There are parts of Wichita where you just don’t go

when it’s raining, at least in April when rain gets

down and serious in the way meteorologists pray for

in that disinterested TV way that loves wild weather

but hates the consequences when it gets too close.


Just west of downtown if you take the wrong turn

onto one of the streets that are still brick with a pebbled

coat of asphalt, where the houses debate

whether they are shotgun or bungalow,

in that place where indistinct people stand in the street

smoking cigarettes and looking kind of dicey, that place


where if you take a wrong turn, the smooth puddle

in the intersection turns into you, with water

clear up to the floorboard and a flooded out engine.

That place. Get out and push the car with all your friends

because what else is there to do? And it works


this time and you’re laughing your way past the strip clubs

and car lots on South Broadway, bound for another night

at the Cowboy. It’s time to dance and the bright lights

don’t look dusty when they’re on and the cheap floor

is painted black to hide a multitude of spilled beers.


On your way home, the stoplights blink red and the only

other cars are serving and protecting. Even in the dark,

the sky still has that yellow tinge that says storm,

but when you’re nineteen, the storm is never for you.

Photo by Shannon Kringen