Sean and Brawnie Go for the Best on New Year’s Eve

StageA little before midnight and the beginning of the new year, Sean and Brawnie were sprawled together on the couch under their faded Packers blanket. Despite the bitter cold outside, Brawnie had shucked his shoes and socks under the coffee table.

The boys were watching Schitt’s Creek on TV, where Patrick had just finished singing “Simply the Best” to his partner, David.

“You know, I saw Tina Turner sing that song when I was twelve,” Sean interjected. “That was her 24/7 Tour at the Kohl Center.”

Brawnie scooped up a handful of peanuts, listening intently, though he’d heard his husband tell the story many times.

“She’d just turned sixty,” Sean recalled. “She strut her stuff around the stage for the better part of two hours in heels and skin-tight leather.”

Brawnie took a drink of Prosecco, nodding. 

“I guess I was swaying in my seat a little too much,” Sean remembered. “The woman sitting behind me chuckled and said go on boy, just get up and dance.”

Brawnie laughed. “For you, Tina’s the Patron Saint of Survivors.”

“She made a great life despite abuse and bigotry,” Sean replied.

“Her best life, could you say?” Brawnie asked with a smirk.

On TV, Patrick and David exchanged a look of affection. Sean and Brawnie missed it, giving each other their first kiss of the new year.

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo from the 24/7 Concert Tour Video

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Sean and Brawnie’s Late Night News-of-the-Day Conversation

Bedspread 3

Brawnie stood by the bed with a quizzical look on his face. “That’s the bedspread you bought this afternoon?”

“You don’t like it?” Sean asked. Already in bed, he was propped up on a pillow, reading.

“It’s just not what I’d expect,” Brawnie explained, carefully choosing his words.

“What’s not to like? It has twelve-point bucks, canoes, pine trees, and mountains.”

“It’s brown and tan,” Brawnie noted. “You’re usually so colorful.”

“It’s manly,” Sean replied with a little smirk. “Like you.”

“That’s pandering,” Brawnie said through a yawn. “But I guess I’ll take it.” 

Brawnie undressed, turned off the light, and got under the covers. “I’ll be glad when the pandemic’s over,” he said wistfully. “I miss going to the gym.”

“Manly man that you are,” Sean replied.

“I saw Eric at the store today,” Brawnie continued. 

“Your workout buddy.”

“He looks like a cocky frat guy,” Brawnie mused, “but the man’s considerate to everyone.”

Sean listened to his husband breathe a while. “Expectations, you know?”

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by the author

Listening to Cicadas


August already: time to see summer
before it sinks. Beneath bountiful branches

I stand and watch the sunlight soak
through green and breathing leaves. All 

around, like fog in the trees, alarm clocks
ring beneath male cicada wings. And look: 

a current of slick, black ants flows
down the dark drive. Sometimes

I stop to hear the waterfall gushing 
from my window fan, and sometimes

I want to pour it all into words,
lingering to love what can’t be kept.

Copyright 2000 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in 2002 by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
Photo by the author

Van Gogh’s Bedroom

Van Gogh's Bedroom
The artist returned to the Yellow House in Arles
after painting all day in the fields. Nature
stuck to him like a burr as he walked into his bedroom.
Pale-blue sky seeped into his walls, and the outstretched
wings of crows slipped into the window’s
dark sash-bars. Sunflowers settled
into the center-woven seats of the ocher chairs,
blossoming over the worn path of earth-hued floorboards.
A field of poppies managed to inhabit his red blanket,
but not even nature could make the room contain
the artist’s seismic swirls of moon and stars. 

Copyright 2016 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in the Spring/Summer 2017 edition of Word Fountain
Public Domain photo at commons.wikimedia.org

In almost Spring,

Crocus
the green fingers
	of the first crocuses
		begin to pierce

the cold soil, 
	as if reaching
		toward the matted hair

of last year’s grass.
	One bright 
		and gusty afternoon
		
in winter’s last days
	will break
		the thin cataract of ice
		
left on the surface
	of the lake.
		The fist

on the branch-end, 
	as April nears,
		is the spirit 

of my body, too—
	longing to shed
		its confining glove,

to feel the sun’s breath
	singing warmth
		across my veins.

Copyright 1997 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in 1999 by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
Photo by Tommaso Urli at unsplash.com

Sean and Brawnie Happily Homebound on New Year’s Eve

Snow

“Where did we put those champagne glasses?” Sean asked from the kitchen.

“Try the cupboard above the fridge,” Brawnie replied from the living room couch, where he was sprawled out watching the ten o’clock news.

The eve of the new year had begun with a strange winter rain, that late in the day became sleet, then showers of snow. The sky seemed a gray fleece blanket above flakes weightless in white spacesuits floating slowly down in calm air. The roads and walks were so dangerously iced many wisely decided to stay safely indoors.

The midnight toasts were possibly a bit tipsy.

“No more Christmas until next August!”

“Huck the folidays!”

“May you let your chest hair grow out, muscle boy.”

“And may you chuck your pile of old running shoes.”

Several hours after midnight, Sean and Brawnie were asleep together on the couch, covered by their faded Packers blanket. The room was dark, except for the Twilight Zone marathon on television. An empty bottle of Prosecco and two fancy glasses stood sentry on the coffee table before them.

Outside, galaxies of starflakes gathered under streetlamps on a cold, arbitrarily named night that was beautiful to behold.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Catherine Zaidova at unsplash.com

Sean and Brawnie Serve Soup and Shakespeare at Their Summer Nuptials

Couple

For Brawnie, love was agreeing to speak in front of two hundred guests despite his discomfort.

Before the officiant declared them husband and husband, Brawnie began his recitation to Sean.

          Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
          Like to the lark at break of day arising
          From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

Sean felt honored that Brawnie was speaking Mr. Shakespeare’s lines from memory.

          For thy sweet love rememb’red such wealth brings
          That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

When Brawnie finished, Sean told the crowd how he learned the value of seasonings from his mother.

How her salmon soup consisted of nothing but warm milk with a can of salmon dumped in.

How, as a child, he always poured his portion down the drain after everyone left the table.

How he would strive to spice his marriage to Brawnie with humor and patience, and the occasional spritz of whipped cream.

That evening, Brawnie loosened his tie, shucked his shoes and socks, and flopped down prone on their bed. When Sean came to the bedroom door, he wondered if Brawnie’s well-developed pecs could actually be amplifying his impressive snoring.

For Sean, standing in the doorway, love was letting his new husband sleep off a stressful day, knowing they had already arrived at heaven’s gate.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Melanie Villeneuve at unsplash.com

How I Came to Live in a Palace

Kaisersaal
In my fourth-year high school German class, the teacher decided 
it wasn't enough just to learn a language. She wanted her students 
to know something about the people and culture that employ it. 

She assigned us to write a one-page theme about a specific 
person or place. I remembered a color photograph in an art 
history book from another class. It was a picture of the Kaisersaal,   

an eighteenth century palace ballroom. The floor is an oval chessboard 
of shiny tiles, bordered by twenty carved marble columns spaced
around rose-gray walls. Between the various pillars 

are wooden doors; a fireplace; tall, arched windows; paintings 
and statues in wall niches. The teacher praised my description. 
It was so real to her in its details, she wondered 

if I had actually visited the hall. The vaulted ceiling, with its huge 
glass chandeliers, is painted in white and pastels with gold filigree 
seemingly flung from a Tilt-A-Whirl. Frescos top the dome with blue sky 

that seems to release us into the open air. Flags wave, angels 
and cherubs hover before sunlit clouds, warriors and gods 
gaze thoughtfully upon us. Kings and queens conceal their bodies

in layers of ornate fabrics, even as Apollo proudly displays 
his muscular bare chest. Fifty years later, I've forgotten most 
of my German. I remember that lavish ballroom only by revisiting 

the art book colorplate. Its extravagance still grates against 
my preference for the plain and simple. Fifty years later 
I remember that essay as an invitation to the palace

of the imagination. For an immature, inept kid who was 
uncomfortable and ridiculed in the social world, it offered 
the rich and vaulting universe where I have lived ever since.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by the author