Blood, Skill, and Mercy

While I read, sitting on the porch

on an Indian Summer evening,

fiction in which the boy narrator

retells to his grandmother the story

of a tiger and a rabbit, the ones

from Winnie-the-Pooh, my tomcat

bounds past, mouthing the bunny

he has half-slaughtered, slinging

blood like a red-wine christening,

to remind me that our domestic

animals, no matter how cuddly, remain

killing machines, that life is short

and nature cruel, that sacrifice

allegedly pleases the capricious gods,

and helpless to do otherwise, I

mourn the young rabbit, celebrate

the formidable skill of the hunter,

drink the wine, burn some incense,

and petition divinity for mercy.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper


Sleeping with Murderers

No, of course I don’t condone it;

I have enough religion left

to disapprove of pointless killing,

especially of victims totally defenseless.


Yet, that is what they both have done,

out of boredom and love of sport,

and here I am in bed between them,

sharing familial warmth and comfort,


admiring the beauty of their forms

as I watch them sleep in peace,

with no regret for their act of malice,

for the baby rabbit they have torn


apart with their vicious claws–

bloodthirsty felines living lawless.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

A Bunny Dies, a Cat Advertises Her Triumph, and I Mourn

I’ve learned not to open the door

when I hear the assassin’s crow

disguised as a distress call;

instead, I look out the window

to confirm the slaughter, see

small, furry hind legs dangling

from the calico cat’s mouth.

I know I must praise her

for her skills as a huntress,

thank her for her generous

contributions to the household,

but I cannot bring myself to let her

ferry this death-omen

across the threshold that

holds the cruel world at bay.

Sneaking out the back door,

I invite her to present her kill

to me in the front yard

among the budding flowers,

stroke her head with words

of effusive admiration.

But later, when she has tired

of the game and gone to take a nap,

it is I who must gather the entrails

of the innocent young rabbit

who sinned not but only mistook

the right moment to leave

the grassy cloister and cross the lawn.

The task that one nauseated

me I now take in stride:

“Another bunny; I’ll get

the dustpan and a plastic bag,”

though I try to discharge my duties

with as much dignity as possible.

But still I mourn the lost life

as I look into the still-open

eyes of the victim,

hoping he didn’t suffer too much

and that his mother hasn’t lost

all her young.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Two Stages of Cattitude

Sacked Out


Cat lies on the cool

concrete porch, stretched out in shade,

moved only by breath,

not even interested

in two frolicking bunnies

or one courageous robin.





Now she’s suddenly wide awake,

sees the rabbit and jumps up,

zero to full speed in mere seconds.

I never cease to be amazed

how fast it happens; it’s just crazy

how one minute cats are conked

out completely and the next one

they’re blasting off like a rocket,

so fast it would be hard to clock it.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper