I try to imagine the future of now,

the whats and wherefores and whys and hows,

but, unlike Tiresias, sighted but blind,

I don’t know what historians will find,

I can’t even speculate how it will be;

all I can say is, let’s wait and see.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

The Call

In crazy dreams, I drunk-dial my future,

slurring promises in a language I can’t speak,

apologizing in advance for the failings

sure to ruin our relationship eventually,

incautiously exposing my weak underbelly,

the fear of being all alone again,

untouching and untouched.

Waking then in confounded solitude,

I scavenge the sheets for my phone, delete the call from history.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Yes, I’m Going There

“No upcoming destinations,”

my cellphone tells me, without

being asked, as if I had high

expectations that I am now

being prompted to lower,

to accept without protestation

this prognosis of stagnation,

of futureless stasis or movement

merely in pointless circles,

of restless ghostly wandering.

The power of suggestion

is strong, but still I will resist

for now, admitting that my

path might be hard to map,

that I might sometimes veer

slightly off the grid, gripped

by anxiety and indecision,

but I do have destinations,

even if I haven’t determined

them yet, and the phone

has a power switch that,

at least for now,

I can still control.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

Good Friday Dawns in the French Quarter

Because the airport shuttle comes early,

and I don’t get ready fast, I hold

back my arm from Snooze this once

and drag myself from the covers at five

in this city that sleeps until noon.


Last night, as I kept company with friends,

the jazzmen played with soul for us,

the late-night Sazerac tasting

rightly bittersweet.


Time now too short for strolling

to Café du Monde, I brew

a cup from a packet of something

of something the hotel has

mislabeled coffee and sip it

with a saved beignet, cold, hardening,

its snowy garnish melted to sugary mud.


And I look first out the window

at the upper floors and palm tops on Canal,

glimpsing then, in the dresser mirror,

the other direction’s view, of the few dim l

lights persistently starring the night-cloaked

Quarter, in a landscape running toward

the River, but distantly and in reverse.


A bit later, in the soft-aired Southern dawn,

the bus loops through French names and wrought-iron

lace, picking up visitors reluctant to return

from exile to reality, and at the east end

of the Quarter, outside a bar shuttered

against this lonely hour, sits a cute gay boy,

dark-haired and fresh-faced, in a green

tee-shirt, faded jeans, and flip-flips,

still wiping sleep from dancing eyes

and talking on his phone with a slightly

goofy grin, the future in the present,

supported by the past, his times

way different but his hopes about

the same as those of the many like him

who’ve come to walk these streets,

killing one life off, seeing rebirth into another.


Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper


Leaning against the wall, awaiting his turn

at the book signing, lazy-lidded brown eyes,

under a fringe of unkempt hair, yearning

for something he’s not yet sure of but will recognize

when he finds it.


Face young and smooth, but under the Roman nose

just a shadow over the parted lips

revealing a toothsome grim at a joke

told by a companion. Jeans low on hips,

faux leather jacket


with epaulets, worn in stylish rebellion

over a zip-neck top and T-shirt,

sneakers black-on-black; but he’s no hellion,

just a smart kid whose dramatic future,

if he sticks with it,


will warm and dazzle his enraptured watchers,

whether he’s on stage or in the crowd;

he has that charismatic pull that catches

eyes and captures hearts–not brash or loud,

but always copacetic.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper