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Winter 1994, Volume 11.1


Michael L. Johnson

Michael L. Johnson (Ph.D., Rice University) is Chair of the English Department at the University of Kansas. His most recent books of poetry include Ecphrases: Poems as Interpretations of the Other Arts (Woodley Press, 1989), Education on the Wild Side: Learning for the Twenty-First Century (U of Oklahoma Press, 1993) and Violence and Grace: Poems About the American West (Cottonwood Press, 1993).

Live Nude Girls

The sign promises they are not on film
and, in some sense, not dead; they do not wear
flannel nightgowns, T-shirts, or jogging suits;
they are not women, who question too much.

Twelve stories below, the red neon waits
right across from the Olympic Hotel
and Suky's Oriental Massage, just
down the street from The Gap (on whose side wall
someone has sprayed "TV is bullshit"), near
the French restaurant where you ate alone.

You think of your pubescent cousin's skin
thirty years ago as she stepped out of
a bathtub into the confusion of
memory, wet prints on the mat still warm.