Friday, October 20, 2017

earth note 534

dream lake
is just over the mountain
the trails are marked
the bear might see you
walkins are welcome
every message acknowledged

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

when you reach the end of the bridge

the light can blind you
there aren't any
roads less traveled
because there aren't any roads
it's just you
and that undefined light
mind you
i'm not suggesting
this is the hereafter
we're mortals and all
we can come up with
are questions not answers

so far
the sun never takes a holiday
the wind will still hit you broadside
and i do hear the creek speaking

that's enough

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 15, 2017

earth note 533

weigela java red
could be a shrub
or a
nom de guerre
an alias like
lou bradley
aka lou bortz
of the abraham lincoln brigade
when it all flowers
in the spring
we'll praise
the beauty of the soil
as our marching song

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 14, 2017

earth note 532

jumbo campground
on the grand mesa
was somewhat hidden
through the aspens
next to a small clear lake

an unofficial
gathering of campers
on the main road
was a clue
that some were waiting
for something to open up
like an empty campsite

so even though
our many-months-ago
internet reservation
worked to our benefit
i can't deny
the feeling of guilt
about setting up our tent
as the afternoon waned
and the queue
at the main road
dissipated in frustration

those who travel light
will ultimately spread
throughout the forest
the unmarked trails
the outcrops
moss covered or bare
burrowing in
beyond authority

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 12, 2017

sunrise commodified

if the phone rings
let your reflection
answer it
tell the telemarketer
you're not interested
in a bathtub coverall

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

earth note 531

i don't know
how no-name key
fared during the hurricane
but of course we do know
who gets the last word
looking past the wreckage
pushing off from the mangroves
     following the pelicans

--- e b bortz

Monday, October 09, 2017

earth note 530

the eye is stone
and sometimes vision

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 07, 2017

earth note 529

hot breeze october
thru the shadows
moves wooden wind chimes
from a deep hollow
like a rhythmic calming
by any objective ear
finds the last
of the cicadas

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

recovering notes from the deep, part 14

my mom in her early sixties
finally decided to hop a greyhound
& visit her grandkids
in our northern minnesota homestead

it was a long but interesting journey
for her as she described some of the characters
she heard stories from along the way

and i think i had just finished plumbing in
the bathroom though the electric heat installation
was still another project to-do
it was already june
warming up fast
& at least we were finished burning wood
until september

mom wasn't especially geared for the wilderness
as she called it
but she brought books to read
stories to tell
and wouldn't you know
she even looked through
the local yellow pages
and found under "synagogues"
one in hibbing
she wanted to visit
so maybe it was on a saturday
that we piled into the truck
and drove the fifteen miles to hibbing
to an old building on a shady corner
where an old caretaker answered the door
and mom spoke some of her fluent yiddish
that the caretaker seemed to recognize
as she invited us in

and after a few minutes
it came out that
bobby zimmerman
before he ran away for the last time
from home
guitar strapped over his back
and thousands of songs and miles before him
came with his family to this very synagogue
in the wilderness as mom might say
where there used to be old streetcar tracks
running through the iron range in the 1930s
& people carrying live chickens
to the rabbi for friday night dinner

and in those very 30s
there was also the bitterness
in the body of the red rock ore
ravenous eastern banking investments
strike and strife
that brought together
jews and finns and norwegians and serbs and swedes
and yes the original
dispossessed & robbed
proud ojibwe people
whose hands and wild rice
created all life 
from this land
long after
the last
& my mother's last story

--- e b bortz 

Friday, September 29, 2017

earth note 528

black canyon of the gunnison, colorado

a photo misses the heartbeat
touching deep
below your breastbone

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

it's a short jump

from the cult of the individual
to the cult of personality
in every president
there's a dictator
falling all over himself
the landed gentry
always with their hands out
a handshake seals the deal
even through a hurricane
even as the floods
swallow the sperm

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

earth note 527

photo by Sandra L Hazley

monticello utah: august 21, 2017

an hour south of moab
we camp in the aspens
dodging the archery hunters
with the deer

one cafe in town
with a pick your kind
of breakfast wrap
hoping the spice lingers

this is open range land
where angus graze
in sight of the schoolhouse door
     where kids wait & chatter for the eclipse

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

earth note 526

north shore ohio river trail

bituminous is still hanging on
in the epoch
of forgotten autumns
the colors change
the river churns up
silt and coal ash
out of cold furnaces
rusted reds and yellows
call them out
for being late

--- e b bortz

earth note 525

a blue jay
with a loud voice
picking thru the rain gutter
i'd be surprised
if he wasn't from the northside
like us

school buses speed
up & down the avenue
getting antsy
behind the beer truck

the casino never closes
there's always a safe place
     to lose
your self-esteem
just a piss away

i expect to see the cardinal
or poet christopher franke today
there's nothing embarrassing
about wearing red
if you really believe in it

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 18, 2017

earth note 524

dove sits alone
deep in the fog
on a wire
the body listens
cicada early this morning
no crescendo til evening
dove sits alone

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 16, 2017

earth note 523

marshall trail

mosquitoes have eaten their way
to the promised land
at least for the rest of the year

stones pulled up from cobblestone streets
still capable of working
are dumped near the trail

one hundred rings
on a sawed-off tree
     still counting

for every leaf turning color
there are three premature

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

the cemetery in key west

is buried in hurricane water
     except for the catholics
who get a little extra lift
from the cross

the latinos and latinas
proudly display
de colores
     otherwise keeping a low profile

jews keep their foundations
even to the point
of segregating the suicides

most likely
there are quakers
and many others
who defy most definitions
but speak with their silence
or absence
by choice

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

earth note 522

after the boats capsize
the trailers topple
the road chews up what is left
& you know it's time
for the floods
they've been promised
like a covenant
covering the land
all the way in salt water
til you puke
til you reach
the great north woods
where the northern lights
never betray you
even in the snowbound
of frozen lakes
unaltered memories
leave the loons and herons
to sort out what comes next

there's no point in arguing
with the willingly deceived
every insurance settlement
is grand larceny
the losses are infinite
it may be a hundred years
before you see it

have always known this
     higher ground
may be rocky
roof falls happen daily
but moses never asked
for an arc

the superhighways
are false prophets
there's no concrete
water can't cover
all the mouths that
keep moving
have passed up the last
sound barrier

the sky makes no promises
the leaves are beginning to turn
but they're not
as sure of themselves
each year more tentative
for high noon

--- e b bortz

Friday, September 08, 2017

earth note 521

black canyon of the gunnison, colorado

the shadows and light
are never duplicated here
each line on the painted walls
mark the beginning
of a poem

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

some artists have left their paintings

on the walls of a cafe
     i think it was norwood colorado
an out-of-the-way town
just past the big red rocks
you'd only see if you
were looking for an escape

the walls were plain
but some of the pictures were
dark and dense
like a message
with so little time
like an hourglass

i looked around the room hard
for color
and pastels
and finally found it
on a wall by themselves
who are these painters
next to a sunny open window
with dark interiors
are they lost now
     have they moved on

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

his trigger finger to the world

is his middle finger
caught in the chamber
of no return
without an amputation
nuclear armageddon has no sex appeal
     isn't yet a new thriller
(but watch for the worldwide video game release)
     available in all languages

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 04, 2017

earth note 520

    photo by Sandra L Hazley

   highway 36 kansas

  no apologies
  for a back road
  and a field of sunflower sutras
  they started as wild flowers
  along the shoulders
  until they discovered
  the farmers
  since then
  every town makes a point
  of exclamation
  for their particular shade of gold
  wrapping 'round brown cores
  like the earth itself
  without grease & machinery

  the rain comes
  in deliberate beats
  like a chant
  passing mouth to mouth
  between the stems
  a field of flower

  --- e b bortz

Sunday, September 03, 2017

earth note 519

joes, colorado

just down the road
from cope
isn't a bar
or rib joint
but a flatlander town
with a grassroots community organization
that maintains
the activity building
a park
& pit toilets
clean as a field of sunflowers
the horizon
never gives up
a day without
a nod to a strong wind
as the crops bend
giving reverence
as their due

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 02, 2017


are covering
a well-worn carpet
with their secondary bets

the rain won't stop
until everyone
wipes their feet

takes a deep breath
and comes in
from the parking lot sprawl

eventually acknowledging
that we'll need multiple million jackhammers
to break up the paralysis

the negation of negations

--- e b bortz

Thursday, August 31, 2017

earth note 518

   i lay in the arch
   where time curves
   piñon pine has the bird's eye view
   the wind will force you
   to notice
   the grooves in your skin
   are transitory

   --- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

earth note 517

we left the aspen
the manti-lasal national forest
in utah
a few days earlier than planned
packing it all up
is a kind of separation anxiety
finally stuffing in the tent rainfly
as we're not ones to ever look forward
to a long drive back
to pittsburgh
it's usually hollow and uneventful
like the shell of a bygone era
keeping the radio off keeps the drivel down
the political signs
have all come down
or have rotted off their posts

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

earth note 516


birds shit in the water
this isn't so much
a statement of fact
just a possible verb tense
for present conditions
so either boil your water
or join the line at the buffalo
to get your water
which i failed to know about
early this morning
thus was just sipping coffee
as the phone message
came in advising me
to boil it first
before you drink
wash dishes
brush your teeth
     let me clarify this is
     for all of us on the northside
     and areas north of northside
     if you're confused
     call pgh water authority
     or to be safe just assume
     we're all northsiders now

repeat: birds shit in the water
this undoubtedly happened
and all precautions are now in place
including a duct tape repair
to the reservoir cover
and removing the word infrastructure
from all political shit lists

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 28, 2017

earth note 515

manti-lasal national forest, utah

daylight hangs suspended
transient in the aspen
bodies of white bark blemished
contrasting with the dark
long after
the pine and mountain grass fade
the deer finally bed down
as the sky opens
lifting our burdens
unmarked and unclaimed
without judgment

--- e b bortz

Thursday, August 17, 2017

earth note 514

montrose, colorado

coming off the top of the black canyon
     leaving freedom
the clouds darken every corner
of the sky on the way down
     resembling jackboot imprints
     no that's not an overstatement
quarter horses fidget in the corral
the dust of an empty
desperate empire stirs
like a storm of locusts
tacking their way in autopilot

no way of knowing
if there's a news blackout
we keep the radio off
talk over various scenarios
     listen for the mountain jay

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 14, 2017

earth note 513

black canyon of the gunnison

from the top of painted wall
the river is a small rush
pressing the base
like a sculptor's tool
as the world draws in
a serene yet endless energy

without mandate
some species
one in particular
press their objectives
without awareness

what's left of daylight
will be scrawled
on your body
on your conscience
for the ancients
yet to come

--- e b bortz

Friday, August 11, 2017

somewhere along the rio grande

he waits on the bluff
watching moonlit shadows
of every person crossing the river
til sunrise
he's waited for her shadow
for two years
for this moment

they were schoolmates
then lovers     then separated
by five hundred miles of dusty sacrifice

he went north
in search of wages
she stayed behind
caring for her mother

he eventually found work
as a carpenter
building everything from
rough forms for concrete
to fine interior cabinetry

but with every new plan they made
there were new barriers
details unexpected

     til tonight
a mad dash
thru a window opening
they will hold on
     to the moon
& dive on thru

--- e b bortz

Saturday, August 05, 2017

so some teens are wearing camouflage

gathering under the flagpole
next to the man-made
one-acre pond
stocked with fish
and strict regulations
some practicing their casting
others thinking about enlistment
college maybe a dream away
the options are manufactured
and manipulated by old men
still seeking a hard on
as the country sinks
up to the waist
     in shit
and all you'll get
are rationalizations
for starting another war

the longhairs take off
on skateboards
the sun is finally breaking out
and the taste
of being free 
is about all there is
to hope for

--- e b bortz