The 4 Star Theatre

Janna Layton

The lucky cat figurine
wears a faded “I voted” sticker
and beckons the audience into the small lobby,
which smells of popcorn,
as any cinema should.

By the napkins,
a bubbling countertop fountain presents
a horse and dragon
in carnival-prize ceramic.

Hot tea,
cold mints,
old carpet.

The doorway leads to a shoebox diorama:
battered floorboards,
empty seats,
walls and ceiling a shade of burgundy
that warms the darkness,
the screen blank and waiting
and framed in gold.

All these will hold you
until the kung-fu kick or Appalachian rifle ends the fight,
until the credits roll over a desert or blackness
and you wander out onto Clement Street,
the fog lit by neon.

JANNA LAYTON lives in San Francisco. Her poetry and fiction have been published or are upcoming in various literary journals, including Mythic Delirium, Apex, Goblin Fruit, The Golden Key, and Star*Line. She blogs at