Serenata d’estate (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

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

One Warm and Sunny Saturday, Mid-March

Lake Ice
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

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

The Run to Picnic Point

Point Postcard
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

A Core Course for Runners

Spring Lake
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

Early Riser

Purple Crocus
The crocus leaps
into its life
as soon as the March
melt begins.
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
slender stem
and purple petals
ascend defenseless
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