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 are 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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

earth note 319

smathers beach, key west

a mustang convertible
barges onto
the atlantic ocean
bicycle/walking trail
just to put pretty bodies
to a scenic backdrop
bringing everything else
to a halt

i bite my tongue
before saying
oh fuck     your tan is good enuf
a worst case scenario
of when school ends
they take on the world

--- e b bortz

Saturday, February 21, 2015

sure as shit

a war resolution
from congress or duma
will heap unforeseen tragedy
on every red-blooded young body
thinking that it's time for them to
answer the call
of iraq syria ukraine

the decapitators & zealots
will cheer them on
cashing in another bank note
for a new facebook page
of surface-to-air missiles

what good is a nation or caliphate
if you can't grease
the machinery of private profit

eugene victor debs knew the score
     look him up

all blood flows downhill
the rain turns red
like the desert

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, March 16, 2015)

Friday, February 20, 2015

earth note 318

bicycle tires
wear like my gloves
with no permanence
the mark i leave
is less than
what's expected
with the road
by default
another beginning

--- e b bortz

Monday, February 16, 2015

two hots & a cot

red & white abandonment
just another building
across from key west salvation
& chapel
like another southernmost
former burger dive
poet outcast artists
not welcome
in the world of 
do not trespass
surveillance cameras
& parking spaces

so this is what
the beat evolution
has come to

--- e b bortz

Sunday, February 15, 2015

earth note 317

dark shadows
shallow water
sponges tremble
just below the body
of the kayak
occasionally some grunts
near the culvert
white ibis
dilly-dally nearby

a perfect angle of sunlight
lights up the ocean floor
man-o-ray quivers out
just ahead of my approach
slips ahead again

a hand
has opened
i follow

--- e b bortz

Friday, February 13, 2015

earth note 316

there's no copyright
on the flight pattern
of an osprey

it has those broad
cursive sweeps
easily confused

even when the intent
should be enough
to satisfy the archivists

when there are two or more
there's the beauty
of disorder

--- e b bortz

(published in Green Panda Press digest, March 2015)

Sunday, February 08, 2015

music for tips

big pine key flea market
another saturday
busting out at the seams
if two guitars & a harmonica
won't move you
then go further down
past the diver stalls
wood & jewelry artists
a thousand tee-shirts
to where
original poems for tips
hangs out
gathering up
little more than a sunburn

--- e b bortz

Thursday, February 05, 2015

earth note 315

hearing the rain
for what it really is
     a drifter tapping
     on the roof
bare feet
like a sculptor's hands
there are signs of gray clay
by the roadside
moving on
when the wind
says so

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

no joke

a day before
the super bowel
a cruise ship
docked in key west
full of uneaten buffets
stacked red wine glasses
and a shit-load
of hyper-ventilating sport shirts

not a plumber
on board

--- e b bortz

earth note 314

when the retaining wall
finally gives way
underground will become
above ground
an elaborate root system
beginning anew
finding the sun again
recovering water
from the mountains
rain from
the heavens

--- e b bortz

Monday, February 02, 2015

ideas small enough

to fit on the sidewalk
on fleming street
in key west
with tree overhangs
and crowded porches
tossed-around bicycles
steroid tourist traps
just down on duval
but liberated also
from the mundane
of empty
gas guzzlers
still looking for directions

with darkness
begins a reevaluation
of the milieu
(i thank many minds for this word)
and with each step
another phase
to be absorbed
     and without
a landing

--- e b bortz

Sunday, February 01, 2015

in the here & now

let every breath
its own

think oxygen
& blood flow
without the dogma

an extension
of their own

have no place here

--- e b bortz

Saturday, January 31, 2015

earth note 313

even a room full of light
a glisten on the water
makes no promises

every assumption
might rest
on self-fulfilling prophecy

what gets forgotten
are the few moments
like this

--- e b bortz

Sunday, January 25, 2015

i'll go out on a limb today

and say that
the cold southwest winds
blowing into
the florida keys
is unusual
yet crazy
from where they came
upsetting the gulf stream
waking up a few more
greek ex-pats to go
& vote for syriza
but of course
you don't need a weatherman

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

unfairness of a utility pole dissecting the bay & cumulus horizon

it's a small view
in fact
but nonetheless
a subtle branding
not to be ignored

the clouds have
moving into
a bison stance
pooling their
great historical
of fur
& nonconformity

water chops
like an arbiter
without an opinion

--- e b bortz

Sunday, January 18, 2015


isn't all that it's
cracked up to be

you can't meet it

you're either in
or not

be ready
for disappointment

look around
for other signs of life

who's hiding

the wind
is the guide

watch for
first shadows

coral dust isn't soft
it comes from a crematoria

the moon glows
but only when you're not looking

--- e b bortz

Monday, January 12, 2015

earth note 312

are heavy today
in the denseness
of the air
suffocating in fact
like a transformation
still not defined
gone awry
every cloud
grinding to a halt

--- e b bortz