PoetryIssue 22 | April 2015

City Lights, Dirty Window

by Janna Layton

I can’t relax in North Beach anymore,
not after the middle-aged man cornered me
in the poetry room of City Lights Books.
I was looking for poetry
and found the threat of hands instead.
Or maybe it’s not just that incident—
alone in that upstairs room with that leering man,
my only witnesses the distant, faceless goddesses—
but everything about that time when I used
to go to North Beach. Wandering up and down
Columbus alone, cannoli at Stella’s on an empty stomach,
circling Washington Square.
And always the poetry room, the poetry room quiet
with books and books and always
through the dirty window the laundry drying on the fire escapes
and the three faceless goddesses white against the black
and so far away.

About the author

Janna Layton has traveled to France, England, and Scotland, but her current favorite place to explore is San Francisco, where she lives and works as a receptionist. Her writing has appeared in various journals, including The First Line, Keyhole, The Pinch, and Red Wheelbarrow.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok