When the heat arrives, around half-past July,

time shifts into a different dimension:

Not-a-morning-persons sip coffee on front steps

in their underwear at dawn; restless dogs drag

their lagging humans along the streets on midnight walks;

high noon drops the dead weight of silent stillness

over thirsty lawns toasted crisp and brown,

petunias and impatiens limp and yellow,

wilted over their funereal pots, a calico cat

melting in the meager shade of a sad azalea,

her breath her only motion. A dry wind rises,

swirling dust and rustling the crepe-myrtle branches,

but it brings no comfort, no relief from the sun god

relentlessly blessing his subjects.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper


In the Year of the Midsummer Rains

Lush and green grows the lawn grass,

its broad and succulent blades

juiced up by the welcome showers

so uncommon in Oklahoman Julys,

as if this summer were an oasis

in a desert of drought years,

and a metaphor perhaps

for the creativity that can come

when fluid inspiration gushes

forth from long-dry wells.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Portrait of a Summer Scholar

He’s yawning forward

over crossed arms and a book

at a high table,

legs and sandaled feet dangling,

breakfast dishes pushed aside,

a good-looking youth,

dark-haired and bearded,

brown eyes deeply set

in bright, clear-skinned face,

at mid-morning on a Tuesday

at the end of June;

it’s hard to be a scholar

on a summer day.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Bartender in a Cell-Phone Culture

On a quiet Tuesday evening

when the heat of summer

has melted people into languor,

Nick the bartender, wearing the

uniform of his trade, T-shirt,

dark jeans, and grey canvas

sneakers, perches on top of the

beer cooler, cheap ballpoint

behind his ear, bar rag and

bottle opener in his back pocket,

playing with his phone. He

has dark hair, shortish, a little

messy on top, brown eyes,

a shadow of beard, having

shaved recently but not closely.

He’s quick enough when

called upon, but not otherwise

taking much interest in the

few customers, playing with

their phones as well,

though there’s little talk.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper