Sonnet in Isolation

A plucked string out of tune still sounds,

its tone always in harmony with itself,

as the strongest souls always stand their ground,

the cacophony of other voices without effect.

But a string that’s too tightly wound goes sharp,

sometimes breaking; or, if slackened, flattens.

Though in isolation it doesn’t jar

the ear, with the other strings it clashes.

In theory, you could play a simple tune

on a single string as the instrument,

but making a chord takes another one

willing to forge a musical agreement.

To ourselves we should, of course, stay true,

but others are good for saying “I love you” to.


Copyright 2020

T. Allen Culpepper


First Evening of September

On the front porch on a breezy evening

when the weather’s still summer but the mood is fall:

the kids on their bikes raucous and wild,

the light of a jetliner like Venus in motion,

someone cruising by in a convertible couple,

cats chasing insects, imaginary and real,

a neighbor’s flag flying upside-down,

create-myrtle branches gently swaying,

Italian music and a glass of red wine.

The only thing missing’s someone to share it.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

An Otherwordly Moment


It’s called the golden hour, says a friend,

the leading edge of autumnal evening,

when an eerie, unearthly light seeps in

to make a familiar landscape alien,

when, perhaps, this world’s inclination

grazes the portal into another; the

street stretches empty in front of me,

with a car or two, the odd dumpster

set out at curbside early, but no

human sound or movement, nor even

the bark of a dog or fleeting motion

of a prowling cat, all still and silent

except for the rustle of a ragged

wind through the orange and brown

leaves of the great oak next door,

its branches billowing out into a vacant

sky the uneasy color of watery blue

filtered through the rosy shades

of solitude in denial.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

An Aubade of Sorts


My dawn doesn’t race across the sky

in a chariot, or even on a Vespa;

it  merely filters in through milky sheers.


You depart with sleepy eyes and

a half-hug, carrying your shoes,

but no tragedy ensues:


I enjoyed your company;

I’ll probably see you again.

It’s all good.


But right now, there’s fresh coffee,

a cheese omelette, my journal,

on a day with no one’s agenda.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper