Sunday, May 29, 2016

early summer dreamscape from a thermonuclear war

real enough to suddenly wake me
in my own sweat and shared heartbeat
     from every specie
surrounded in hellfire damnation
burning to the center of the earth
the quiet of the president's words at hiroshima not withstanding
the only acknowledgement in this so-called
political season       of oligarchy & cartels never ending

the tweet machines & gonad aircraft carriers will peter out
     go silent with all their enigma codes in every language
          that never fooled anybody

who's the exceptional
     choose your pejorative here
thinking that they were born lucky
& unlucky enough
     to survive

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 27, 2016

earth note 406

in the heat
the maples seem to be holding hands
standing silent
like at a wake
body and spirit

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 26, 2016

wendell willkie hat in hand

mural in rushville indiana
looking down on us in his patriarchal way
as we ate our eggs
and wondered if every big-time politician
had at least one clean double-breasted suit
or pant suit
'cause the way things were going
folks were really losing all respect
to authority & authoritarians
so maybe a clean suit
will makeup somewhat for
the dirty money
sewn into the linings

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

earth note 405

highway 24 kansas revisited

in every tornado there is a wakeup call
when the path chosen
is too simple
the prairie in its rich knowledge
will always question your intentions
as darkness will pass
on a new crop of sunflowers
working its way
to where the roads

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 21, 2016

i can't for the lifeboat of me

figure out why millions of voters
who have finished their primary and caucus
     their voices all analyzed and deposited
     as small raindrops
     in the rising oceans
haven't deployed the green kayaks and moved on
abandoning their abusive relationships
in their respective (un)democratic & trump-republic
     parties of
money laundering schemes

i've been advised that all of that
is 'in process'
which i take to mean
there's still hope
provided we don't land on some small remote island
     and declare utopia

so forward on
keep paddling to the bittersweet end
     & watch for sandbars

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, May 21, 2016)

Friday, May 20, 2016

it ain't funny to be the laughing stock of the planet

when the water is rising
or there's a draught
or a thousand more refugees are locked away
it's easy to find heads in the sand or up someone's ass
     become the norm
cataclysmic events become secondary
to every single pubic hair on the body politic
a politician with a magnifying glass
and cell phone video just announced
he was getting ready to offer himself
to trump or clinton as vice president
in charge of public bathrooms

all coming up live
from the situation room

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

i tried my best

to keep a stride
running up brighton road
late for school
the graveyard monument stones
polished grey
standing up in the showroom window
watching me as i passed
on the balls of my feet

there was another track meet today
i wish the coach would stop trying
to make me a sprinter
i was strictly a long distancer

about the time i walked into homeroom
the bell for first period began
but it was just more machiavellian history
i was late for
and just cunning enough
to have memorized
the day's assignment

i ditched another class
that afternoon
and threaded new spikes
into my shoes

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 15, 2016

earth note 404

gulf of thailand, 1989

body surfing
you've given up everything
     except the moment

the waves are warm
when they pass
     you'll find yourself wanting

---e b bortz

Saturday, May 14, 2016

earth note 403

wanderlust is the only road
heading toward the rockies
that i've been able to keep
as a secret

the dust settles at night
without shooting stars
is the only shade of honesty

if you travel along the rio grande
the coyotes will guide you
wild voices will take you north
but you'll need to pack extra water

there are no riddles here
they've all been debunked
as decoys
from the truth

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 13, 2016

earth note 402

the tops of the trees
are a green movement
worth waiting for

sometimes wind can even move a mountain

on the street below
people ignore the signs
paycheck to paycheck

is a glass a whole lot less than full

if the clouds are bright enough
the shadows will try to follow you
so don't leave

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 05, 2016

earth note 401

lower northside, pittsburgh

before the baseball stadium
there was a neighborhood
of brick row houses
by the river
with small backyards
and an occasional fruit tree
just behind where
the old kenyon theatre
used to stand on federal street

the kids in those yards
were a page out of a
charles dickens novel
but without the chic crowd
to protect them
they became lost
sent away to some faraway land
with a rifle and a pep talk
about freedom

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 02, 2016

earth note 400

the kimchi was
a perfect sour
like the cabbage knew
before it was cut

on this sunday
seoul would let the rains come
but not before
my bicycle traversed the hills again
to itaewon where i politely
passed up handmade shoes
a clipless demeanor needs no apology
i held my gaze on the river han
& a score of kites
swallowing the sun & wind offering

across the river
thousands of teachers marched
for their rights
the tear gas came
just as the rain started
a family motioned me
into their shop
huddling in a corner
to share shelter

--- e b bortz
    seoul, 1990

Sunday, May 01, 2016

earth note 399

phlox drank all night
waking up in a stupor of
soaked to the marrow
bobbing their heads
in the rain

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 30, 2016

you say you wanna wear your rustbelt for celibacy

to keep yourself working & out of trouble
like an ancient chastity belt
but of non-rusting new age materials
like aluminum or polymer
(be sure & wear your hazmat suit)

rust & pleasure
are incompatible
they'll have to go their separate ways first
& get ready for
the old world of the new world economy
low wages and big promises
mountains of student debt
uniforms with your name & biodata
stitched on your breast
inside a smiley face

if that doesn't necessarily
strike you as a life's endeavor
don't be afraid to chuck it all
get your bearings
tune-up that instrument
write those poems
rewrite that novel
take it to the streets
sometimes the grass is greener
     a million drums can't be wrong

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 29, 2016

indian god rock

allegheny river

stands through the centuries
of abuse and expropriation
     europeans always envying
     the algonquin nations
their figures
     free in the river flow
before the dams and railroads
water sounds rising from the riverbed
surround the maples
in a language beyond
and beholden
     to no master

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 25, 2016

every shovel full speaks

the tag read like a flag
     gold mop false cypress
a disguised cousin of the
     japanese lemon thread
as we liberated mostly clay
some sweat & spirits
and stood them up proudly
in holes three feet apart
on a terrace still recovering
from the sharpest
of rose bush
many red badges of courage
and history of pain
     where a fort once stood
     a hundred-fifty-three years ago
and people dug defensive trenches
designed to stop the confederates
if they turned west
instead of east
     to gettysburg

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 23, 2016

earth note 398

head of the ohio river

there's a gray tinge on the water
skimming across to brunot island
making a mix of reconstituted green
and a reflection of fool's gold
from an orthodox dome in mckees rocks

barges and railroad cars labor in coal
diesels get hot under the collar
trying to finish by quitting time
after all it's friday night
     and earth day

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

a blue jay flew in with a message

and a blank new york state ballot
singing the praises of an idealized world
rationalizing even forecasting
how every bird song will grow into
a chorus of justice and peace

is there really any other way
to carry on?

reality fracks into the soul
eating away the marrow
drowning your better instincts
before being fully exposed
in the pain of revelation

but for this day
let the treetops

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 15, 2016

no one invited me

but i'm gonna throw out the first pitch
for bernie sanders
and his brooklyn neighborhood
in memory of jackie robinson
and ebbetts field
and the wooden bench bleachers
of forbes field
and roberto's first games in right field
in a strike against the lynch mob
and the cackling thugs
miscalled the masses
     just wake up

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 04, 2016

freeport pennsylvania beach 1959

if you thought there was sand
you'd be wrong
nothing but pebbles
along the allegheny river
the morgan kids leaving their farm
for the day
showing us the world in their
customized '50 chevy
and even the surf of a few coal barges
ripping past our side strokes
always mindful of the current
with a dream of a mouseketeer
on santa catalina island
without sunbaked beauties
or sailboats
no jellyfish in these parts
to get stung by
but plenty
of fishing line

by the time dusk fell
the cars revved & moaned
their loneliness
i didn't know the word
and maybe still don't
but we changed back into our denims
circled the block one last time
     never finding
     that beach road

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


sometimes there are wild blackberries
you can't reach
in the thicket
of butler county pennsylvania
without a grownup's hardened skin

at least that's what
my dad's second wife
would say
and then she'd say
don't worry
there are bigger worries
in this world

like when the mccarthy committee thought police
served a subpoena on my dad
at 3am on the darkest night
in 1953

and he didn't bow
and he didn't talk

and denim long sleeves
became my shield

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 25, 2016

earth note 397

clouds seamlessly overcast
refuse to fall
they have a premonition
of what might come tomorrow
the streets want a drink
but the bartenders have all gone home
and anyway
poison and glory can be well disguised
and not something
an anonymous life 
will consciously crave

where will the sewers run to
how does a storm find its way
to a promised land of no dimensions
a new marina has little to do
waiting for what comes next

there's no advice for broken dreams
'cept to say that
every stone in this river
will eventually turn over
and face the rage
before the deluge

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

earth note 396

by good friday
the birdhouses
will be resurrected
high above the political fray
mean spiritedness will be ignored
cardinals and finches
and their flocks
will raise their wings
sing virtues
that can't be bought

--- e b bortz

Sunday, March 20, 2016

earth note 395

vernal equinox

those morning snowflakes
refuse to settle
like their lives would all end
if they landed
melting into conformity

so they ride the wind

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 17, 2016

earth note 394

so you think you see
a cloud smiling
through the barren maples
grass rolling in its first real color
and what looks like
a busting out of life all around
maybe is just a beginning
to something new

but your eyes remain closed
because they have fooled you before
reaching out in the blind
to grab sun before it sets
has made you a skeptic
shaking off every last illusion
     this promised land
     needs no owners or kings

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

wind chimes against the xenophobes

just out the back door
the sun opened up
to a perfect pitch
bringing in
a song carved out of wood
both melodic and hollow 
a beat unpredictable 
from a natural drummer
refusing to back down
in spite
of manufactured diversions
breaking through
like a tenor

--- e b bortz

Saturday, March 12, 2016

earth note 393

concrete ribbon
weaves around the mountains
once sacred

geese are returning
for another trauma

there are still brownfields
awaiting wildflowers
if the well stays wet
     though the poison
     is another story

if i'm repeating myself
it's only out of habit
like the sun arcs
even without shadows
or reflections to record it

ego now replaces light

--- e b bortz

Monday, March 07, 2016

berning up the highway

saw a guy blow past me today
on I95 in florida going north about 90mph
with a bernie sticker on his bumper
and a michigan license plate
     maybe a pissed off former auto worker

every vote tomorrow
will count

oops...sorry...forgot about the super delegates

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 04, 2016


swaying side-to-side
over brighton place
we decided not
to take it
and get a few extra
games of pin-ball
down on federal street
walking instead
to downtown

i hated the slick look
of shark-skin pants
but wore them anyways
'cause the mouse said
it was cool
& i was new in the neighborhood
from out in the butler county sticks
& it went along with my
trenchcoat (collar up)
pall-mall on my lips
one of those fedora-type hats
so you could pretty much call me
a wanna-be

about the time we got
to the poolroom
on the second floor
fifth avenue downtown pittsburgh
it was looking cold gray outside
and i said
we should save enough
for the streetcar
back to the north side
and mouse agreed
but only after he
ran the table on me
a couple times

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 03, 2016

earth note 392

holland park, hollywood, florida

ibis clustered
like a herd
methodically moving together
across a wetland likeness
not much has changed
over millennia
with this

from the observation tower
looking south
the apartment buildings
look full to capacity
waves rise against the causeway 
between the ocean
and another development
this original land
is unrecognizable

dump trucks
add to the piles
at the heart
dust blooms
expands with a northerly wind
if you look hard
the beach
in the distance
is bleeding

--- e b bortz

Saturday, February 27, 2016

having no expectations

or mission statements
will shake you just as surely
as every grandiose moniker
stumbling on to enlightenment

the road isn't a carefree proposition
you'll need to tear a piece of your flesh
and leave it for the opossums

the lost are those
that still believe

--- e b bortz

Sunday, February 21, 2016

earth note 391

old frame houses in key west
almost seem to creak with a good wind
     especially when the porches are filled with people
and at night
away from the lights
walking the streets
when all else is quiet
you'll hear fronds sweeping
over the sidewalk
whispering voices
many languages
a lone guitar or mandolin
a taste of saltwater on your lips
     these streets have comforted
lonely planet searchers
     of beauty

--- e b bortz

Friday, February 19, 2016

earth note 390

a windy chop
is rough water
no matter how
it gets cut

pelicans eat
on the fly
ibis lollygag
in the weeds

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

my mother knew how to hide the red diapers

my brother and i
were born into
from the peeled paint
on moore street in toledo
the tracks were well covered
even if i still had my ear
up against the victrola
listening to sweet lorraine
     my step-dad's favorite song
paul robeson
the weavers
yiddish freiheit
songs of my father's lincoln brigade
my mother fully acknowledging
the justice and injustice around us
even if she said that
sonofabitch lawyer
who settled
my parents' divorce
wasn't a good representative
of the brotherhood
of man
of woman
of children

the roll-top desk
in the living room
was my place
to hide the dark
and bright drawings
of an eight-year-old
the desk coming to us
from the estate of a noble doctor
who had to go underground
to escape the mccarthy committee
this desk had the temperament
and perseverance
for life
from the margins
into our own self-acceptance

and of course
everyone knew better
than to ask us
the name
of the good doctor
     we never give up names

--- e b bortz