Their Eyes Meet in the Movie Line

The second time, he catches the gaze,

unsurprised since he’s courting attention,

but just anxious enough about the scope

of his success to do a quick side check

to make sure he’s still with his friends.

Wearing an open-sided black T-shirt,

the lip-studded punk in the movie line

shows just enough skin, a flash of ab,

the slightest hint of nipple, to tantalize

his watcher with curiosity about what else

is pierced, about the rest of the tattoos

the trailers of dark ink preview at his

collarbone and waist. He’s a skinny kid

with a mess of hair, not good-looking,

but he exudes that late-adolescent

mash-up of swagger and self-doubt,

that seductive vulnerability, that draws

the observer’s eyes back to him.

There’s a kind of longing in the look,

but the teenager has no need

to worry; it’s not his flesh the adult

desires, but his spirit, the edginess

of invincible youth, when so much

of life is still in future tense rather

than the not-so-perfect past.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper


Art Punk

He’s a cultivated punk,

aiming for art rather than menace.

Dark hair long on top, slicked back,

with close-buzzed undercut, smooth face.


In black, of course: leather coat,

low-necked tee, pale, hairless chest,

skinny jeans, Doc Martens boots;

holding forth about his semester–


a student home from his college,

with his family at a cafe,

showing off his with and knowledge

to impress those who pay.


Probably thinks he invented chic,

but he’d find, were he to seek.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper