The Body’s Heated Speech

Cycling
The rear wheel
	is garrulous, grinding
		against the stainless steel roller:

the bike’s inside for the winter,
	back tire suspended
		in a stationary trainer.

As the spinning
	spokes begin to blur,
		the taciturn rider

happily disappears
	into the rhythm
		of legs and breath and pulse.

His padded black shorts
	keep time with the steady
		pistoning of quads and calves,

his jersey darkens
	with the skin’s
		wet text, the body’s

heated speech so persuasive
	he returns again and again.
		It’s the thrill of being the engine

that drives the machine,
	it’s the will to last long
		like the grinding

steel-gray winter seems.
	Rising from the saddle
		to stand and hammer the pedals

full force, the rider dreams
	an approach to Sestrière’s 
		summit, dreams

a morning
	for the first crocus to crescent
		the Spring-soaked soil.

Copyright 2005 by Brian Dean Powers

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A Still Life by Van Gogh

Still LIfe
Among the purple irises, one stalk
is bent to breaking; several slender

blue-green leaves lift
through a galaxy of billowing blossoms.

One thing rises while another
declines, and who can say why—

isn’t that the essential gesture
of everything planted here? I know nothing

with any certainty, the artist wrote,
but the sight of the stars

makes me dream. In a vase of rough
baked earth, imagine an ennobling

of all that stands from day to day,
and all that falls aside.

Copyright 2000 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in the 2016 Wisconsin Poets' Calendar