Astronomy Lesson

Sirius chewed off a piece
of the Moon Pie in the sky last night,
dropping a meteor shower of crumbs,
and after the approaching sun
melted the vanilla icing off,
the rest fell into the horizon,
like a giant misshapen coin
sliding into the sofa crack of the universe.

Copyright 2017
T. Allen Culpepper

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Heat

When the heat arrives, around half-past July,

time shifts into a different dimension:

Not-a-morning-persons sip coffee on front steps

in their underwear at dawn; restless dogs drag

their lagging humans along the streets on midnight walks;

high noon drops the dead weight of silent stillness

over thirsty lawns toasted crisp and brown,

petunias and impatiens limp and yellow,

wilted over their funereal pots, a calico cat

melting in the meager shade of a sad azalea,

her breath her only motion. A dry wind rises,

swirling dust and rustling the crepe-myrtle branches,

but it brings no comfort, no relief from the sun god

relentlessly blessing his subjects.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

Independence Day, 2017

Practicing tai chi

in the rain

on the Fourth of July,

I ponder the origin

of fireworks

between sips

of espresso

as I try to remember

the names of yoga poses

in Danish

and think of how good

our president

has made Canada look,

but my Stars and Stripes

still fly high

over me and my neighbors,

old and young,

white and black,

Latino and Asian,

and for a moment,

I forgot the divisions

and remember,

despite my Southern roots,

the unity.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

God of Style

You wouldn’t have heard the story

because Odin would have disapproved,

Baldr died too soon afterward, and Freyr

was never one to leak secrets to strangers,

but when Freyr was sowing his oats,

before he settled down and married,

he had been struck by the beauty,

incomparable really, of Baldr

in the prime of his youth, and Baldr

on his part, being fresh, eager, and needy,

had found himself drawn to Freyr’s

impressively enormous equipment,

which he offered to polish

and then take inside.

 

So they hooked up and got busy,

comingling their divinity until they

erupted into an orgasm like—

well, there’s really no adequate

simile for the fusion of gods.

Since it happened in Asgard,

where the laws of human biology

didn’t apply and the miraculous

was merely routine, their union,

though short-lived, produced

a child, a son whom they called

Tofar and sent for safety’s sake

to live with Freyr’s compatriots,

the Vanir.

 

In later years, when both Baldr and his

accidental assassin, Hodr, were long dead,

and Freyr was well established in his fertile

heterosexual marriage to Gerdr,

rumours of Baldr’s resurrection

circulated widely, but Freyr knew

the truth, that the reappeared one

was not Baldr as supposed, but

Tofar, who had grown into

the image of his other father.

 

And whereas the same-sex thing

had been little more than a bit of

experimental pleasure for the fathers,

the son was gay for real, with a husband,

a golden ring, and nothing in the closet

but a fabulous wardrobe.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

The Horns Not Blown

RadhusetTowerwithStatues.jpg

The Rådhus tower

dwarfs the shadow

of its miniature

pointing to the

same cerulean sky

as the lur-blowers

raise their horns

in readiness

to announce

the arrival

of a virgin

passerby, but

their arms are tired

and their bronzed

mouths breathless,

their instruments

never played,

eternally silent.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

Sankt Aleksandr Nevskij Kirke

RoyalQuarterAleksanderNevskijKirke

The triple onion domes, gilded and crossed,

atop the stripe- and diamond-patterned bricks

of the Muscovite-revival façade leave little

doubt of the church’s Russian pedigree;

its name confirms its dedication to the nation’s

sainted patron. Yet here the building rises

from a street in Købnhavn, like a single

vodka bottle on a shelf of akvavit,

having been financed by the second

Tsar Alex after the marriage of his son

to the Danish Princess Dagmar, who

would become Tsarita Maria when

the younger Alexander ascended

to the imperial throne. Though fate

struck a cruel blow to their son,

who lost his head when the Revolution

felled the Romanovs, their church

in Denmark stands, solid and orthodox.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

A Minion of Death Serves Breakfast at the Wakeup Hotel

waiter.jpg

Too anorexic to work as a fashion model

(with translucent skin whiter than the ghost

of porcelain drawn tight over his shaved

skull, black apron wrapped like a shroud

around his skeletal frame, eyes set deep

as if peering from a cave, mouth set

in a show of perpetual doom) he has taken

a job as a hotel waiter, moving around

the restaurant with zombie-like efficiency;

he performs his duties wordlessly, with

neither smile nor nod, replenishing the fruits

that nourish the living, with the secret

knowledge that death will take them soon

and he will feast finally on brains.

 

Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper