Tree Dude

Driving up the street toward my neighbor’s house

in a beat-up red piece of shit,

fender bashed in and door barely hanging on,

he veers wildly, runs over curb,

and bangs back onto the street.

Not an accident, just the way he drives,

a dude who’s come to help cut a tree

and pick up the branches after the storm.

He jumps out of the car, cigarette

dangling out of his mouth,

in jeans, boots, bright blue cap.

He’s tall, muscular, shirtless,

covered with tattoos on back and front;

the most prominent one looks

from a distance like a cross,

but turns out to be a hug Libran scale,

complemented by starbursts on the shoulder blades.

Can’t get a close enough look to

sort out exactly what’s on his chest and arms.

After a few minutes of work, he’s hot and sweaty,

his rippling muscles shining with perspiration,

pecs and biceps hardening as he raises

a log overhead like a barbell,

glutes firm under snug jeans as he lifts.

I think one of my trees might need trimming.



Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper

Twenty-first Century Apollo

Unlike the statue of the ancient god,

this torso’s still attached by sinew to

its handsome head. And yet the eye is drawn

to the decorated chest, the nipples


pierced, one with ring the other with barbell,

tattoos swirling from arms and shoulders across,

elaborate design of abstract florals,

vibrant colors encircling firm pectorals.


climbing  down racked abs into jeans

riding low enough on hips to show

close-cropped pubes. Some accustomed to


an older, starker aesthetic might claim this body’s

been defaced with steel and ink, but the man

displays with godlike pride his beauty, its adornment.


Note: The poem alludes to “Archaic Torso of Apollo” by Rainer Maria Rilke.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper