Nestled in a cinema chair
Jeff anticipates the MGN lion’s roar
watches a silver screen lit up
in a mirrorball cavalcade of colors…
buttered popcorn barrel in his lap
diet Pepsi in his hand, he chews
with an open mouth between sips
awaiting, imagining celluloid magic
separating hype and expectation
from an open mind longing for surprise.

Blinking lobby lights alerted patrons
a promising box office extravaganza
would roll five minutes hence…still
concession stand silence prevailed
doors stayed closed, clear aisles persevered
only phantom foot traffic filled rows.

The Cinemax seats left and right
before and behind him remained
empty throughout the film’s premiere
nobody with which to laugh, cry
moan or even share disenchantment
“Nice not to have people talking!” Jeff
reasoned, yet found hanging with ghosts
of movie maven haunting hallways, lingering
in projector rooms, or hiding between velvet
stage curtain seams disturbing…wanting.


Sterling Warner’s works appeared in many journals and magazines including RAVEN’S PERCH and ANTI-HEROIN CHIC. His collections include EDGES, SERPENT’S TOOTH, FLYTRAPS, CRACKS OF LIGHT, HALCYON DAYS, ABRAXAS: POEMS (2024), and MASQUES: FLASH FICTION & SHORT STORIES. Warner currently writes, hosts open mic readings, and enjoys retirement in Washington.