We stepped off the bus into no-man’s-land –
the Greyhound left us and Cheyenne behind
the giant cowboy and his rocking arm
forever inserting a neon dime:
last chance to play before a thousand miles
of desert sand, salt lakes, Mormon temples.
In the bus stop tavern they eyed us –
up, down, across – two out-of-towners
set down in the desert: not ranchers,
not cowherds, nor even whiskey drinkers –
they quizzed us: what was our business,
two greenhorns, unversed in the desert’s ways.
We couldn’t say why we had chosen
to let the bus go, with no real plan
than to stop the night, stop the rolling movie
thru the window: of parched land, a single tree
mile-upon-mile of corn – and a lonely ranch-hand –
charred by the sun, corralling the wind.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Peter Challiss would be pleased to hear them.