Friday, November 16, 2018

earth note 632

key west

the old trees in old town
can still subvert the sidewalk
raising and cracking the slabs
like an underground rising

d.a. levy has more to do with this
than the midterm election results

there's heat coming up the gulf
a wind that hasn't said a word yet
the cruise ships bully toward the sunset
a hundred hands try to block them

allen ginsberg will make you weep
when he comes to shore with his final poem

only a black sky can give you light
most of the time it's best to hide
among the mangroves
always give the jellyfish the right-of-way

stock island is filled with ghosts
some of them by way of whiskey island

the old frame houses on fleming
take in and save the lost raindrops
a cistern is a heart that opens
for every beat there's a singer's blue note

daniel thompson     jim lang     maj ragain
have more to do with this
than the midterm elections

--- e b bortz

Thursday, November 15, 2018

earth note 631

before the rain freezes
the doves will probably come back
to the flat roof of the porch
get a drink or two
before heading out for better cover

the woods are beckoning

they pecked at the ice
like a glaze on a nyc sidewalk
still thirsty

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 12, 2018

notes from the other side, part 2

potato farm, gera province, gdr, 1968

we made a campfire together
burning for hours
and the thought never left me
how was it decided
that these teenagers
would end up working on a collective farm
very little music
in their lives
who decides this shit

all i could think about
were the kids in pennsylvania
who were sent up to the farm
     reform school
north of pittsburgh
so this was rehabilitation
     east and west

in the group there was a ringleader
stocky baby face
a joke and story teller
the translator edited for our ears
who then
went and retrieved a guitar
brought it into the circle
and handed it off to me

i froze for a minute
before tuning the strings
and then rolling in to
     don't think twice it's all right
by the end of the song
i noticed tears rolling down
from a few eyes
no translation

--- e b bortz

Sunday, November 11, 2018

notes from the other side, part 1

east berlin, gdr, 1968

he might have been a sailor
or a machinist
from the roughness of his hands
or a printer like the hundreds of hands
at the karl marx printing factory
but actually
he was a writer
a poet twisting in a straightjacket
unable to break free
"this is the shit"
he'd say
of the reality
of socialist realism

mind you
he was the true revolutionary
caught between the passion
and the facts of life
past the age of forty and still advocating
for the great transformation
even my comrade with his superior analytical precision
and pointing index finger
couldn't apply the dogma
to the reality

the room in the apartment
was filled with smoke
and a few expatriates
everyone was squirming
the musty indian rug was worn
yet warm to the touch
the lighting dull
a touch of cognac or vodka
nothing but a stale taste to hide pain

the writer kept repeating
"where can i go where it isn't like this"
i thought
maybe vietnam

i never found out
what happened to him
whether he survived the purges
and prisons
or got his words published somewhere

the cobblestones of east berlin
were laid out in a grid not a garden
without space to grow
intransigence locked in
between paranoid concrete walls
and raw power
from the end of a rifle
to a cannon mount
on a tank turret
taking aim
at the poets

--- e b bortz

Friday, November 09, 2018

earth note 630

woke up just in time this morning
to feel a cold rain
awash in the coming snow
i touch it like manna
wish it over
to the california wildfires
wishing of course gets us nothing

the black smoke of the apocalypse
is not another far-fetched conspiracy
turn your head into the wind
time to face up
to the killers of the dream
there's no negotiating
with carbon propaganda

my words have fallen far short
what's coming
are we ready to take the surgery
without the anesthesia
until then
try not to breathe

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

election day

some of the leaves
are holding out
and voting green today

gasping at a fading sunshine
the yellow comes thru
waving like a true independent

most of the reds are still in hiding
once in awhile one of them
will stand alone and preach to the choir

i've never seen a true blue
though i've heard they will sing
if the price is right

--- e b bortz

Sunday, November 04, 2018

earth note 629

the contours of the land
might let you think
that it's all endless
another plain
leads to a mountain
there are gold leaves
in the short term
and after that
you open your arms
to the decay
and the ultimate

the earth will carry on
past the boarded up
and abandoned
where forests have paid in blood
a new circle of stewards
will arise
from the black loam of millennia
nurtured by a mother's hand
and from every river
a revelation

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

it comes in short segments of time

that slip away before it's noticed
an hour of machine noise from
the construction site across the avenue

the wild irrepressible waves
of red-gold maples whisking in the wind

the lives of the innocent and gentle
gunned down on a shabbat morning

the waking of television in a political season
built on slander and innuendo

a motorcycle crash from the hollow
of a mountain road of fracking rigs

the passages of allen ginsberg's sunflower sutra
i reach for this like any desperate soul

to mourn and renew without an audience
is to cry like a human being

--- e b bortz

Monday, October 22, 2018

choices at a border

where people are fleeing poverty and violence
     tear down the walls
they've always been obsolete

we are witnessing an arrival
one of many
there are choices to be made

if your job is that of an armored fence
     drop your weapon
          open your heart

if you're building with steel and razor wire
and walk away

if you go to worship
leave the church doors unlocked

bring food and water and love
to your neighbor

listen for the voices of conscience
and join in
     if you don't hear any
scream it out yourself

beginning now
you are a witness

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 20, 2018

earth note 628

having fallen off the digital divide
to a place in-between
a touchpad and on-screen keyboard
where every keystroke
is evaluated and executed
with authoritarian precision
by a facsimile of what
hitherto might have been known
as a hardware keyboard
now approximately 17.5 % kaput

and though the mechanics of all this
don't lend itself
to any streams of consciousness
there is something of a gold lining
in the maples across the avenue
turning their backsides into the wind
& flipping off their middle fingers

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

the down days make even the up days dark

nothing but halfway emotions
but never matching expectations
so i look again
to see if something has been missed
like maybe here comes the sun
even if the city is still sleeping
and the constant drizzle
     colder than yesterday

the trail is flooded
in dying leaves
the stir turns me around
in time to see two rain soaked jackets
walking along the curb
with one bible

the gold letters gave it away

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 14, 2018

earth note 627

language of a mangrove
root by root
--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 13, 2018

earth note 626

the spokes will find a way
before sunset
before high tide
to lead you to nirvana

before there were maps
all life came out of the sea
the barracuda and jellyfish
held equal status

when the land finally appeared
the coral stood up and declared
there are no walls
to be scaled

if you are
a heartbeat
and then follow

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 11, 2018

earth note 625

a rare yesteryear in the twentieth century

bayside of key west
we hit upon the coldest
january gale force wind
a windbreaker
couldn't hold back
maybe even ice in the rain

paradise ran away fast
without looking back
'til it got a few hundred miles south
past the tropic of cancer

a bicycle frame
can drain the warmth
outta your body
anywhere with a headwind

not a pelican in the open

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

earth note 624

snipe point florida keys 2013

a pod of short-finned pilot whales
died in the shallows
never having a chance
against the too warm waters of the gulf
breaking their will
before finding an escape route
the simplistic answer from the bureaucracy
     'this is just nature'
will not survive the truth
still buried in plastic sand
for the next red tide

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 07, 2018

earth note 623


close your eyes
when you look into the sun
the face is interchangeable
in the spirit world
from human to rattlesnake
there is no transition
when the earth mantle moves
all heads will turn

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 04, 2018

earth note 622


waking up early
and walking at full speed
toward sunrise
the tops of the trees tremble
the orange rust color near the tops
looking like the start
of a ritual
i swear i hear chanting on the ridge


nothing can replace
the orange robes
of a thousand years
too much suffering
to be ignored
the chanting grows
above the traffic


tax dodgers prepare their excuses
separated only by plastic oceans
elites fly first class incognito
their suits threaded
in triangle shirt factory fire sweatshops


when sunrise finally breaks
all becomes familiar
the trees sway and rustle
like they've been
watching all along
the chanting fades into another day
morning shadows make their claim
in the here and now

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

golden shower of the american empire

a falling down drunk has just hit the pavement
tongue in the gutter
another man
dressed for a night on the town
is pissing upstream

--- e b bortz

Sunday, September 30, 2018

since i don't believe in manifestos

i folded up a blank piece of paper
into eighths and then forgot
where i left it

when i was a kid we concocted our own
invisible ink using milk

this is similar
less the milk

every secret diatribe
should be embedded on
a blank piece of paper

that way
you can start over anytime

--- e b bortz

Friday, September 28, 2018

earth note 621

there's a blue dipper in the clouds moving east
looks like it's filled to the brim
in cold clear seawater
'course that's all an illusion
nothing is clear anymore

the last time we sat on the beach
in daytona
there was a beach full of blankets
beach bikes filled
with daytona winter clothing

the halifax river is rushing its banks
a police car making the rounds
stops and asks the caretaker
if he has seen any bank robbers

this may seem like an odd place
to find camus
but he's there with a poem in his pocket
misread as a bank robber's note

beer cans have overthrown
the recycle bins
on their way to the speedway
frat boys scream in congress
crying in their bier
is now considered martyrdom

--- e b bortz