April Run

Three Shoes
We’re running unrushed
	on twigs and green
		seeds from the hail

storm last night.
	Three pair of shoes
		crunch and crackle

on the pavement, almost
	in unison.
		Both my companions

have qualified 
	for Boston. One
		seldom mentions it.

The other
	finds an eyelet
		in every conversation

in which to lace it.
	But for now we’re
		here in Madison

—three pair of shoes
	sidestepping
		a patch of gravel,

smashing 
	the first dandelions.
		To the planet

in an anthill, it’s
	sad how much damage
		one shoe can do.

Copyright 2010 by Brian Dean Powers

Slow Song for a Quiet Cactus

Cactus
My cactus (which is older than I am)
blooms (most years) late in December,
around the Winter solstice.
Yet this is the first week of Spring,
and the plant is still budding and blossoming.
I’d like to read meaning into the extraordinary.
I’d like to find in it a sign of better times.
—I know, Nature doesn’t work that way.
Omens are only in the eye of the beholder.
Plants live in a world of weather and water, sun and soil.
They have nothing to say about health, or romance, or democracy.
Satiny pink and red flowers:
complex, pendulous, unexpected.

Copyright 2017 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in the May 7, 2017 edition of The Drabble

Groundhog Day

snowy-farm
The automatic radio
wakes me with a blizzard

closing schools
across five distant states,

where farmers with hungry livestock
chop icy bales of hay

with chain saws.
Reports quick and cold

thud against the almost-dawn
like a rancher’s shovel

on the carcasses of drift-buried cattle.
I think I could not open my eyes to it

without warm, burrowed sleep
at the end of the day

to melt away doing and duty
like frost,

without a brilliant morning-moon
in a still-dark sky

to plant stars 
in the crystals of the snow.

Copyright 1999 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in the 2000 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

“Adam’s House”

adams-house
Edward Hopper lightly sketched an ordinary white house,
the one on the hill above Gloucester, the one
with the ornamental overhang. Then the artist

brushed on watercolors to enliven the sky and shadows,
the street and fences, the shutters at every window.
The building’s light-washed gaze shuttles your eye

to a high wooden pole with its crossarms and insulators.
Let’s not speculate why there are no birds on the wires
and no people in the street: the picture’s not meaning—

it’s moment. At Gloucester, he said, when everyone else
would be painting ships at the waterfront
I’d just go around looking at houses—

structures that became radiant matter-of-fact
like the one on the hill with the sun’s weightless palm
shining on its face.

Copyright 2005 by Brian Dean Powers

Afternoon at the Airshow

B17  Catwalk
I went to Truax Field to see a display of World War II planes. It was a chilly day, but a good-sized crowd turned out.

The centerpiece of the show was a B-17 Flying Fortress, a huge bomber that was essential to the Allied war effort. Visitors were invited to climb a metal ladder into the plane’s flight deck where the pilot and copilot sat.

Moving aft through the fuselage, I maneuvered my way along a narrow catwalk in the bomb bay. Next came the radio compartment and the waist-gunners’ machine guns. Looking down, I could see the metal dome that served as the entrance to the ball-turret suspended beneath the plane.

airshow-2
The airman at that station could swivel the turret around and fire machine guns at enemy fighters. But he also was vulnerable to being shot at. If you saw the movie, Memphis Belle, you might remember Sean Aston’s character hanging in the air beneath the plane. If you know Randall Jarrell’s famous poem, you can imagine the danger.

            I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
            When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Exiting the bomber by another metal ladder, I was greeted by a short, white-haired man standing on the tarmac. I checked out the underside of the plane where the ball-turret hung like a metal scrotum. The space inside was so minimal it was hard to imagine anyone squeezing in there.

B17 Outside
I turned back to the white-haired usher. I commented that only a small crewman could fit in that turret. The usher, who stood the same 5’ 5” as me, nodded.

“You and I would have worked that position.”

Copyright 2016 by Brian Dean Powers