The most complicated systems

are a solid, cemented structure

of fake palm trees that do nothing

but lie.


It grows dark in the shadow of a white marble building,

and I feel bad, feel that it is my fault. I don’t want

to go to that dark place of my ancestors, cold, white,

snake-bitten in the darkness.


I beckon a physical light,

a light that begins to tremble

and bear witness to all

that they did, and by acts

like those thou didst teach

thy people the hope

of a new and better understanding.


But then the spirits vanished, and after that, they lived apart.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper


Note: This poem resulted from an exercise in a workshop on “Doing Stuff with Words” led by Grant Jenkins of the University of Tulsa. The poem was ┬áconstructed from fragmentary phrases and clauses culled more or less randomly from a variety of texts (including essays by Freud, the Bible, the Quoran, Joyce’s Dubliners, a novel by Rilla Askew, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, etc.).