Van Gogh’s Bedroom
Brian Dean Powers

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.


Orion’s Belt
Brian Dean Powers

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.


Brian Dean Powers is a retired civil servant, and a lifelong resident of Madison, Wisconsin. His poetry has appeared in various anthologies and magazines, primarily in his home state. A selection of his work is posted at briandeanpowers.wordpress.com.

Image: Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles 1888 was the first of three versions Van Gogh made of this painting. Image in the public domain: Details of Permissions.

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