Monday, April 14, 2014

a stake tears through pennsylvania

it comes in vertically
then makes a ninety degree turn
heart and lungs collapse
rigs      pipes      toxic fluids
compressors cough
bring up blood
cover the carcass
old scar tissue
cut again
methane oozes from the pores

the emergency room was torn down
     years ago
the land
an industrial colony
lost its way
when the creeks
dried up
and the politicians
     swallowed the silver

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 12, 2014

whatever it takes

will be less
than what exists
that broken down cityscape
might last a few generations
so get used to it

making the rivers run like sewer runoff
is like a thousand taste-dead
empty mouths
with nothing but salt
on their tongues

the fiber optic cable
offers very little light
so keep groping       imagining
when rubber hits the road
& skid marks go missing

what's the point
of disassembling every keyword
& losing random bits
there is no technocrat
with a new codeword

for happiness

--- e b bortz

protest in the street

picks itself up
& bounces thru the stop light
the newspapers
are but scraps
a gray courtroom
grows padded walls
deafening to all
but the powerful
     tuning out
     all but
     the secret codes

a voice escapes
justice waits

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 06, 2014

earth note 278

in the rush
where leaves
find their final
not because of any
higher consciousness
or new awareness
but because the hillside
is just steep enough
to keep leaf blowers
and their gassy assholes
off balance
confined to manicure
the cushy few
in the suburbs

a couple of squirrels
shift and chase their tails
through the maple leaf beds
     their playful softness in the brush
     is an illusion

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 27, 2014

we were probably the only family

washing the kids' jeans in the bathtub
one day shy of payday in simi valley california
two thirds of a salary going to rent & utilities
but close enough to bike to work
     and a damn good thing

we loaded a fiberglass canoe     bicycles
     the kids' beds and no furniture
     into a supercab pickup
made the trip from northern minnesota
to the san fernando valley and then over the mountain
     into ventura county
          just to find other families living in cars
               and picking through trash bins
but those beautiful tan bodies on the beach
     sure could fool ya

my oldest boy yuri spent hours
     in an empty bedroom with a guitar
     making sun baked middle class blues licks
alone but juxtaposed
with the television generation millions

the next son eric read almost all the ray bradberry books
     all the science and chemistry he could take in
     creating a room full of maps & procedures
          a labyrinth of logical fantasy

the twins sean and neil ended up being
     the most social among us
     bringing over the neighbor kids
     to build a fort in the rocks      cactus
     ledges with black widows behind the house
     telling them that our furniture was
          coming soon
     when they peeked in
     at empty walls

those california freeways weren't free at all
     we packed it all in after a year
retraced the road back to the minnesota woods
just in time to smell the last hay cuttings of august
          and a lake superior thunderstorm

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

earth note 277

there's an assumption
that the virtual world
is smaller now

corporate banners drape
the walls
just beyond the buddha gaze

it's over twenty-five years
since i worked in southern thailand
the heat persists
everything else has changed

i stopped eating prawns
decades ago
mango rambutan and little bananas
are still sweet

the tapi river
may not be fished out
but the teak forests
need to be hidden away

in every dark alley
a lone welder strikes an arc
a hundred baht
less than yesterday's exchange

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 21, 2014

earth note 276

two wild turkeys
feathered angst
in a strip mall
parking lot
anxious to leave
the roar
of the highway
penned in between
another sprawl
with vengeance
like looking for safety
in steel awnings
dark corners to hide in
a pile of loose
auto parts & asphalt
everything feeds
an unspoken chaos
politicos offer their personal
dialing for dollars
that special touch
     warm as concrete

--- e b bortz

Saturday, March 15, 2014

earth note 275

where are the seeds
or maybe you're already
a seedling

a barren hill
is only temporary

an open hand
kneads the soil

make no mistake
simple digressing
will happen on its own

sometimes the sun leaves
without being noticed

there's already
another one coming

when the crow finds
gray clouds
new roots are taking

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 14, 2014

Readings from the Edge of the Earth, April 5th

Thursday, March 13, 2014

from nature

your innermost thoughts
on who you think you are
your physical health
is a precise instrument
     even love
finds its parallels
in a storm or a sunrise
it's the omnipresent source
that's never fully understood
the mystery keeps unraveling
without needing an introduction
or a footnote
small bits come to our vision
like a new universe
is noticed
though it's been around for eons

from nature comes
all religion
all spirits
not vice versa
a belief system
is only as good
as the soil
across your torso

when's the last time
you tasted
the river

have you heard
the forest

--- e b bortz

Monday, March 10, 2014

earth note 274

followed by delusional
a droning repetition
paints a blood mark
on the first born
followed to the pit
a million-fold more
     another sacrificial forest
a hundred chainsaws signal
a clearing of the way
the frack moneychangers
belly up to the bar
licking the boots
that brought them

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

earth note 273

brown leaves have been lying
building a decay
since the fall
even as the traffic
passes for concern
what's gray above
is really the afterlife
there's no sadness
in any of this
what is
existence ain't necessarily
in fact it's all way beyond
my comprehension
but when the wind speaks
     i listen

--- e b bortz

Sunday, February 23, 2014


what's buried in the sand
collapses at high noon
as you dig deeper

and so the answers to all questions
will have that iridescent covering
just out of reach

even as you've committed
to the dig
the tide will shift

and you'll start again

--- e b bortz

(published by Green Panda Press, Mar 7, 2014)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

heading north

road dust
lays down
a re-entry path
is the best i can muster
the cold will come & break
     your bones
     will answer
if there's a sun
to be had
    train your eyes
    for the arc

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

earth note 272

big torch key

when big torch goes down
a pattern left in the foreground
leaves the mangrove
to shift for itself
explaining in detail
every coral fragment
shadowing every striped grunt
where even a secret gesture
     will be noted
          & acknowledged

--- e b bortz

Thursday, February 06, 2014

beaks & seagrass polemic

we can learn from the beaks
     no hierarchy
     no billboards
(don't tell me about pecking order
     there are no armies involved)
sharing a tide
is what's obvious

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

earth note 271


the clouds shift
giving the sun
& a grand entrance
bouncing off the water
getting the attention of the cormorants
looking skyward
like a choir

--- e b bortz

Friday, January 31, 2014

state of the union chemical poisoning

the pipelines & holding tanks
are never empty
poised to fill & dispense
another lethal dose
so depended on
like an inrush of new capital
to the fossil industrial complex
breaking down a body's natural resistance
as the migrating waters
move toward death
     don't say the consequences
     are never perceived
     when the spin doctors
     call it investing

and as the old pipes fail
new ones
become a seamless weld
asphyxiating a land
once breathing
tissue once living
lungs forgetting
their instinctive function
     to leafless miles

without homage
without home

--- e b bortz

(published in firedoglake.com, Jan 31, 2014)

Monday, January 27, 2014

ego check

grab that pneumatic jackhammer
     and take it to the pedestal

has your body ever rumbled like that
     become a part of the broken concrete

in every pedestal
     a coming reckoning

--- e b bortz

Saturday, January 25, 2014

earth note 270

fast moving water
through the culvert
beneath the road
kept the fish schooled
to a small space
against a rock wall
like leaning on each other
for warmth
mingling close to deep-rooted
mangrove legs
a crab holds on
     like an outsider

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

the census takers in florida

climb through the mangroves
in the keys
barging in and counting
every homeless person
they run in to
     i can imagine some folks
     you counted me already
     over on big torch
now get lost      i’m fishing

and what about that kayak
out in kemp channel
maybe that’s another domicile

by now
with all the homeless people
i’d bet the bureaucrats have resorted
to wildlife methods
of aerial reconnaissance
& extrapolation
     maybe that was what
     those noisy
     low flying choppers
     were a few days ago
     or maybe they’re just practicing

and with all the college graduates
out of work
of course the pool
is plenty big
if you have a sharp pencil
good boots
& insect repellent

--- e b bortz

Saturday, January 18, 2014

from borders & resources & means of production

millions have gone missing
breaking apart
into simple earthly elements
left after life
of family and nations
     with nature
no longer in servitude
nor exploited by power
     indoctrination by factory
     collective and non-collective    
the great melting pot
     an illusion
     a tool
     finds itself empty

from hands and tongues
     unbound imaginations
          plant traces
          leave discreet trails    
          distinct in every pupil and iris
     from the inner ear
     a song
     becomes an amplifier

and a soul found
becomes liberated

--- e b bortz  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

crossing paths

it seemed odd that
the adulterous wife by camus
would cross paths
with a cabana table
of french speakers
on sombrero beach
marathon florida
     call it serendipity
french tongues landing
from quebec
just as the page turns
on the wife
slipping out from her husband’s bed
running through the night
weaving through the narrow streets
and burnooses
to lie down on the highest floor
of a fort
in 1950s algeria
her arms wide open
breathing at last
with the stars
and cold stone walls

--- e b bortz

Sunday, January 12, 2014

how to revoke a corporate charter

start by spelling
4-methylcyclohexane methanol

fly ash tailings
retention pond disaster
(december 22, 2008 roane county tennessee)

if you can’t smell licorice in the elk river
or see an oil slick
it doesn’t mean everything’s o.k.

learn to smell out the scoundrels

poison comes in many forms
political       even human
poison has its own timeline

coffers overflowing
on election day
what did it get you

a rash of migraines and nausea

help out the unaware
and the children
and the forgetful
and the folks of other languages

we are all
canaries in the mine

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, Jan 14, 2014)

Friday, January 10, 2014

earth note 269

south wind fills the wooden flute
like a song is universal
lips move in unison
the dampness
of the channel

--- e b bortz

Monday, December 30, 2013

from the new surveillance revelations

it's clear that every key stroke
ever acted on
or maybe even
thought on
has found a hole
to be placed in
the vast storage underground
of the great equalizer
rubbing shoulders
with the infamous
     even entire football teams
     some coming up just short
     of the playoffs
the embittered
and eternal optimists
all strewn
through the sea
of no redemption
nihilism of a red-white-blue face
all predicted by the great minds
     ignored by power
     forever eating
     its own siblings

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, Dec 31, 2013)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

earth note 268

rain swept in from the north
     it left nothing untouched
fronds losing their composure
cutting in the wind
slicing coconuts
in a storm that surprises
     even the path it takes
until bottoming out
in the coral shallows
both sides
of ocean highway
taking a breath
for another pass

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

christmas in the keys...camus & rebellion

if you stay true to the scientific method
not of the technocrats
but of the pureness
of the mindscape
it will be clear
even on a midnight clear
that yesterday's revolutionary
is today's banality
all the way back to the early christians
and then on to 
de sade        marx lenin stalin mao
     opening space for jimmy buffett & endless sunsets
the end of history
the end of progress
the last of the rebel poets vanquished
from plato's republic
rejecting the rejectionists
as an aboriginal rebel poet
     & migrating millions
     driven from a breathing land
     all of whom
     the great philosopher left out
like a lost pod of short-finned pilot whales
dying in the shallows
off snipe point

camus reminds us that
the rebel is no
vanguardist professional revolutionary secret police apparatchik
with show trials and executions and drones and nsa technology
but the simple spirit of
a resister
a worker
a jesus
     what's forgotten
is life
beyond the confines of dogma & man
as it struggles with the burning seas
the forest fragments weeping
at no-freeway no-exits
     where synthesis
     & honoring a pelican
is no wisdom of luxury
where nonviolence & noncompliance
in a new world order
of new moneychangers
might at last
be salvation

--- e b bortz

Saturday, December 21, 2013

so the winter solstice

passed over our collective bodies again
     leaving scars from the year
of the snake
who will witness
even in the darkness of the longest night
the death of thousands
     by war      starvation      disease
from the hand of one abuser
     there's the enabling of another
from an empty vault
there's no space for empathy
     recurring cries of the evicted
     are dismissed in the silence
          of the noise

--- e b bortz

Friday, December 20, 2013

earth note 267

a northeast wind
in the florida keys
is like a distant cousin
of a new england nor'easter
related but never acknowledged
by the family
their steadiness & eruptions similar
even fifty degrees apart
the eventual rains
like a bloodline
of opposites
in their own path

--- e b bortz

warsh (wash) day

climbed up a ladder today
close to half the elevation
of little torch key
(o.k. some of the key might be below sea-level)
just to re-attach a clothes line

problem was of course
the ladder was too short
for an average height
so a piece of rebar
had to substitute
to give my arms
that extra two feet needed
to fling the pulley
over the hook on the pole

after a couple of tries
the pulley made a perfect landing
with still enough sun
for another
load of clothes
     i vote to forgo that
     & instead pay homage
     find a new spot
     & watch the sunset

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

half a highway story

about the time
we split-up hitchhiking
near toledo
on the ohio turnpike
the afternoon was droopy
sinking like a last gasp
of summer

we took our turns
at the entrance ramp
     each of us being singly
     picked up & thrown
     down the highway
some miles closer to chicago
what seemed like incremental lapses
passing thru the rain and darkest
of indiana

the steel mills of gary & east chicago
rose to meet a glimpse of dawn
beneath an acid sky
my ride      a salesman downing the last
of his jim beam whiskey
disguising his condition
     i've often thought many times
whether death of a salesman
unrelated as it might be
ever met him halfway

not sure how i found a commuter train
to the west side of chicago
in time to make a meeting
but it happened
just that way

and even if
i was late
(oddly each of us arrived minutes apart)
     the revolution would
     go on without us

--- e b bortz