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

One Warm and Sunny Saturday, Mid-March

Lake Ice

Everything wants to wander. Runoff 
from the roof pleasantly pads down

and out the metal eaves in fluid boots.
I myself meander where plows once piled

a snowstorm, where thin rivers
now glaze the pavement.
 
Everything wanders away when it must.
Winter's final footprints stand scattered 

across the landscape as clots of blackened snow.
My aimless walk takes me to the lake,

where the last thin layer of ice has cracked
into thousands of shards, all of them jostling

against each other in the undulating waves.
People stop to hear this music

only March can make. 
For one afternoon, the lake surface sizzles.

Copyright 2010 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in 2011 by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
Photo by Marcus Lofvenberg at unsplash.com

Sean and Brawnie and the Mathematics of Matrimony

Two RingsStanding in the bathroom doorway, Sean listened to the out-of-tune voice. His husband had not mentioned these morning song-stylings before they moved in together.

Somehow I can’t understand how one and one make one.

Brawnie stood shirtless at the sink, shaving. “I like to cuddle near you, and listen to you lie,” he sang, about a quarter-tone off the intended melody. 

But get that marryin’ out of yer head, I’ll be a bachelor till I die.”

“Trying to tell me something?” Sean inquired with a smirk. “Hank Williams was hardly the paragon of marriage.”

Brawnie laughed. “He did marry Audrey twice, you know.”

“And she divorced him twice,” Sean replied. He surveyed his husband’s shoulders, admiring the well-developed delts and traps.

Brawnie made a quick pivot, grabbing Sean by the waist and lifting him up. 

I don’t mind keeping comp’ny with the apple of my eye,” Brawnie sang.

Sean rubbed a dab of shaving cream off Brawnie’s earlobe. They stood there, face to face, one man firmly planted and the other a little aloft. 

Standing both together and apart, neither man was much concerned whether one and one make one.

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Luigi Pozzoli 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 on a Cold Winter’s Night That Was So Deep

Bed

“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 unsplash.com

Through a Glass, Birdly

Bird

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