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

We Are All in Fear of Falling Asleep

We are all in fear of falling asleep,

of losing our grip on the ledge of wakefulness

and falling fast into unconscious dark,

into a temporary death.


We are all in fear of falling asleep


It happened to Matt on his way to the restaurant,

and he was late for his shift—three days late,

his tables unwaited.


We are all in fear of falling asleep


It happened to Lynne on the way to the church;

by the time she reached the altar, her bride

had left her, the cake gone stale.


We are all in fear of falling asleep


It happened to Aaron at the tattoo shop,

leaving his client with a three-pointed star,

and a pool of ink on the floor.


We are all in fear of falling asleep


It happened to Lizzie watching a movie at home;

she missed the ending and left her cats

to feed themselves.


We are all in fear of falling asleep


It happened to Ravi at the drafting table,

lines gone astray, figures unfinished,

engineering specs left incomplete.


We are all in fear of falling asleep


It happened to Mitchell in the greenhouse,

dropping his tools and falling among them,

the plants’ cultivation neglected for weeks.


We are all in fear of falling asleep


It happened to Taylor, out on a first date

with a new boyfriend. Only one kiss and then he went

before anyone came.


We are all in fear of falling asleep


It has happened to commuters on car-packed streets,

to workers in factories making gadgets,

to priests in the middle of saying Mass,

to stock-market traders while making deals,

and to thousands of students attending lectures.


We are all in fear of falling asleep


We are all in fear of falling asleep,

abridging our lives by hours, by days, by weeks,

losing our places in the waking world

as we drop suddenly into slumber

or stumble like zombies between

living and coma.


We are all in fear of falling asleep,

and of failing to know whether we have.


Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Too Early for the Acolyte

The Sunday service starts so early!

Teenaged acolyte arrives

a little late, then takes too long

with his vestments. Procession starts

without him, but he catches up,

sleepwalks his way through his office,

dutifully performs, suppressing yawns;

he’s done the ritual many times,

so it’s almost automatic.

He really could do this in his sleep,

and he almost has to; nine-thirty

in the morning’s no time for a teen

to be awake on a summer Sunday–

tonight, he’ll be wide awake.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper



Lines Written a Few Minutes Before Drinking Some Much Needed Coffee


Tuesday morning I wake to rain,

distant thunder, nothing severe,

the whir of the ceiling fan, birdsong.

Sleeping with windows open a mistake;

my head aches with sinus pain,

but life is short and night air sweet.

It’s still quite early, short of six,

and there was no need for alarm;

my pounding head’s what broke my sleep.

The commotion I hear is just the cat,

skating the hardwoods on fuzzy feet,

scoring mouse-puck under sofa.

Bathroom. Feed and water her.

Hungry, need aspirin, but back to bed.

Rain harder now, a bit of breeze

feels good as it caresses skin.

I lie and listen to the cars

pass slowly on the dampened street;

a poet, I want the exact word,

for that sound, but it eludes me.

I listen closely and discover

northbound, south don’t sound the same.

Birds a little quieter now,

probably looking for breakfast with the

arrival of grayish light.

Sevenish, I should rise, there’s work

to do, just at home, but still.

Though it’s not especially dark,

I flip on the reading light—

the table lamp has a short; it needs

replacement, but I can’t remember;

with that signal, my favorite allergen

jumps on my pillow, wants

a snuggle, a rub, a scratching of ears.

Her coat is soft, brushed last night;

she feels warm, but her nose

presses cold against my face.

Starving now, I must get up,

pull on shorts, look for food.

Head hurts too much to try to cook,

think what’s easy, banana maybe,

smeared with a bit of peanut butter,

followed by juice with a handful of aspirin.

Is it just me, or is that coffeemaker

slower than the dawning of the next

major epoch of geological time?

That’s the poem; it ends here, I think.

But where’s the moral, the lesson, the insight?

No one, I assure you, is more curious than I.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper