Mixing Metaphors

Birdsong at four, after restless sleep,

the world seeping back into my consciousness,

I think first with typical human egotism,

but it’s the other way around, isn’t it,

the world drawing me back into itself,

one more pinch of flour beaten into the batter,

another drop of tint diffused into the base paint

until it’s indistinguishable if not unseen,

though even in dissolution my bones will feel the shaking,

even if my still-groggy brain can’t grasp

what the birds are stirring up.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

Misty Windows

On a visit to my parents,

sleeping in what is and isn’t

my adolescent bedroom,

I wake to sunlight filtered

through mist-covered windows.


I know the view of lake and trees

through slatted Venetian blinds

so well I hardly need to see it;

yet the veil of condensation

changes my focus—to

the room itself, and me within it.


This bed is not my bed,

and it faces east, not south,

so perspective too has changed.

But the four walls are the same

once-fashionable green-grained

white paneling, and now, as then,

they contain me only partially,

though I never escape them fully.


The carpet has faded to greenish gold,

but a patch of it once covered by furniture

retains the spring green of its, and my, youth.

A school trophy, a stuffed-toy fox,

a box containing my high school ring

remain where I left them on a shelf,

dustier now, but still intact.


Within a glass-fronted bookcase,

added after the removal

of my piano, rest books and other

memorabilia once treasured,

now kept like artifacts in an historical museum

because no one has thought to remove them.


The same room, transformed,

and I technically the same person,

transmogrified into someone

who barely recognizes himself.


Some changes are merely superficial,

those of age—the beard, the

reduced elasticity of the skin,

the even worse eyesight.


Some grow deep: tangled vines

of sexuality and religion,

intellect and emotion,

ambitions and fears,

aspects of self I lack

the vocabulary to name.


For three or four minutes,

I lie propped on my elbows,

myopic eyes scanning the room,

mind muddling through abstraction,

and then I rise, put my glasses on,

and head downstairs.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper