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July 12, 2006

I wrote this in 1998 while stranded in New Mexico…..

Cigarette Paper

As it moves across the horizon it spews a beige cloud behind it. Unlike a passing storm, this cloud hangs in the air, lying still on the separation of earth and sky. It’s like a wedge trying to force them apart. In the heat haze it shimmers, trying to wriggle them apart. It’s a mile away but I can taste the fine silt on my tongue. It sticks, clings and makes mud in my mouth. The truck continues on the road creating and spewing out its wedge of dirt. The road travels on for miles, if it goes on long enough will it split the heavens from the earth? I hope so. Any relief from this place would make me a happy man.

The cloud on the horizon is the only cloud in sight. No rain, water or even mist can penetrate this ceaselessly arid place. It hangs, that cloud, the dirt, so pounded smashed, tilled, shoveled, graded so small it’s lighter than the air, it floats. No puff of breeze to wash that cloud away. Even the horizon is a victim of this place.

If you separate the foil from the paper backing from a pack of cigarettes and fold it just so, then light it, it flies away burning itself as it goes. It rises ever higher eating, consuming its own body to do so until there is just black flakes rising, separating, disintegrating. I wish this place would rise, separate and disintegrate. Heaven knows it’s thin enough. There is all kinds of heat to make it rise. I just need to separate the paper from the foil. Wishing for that cloud of dust to separate the earth from the sky so I can fold it up, light it up, and burn it into oblivion, just so I don’t have to be here anymore.

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