We were young

crowded around those tables

knocking elbows


looking at the ladies

trying to be suave

trying to be Cary Grant

and Jimmy Stewart

with Cagney faces

but we played fire

with words

hitting keys hard

typewriters splintering

that wide future



in the way virgin boys

dreamed about it

while the old men

(Heinlein we chuckled)

took it for granted

that love and rockets

would be equally tame.

Cigarette smoke curls

to the yellowed

ceiling tiles there

at Clifton’s

soft vibrations of


our art budding

poetry embryonic,

short stories sweet

California tonic

for our Depression.

Ray stands and delivers


of wet Venusian

fungus, he kids

the laughs are

quick and ready

our Society brothers

shake their heads

and look out the

window to Los Angeles


and imagine that

beyond the blue and

into the black

is tomorrow morning.