Roanoke Rain

A poem by Gregg Winkler

I once rode twenty-two hours on a greyhound
Ending up in a gray station in Roanoke
With enough clothes for a week
And enough money for three days.
And I thought it would be sunnier than this.

From the station I walked cold and alone
In the rain, only stopping for a bite of Chinese
With my baggage in my lap and an egg roll in hand
And the host told me, “You can set your bags down anytime,”
But I didn’t, not for years, so he loaned me an umbrella.

I walked for hours in the rain to where I was staying.
I knew my destination – just not how to get there.
You can only get so wet before it doesn’t matter anymore
And you might as well enjoy the sounds of tires in rainwater
And the sights of shimmering reds, yellows, and greens in the ripples.

As I checked into the little hotel I was staying, I heard
A boy tell his father “Maybe this is heaven!”
The dad whapped the boy on the head and said,
“No way this shithole is heaven.” But the boy smiled on.
There was an indoor swimming pool, after all.

My room came with a bed, TV, plenty of towels and
Beside the bed, a scattering of a previous tenant’s toenails.
I stood naked in front of a painting of a photo of the city
Hung near the window, its curtains open.
I used the complementary hair dryer on my underwear.

From my third floor window, I stare down at the city
The rain rolling over the panes turns everything on its side
Street walkers grow larger, then small again – businessmen
With newspapers over their heads are like black splotches
Oozing up and down the streets, getting sucked into nearby bars.

As night fell, I thought about going out and exploring,
But I was exhausted from all the sleeping on the bus.
So instead I ordered a pizza from a place I like back home
And sat inside watching old reruns, eating a pizza delivered
By a guy who looks like he could be my pizza guy’s brother.


Gregg Winkler is a writer from a small town in Oklahoma. He spends his evenings desperately trying to turn his dreams into words on a page, and his days desperately trying to stay awake in front of his boss.  More poetry, fiction, and nonfiction can be found in various places online and in print.
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