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
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
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
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
Today I’m re-posting my appreciation of Charlie Murphy, who passed away on August 6, 2016.
Here’s my poem about Charlie and his 1981 song, now formatted as a prose poem as I originally intended. You can listen to a subdued acoustic version of Gay Spirit on YouTube.
Copyright 2016 by Brian Dean Powers
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.
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.
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