Out of Reach

Always just slightly out of reach,

on the edge of the bed, the edge of his seat,

hand on the doorknob, warm spot cooling,

always about to be, maybe already, somewhere else,

but there’s no transporter, no vanishing-cabinet,

no magical disappearance, still here in his way,

and so you reach, you’re always reaching,

arm extended, just inches from a hand to hold,

a foot or two from the full embrace

that you need so badly, and maybe he does too,

if only arms were longer, space less infinite.


Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper

It’s Not My Fault: A Drinking Song

Verse 1

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight,

but there was something, and we got on well,

co-travelers through the days and nights

until it turned sour and went to hell

for reasons that remain unclear…



Oh, it’s a motherfucking shame

that our lives are such a bloody mess,

but don’t even try to cast the blame,

‘cause there are no crimes for me to confess.


Verse 2

No doubt the therapists would claim

that there are lessons to be learned

about when to shut up and when to say

what’s really on your mind, what hurts,

and, yeah, mental health was not our strength…



Oh, it’s a motherfucking shame

that our lives are such a bloody mess,

but don’t even try to cast the blame,

‘cause there are no crimes for me to confess.



I guess fucked up love is better than no fucking love at all;

it takes two to play the game, but a lucky draw for both to win.


Verse 3

Sure, I failed, but Lord knows I tried

to heal the wounds and make things whole,

to wipe away the tears you cried

and bring comfort to your soul,

and so it hurt when you sent me away…



Oh, it’s a motherfucking shame

that our lives are such a bloody mess,

but don’t even try to cast the blame,

‘cause there are no crimes for me to confess.


Repeat and fade slowly and quietly into despair


Copyright 2019

T. Allen Culpepper



Summer, I love you once and doubtless will again;

for sure I’ll miss your warm and humid breath some months from now,

during the short, cold days and frigid nights of February.

But at the moment, on this your last day with me for a while,

I have to say I think some time apart will do us good,

let us cool down from our heated altercations

so we can start afresh next time.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

More to the Story

Advisory: Sexually explicit


The morning comes of age beautifully on the beach at Zandvoort,

where the boyfriends wander hand in hand beside the lapping waves,

both wearing hoodies against the chill but nothing else, heads leaning

together as they share a secret or a kiss, obviously delighting in each

other’s company.  In the warmer afternoon, they will sunbathe, take

a swim, unpack good beer and a picnic lunch, maybe have a nap.

And in all these ways, they might be any couple, their tastes

and inclinations mostly unremarkable.


But there’s more to the story: Later in their urban apartment,

the two ivory-skinned Netherlanders, one dark-haired, the other

blond, in their late twenties or early thirties, but looking younger,

skinny and tall, best friends and lovers, entwine their shaved bodies,

grope each other, and kiss, twisting their tongues together,

wrapping their arms into a tight and loving embrace

in a moment of indisputable tenderness.


But there’s more to the story: The darker one is plugged and collared,

and his partner’s hands, resting on his shoulders, take a firmer grip,

and the blond dom forces him to kneel and suck the steel-ringed

cock that later will plow his widespread ass, bent over

rack to which he’s bound in front of the window, begging

for a harder fucking and permission to be unlocked

and allowed to cum just once.


But there’s more to the story: The orchestrated scene completed,

they’ll take a shower and climb into bed together, snuggling up

as equals, as they’ve done for nearly a decade now,

sharing this intimate space as they review the thrills of play

but then turn serious to talk over their hopes and dreams and plans,

the joys and sacrifices inherent in sharing a life,

the challenges of making it work.


But there’s more to the story: The following day’s a Monday,

and they’ll rise at six or thereabouts, drink strong coffee,

and maybe eat a slice of bread with jam if there’s time,

as they check their phones and laptops for texts and emails

and calendar items, making arrangements for the week of work

that will draw them into their different worlds, the business

of their divergent agendas.


But there’s more to the story: In fact, there’s more to it

than could ever be written down, even in an epic novel,

the story of two complex characters with complicated lives,

somehow bound together in love, in lust, in both mutual

and separate interests, in a relationship that endures,

and grows even as it turns and twists, the whole always

more than the sum of the parts.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper




The Call

In crazy dreams, I drunk-dial my future,

slurring promises in a language I can’t speak,

apologizing in advance for the failings

sure to ruin our relationship eventually,

incautiously exposing my weak underbelly,

the fear of being all alone again,

untouching and untouched.

Waking then in confounded solitude,

I scavenge the sheets for my phone, delete the call from history.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Sleeping Together

I’d praise how  our bodies perfectly entwine,

if this were some romantic verse. It isn’t.

It’s the cruder modern kind in which

your bony elbow jabs me in the ribcage,

your razor toenails scrape my naked calves,

and your hard cock that gave me pleasure before

kind of annoys me now that I want to sleep,

but when you roll over, you take all the covers with you,

leaving me cold.

Like us, that story’s old.

In my fantasies, you’re someone who

doesn’t concuss me with flailing arms or keep

me awake some nights with raucous snores,

but in reality, that’s not even half–

the book would have at least a hundred pages.

The sex is fine, but sleeping with you’s a bitch.

Yet my love, my love, is still consistent:

I wrote you this poem, and it even rhymes.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

A Slow Death and Its Aftermath

Who came first doesn’t make much difference.

The more interesting question is who left first,

and when and how. Was it the one who cheated

and then regretted it, or the one who wanted to and didn’t?

The one who lingered too long at the gym to avoid home,

or the one who came in early and smoked weed

in front of the television? The one who fell asleep

on the sofa, or the one one who drank too much

alone on the back porch late at night when he

couldn’t sleep and there was no porn left to watch?

The one who finally walked out the door, or the one

who locked himself up inside? As far as the why,

that’s a pointless question too. They met, they

coupled, they separated, both, as a result,

a little better off, a little worse. Yellow roses

marked the beginning; red ones, the end.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper


Your crocodile tears splash salty guilt

into the ragged gashes your inconstant

and insatiable so-called love has

already slashed into my psyche,

but this time I will keep my eyes wide

and my ears open to recognize

the lies the deposed king of hearts,

of broken hearts—that’s your part

in this tired play—has composed

to push me away while chaining me

close, because this time I’m gone,

out of the game, away, as far away

as I can go. They said hearts,

and so you claimed, but now I look

inside and call what I see a spade.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper



A tangle of passions, in the plural

rather than singular and shared,

had brought them to this pass,

their desires and aspirations mismatched,

so that when the incensed burned out

and the wine bottle ran dry,

no one was surprised, not really,

at the expiration of what had become

mere ritual, mere ritual marked

for duty’s sake, no longer

a feast of cannibalistic fervor.

Then came a season of resignation

before the explosion that ended it all.

Afterward, there were tears, but those

dried up as well, and the world

creaked a bit on its axis

but continued to turn.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper


The saddest thing

is that both guys are really trying

to make their relationship work long-term,



not to get bored with the domestic routine

or by waiting up with the same person every day

naked but surrounded with baggage;


not to do a full-body scan of the admittedly hot

stranger in the adjacent supermarket line;


not to say yes with words or otherwise

when opportunities arise to cheat;


not to let opportunities to cheat arise

in the first place;


not to let their eyes wander and gaze

longingly  into those of others

at work, in the gym, on the street;


not to flirt with every man they meet

or just see who’s “right now” on Grindr

for a few lost hours;


not to wear themselves out with

Internet porn and then decline

sex with each other or say yes

without real interest or enthusiasm;


not to get a little drunk and end up

in bed with friends or strangers

or colleagues or former lovers;


not to forget the good times or

stop making new ones;


not to rage and scream

or clam up and simmer,

not to have “communication issues”;


not to say “I love you”

in the same tone they use

to express boredom, complacency,

anger, resentment, or the need

to take out the trash;


not to say it’s just to0 hard

and give up just a few months into

even if it’s already their

longevity record;


not to sabotage it when it’s going well

because they’re afraid of success or failure

or stagnation or what

they must be missing;


not to compromise too little

or too much, not to succumb to

mental illness;


not to be quitters or cheaters or liars

or addicts or assholes.


The saddest thing

is that they’re really trying

except when they’re not,

and even then

they want to.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepepper