Sprawled on the grass beside his bike

in Sempione Park on a warm spring day,

nearly naked, just short shorts and sneakers,

dark-haired and fit, with smooth, hairless

chest and slightly hairy legs, he stretches,

adjusts the position of his right arm,

with which he has been shielding his face,

pats his lean abs with his left hand,

then shifts again and slides both hands

over his torso, now glistening with sweat.


At this point, were he in a porn film,

one hand would drift into his shorts,

and a handsome stranger would suddenly

emerge from the bushes, and after

a bit of carefully orchestrated foreplay,

do him hot and heavy on the bicycle,

but this is reality, so he just writhes

a bit in the warmth, not that I’m watching.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

Dietro Vetro

Piazza Duomo from Novecento

Umbrellas, red, blue, purple, yellow, and pink

dot the rain-drizzled piazza in front of the Duomo

the mellow light of early evening bathing the crowd

assembling for a political rally, the scene viewed

through a high-up window in the Museo del Novecento,

reflection and shadow lending it a surreal glow,

the piazza like a chessboard with human pawns,

the long-standing facades opposite a reminder

there’s nothing new under the sun or moon, and though

my Italian’s not good enough for me grasp the details

of the politics, I know it’s politics—there’s a party

and an anti-party, and things are more complicated

than they seem, and yet the differences are not so great.

I ask a waiter at a café alongside what’s going on.

It’s he who tells me the event is political—speakers

will follow the band, the cans of beer in everyone’s

hands a little lubrication to ease the entry of the message.

Back at my hotel, I ask the night clerk what he knows

about the event. It’s news to him, but we agree

that politics, however important, however necessary,

interferes with proper digestion and is best kept behind glass.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

In a Photo by Tommy Ton

On the street, which happens

to be in Milan, of course,

the youngish man, though

he doesn’t look at all Italian,

knows how to cut la bella figura.

He’s been to the barber, his short

white-blond hair perfectly cut and groomed,

blue eyes and smile too dazzling

for an addict of espresso.

He wears a crisp white shirt

and simple navy tie,

but it’s the jacket that pops:

short, utility cuts with pockets

and snaps, in bright olive,

open, casually thrown on

(or so it appears, even if it

took twenty minutes).

From one breast pocket dangle

sunglasses with tortoise frames;

the other’s adorned with a silk

handkerchief, bright blue to

match his eyes, patterned

with white flowers. He’s talking,

walking with a friend,

who’s also well-dressed,

but whom no one particularly notices.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper