Today’s Special Feature at the Burger Bar

Maybe some kind of local entrepreneur;
he has that cleaned-up grunge does business
look: tall, though not excessively; slender
but not too skinny; wears his golden-blond
hair pulled back into a short ponytail,
but with loose strands falling to frame
his handsome, regular-featured face
with closely trimmed blond beard. I can’t
see his eyes from my place in the queue,
but I’m guessing they’re grey-blue if not
emerald green. His clothes are casual
but smart; he’s made the effort without
overworking it: grey chambray shirt
over light teal cotton jeans with dress
oxfords, cap-toe, oxblood, plain but
tasteful, well polished, made from good
leather. He’s with a friend, or just
a colleague maybe—or they could be
part of a group of four, though they came
in a little later than the other two, but
all are dressed nicely as if for work,
and all show a bit of flair through hairstyle
or a statement clothing item. Only he,
though, has the natural good looks
and effortless style to stand out
in any crowd, even the lunch crowd
at the downtown burger bar.

Copyright 2015
T. Allen Culpepper

What GQ Learned at London Fashion Week

I’m not the biggest fan of GQ because it comes across as simultaneously homophobic and misogynistic, or at least exploitative of women, but, like it or not, it still has the best–or at least most comprehensive– runway coverage on its Website.

Versace Duo


The market for crotchless leather trousers

priced in the thousands cannot be large,

nor, one hopes, will cheap knock-offs

of them soon be trending in the high street.

But Versace has chosen them for its fall

menswear ad campaign, and there

in striking sculpted beauty stand models

Daan and Filip, wide grommeted belts

cinched tight around their hips, from

which hang the unlikely garments, useless

but exquisitely tailored from the finest

pebble-grained hide of some sacrificial

beast, the open center displaying paisley-

patterned briefs, which, unlike the trousers,

might actually sell in the shops, Daan’s

black ones well-filled, Filip’s white ones

revealing the outline of his penis. Above

the chaplike trousers, Filip, shirtless, wears

a studded leather moto jacket hanging

open to show his musculature and one

partly shadowed nipple. Standing tall,

he wraps his right arm around Daan’s

neck and shoulder in a pose that might

be that of brothers or best friends, except

that Filip’s hand pulls up Daan’s printed

black sleeveless T-shirt as if beginning

to undress him, in the process showing

off the smooth, taut abs of Daan, who’s

slouching a touch to the right. Daan’s

bare left arm hangs straight down

the center of the photo, drawing the

viewer’s eye toward the chaps and

Filip’s package, but his right, bent

at the elbow, crosses his chest underneath

his T-shirt, hand resting lightly on his

own left shoulder. Filip tilts his head

forward, platinum hair in a carefully

constructed mess, sporting his trademark

slightly menacing look, with smouldering

eyes and sneering mouth suggesting

his dominance in whatever kind of

relationship is being portrayed, while

Daan looks up into the camera, head

angled a little back and left, so that

the razor-cut edges of his hair, just

a shade or two darker than his mate’s,

dangle freely, but not looking at Filip,

who also faces forward. Daan’s face looks

brooding,vulnerable, and slightly troubled,

as if he’s not sure he’s really into what he’s

doing. The photograph itself, shot in

classic black and white against a neutral

ground, takes a strong vertical perspective,

emphasizing the models’ slender height,

elongating their straight-hanging left arms,

tracing the center line of their torsos, with

only the belts and Daan’s just-noticeable

twist to the right lining up horizontally.

Though the models’ pose does not look

forced, the photographers obviously

have a penchant for formal composition,

evident in the triangulation of lines, with

the enfolding right arms of both young men

and the shape of Daan’s pulled-up shirt

replicating with softer edges the sharp

angles of the leather jacket’s lapels

and the cotton-cloaked wedges between

the models’ legs. Only the name of the

fashion house, superimposed in yellow

capitals at bottom right, identifies the

vendor of whatever’s up for sale.


Note: The poem references a photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, featuring models Daan van der Deen and Filip Hrivnak, used in the advertising campaign for Versace’s AW 2014 menswear line. The ad appeared in various publications, including the September 2014 issue of Out.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper


Cyclist Leaving Cafe

Cute Mid-Eastern dude

looking good in olive tee,

shorts, grey canvas kicks;

walking his bike past the cafe,

classic racer, skinny-tired.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper


And Version 2.o, for the editors:


The Cyclist Leaving a Cafe

A cute Middle-Eastern dude

looking the good in an olive tee,

the shorts, and also the grey canvas kicks,

and probably the other clothing as well so that a poem has the  line that doesn’t fit so that it looks more an experimental;

walking a bike past the cafe,

the classic racer, a skinny-tired.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper


Note: The editors turned down some tankas I sent to their magazine.  It was the good kind of rejection; they were nice, said they received many submissions and were fiendishly selective, and offered advice: Don’t stick to the traditional syllable count, and don’t omit any articles.  Maybe they’re right.  I will give it some thought.  In the meantime, though, I couldn’t resist having a little fun.

Rubber Boots with Duct Tape: A Fashion Statement?

At the airport baggage claim,

a young man, nineteen or so,

good-looking, with pale skin, dark mane

pulled back in ponytail, voice low.


More or less dressed normally,

though, for summer, a bit too warmly–

except for his choice of shoes:

duct-tape wrapped rubber boots.


In his defense, they do match

the similar taping of his bag,

but I wonder what he’s saying,

his viewpoint fashion-related.


Are the silvery tape accents

for decoration or reinforcement?


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

Art Punk

He’s a cultivated punk,

aiming for art rather than menace.

Dark hair long on top, slicked back,

with close-buzzed undercut, smooth face.


In black, of course: leather coat,

low-necked tee, pale, hairless chest,

skinny jeans, Doc Martens boots;

holding forth about his semester–


a student home from his college,

with his family at a cafe,

showing off his with and knowledge

to impress those who pay.


Probably thinks he invented chic,

but he’d find, were he to seek.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper