Rain Dance

Outside, distant thunder applauds the performance

of  rain dancing on the pavement strewn with magenta vinca blossoms.

In here, the clock, tripped up by a power blip during the night,

flashes a time that is not now, and therefore, by my groggy-headed logic,

this moment is timeless and must be savored,

so I snuggle into my nest of pillows for a Sunday-morning lie-in,

happy that the sheets on now are the soft jersey ones,

glad that I started the dishwasher, its hum-swoosh-and rattle cycle

oddly comforting–domestic, mundane, familiar.

The Radio One presenter starts every sentence with “Basi’ly”

and plays a Sam Smith ballad that’s sad in a good way,

especially when his voice climbs for the trademark high notes

in the bittersweet chorus, and though I’m lying here  inbed,

arms wrapped around nothing but a pillow, I’m lying

to myself, and in the lie, I’m dancing with the rain–

a slow dance, a last dance, but dancing all the same.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper

Grading on Sunday

September’s still hot,

even in early morning,

but the sun feels good

on muscles sore from yoga

as I drink coffee and grade

papers from last week,

slow and groggy on the porch,

as a dry breeze stirs

crepe-myrtle branches

hung heavy with bloom,

and mark the peaceful stillness

of the napping cat

stretched out in the small shadow

cast by snapdragons

and wonder if she

can simply think of nothing,

for my thoughts run everywhere,

like monkey-children

on a holiday from school,

and as their play escalates,

my work shifts to slow motion

in the Sunday warmth.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Sunday Scholar

In profile, a tousled dark-blond mop

tops a pale-skinned Germanic face

graced with a prominent but not unattractive nose;

those grey-blue eyes that would in lively conversation blaze

glaze over now, fighting study-induced sleep.

Green cable-knit sweater still on over mustard shirt

from earlier chill, but with shorts that reveal

pale, hairy legs crossed, with feet bare,

up on chair, slide sandals cast aside,

glass held high but sipping only water now,

shutting down his laptop, stretching arms wide and then rising–

at five-ish on a Sunday afternoon,

done with the scholar’s grind,

something more like fun now in mind.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Sunday Evening

Ten on Sunday evening, a lonely time,

sitting on the porch steps as the night

begins to cool, though there’s no wind,

unusual for Oklahoma, nearly perfect calm.

Cat sacked out on the walkway rolls

over onto her back in total relaxation,

stretches methodically, one leg at a time.

Stars fleck the sky, visible tonight despite

the illumination of houses, city streets.

It has been a good day, but solitary;

the solitude agreeable at first, but

now grown tiresome at day’s end,

when I most crave the comfort of touch.

There comes a sadness that would be

beautiful in literary narration, but

whose beauty’s less evident from

inside the experience itself.  It’s

that reflective time between the

weekend and the week when old

mistakes return like ghosts and

new anxieties take hold like demons.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper

A Man and His Dog

In a ugly orange striped top

and dark blue shorts, with matching sneaks,

an all-right guy is walking his dog,

who’s sniffing the curb along the street.


The dog’s hair’s tan, the owner’s black;

they’re walking near the high school track,

enjoying some quality time together,

each making the other’s Sunday better.


Copyright 2013

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



On the Roof at El Guapo

Still warm on the street,

but cool up here, with the breeze

augmented by whirring fans.


Only three storeys up,

the view of downtown towers

is better than you’d expect:

Philtower, Philcade, Mid-Continent,

Atlas Life, National Bank, B-O-K.


The restaurant’s busy but not crowded;

I get my table without a wait.

The not-bad-looking server

brings fish tacos and a salty margarita

after my walk along the river—

perfect on a lazy summer evening.


On my way out, the barriers drop,

the inevitable train rumbles past,

the only commotion there is:

only the restaurants are open,

even the ballpark empty.


Back to ground level,

Tulsa on Sunday.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper







Braden Park on Sunday


Expanse of green lawn in sunshine,

partly given over to a casual soccer match.

Someone flies a kite.

Trees in their late-spring glory,

after the storms, before the drought,

shade tables occupied by families

picnicking on homemade sandwiches

or take-out chicken.  Some kids, the

calmer ones, feed bread crumbs to geese;

the wilder ones splash or climb.

On the still surface of the pond,

punctuated by two fountains that

mask the noise of cars on Yale

a block away, ducks swim

in broad flotilla; around it, anglers

try their luck at fishing, focusing

more on process than result.

Neighborhood residents tend flowers

in yards across the street

down which young mothers

push their babies in strollers.

Dogs sniff among the rocks

around the pond, take a dip

if their humans are indulgent.

Adjacent to the bench beside

the pond, as usual, flowers left

in honor of a lost loved one—

always new flowers for

every holiday and season,

sadness turned into a kind of joy.

Cyclists circle round;

someone reads the latest

romance, mystery, or best-seller.

This is Braden Park, Tulsa,

on a Sunday afternoon

no one wants to end.



Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper