For Maria Spelleri


In a dispassionate play Bertolt Brecht would have written

if only there had been more time, the goddess Athena,

the owl-eyed diva of wisdom, no great beauty, still

a material girl at heart, has taken up prostitution

because sex work, though unglamorous, yields ready

cash—she has done the math—and a girl does what

she has to do while fashion houses keep churning out sweatshop

leather bags that one must have to prevent the fall

of another civilization, and so, inspired by designer logos,

she has mapped out her strategy, donned her emotional

armor, taken up her snake-wrapped spear, and gone

calmly, deliberately, courageously into war to maintain

her fashionable image and save the economy from ruin.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper


The story goes

that if you stop your car

at the bottom of the hill

and shift it into neutral,

some magnetic force

will tractor-beam it

backward and upward

at accelerating speed,

and when I hear it,

I imagine the mythology

of some alternative universe

in which their Sisyphus

sprints perpetually up

his mountain in reverse,

colliding with the boulder

god-parked at the top,

and then I wonder

if my punishment’s

the same, just slower.

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

That Innocent Moment

Naked Narciso, beautiful, bronzed, and muscular,

takes a forward fold on the outcropped rock

beside the still waters of the untroubled lake,

stretching his lean and youthful form,

with back arched and buttocks high,

dark head curled low, tanned olive limbs elongated.

His ears take in the hum and chirp of bugs and birds,

but with eyes half-closed, he has only felt his beauty,

not yet looked into the pool and seen

what he will love to make himself immortal.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper