Homeless in Tyler

A country lyric inspired by complications with a hotel reservation

 

Verse 1: Homeless and lonesome on the streets of Tyler,

my lover has left me, my friends have all gone;

but, like you can see, I keep walking and smiling,

drinking cheap whiskey ’til I feel like I’m home.

 

Chorus: Homeless, homeless in Tyler . . .

I’m just a loser—drunk, lonesome, and broke.

Homeless, homeless in Tyler . . .

The bottle’s run dry, I’ve lit up my last smoke.

 

Verse 2: When I get too drunk, I’ll lie still and play dead.

If you happen to find me before it’s too late,

don’t try to help me, just shoot me instead.

It’ll do me no harm to speed up my fate.

 

Repeat chorus

 

Bridge: Tyler’s in Texas, and Texas is big,

but the stars in the sky are not meant for me.

 

Verse 3: I could have been famous, or lucky in love,

or living life large in some mansion somewhere,

but the fact of the matter’s I’m totally fucked,

with no place to go and no one to care.

 

Repeat chorus

Repeat and fade

 

Copyright 2019

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

Summer Evening

Through a dusty window

on the hottest evening of the year,

silence prevails and nothing happens again

in the backyard, except the imperceptible

growth of grass, the sway of an unpruned

crepe myrtle branch in the dry wind,

a vine climbing one more square

up the fence.

 

Earlier, a loose dog

came round. I gave him water,

the neighbors found treats, and

I walked him home.

Before that, I slept off the wine

from a party last night

and cleaned up the cat puke

in the living room.

 

Now the light begins to fade,

though the heat hangs on,

and I sit here beside the dusty window,

drinking beer and Googling exotic locations

that I might want to visit.

It’s the end of another day

and still there’s no one to hold me,

to tell me I’m flawed but it’s OK.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

 

It Rains

Cheap wine in a plastic cup.

That’s what things have come to,

as I sit on the porch alone

in the overripe loneliness

of an endless summer afternoon

punctuated only

by a pop-up thundershower,

and ponder the inevitable decay

represented by a neighbor’s

flag, its stars hanging heavy,

its stripes tattered at the ends.

 

There’s a season for chasing dreams,

a time to pull away

from  the dead ones.

The hawk still circles

up toward the clouds,

but the squirrel lies

car-flattened in the street.

 

The rain grows harder,

washing in on me,

but I still feel unclean,

and if there’s meaning in it,

I don’t know.

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Wake

Drowsy from reading, I stretch out on the bed,

near, but not touching, the cat, who likes her space,

and various pasts and futures fill my head

with thoughts, some welcome, others hard to face.

 

The window, left partially open, admits the wind,

and riding it in, the melodies of birds–

song that trills above the dishwasher’s din;

the thoughts stir feelings too  difficult for words.

 

The approach of spring always creates

unstable emotions that swirl around and collide:

the wish for freedom bound up with the need to mate;

new dreams mixed in with fear that something’s died.

 

My love craves exposure, but I’m wary,

even though you’re just imaginary..

 

Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

After the Chocolate Bunny’s Gone, Even the Ears

Late afternoon on Easter Sunday: Downtown’s

as lonely as my living room now that

the celebrations have all ended–the processions

long over, the dishes washed from brunch,

the lilies already beginning their wilt–and I

am cycling around deserted streets under

granite-coloured skies threatening the storms

that come up suddenly in unstable spring;

I’m delaying the necessary return to the old

routine of Sunday-evening fears, drifting

through restless dreams into Monday’s panic.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

A Sad Display

The icicle lights still hanging from the eaves

of the house across the street in the middle

of May, the dumpsters still at the curb down

the block three days after garbage collection,

the paving stones for a terrace still in piles

two doors down make it clear enough I’m

not the only one who’s overwhelmed and

going down, but sometimes I still feel like

I’m in this game alone, afraid to tell friends

or admit to myself that I’m hung over and sad

on a beautiful spring day, not for the first

time, and probably should go to rehab

or something, except that doesn’t sound

like it would be much fun. And anyway,

maybe it’s not the disease, but only the

symptom of something, loneliness maybe,

the deep and desperate kind that you,

well, I, feel, sometimes even when I’m with

a friend, but mainly late at night when

I can’t sleep or on a Sunday afternoon

when the fear and dread sneak in.

But now, the guilt and self-deprecation

that make me pour another glass of wine

and crawl back into bed to hide

from reality under the covers and promise

myself that I’ll reform, though it’s unlikely.

Out the window, the wind ruffles the green

weeds under the clear blue sky and reminds

me that life renews, with me or without,

and somehow, oddly, that brings comfort.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

Another Aubade

When it’s 5 a.m. but you’re wide awake

on a summer day when there’s no need

for early rising, no hurry to get moving,

what can you do really but sit on the porch

in your underwear, drinking black coffee in the dark,

watching cats prowl the yards and mourning

the loss of stars as the sky begins to brighten

slightly and a gentle wind breaks the stillness,

stirring the uppermost branch of the hackberries,

ruffling the feathers of the early birds

anticipating the dawn in that long, lonely

moment just before it that brings to mind

departed lovers and forgotten dreams;

but the birds sing reassuringly

as the first light reveals the first blossoms

on a late-blooming crepe myrtle,

and the coffee is good and strong.

 

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

 

 

Again

Some nights the old fears come back,

rustling around the door as dusk

bleeds light from the sky and then

making houseguests of themselves,

hogging the pillows, drinking up the wine,

demanding too much attention, but here

they are, and like forgotten cousins

or friends from lives you thought had died,

they must be entertained, and so

you dance with them and listen to

their talk and take a certain comfort

in their familiar spirits, but still

you wish they’d go and leave you to

the loneliness they represent.

 

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper