You’re only as old as you feel, the adage states,

an appealing fantasy, but clearly untrue,

as shown by wrinkled skin and added weight,

the piper’s bills for what you used to do.

Even if your step still springs, it hurts,

though you can’t recall what made it so.

Motivation comes only in spurts;

metabolism has begun to slow.

The actors that you watched as teens on screen

have been divorced three times and have grandkids;

it’s not something you thought you’d ever see.

Basically your youth has hit the skids.

It could be worse, of course; you’re not dead yet–

but you’d better hurry with goals unmet.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Wordsworth Is Too Much with Us

For my British-literature students, currently reading the Romantics


Wordsworth is too much with us late and soon;

reading and reading, we waste our hours,

missing out on nature with its flowers.

To his odes, we’ve sacrificed our youth.

All these words that, stacked, would reach the moon,

the pages we’ll be turning at all hours;

assaulting us with iambs while we cower,

into bed he makes us want to swoon.

He excites us–not! I’d rather, dude,

be one of those Philistines that I dis,

so might I quit reading his endless Prelude

and sink into my comfy bed so soothing,

or drink some beers while I watch Netflix.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper


Scenes from the Thirteenth Night

Scenes from the Thirteenth Night


“Oh, Seb, I thought we’d never be together,”

Antonio whines as they lie in bed entwined,

his dark curls resting on Sebastian’s chest.

And Sebastian strokes that hair and responds,

“I told you, Tony, ‘Livia was just a practical move;

it’s you I’ve always loved, from that first time at sea.”


“’Cesario,’ Olivia says to Viola,” that’s what

I’ll always call you, Love, ‘cause even though

your secret maidenhead’s what I wanted to claim,

I still like you looking all butched up in your boots.

“Call me what you like,” Vi replies, “as long

as I can get you out of that silk gown

and fifty layers of undergarments.”


“Feste, sweet Feste, I’m such a fool for you,”

Orsino admits, “and I love it when you come

round here to fool around with me.”

“But, Orsie, there’s no greater foolishness

than fooling with a fool,” jokes Feste,

“though I concede I want to take advantage

of your folly—and take your ducal scepter.”


“Malvolio, you’re so uptight,” Andrew says;

“what you need’s to relax and have a little fun.”

“But Andy, how’m I supposed to loosen up

when I’ve just been bashed by obnoxious

Toby and that wicked wench Maria?

What I need’s to get my revenge on those assholes!”

“The past is past, Mal, just let them go

and pound my eager ass instead.”

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

A Sledding Accident

Rage, that’s all I could feel,

Running with Jim Carrey

After a few drinks at happy hour.

It had been as awkward

As a prom date on Pluto.

After I got all dressed up

In my coarsely woven

Wool crop top and

Purple autumn rain boots,

He had the never to bring

His seal along, and as if

The third wheel weren’t bad enough,

The trail was a bumpy as a needle

Hitting a record with a jerk

During a fracking earthquake.

I was so mad it wasn’t citrus

I put in his hummus,

It was death by poison.

I would’ve got away with it too,

if it had snowed,

but it hadn’t,

so I just sat there on my sled

waiting for winter,

but the cops got there first.

Note: My results from a random-word poetry exercise I did with my students in class last night.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Poetry Writing: A Crash Course

Crap rhymes with sap,

avoid o’er, e’en, and hap;

Shakespeare counted on one hand’s fingers.

Beyond that you’re mostly just stringing

some words together, doing some lines*

(*or glasses, bottles, pills, injections, or whatever).

Telling’s no good, but showing’s real fine.

Roses are tired, so give them a rest;

we readers would rather you wouldn’t confess.

A verse is a stanza, but some poetry’s verse.

This advice won’t save you, but it won’t make you worse.

Never mind the wasteland; you’re living in it.

And that wheelbarrow poem don’t mean shit.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

The Perfect Outfit for Spring

Start with faded tropical camouflage trunks;

they will double as swimwear if you fancy a dip later.

Then pull on a pair of rolled cotton spray-on

floral print nylon motocross jeans, which will

go great with the trippy see-through yellow

suede loafers—or mash things up with the

perforated white leather winklepicker boots

(without socks, of course; if you own socks,

burn them now or risk permanent exclusion

from membership in the haute-couture community).

On top, as a base layer, start with a

crumpled silk crepe tunic embossed with

psychedelic butterflies, the more the better.

Over that goes a western bandana shirt.

Leave the collar open—it’s spring, after all—

or try a skinny naval-themed mini-dot tie,

in burgundy, if you want to dress things up a bit.

Either way, go with a rust-speckled white

neoprene belt to make it all pop.

A short jacket is de rigueur, but you have

a variety of options as long as you keep it short:

a khaki-and-red military-inspired utility jacket,

a slim-lapelled color-blocked blazer in

grass green and heightened electric blue,

or a pink waxed denim and lambskin

motorcycle jacket (if you want to go

for something even edgier, you could even

choose a wide-striped hooded cardigan, as long

as it’s made from the last sheep of the species).

For the finishing touch, a pocket square

patterned with black gothic flowers.

If you’re going out, protect yourself from the

elements with a tropical-orange rain parka

and shimmering circular welder shades.

Hats are out this season as designers

aim for wearable practical simplicity.


Note: My information (used with a little bit of poetic license) comes from GQ, The Guardian, The Sartorialist, and Style.com, reporting on the runway shows from London, Paris, and Milan.



Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper