An Observation

When water from a garden can

with a shower-head sprayer

pours over chrysanthemum blooms,

it doesn’t just run off, but, instead,

bubbles and beads and rolls

around the clustered tiny petals

of white and crimson blossoms,

until it forms perfect droplets

that slide slowly off their ends.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper


Out doing the morning watering,

I notice the plain white van with out-of-state plates

circling my block, turning around, backwarding and forwarding,

finally stopping two doors down.

My suspense building, I can’t help watching closely

while pretending absorption in my gardening task.

And finally, slowly, the driver’s door opens,

and out climbs a woman, spry, but of a certain age,

in an old-fashioned floral housedress

of the kind my grandmother would have worn,

and longish grey hair pulled back

into a simple ponytail.

Pulling on a pair of spring-green rubber gloves,

she bends forward and gets right to work,

her ballooning bloomers showing from behind,

lifting large decorative rocks from my neighbor’s flower bed

and loading them into the van.

I know the activity must have been authorized,

because I think my neighbor might have mentioned

re-doing the bed, and both of her cars are home,

and only the most incompetent of thieves

would have approached her work so slowly and obviously;

and anyway, she often issues odd invitations.

As I turn off the water and re-coil the hose,

the rock-taking strikes me as just the sort of project

that such a woman, having made up her mind,

would undertake early on a Sunday morning

in August at its hottest.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper


For the Class of 2015


After the planting of the flag,

the graduates enter in an

undulating semblance of order,

like a young vine climbing

a backyard fence to reach

its point of diaspora, but

the garden-marshalls arrest

their escalation, potting

them in chairs like seedlings

in plastic nursery containers,

while the announcers apply

careful labels to them all,

but when the orchestra

strikes up what might

as well be “Rite of Spring,”

the shoots burst free of their casings

in wild blue blossoming.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Where the Tomatoes Go

First the tomatoes vanished from my vine.

Too high up for rabbits; birds would’ve left a mess;

neighbors couldn’t have helped themselves without

my seeing them. “Definitely squirrels,”  some colleagues

assure me, but squirrels too would have to be

discreet to avoid detection. But of course

there are ring-tailed raccoons and 0possums

besides the fox and turtle. Then a friend,

perhaps in jest, suggested coyotes, apparently

tomato connoisseurs. And so I looked

more closely and saw basil was missing too.

Finally, I heard a noise in the night,

assumed it was the cat, but in the morning,

no  mozzarella di buffala in the fridge.

So I go out on reconnaissance and find

them there in a clearing in the woods,

a pack of gossipy coyotes brunching al fresco

on caprese and rabbit with bloody marys.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper

State of the Garden

Past midsummer now,

late crepe myrtle in half bloom,

petunias leggy,

daisies droop in midday heat.

Marigolds thriving,

but salvia worm-eaten,

suffering from blight.

Catnip gone to seed,

mint scraggly but green.

Oregano doing well;

basil likes the heat.

Clematis missing springtime,

caladium fine.

Expecting more tomatoes.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper