Tulsa in Seventeen Syllables

Art Deco downtown;

oil, parks, fair, Cain’s, redbuds, wind;

river runs through it.

 

Note: A friend said some people did this for New York, so we should do it for Tulsa.

 

Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

M Appears in Jeans and Boots

At the street party in the afternoon,

he wears a subtle plaid poplin short-sleeve,

green and blue on white, khaki shorts,

and brown loafers, driving mocs more specifically,

classic, rather conservative, a touch more formal

than I am expecting among the T-shirts and flip-flops,

to say nothing of dubious boas and body glitter.

 

Rejoining me later on to look for dinner,

he has been home to change, and the transformation,

when I first see it, takes me somewhat aback:

tight snap-front western shirt, ripped-up jeans

he says his parents hate, holes big enough

to reach a hand inside, battered boots,

heavy, in which walking seems a struggle.

 

He’s said he’s bored with Tulsa, but he’s dressed

in a costume designer’s idea of Oklahoma,

though of course not wholly un-ironic,

shit-kickers with no intention of kicking shit.

That’s not to say that he does not look good,

but rather that he appears in masquerade,

as himself, a youth of twenty-four.

 

Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper

Oklahoma Spring

Beautiful allergens thrust spring upon us;

hormones surge, breaking their hibernation

to excite the senses and cloud the judgment.

Myriad small joys sprout among

the stones of our psychic fortresses,

like grass blades and wildflowers

in the cracks of a sidewalk, and

April showers linger toward June.

 

But spring is not a gentle season

on the southern Plains, where

Mother Nature is a bitch in heat,

voracious in her appetites, vengeful

ex in her relationship with us;

we fear her with just cause.

No bookkeeper can account

for the payments that she demands,

no attorney convince her to settle.

 

Her funneled forces of destruction

have come as long as

humans have lived and died here,

but this century’s continual electronic replays

bombard our eyes and ears

until we either sink into depression

or drift off into numbness.

 

Our minds process the enormity of destruction,

but we cannot, eyes glued to screens,

imagine what to feel until

we see the elderly woman

reunited with her dog, and then

our hearts connect with her particular emotion,

beyond words, but in communion

with the collective human soul.

 

Universal in that particularity:

In a landscape of despair,

the wagging tail of hope.

 

Copyright  2013

T. Allen Culpepper