Leaving Albuquerque

The conference over, the city lies

quiet under a bright but chilly

morning, and my good trip has

gone a bit too long, the excitement

of new people, places, and ideas

having faded when my mood took

an anxious turn. And now my

flight is canceled, and there’s

a long wait for the next one,

and worries about when

I’ll get home.


But the airport observation deck

at least affords the mountain

views that have eluded me

for most of my stay, blocked

by commercial towers and bits

of scruffy urban sprawl. Here

the blue-grey peaks push up

from flats of dry, brown grass,

and a white wave of cloud

rolls up behind the ridge.


To settlers and adventurers, these

imposing peaks have proven

themselves both obstacles to

movement and gateways to

opportunity, but to me today

their rugged beauty is neutral,

a background of seeming stability

and permanence—though I know

that Nature takes a different

view—contrasting with the

temporary anxious flux of my

travel complications.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper






Just at dawn, a doe with two fawns

crosses beside the lake between tall pines

and rambling, unmanicured azaleas,

the creatures’ graceful forms silvered

by the horizon’s first glowing as they

footprint the white sand spongy with wet.


Their moist noses rise to the air,

scented with sweet camellia,

and at a premonition perceptible only

to themselves, the deer dart across

a tire-hardened dirt track and into

the evergreen woods. As the animals

veer westward, the pines shrink, thin,

and brown, until the trio emerges

onto an open field, the view of their

arrival framed by the redbuds

etched onto its periphery.


Their dancing hooves stir dust

lofted by a crosswind before it

resettles to the ground as they look

for a place to shelter themselves

from the threatening exposure

of high noon’s harsh, hot light.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper














The First Time’s the Charm


I step                out.

Glass rattles

as the door

closes more firmly

than I intend.


I           cross     the       porch,

not gauging

whether plants need water.

The iron or coffeemaker

might still be hot—

I have checked only once.






The cat whines,

but I say nothing soothing.

My phone is off;

the bathroom is not clean.


I w-a-l-k the w/a/l/k:

Piles of ungraded papers,

unread books

fill the living room,

but not my bag.


I <ENTER> the street.

I carry no books,

I carry no toothbrush,

I carry no one.


I travel light.

I AM light.


The bag is Vuitton.

It is e                            ty.

m         p



Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper