Poets Desk: Last Chance, Colorado

Annie Ning

This town has more ghosts than burger joints,

my Dad observes, on the straight-


shot down to Last Chance,

road belting into the fallen grass-


land of grit, of shithouse radio

and the white noise grainy on


our cruddy kitchen sinks.

We stop at Rosie’s to cream and sugar


our coffee to excess. There’s a petroleum

aftertaste in our mouths.


I look around for ghosts:

a signal crosses over on the TV


in a thrum of gnats, the smokestacks radiating

exhaust from the backfield, sunflowers slicing


their petals through the half-mirage sky.

The waitress coughs,


a semiautomatic sputtering

sharp enough to hack through chickweed


closing its leaves before rain.

Then Colorado closes like a last chance


if I have to watch

her exhale another bleeding cigarette


I might never make it

out of this smoky recoil.


Dad’s hands leave imprints on the check

And the grease on the counter is only a ghost, too.