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

Summer Serenade

Ripples

The park trees are ringed with concentric
circles inscribed by a riding mower. Half

the grass is green, half is burned-
out brown. The beach is closed, clogged

with weeds and toxic blue-green algae.
A little light rain draws overlapping 

circles on the surface of the lake.
The drops play a serenade of summer

both sweet and sour. Sweet for the season
of shorts and T-shirts I longed 

for all winter. Sour for carrying me
within spitting distance of seventy.

The rain passes. The lake shines
like a smooth, oval stone.

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Jan Fillem at unsplash.com

Sean and Brawnie Celebrate Their First Anniversary Despite These Virus-Times

Mask

Returning from his morning run, Sean found a pair of hand-sewn face masks hanging on the handle of the front door.

“Those are from Patty our neighbor,” Brawnie told his husband. “I think she appreciates my keeping tabs on her, even at a distance.”

The boys wore their new apparel at the grocery store, where Sean works as one of the managers. His colleagues greeted them with good-natured chuckles when they saw the matching plaid masks. 

“That’s okay,” Sean quipped. “Nobody noticed my hair’s getting longer and kind of raggedy around the edges.” Sean thought a moment. “Your buzz cut will take months to grow out. So you win that one, I guess.”

Back home, Brawnie cleared out a corner of the basement and unpacked his old barbells and dumbbells and bench. “With the gym closed indefinitely,” he explained with a hint of irritation, “I have to make my own.” 

“Whereas I can just go outside and run,” Sean said with a smirk. “I think I win that one.”

Sean and Brawnie were married a year ago. They could not have known back then they would have to celebrate their first anniversary at home, socially distanced from the world. Brawnie made Thai Green Curry for dinner from a recipe Patty had emailed them.

“I don’t know which wine goes with curry,” he said.

“No one does,” Sean replied. “That cabernet you’re pouring is just fine by me.”

Sean thought a moment, chewing a cube of overcooked tofu. “So many little things don’t much matter any more.”

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
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

The Gestures with Which You Honor It

Jade
The woody stem
	was but four crooked
		inches long, bearing

eight oval leaves like
	blades of oars.
		I found that sprig of jade

on the hallway carpet,
	took it back to my apartment
		and harbored it in a jar of water.

Weeks passed. Roots
	grew. I gave the plant
		a pot of soil

and a spot by a sunny
	south-facing window.
		It would not have mattered

to the world, I think,
	if that little remnant
		of life had dried up

and died. 
	Weeks passed. One morning
		when I awoke

and was planted again
	in a budding day,
		I noticed two new

shiny and smooth
	leaves of jade
		turned about into the sun.

Copyright 2018 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by the author

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