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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. He has taught creative writing at Brown, Yale, and Southern Connecticut State, where he is currently a professor of English.


Trigger Warning

And the star-billions transfix us, down-plop us all. Forget
The dream, piped in or not. Now is the reign

Of algebra, where numbers stand for letters,
Yet nothing gets written plainly.

We must always be solved for:
X at the white house, X on the heart,

Not X for the headshot. It stands for something
Unknown, barely a hum, and barely human,

That registers in our throats. It is not your monologuing
Or my getting cooked. X is the spot beyond self-destructions.

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