Advice for visitors to Rock Springs

  • Road Kill Cafe Specials advertised on back of a sweatshirt

    John McEvoy
  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.