Sean and Brawnie on a Cold Winter’s Night That Was So Deep


“That man at the bar,” Brawnie began. “He was the one who spread that malicious gossip about you?”

It was a little after midnight, and Sean was reaching to turn off the bedside lamp.

“He employed just enough fact,” Sean replied, “to make the fiction seem plausible.”

Brawnie pulled up the comforter to cover himself and his husband.

“He could be charming and generous,” Sean continued, “but not for long. He insisted he could manipulate anyone into doing his will. He told me he didn’t care about other people’s feelings, as long as he got what he wanted.”

“That could be the profile of a sociopath,” Brawnie mused. “Did you lower the thermostat?”

“To 65, yes.” Sean brushed the back of his hand over the scruff on Brawnie’s cheek. “His version of the Golden Rule seemed to be: Do unto others, and then it’s their problem.”

“You know I’m not religious,” Brawnie said, “but I think I’ll go with the original.” 

Sean rolled over onto his side. Brawnie kissed his neck, and gently rubbed the small of his back. 

“How about tomorrow morning I make waffles for breakfast?” Brawnie suggested in a low voice, then chuckled at how quickly his husband had begun to snore, as easily as turning off the bedside lamp.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Harris Ananiadis at

Through a Glass, Birdly


Every workday my lunch companion and I walked down State Street to campus and back. Every day I stopped at a shop window display to see a hand-carved wooden bird. Every day I laughed: the bird’s smirk-face and bulging bead-eyes reminded me of Ignatz Mouse from the Krazy Kat comics. In that first year on my own, it didn’t occur to me I could buy something like that just because it made me happy. I was content with a window view, but you know how love goes. One day my companion handed me a small white box. In white tissue paper, he had wrapped the wood-fashioned bird. That bird has flown along with me from home to home, each time carefully packed and unwrapped again. Forty years now, and it’s perched on the mantel over my fireplace. Forty years, and I still laugh when I see the pointed beak and upraised wings.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by the author

Sean and Brawnie and the Uncivil Zipper


“Are you flirting with my biscotti?” Sean asked with a little grin. “Want one?”

Brawnie shook his head. “Can’t. You little runner guys can eat anything you want and never gain an ounce.”

“Considering the huge breakfast burrito you just wolfed down,” Sean observed, “one biscuit seems insignificant.”

Brawnie frowned a little. “Remember that next time you stare at my abs.” 

“You’re not going to eat this?” Sean said, reaching across the table and scooping up a fingertip of Brawnie’s sour cream.

“So what happened at the store today?” Brawnie asked, clearly wanting to steer the conversation away from food.

“I noticed a customer standing at checkout who couldn’t unzip the back pocket on his expensive hiking shorts.”

Brawnie chuckled. “Couldn’t get his wallet out?”

“He pulled and pulled on that zipper, getting more and more frustrated. I figured he’d eventually just abandon his grocery basket and leave.”

“Did you inform him you’re the manager,” Brawnie wondered, “and ask if you could maybe help?”

“Actually he took his basket and put all the groceries back on the shelves where he got them.”

“People do that?”

“I keep telling you people are basically good,” Sean insisted.

Brawnie picked up Sean’s one remaining biscotti and gently put it in his husband’s mouth.

“There’s a little dab of sour cream on your wedding ring,” Brawnie said with a smirk. 

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer at

Sean and Brawnie Serve Soup and Shakespeare at Their Summer Nuptials


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

Sean and Brawnie’s Tag and Tee

Chesty Tee

Brawnie sat on the living room couch, flipping through the glossy pages of Men’s Fitness.

In the bedroom, Sean stretched a new fitted sheet onto their bed. His sudden laughter brought Brawnie to the bedroom door. 

“What’s funny?”

“The good people who designed this sheet,” Sean replied. “Look: the shorter end has a little white tag labelled TOP OR BOTTOM.”

Brawnie stared at Sean quizzically. “Do we really need instructions to put on a sheet correctly?”

Sean laughed again. “That wasn’t my first thought.”

“You’re buying the sheets next time,” Brawnie insisted. “That clerk laughed at me.”

Sean chortled. “You know, it did sound like you inquired about fetid sheets.”

Brawnie rolled his eyes.

“Don’t worry. I’m sure that clerk liked you,” Sean continued. “He stared at your chest the whole time.”

Sean smoothed the wrinkles from the sheet with his palm. He turned and rested his hand on his boyfriend’s torso.

“He probably wondered how you fetid these pecs into your tee shirt.”

Brawnie blushed. He peeled off the garment in question, and gave Sean a waterfall of kisses, head to heel, from top to bottom.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Alexey Kovtunov at

How I Came to Live in a Palace

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