Loafing One Evening with Walt Whitman

Moon + Stars

The old poet sat and looked out with me
on my quiet summer porch.
From wood-and-canvas chairs, we scanned

the world that begins at sunset—
a marvelous occupation that needs no training,
no management team.

“I open my scuttle at night,”
Walt said in the darkness,
“and see the far-sprinkled systems.”

Constellations, we watched, a planet
and a third-quarter moon. The beacon
in the east became a jumbo jet overhead,

its landing lights and its engines
blaring power and authority.
And is there a hierarchy in the night sky?

Is bright Venus superior
to the pock-spotted moon, or
those stars in the Dippers?

Do the stars, in turn, 
exceed the darkness between?
“I do not call one greater

and one smaller,” Walt said,
“that which fills its period and place
is equal to any.”

Not the one outshining the rest,
but the priceless and irreplaceable beats	
of a luminous heart.

Copyright 2018 by Brian Dean Powers

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Orion’s Belt

Orion Constellation

They seem together
   from where I stand:
      three stars, a row

on a flat, black sky.
   My guide book tells me otherwise—
      they are light-years apart,

deep, deeper, deepest
   into the dark.
      I marvel at the stars,

how they burn like beacons
   on distant, unreachable shores,
      how the isolation

doesn’t diminish the shine.
   I studied their names
      when I was a boy,

stared at them
   from my bedroom window
      in a middle-class home

that must have looked fine—
   station wagon in the garage,
      closets of ironed pants and shirts,

the threesome eating dinner
   in a spotless kitchen.
      But there were light-years

between our plates, cold space
   between our seats in the car.
      There was no guide

for that constellation.
   So I learned distance.
      I drifted away.

Copyright 2005 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in the Spring/Summer 2017 edition of Word Fountain

My Voice

Grays
I always sound hoarse.
Like a radio half-tuned to the station.
It's hard to make myself heard.

I repeat myself often, every day.
It's hard to make myself heard.
That's the voice I have.

I can’t converse in noisy places.
Don't ask me to speak to a group.
I'd rather not talk at all.

It's hard to make myself heard.
There's a furrow in my vocal folds.
There's a flaw that can’t be fixed.

You might not hear my hello.
What can I say?
That's the voice I have.

Copyright 2008 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in the Summer 2016 issue of Word Fountain