A hooker shivers, lost on Fifth and Main,

with fourteen years behind and four to go.

She doesn’t know. Mascara in the rain.

That thin black coat must last her through the snow

soon shivering down. A soldier sits alone

in sodden park. His eyes are fixed, his stare

leads to a girl in Vietnam. Her moan

caught in his throat; released to fractured air.

The same that breathes in sleeping child, in night-

time bumps and grinds, in muffled laughter screams.

Yet in the rain the cracked black lampposts make

a space for hope. Pools of wavering light

illuminating city’s tortured dreams.

Rejoice or fear? Soon this place will wake.


M.A. Mohanraj

Clarion, Seattle

July 15, 1997