Sunday, May 24, 2015

earth note 341

there's rhythm
in the way
the grass moves

every beat on this
tortured planet
has a refrain

carry your drums
& words
with you

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 23, 2015

earth note 340

the tree tops
to sweep the sky
the sun has a finite
number of arcs left

the loss of patience
is a sign
of waking up

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 21, 2015

in the reflection of just one tear

i found your vision

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

primary election day, pittsburgh

my imaginary vote today
goes to a resilient
group of wild turkeys
in my neighborhood
on the north side

& to the deer
in mount lebanon

even to the groundhog
who burrows under
the collapsing

all of them represented
who they really were
without dialing for dollars

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 17, 2015

darkness at noon on a sunday

been trying to insulate
from these pep talks
the talkers never giving up
on redirecting
every possible thought & subject
     yeah like in a monarchy
or oligarchy

can't say i've had much success

the rain drums down
still the teams take the field
for the beer & peanut hucksters
just trying to get by

madness isn't the worry anymore
since it has become
the common denominator

drones circle the andaman sea
push refugees
to the end of the earth

death sentences
tweeted out
in monotone

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 16, 2015

earth note 339

there's no point
in belaboring the point
that by some obscure process
weather patterns
remain abstract in my eye
     yet need no consult
     from the newspapers
nor overt descriptions
in the way the clouds face off
northwest by southeast
as if a storm
gathering for a last hurrah
forced the leaves
to face upward
with open hands

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

not sorry for bursting a bubble

but this whole work ethic thing
really is a crock
people work so as not
to starve
it sure as hell shouldn't qualify
as a moral belief system
since every ruling elite
has the game rigged
& the prisons ready
to keep you next to nothing
yet they call it subsistence

the social safety net
is a gaping hole
might as well tell
those doctors & hospitals
thank you
but don't count on me
to recoup your fees
this stone is dry

making jobs
is nothing but propaganda
a mantra
loud & deafening
like the Ds & Rs
all had their chance
& all they gave us
was climate turmoil
oil spills
& broken kidneys

i guess just hanging on
is something of a rebellion
scroll that on your walls if you'd like
     or consider it dues
     & don't ask me
     for a contribution

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 10, 2015

is it ego and/or fear

that stops me
without apology
another year
in the finite span
i find it convenient
not to mention

there's always
another rationalization
for two lonely gardeners
or maybe adventurers
the best of the day
ahead of us
which for today
is sufficient

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 07, 2015

earth note 338

the peach
& apple trees
have been chanting
for a few days now
     let me live
     put me in the ground
     with room to grow
     & give me a long cold drink
     from an infinite well or spring
          my health is your salvation
     if you want redemption
     make room for me  
     leave those fossils
          in the ground
                    rip out the strip malls
          & build a living altar
          with the colors
          of the rainbow

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

earth note 337

it's rough being 
an optimist
in fact any kind
of ist

where the monongahela valley
cuts hard south
the smog concentrates
on slowly killing everything
within reach

there will always be
the rah rah newspapers
of american power
conformity without admitting
you've been suckered
by flags & gadgets

on the news last night
we were told about
how much progress
has been made
cleaning up the air
     democrat & republican
hands across the river
one more time

obviously no one
is checking
the cancer hollows

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 04, 2015

earth note 336

this day may 4th
always leaves me
anxious for what
comes next
the sun yesterday
in kent ohio
broke all records
for clarity
each year
a new record
in clarity
as every poet
marks time
and the river answers
those impenetrable questions

i can't help
but listen to the road
     a bicycle
& the sound of a scythe
cutting through the grass
as the equator
finishes another day

& on this side of the planet
the marchers will continue
& the elites will be listening

from every field & forest

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 01, 2015

earth note 335

fog divides
like a ravine
which side
to be on

there aren't many
black cherry left
to be cashed in
so now they're digging
into the womb

every breathing lung
tells a life story
immersed in micro soot
chemistry becomes
your diagnosis

a doctor's notepad
is not legal tender
this valley
is set to be trampled
one more time

choose your side

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

earth note 334

north dakota / minnesota line

first light
is always a surprise
when shadows cast
& the road appears
there will be no
     ration books
in the next town
     where broken tractors
rust in the wheat belt
& silos speak
of shortages

farmers & coveralls drape
the round table
in the restaurant
a circle
looks out

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 27, 2015

earth note 333

from the school
on the ridge
there's a great lawn
with a font no one else
can read
the words come & go
leaving clues
& the mind has a mind
to create
without boundaries & dogma
     so beware

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 26, 2015

earth note 332

some trails
continue misleading
by covering over
all previous
when every tree
was in full bloom
and a songbird
still had voice

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 23, 2015

poetry without walls 1997

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

earth note 331

west park, pittsburgh

gutters on western avenue
pushing to the river
like a deluge
long awaited

a railroad trestle bridge
fenced off for decades
separates the have-not
from the have even less

a footpath from a child's first steps
but noted here
this earth day rain

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 19, 2015

earth note 330

the low cooing
from the roof
is a mourning dove
a very full
body of feathers
beige with a tint of rouge

followed by the boldest cardinal
     edith piaf

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 18, 2015

recovering notes from the deep, part 7

it was always cold enough in november
for a flooded cloverdale ice rink
to draw pickup hockey games
on the weekends

young & old found
new & old glory

the boys had a way
of ribbing me
to my limits
like when are you going
to learn
to skate backwards

i never did

by january
the cold
shortened the games
     we transitioned
to cross-country skiing
by then
after the wood pile
was replenished

every blue sky
     and they were deep blue
that lasted through high noon
was a gift

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 16, 2015

earth note 329

thoughts are still there
in the peaks near
ouray colorado
in the back of a pickup
a steel bed can be soft
if you give it freedom
to move

and the middle of the night
is truly the darkest hour
in the best sense of the word
when every star brings its mission

we portaged a canoe
from northern minnesota
dipped it a few times
in the susquehanna
& lake mary arizona
never thinking for a moment
that being permanent
was an accomplishment 

the high desert is drier now
every cottonwood you see
is on life support
& remember
the cottonwood is
the resourceful one

the water barons
are the new elites
packaged with desperation
to fool us
one more time

so stay nimble
we've traded up the canoe
for kayaks
even if there are
no getaways

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

more notes without structure

your green buds
have left a message
for the wild turkeys
negotiating their
path across the avenue
     sometimes the grass is greener
     if you're willing to move on

not much sense standing
on one foot
if you can still run

the cameras are rolling
from the school yard
but it's not exactly
hoop dreams
being filmed

power lines do more
than wake up old sitcoms
that couch is thoroughly soggy
from laying on the beach

carp are freshwater
& know how to multiply
even slap you in the face

when the sun
finally forces everyone
to open their eyes
don't be surprised
and don't use that word

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 12, 2015

earth note 328

another year of decay
& the top soil gets richer
darkness jumps upon
every shovel
a labor of love

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 09, 2015

earth note 327

where the acorn hill trail
cuts off from the marshall trail
footing gets slippery
it's the season
for stones & mud
exposed & shifty
with the steepest parts
looking you straight
in the eye
even a small switchback
lets you know
     you've arrived

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

earth note 326

an old wooden fence
at what was
west view amusement park
barely stands
in the hollow
of another strip mall
where the buses make
their turnarounds
akin to doing
what the streetcars
use to do
like half a century ago
in what was
the great escape
from a river of ingots & soot
& within a few miles
of where the ohio river begins
its reclamation journey
picking up what's left
of valley void & plunder
silica lungs moved out
by fast food grease barrels 
& sullen eyes
looking away
concluding again
that it's not fate
but illusion
that claims us

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 06, 2015

earth note 325

brown embeds itself
into the hillside
as if it might grow
a new skin
whatever comes
rain opening the pores

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 03, 2015


always dreaming
of cashing in the chips
& heading off
to another workshop

but if you rolled
your words
into a sleeping bag
your shelter would be complete

around you
cries of souls & forests
who won't be silenced

learn dexterity
pick your fights
carry rain gear

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

earth note 324

there's a straw man
who bends in the wind
but still needs a real shake up
for all my tired old arguments
to continue

out the window
the first robins
are pecking through
the rain gutter

i still look within the old
to find the new

get rid of them you say
take on the root
there's still a world to win

not sure
what will be left
may not be
in my nature

--- e b bortz

Monday, March 30, 2015

la vie

did picasso ever consider
withdrawing from the human race
     not death
but a new way of life

after all
the blue period
could as well been

a troubled
or maybe just an adventurous
young person
suddenly walks out
closing the schoolhouse door
in search of
what's down the highway

authority follows right behind
trying to sell
the package
one more time
no one's convinced

televisions blast the evening news
fear is a commodity
     many buying

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 27, 2015

earth note 323

at dusk
a lone deer
from the neighborhood herd
fur and whitetail alert
separates from a half-dozen others
decides to make a stand
right now
on the hillside
nosing around for five minutes
     close to the buzz
     going home traffic
     happy hour above the limit 
crossing the avenue
just in front
of the deer crossing sign

clickety-clack up the driveway
     a well-worn path

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

camus still a good neighbor

dead leaves pile up in his yard
from both next doors
welcomed like long lost sisters
the woodwork inside
still peering outward
for the wayward
a dose of patina
moves from roof to stone
might just be
an outstretched hand

from friendship avenue
to south millvale
across penn and down the slope
past the old office of the
pittsburgh committee
to end the war in vietnam
     just under fifty years ago
and then on to sonny's tavern
with an old hearing notice
stuck to the door
that undoubtedly
     did it in

at this point
might take a long drag
on his cigarette
look back at brown clumps
creeping up towards
broken sidewalks
poke the ground
prod the roots
     look deeply
for the green grass
yet to come

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 20, 2015

mount lebanon deer cull

death has always been a cul-de-sac
feeble excuse
for hedge-clipping
propertied classes
& their final solutions

oh yeah
and too fucking lazy
to be more creative

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 19, 2015

earth note 322

the hawk in my neighborhood
is airborne
following the contours
of the hills & rivers
dropping down from time to time
grabbing up prey
making a sweeping exit
returning daily
for more

today was different
as we exchanged
on the bare trees
across the avenue
     our hands are empty
     & our spirits

--- e b bortz

Sunday, March 15, 2015

earth note 321

there's a subtle comfort
from gray barren maple
an overcast without expectation
each dark line
overlaps freely
     in the interweave
     a message

--- e b bortz

Saturday, March 14, 2015

earth note 320

summersville, west virginia

a wet cold highway
meets every curve
& mountaintop
with a certain
break-down paranoia
in the form of
two guys at a motel
waiting for mom
to pick them up
after a crash
still shaking
in their florida bermudas
          in its own body
          is cruel

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 05, 2015

a short personal history of american exceptionalism, first draft

we ended up
in what the original people called
turtle island
by circumstance
or luck
or just plain running away
from what was
to what might be
such is the case with all migrations
voluntary isn't the first word that comes to mind
millions crawling forward
in the dark
of a thousand pogroms
or swimming in the wetback
of a hungry village
we had no right
or document
to flee
just an instinct

yet we weren't marked as slaves
no chattel chains
nor categorized with three-fifths personhood 
     set on the auction block & bled
     or lynched
     never the betrayal of
     forty acres & a mule
but herded into the cities
already stolen
& carved out
divorced from the indigenous
& all natural habitats
now home to our tenements
& industrial row houses
bodies stretched
across an open-hearth
a fiery sacrifice

the push west
wasn't made
of john wayne wagon trains
& staged sunsets

manifest destiny       the code word
before the word genocide
     wounded knee
     & trails of tears
marking every milepost
with a land imprisoned
to copper & gold & zinc
& oil & gas & uranium & coal
of eastern bankers
& misnaming it

so now you see
it all came
from the blood
of someone else
never a shining city
on a hill

leaving it up to each of us
dwelling in the voice
of the ancestors 
listening to every inflection
before saying it
     with metaphors
     of wolves & buffalo
that there's a haunting
we should welcome  
and from loneliness
     perhaps grace

--- e b bortz