(Note: this article was printed in a broken-line poetic format; this online version does not preserve that format.)
If you stop at the diner on the outskirts of town, skip the soup full of dust from Indian graves, the rinds of bad winters bobbing in a mean meat broth.
Avoid the acid coffee & too sweet pie, avoid the chili, the stew that will plague you until Dakota.
Whatever happens, don't fight with locals, even over an insult. They've nothing to lose except more years in Rock Springs, a thousand more meals at the diner.
Ignore the buffoon at the counter who disapproves of your skin. His penis, sadly, was stolen by Coyote and will never be returned.
He's searched the red desert each day since and found the tracks circle back to this town where, despite its name, nothing springs from rock and rain is rare.
Leave the biggest tip you can. Their lives will be hard and strangers will always appear, distressed by the food and scenery, anxious and able to leave.
Their lives will be long in dry air, hot sun, and cold that puckers the bone.
Some day the last person left will admit the whole place was a mistake and closing a door, will depart, leaving gas station signs to swing and rust and rabbits to inhabit the rooms where sad-faced whores turned tricks for truckers and dreamed of Vegas, of one-armed bandits that came in coins, and streets lit by more than stars' dim light, and highways that led somewhere.
Chris Ransick lives in Englewood, Colorado. Advice for Visitors to Rock Springs took first place in the 1995 Poiesis poetry contest. Poiesis can be reached at Box 53, Indian Hills, CO 80454.