Saturday, April 13, 2019

Brian Beatty On Denis Johnson

Borrowed Trouble: Micro Tribute to Denis Johnson (1949-2017)

I wouldn’t write at all if it weren’t for myriad writers before me whose works showed me what was possible. The poems of this series are small offerings of respect, of thanks, to those muses. – Brian Beatty

Denis Johnson

Nights I had too many beers
I would declare war on streetlights 
the color of those Tibetan salt rock lamps
new-agers now claim ease tension.

Please. Respect my fear and intelligence.

I’ve slept off nothing. Passing trains 
rattled the faux wood walls of my studio apartment 
with outdoor furniture dragged upstairs, 
trains clacking louder than any gun.

Undergrads queued up to die along those same tracks.

– Brian Beatty

Incognito Lounge

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Brian's most recent collections of poetry are Dust and Stars: Miniatures and Brazil, Indiana. Don't miss Brian's columns on the great poets: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Denis Johnson's stories and poems remind me every time I read them that literature is the written articulation of our humanity. That's what I wrote in my first comment, only with too many words.


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