City Lights, Dirty Window

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…

Read the full bio

Issue 22 · April 2015

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