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
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 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
It would not have mattered
to the world, I think,
if that little remnant
of life had dried up
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
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.
and gusty afternoon
in winter’s last days
the thin cataract of ice
left on the surface
of the lake.
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
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
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
“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
August ends, humid and hot
but that's not stopping you from hauling
yourself up hill after hill. Off-road,
across the grassy flat of a football field,
you stride with light, silent steps —
though your pace in this heat
is more jog than dash.
The run grows in its slow
and winding way, flourishing at last
on the path to Picnic Point. The trodden
ground is dappled, sunlight blazing radiant trails
through the leaves overhead. The breeze
sprays you with the fragrance of apples,
strokes your sweat-slicked skin.
You dodge and dart over tree roots
and rocks, breathing easy, immersed
in the spread of an incandescent day.
Sunlight runs among the treetops on photon feet.
Copyright 2004 by Brian Dean Powers Published in Echolocations: Poets Map Madison by Cowfeather Press, and in 2006 by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. During 2014, the poem was displayed in the Reflections: Madison photography and poetry exhibit at the Monona Terrace Convention Center. Public Domain photo at commons.wikimedia.org
I’m running the lakeside path again,
past the last shards of March
melting along the shore. This body
built on bone strides silently,
as light as the breath on my lips.
An hour in, quads and calves propel
themselves, knees keep leading me forward
and time becomes a seamless stream.
Doesn’t matter that I will never be
much of an athlete, that I will
never run fast or win a race.
This body is a quiet current
of muscle and pulsing blood.
I am altogether alive in glistening skin.
Copyright 2003 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in 2005 by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
Photo by Gabriel Santiago at unsplash.com
The crocus leaps
into its life
as soon as the March
Nothing you can say
about cold nights
and Spring snows
will stop it.
Before the lake ice
cracks, before you
put away your gloves
and shovel, its
and purple petals
in the chill air.
—No, this plant
won't waste a moment
to grab at its chance.
Copyright 2010 by Brian Dean Powers Published in 2014 by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Photo by Biegun Wschodni at unsplash.com