Brian Johnson

A Kind of Western


Vertical blinds traduce the sun. Pixels traduce every last dandelion in the valley.

The world is more or less false, more or less itself, as I see it— 


So let me head straight for the mountains, with a hitchhiker, the girl against me,  

Blonde, in cut-offs. Let me go there, and stay, and not fall asleep


Ever, not ever again. What keeps flickering in my eye 

Is the bathlight, the roadsign, the entirety of a lonesome past


In neon, with a hard-on coming on. And to live in this place

With the moon-striped bedspreads and bright formica tables, 


With the limb-lengths exposed on the bed, sweaty, and thievishly lit—

Remains the fate chosen just for me, or the dreamed-up end of a story, any story.


Brian Johnson is the author of Self-Portrait, a chapbook; Torch Lake and Other Poems, a finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Award; and Site Visits, a collaborative work with the German painter Burghard Müller-Dannhausen. His work has appeared in a wide variety of journals, including Massachusetts Review, American Letters and Commentary, West Branch, North Dakota Quarterly, Court Green, and others. He has taught creative writing at Brown, Yale, and Southern Connecticut State, where he is currently professor of English.

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