Palimpsestual

Flat as a coyote on a desert highway
steam-rollered by runaway plans,
flat as coffee-table spirituality
mail-ordered from Santa Fe

flip glossy pages to give the illusion
of movement as images rock back and forth
like a train that foxtrots across a landscape
scumbled and stained with memory.

Superimpose the smell of pines in the sun,
the smell of wood smoke from a camp fire
in the morning, the soft applause of rain
on leaves and slumping logs.

I write about my life, about your life, about
your ex, about my chain-smoking mother.
I stub out a cigarette and open the window
to let in the honk and hrum of traffic,

pour myself three-dollar wine
that tastes of formaldehyde, but it
can't wash out of my mouth the taste
of trout pan-fried over that camp fire.

It's like writing about statues who
won't lie down flat, and no matter
how many times I erase and start over,
I can't get it quite right.

2/28/99