No Sense in It

The voices that flash before my eyes

smell like duct tape fresh off the roll,

like plastic and glue and mechanical things

that some people could fix, the ones who rise

as if dawn will judge their souls

and finish their coffee before birds sing,

the bitter before the sweet, and the voice

feel bitter, not sweet; the harshest ones

strip the hair from my legs like tape

ripped from it, the agony like the choices

that confound when the sun

drags in the problem of the day–

something that taste’s like the cat’s fresh kill

and rings in my ears like the victim’s blood

still wet on the sacrificial stone.

It’s a dream that strangles my will,

stabs me with splinters of dead wood, dead would,

and keeps me cocooned in bed alone,

washing down the flashing screams

with the vintage smell of fear.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper



Red pickup at the curb,

driver’s door open. Young man

who’s leaning in to talk to his friend

wears only brown plaid cotton shorts,

loose, riding low on his hips.

He’s not gym-built but has good genes,

naturally muscular and athletic,

broad shoulders with firm pecs and abs,

graceful and awkward at the same time

in that way that young dudes have.

He leans, bent into a backward C,

right arm braced on roof of truck.

His left hand idly reaches under

waistband and the back and pushes

down, exposing one smooth cheek

that’s as tan as everything else.

Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper

Coffee House on Saturday

At the Coffee House on Cherry Street,

adjacent to the weekly farmers’ market,

Saturday morning bustles with a lively,

energetic crowd breakfasting

or getting their start-up caffeine buzz,

one diligent student type already

camped out with laptop and pile of books.


The layout of the place rather odd,

the vibe hippy crossed with Italian,

ponytailed cashier, shout-outs

from the barista working the espresso machine,

Tuscan scenes painted on one wall,

otherwise slightly rustic-looking decor,

but with modern leather seating.


Noisy right now, a lot of commotion,

but everyone’s laidback, agreeable,

enjoying the weekend atmosphere–

and the iced coffee’s not bad at all.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper