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

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

disrupting the loop

every gun
should melt back
into the blue steel
it came in

from the wood
of the nightstick
     baseball bats
     for the neighborhood kids
     who will thank you

the sky
is bitter
a rage above
the storm
like a temporary boundary

unlike the milky way

--- e b bortz

Saturday, December 27, 2014

earth note 311

the year ends
with a nest
of osprey chicks
amid the noise of living
without asking
for approval

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

the jam

following the death of joe cocker

is running out
from harpoon harry's
on to caroline street
long after caroline
without being noticed

and where
the hands
so springs
every tune of the earth
     deserts & stars
     hard-knock blues
     colors of reggae
a previous life
is always close by

long before officialdom
& hollow authority
foolishly cast
their caste
of street rules

ignored with perfect pitch
every note
     a story

--- e b bortz

Sunday, December 21, 2014

earth note 310

there's a depth
to the shallows
of big torch key
with the words
that come to mind
the syllables seem
to slip past me
when i least expect it
the tops of the mangroves
at a distance
appear like a hill
or at least a knob
clustered with the horizon
like a continuous
labyrinth not quite
making it to the water

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

earth note 309

the canal jumped
the seawall again
prints of the key deer
left running
the open house
down the road
ended in a hurry

a cloud
of turkey vultures
for an answer

--- e b bortz

Friday, December 12, 2014

window/doorway outta no name key

sometimes the view
is blurred
by distraction
intentional and otherwise

touch the water
rub it in you

--- e b bortz

Sunday, December 07, 2014

earth note 308

turkey buzzards
know when to make noise
their wings shout
don't fuck with me

--- e b bortz

Thursday, December 04, 2014

minimum wage job on duval street

key west

to shake a tee-shirt
off the 75% off rack
inflated by 200%
as the cruise ship horn
screams over the seascape
to return
at once
to the pier
before sunset

the fishing jobs
and artist hangouts
are in decline
like the empire itself
so all there is
is the catering
to the high-rollers
international financiers
shift changing
off of wall street

a throng of christian dior
wagging tongues
will never
bring back margaritaville
they're only a whiff
on the sidewalk

a conch highway
can't be bought

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, Dec 25, 2014)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

earth note 307

high tide is higher
this year than last
the canal crept up
last night
and left its mark
at the feet
of the houses on stilts
road has a wet gray
to its face this morning
the bay is upset
wind blasts away
then suddenly dies
     osprey goes hiding

--- e b bortz

Monday, December 01, 2014

a blank piece of paper

and a gust right out
of my hands
blowing into the unknown
finding itself
gone & away
below the porch
fluttering on
the bicycle spokes
     ready for
     a journey

--- e b bortz

Saturday, November 29, 2014

i offer no excuses

or truths
we are vulnerable
     humans that is
to the glitter
& status extraordinaire
of dominant specie-ism
rationalizing dog-eat-dog
     a rabid misnomer
to career seeking
banking with a smile
payday loan-sharking
     shark misnomer

the district attorney stands
without clothes
but with his gun still cocked

so what will we do with our lives
before and after
     the great fall

we've never learned
to take care
of each other

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 24, 2014

no polemic

it's been one-half century
since the real streets
of hearts & minds
found each other

egos falling 
to the drama kings
coming and going

empty chants
making it
holier than thou
tuning out still an option 

a drum
even without rhythm
could become
an unexpected insight

began at dawn
caressed unconditionally

--- e b bortz

Friday, November 21, 2014

if you look long enough on big torch key

there might be an escape route
back from the mundane
that will reveal itself
maybe hidden just before the water
or right behind a misplaced road sign

it won't look like much
just a few well worn hoof or foot prints
like an old newspaper
before times new roman
took over the world 

--- e b bortz