One Night with Doctor Jekyll’s Lawyer in London

London FogHe turned away from the window and his preoccupation with all that’s unknown and unknowable. His dedication to a profession rooted in reliable rules and procedures had been severely challenged by the doctor’s ghastly experiment. He settled into a large, comfortable chair before the hearth with, at a nicely calculated distance from the fire, a bottle of a particular old wine that had long dwelt unsunned in the foundations of his house. Who can really discern another’s motives, he wondered, and how is it we so quickly invent them when we have no evidence available? The fog still slept on the wing above the drowned city, where the lamps glimmered like carbuncles; and as usual he found no answers, though he deeply desired to see through the mist. Perhaps not all effects have causes, he thought, and some doubts need not be resolved, and through the muffle and smother of these fallen clouds, the procession of the town’s life was still rolling in through the great arteries with a sound as of a mighty wind. He raised his glass, resigned to replace one murk with another. In the bottle the acids were long ago resolved; the imperial dye had softened with time, as the colour grows richer in stained windows; he let all the unanswered questions dissolve and fixed his attention instead on the hearth, and so his mind, like the glow of hot autumn afternoons on hillside vineyards, was ready to be set free and to disperse the fogs of London.

Copyright 2021 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by R Spegel at unsplash.com

Author’s Note: The italicized passages were taken from one paragraph in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Sean & Brawnie and the Message from Outer Space

MeteorsBrawnie was standing at the bedroom window in the dark when Sean awoke. 

“Moon still there?” Sean asked.

“It’s the meteor shower they mentioned on the weather channel yesterday,” he replied.

Sean got up and joined his husband at the window. The Alpha Capricornids meteors had appeared on schedule in the southern sky. They competed for attention with a waning gibbous moon.

Brawnie smiled. “If there were more meteors, it could be a flashmob of little lights.”

“Wouldn’t it be cool if they spelled out a message?”

Brawnie looked at Sean quizzically. “What, like surrender Dorothy?”

“Just something meaningful. Get vaccinated, maybe.” 

“How about We’re watching,” Brawnie replied in a spooky tone. “That would shake up the world.”

Sean nudged him playfully with his elbow and went back to bed.

“Don’t let the stars get in your eyes, don’t let the moon break your heart,” Brawnie crooned, with a voice only Sean and Auto-Tune could love.

Copyright 2021 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Madhuvan Yadav at unsplash.com

Afternoon at the Airshow

I was startled one morning by the rumble of a large, four-propeller plane overhead. That afternoon, I went to Truax Field to see the display of World War II aircraft that had been advertised on the radio. It was a chilly day for summer, a fall jacket kind of day, yet a large crowd turned out for the event.

The centerpiece of the show was a B-17 Flying Fortress. The tour guide explained that the huge bomber was essential to the Allied war effort. We visitors were invited to climb up a narrow metal ladder into the plane’s flight deck where the pilot and co-pilot would have been seated.

Next, moving aft through the fuselage, we maneuvered our way along a narrow catwalk in the bomb bay. Even smaller than average people like me had trouble moving through those cramped spaces. 

Then came the radio compartment and the waist-gunners’ stations. Looking down, I could see the metal dome that served as an 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, while he must have been especially vulnerable himself. 

Exiting by another metal ladder at the tail end of the plane, I was greeted by a small, white-haired man standing on the tarmac. He directed me to the underside of the plane where the ball-turret was attached like a metal scrotum. The space inside was so minimal it was hard to imagine anyone squeezing in. I recalled Randall Jarrell’s vivid description of an unlucky gunner being “washed….out of the turret with a hose.”

I turned back to the white-haired usher, and commented that only a small crewman could fit in that turret. The usher, who stood about the same 5’ 4” as me, nodded. 

“You and I would have worked that position.”

Revised version copyright 2021 by Brian Dean Powers
Photos by Greg M.

Writing My Will

Crocus 3-4-21

We sat in the long, rectangular room
with the long, rectangular table topped

with faux marble. Outside the eighth-floor window,
we could see the frozen, snow-covered lake.

The serious young lawyer wrote my responses
in little scribbles to inscribe my will.

I watched words and numbers gather in display
on his snowy-white pages, my life seemingly

reduced to something small and slight.
I went home feeling diminished, home to a night’s

restless sleep. Of course, March will return
to raise the golden crocuses with their rich

inner lives. And if indeed I have few assets
in the companies of commerce

and the company of others,
why should I let that freeze my will?

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in the Winter/Spring 2021 issue of Bramble
Photo by the author

Sean and Brawnie Go for the Best on New Year’s Eve

StageA little before midnight and the beginning of the new year, Sean and Brawnie were sprawled together on the couch under their faded Packers blanket. Despite the bitter cold outside, Brawnie had shucked his shoes and socks under the coffee table.

The boys were watching Schitt’s Creek on TV, where Patrick had just finished singing “Simply the Best” to his partner, David.

“You know, I saw Tina Turner sing that song when I was twelve,” Sean interjected. “That was her 24/7 Tour at the Kohl Center.”

Brawnie scooped up a handful of peanuts, listening intently, though he’d heard his husband tell the story many times.

“She’d just turned sixty,” Sean recalled. “She strut her stuff around the stage for the better part of two hours in heels and skin-tight leather.”

Brawnie took a drink of Prosecco, nodding. 

“I guess I was swaying in my seat a little too much,” Sean remembered. “The woman sitting behind me chuckled and said go on boy, just get up and dance.”

Brawnie laughed. “For you, Tina’s the Patron Saint of Survivors.”

“She made a great life despite abuse and bigotry,” Sean replied.

“Her best life, could you say?” Brawnie asked with a smirk.

On TV, Patrick and David exchanged a look of affection. Sean and Brawnie missed it, giving each other their first kiss of the new year.

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo from the 24/7 Concert Tour Video

Sean and Brawnie’s Late Night News-of-the-Day Conversation

Bedspread 3

Brawnie stood by the bed with a quizzical look on his face. “That’s the bedspread you bought this afternoon?”

“You don’t like it?” Sean asked. Already in bed, he was propped up on a pillow, reading.

“It’s just not what I’d expect,” Brawnie explained, carefully choosing his words.

“What’s not to like? It has twelve-point bucks, canoes, pine trees, and mountains.”

“It’s brown and tan,” Brawnie noted. “You’re usually so colorful.”

“It’s manly,” Sean replied with a little smirk. “Like you.”

“That’s pandering,” Brawnie said through a yawn. “But I guess I’ll take it.” 

Brawnie undressed, turned off the light, and got under the covers. “I’ll be glad when the pandemic’s over,” he said wistfully. “I miss going to the gym.”

“Manly man that you are,” Sean replied.

“I saw Eric at the store today,” Brawnie continued. 

“Your workout buddy.”

“He looks like a cocky frat guy,” Brawnie mused, “but the man’s considerate to everyone.”

Sean listened to his husband breathe a while. “Expectations, you know?”

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by the author

Listening to Cicadas


August already: time to see summer
before it sinks. Beneath bountiful branches

I stand and watch the sunlight soak
through green and breathing leaves. All 

around, like fog in the trees, alarm clocks
ring beneath male cicada wings. And look: 

a current of slick, black ants flows
down the dark drive. Sometimes

I stop to hear the waterfall gushing 
from my window fan, and sometimes

I want to pour it all into words,
lingering to love what can’t be kept.

Copyright 2000 by Brian Dean Powers
Published in 2002 by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
Photo by the author

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

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