Sunday, June 25, 2017

earth note 495

there's a loneliness
and comfort
in every two-lane going west
towns you've never been to
but will now remember
without pretense
or claims of fame

if you need a narrative
let the land speak for itself
most of us don't really understand
anything beyond the present frame
a book or a map
can only take you so far
after that
all we have is the soil
to hold us

if you're looking for a thunderstorm
or other drama
it probably won't happen
when you expect it
there's little to believe
in the evening news

you may grab for a deeper understanding
of the cosmos
or yourself
but first
learn the language

--- e b bortz

Saturday, June 24, 2017

earth note 494

woods to the north and south
a non commercial federal highway
that looks like another residential avenue
there are always those who want to
glut the landscape
fondling the change in their pockets
asking for easements
and tax increment financing schemes
choking an urban forest
that needs to breathe

speeding cars show no respect for the neighbors
alone in their dead quiet graves

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 23, 2017

earth note 493

a spray off the gulf of mexico
has traveled 1500 miles north
hitting my page
like a steady mist
without a word
there still seems to be
an exclamation point
if anyone is paying attention

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 22, 2017

embitter doesn't roll off my tongue easily

i know things have been inching
in that direction for quite a while

my dad would often say
we can't let the bastards win

and i agree
but there can be honor in losing

there's no excuse for making excuses
for anyone who knows better

put away the flag
they all drip blood

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

earth note 492

summer solstice

earth has never been a blank page
gaia doesn't take orders or dictation
yet she certainly is not
a disinterested partner

at the apex of every continental divide
there are decisions made
between life and death
void of emotion

a raging river

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 19, 2017

silent dissenter...hermit in the crowd

it's not a contradiction
if you look around closely
and think about it
maybe it's really
the ultimate escape
     no one else will notice
the judgmentalists can't rule you without fodder
let them calculate my facebook & telephone survey answers
     with the null set

my candidates are never included anyway

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 18, 2017

earth note 491

an online content provider
big honcho on the web
seeking more advertising dollars
and paid subscribers
once emailed me with a comment
that my earth notes should have
actual titles or subtitles
so that readers might be more
to reading them
at which point i answered
by picking up a crayon

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 16, 2017

earth note 490

peach      pear      cherry
on the edge of recognition
white pine spreading
up and out by the foot
bamboo waiting
will take off at anytime with a good windstorm
     a perky bush of pink flowers
     living the good life
     still without a name

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

recovering notes from the deep, part 11

about a dozen years after the release
of bob marley's no woman no cry
i found myself on a beach in southern thailand
on my only day off of the week
with a group of thai and farang and voices
and waves of guitar and keyboard solos

it was a time to hold your head up
speak up
the future wasn't clear
but every song had the potential
to become an anthem
and of course the whole world came to know
the music of marley & the wailers
so deeply
that you had no choice
but to look at yourself
stone sober
and act in his words
my feet is my only carriage

the teak forests of asia
were burning
the rivers flooding
the international mining interests
buying up every political hack
willing to be branded

but there was the message
of the music
and the many tears remembered
and left on that beach
and like the waves
and the ripples that still spread
the cut of the coral
will be painful
or a poverty of options
not always predictable
like an orange sunrise
touching the water
letting the spirit grow

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

concrete is a horrible first word of the summer

it makes steel reinforcing rods
seem benign
like there's an orderly framework
to a jackson pollock
     not a norman rockwell
          we've buried ourselves
          in our own propaganda
trucks & detour signs
forcing a new regime
     a derivative of regimentation
into the heat of july & august

don't forget your lane change
before the purgatory exit

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 12, 2017

earth note 489

one-act play

a dove sits alone
on a flat roof
waiting for the sun
to burn off
water droplets
     the maples wave
          leaves turning their backs

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 11, 2017

earth note 488

revisiting spider lake, itasca county minnesota

so i should start by saying
i never really made it to the water
on my 'revisit'
because maybe it's impossible
to wash the years away so easily
     the herons are still aloft
     but in many new generations
and anyway everything else
in the world has
so reconciling the new
unreality with what came before
is fundamentally
lying to yourself

but i took in everything i could
in as close
a proximity
as my old and new imagination
would permit
chewing on white birch bark
until my teeth began squeaking
being patient
letting the sky clear
& the whitecaps speak for themselves

--- e b bortz

Saturday, June 10, 2017

recovering notes from the deep, part 10

leaving pittsburgh
on july 4th 1976
was a combination of a subject
and a verb

it took determination and time
to move out
electrician tools stowed
behind the bench seat
of a candy-apple red pickup truck
the summer heat already oppressive
     sulfur dioxide haze and fireworks
have nothing to do with patriotism

the road to minnesota
through the great northwoods
could shake your mind loose
if you'd let it

so we ended up with
a pile of rocks in the middle
of a worked-out hay field
and a spread of wet lowlands
that seemed to open
your arms to cattails
and migrating geese

cutting ten cord of wood
made the summer
go fast
feeding the furnace
about eight months
of the year

there was nothing like
an outdoor sauna
in below zero
purging your pores
like fire and brimstone

on my way to the taconite plant
a grey wolf crossed the service road
eyes and nose straight ahead
mouth slightly open breathing
running for the deeper quiet
     we all seek

a snowshoe rabbit
blends in for most of the winter
sometimes you can get close enough
to see their nose twitch
their fur sway
with the wind

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 08, 2017

earth note 487

the clouds evolved
into the face of buddha
for about thirty seconds
enough to mark the day

when the wind dies
there will be no wake
only memories
of peace and beauty

our words
inadequate for the times
are a drop in the river
so let the flow be the journey

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

earth note 486


when the pedicab bicycles
all gathered at night
in a crowded back street
in surat thani thailand
it was for a wedding
of nineteen-year-olds
with all the friends
and family conversing
      this being the music
it all smelled sweet
like ma-muang
almost til dawn
and the bright eyes
of many thousand nights
before them

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

on to the next thousand poems

where they might be dug up
is still up
in the air
hard rock isn't a bar in key west
but a scarred landscape
and facial expression
less the ego
where the mountains know
and you know
where it all leads
but i don't need to tell you

the streetcars would usually stop running
just as you needed a ride home
you learned how to walk the walk
in the drip of a river mist
with darkness
your sibling

the gulf of mexico
is a gateway
from rabid consumption
a mainland pukes when it gets drunk
but it never seems to reckon itself
with the obvious conclusions

you have too much
you have learned to
stand and deliver
in the light of your own experience
but find it hard to disown

not every canyon has a bottom
there always seems to be
another crevice in the distance
to guide you deeper
into the mantle
into the heat

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 05, 2017

earth note 485

a small community park
a place to cope
in a village by the same name
looking out on the strung-out flats
of eastern colorado

not enough money for upkeep
so a few stores sway
like a strong westerly
or hide behind the flag
at the post office

a dog barks
protecting the perimeter
a tv spits out the weather
and wheat prices
but the land cracks
like a summer drought

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 04, 2017

the wind is dripping tension

everything is tentative
like the rain will start
at any time
a motorcycle guns it
up the hill before
getting wet
there are no news programs
this morning
that the age of reason
would recognize
thomas paine went to prison
came out and woke up
in another cruel world

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 02, 2017

earth note 484

i refuse to mention his name
but speaking about deeds
has some benefit
if the greater good
has a chance

it's all about raising consciousness
no i'm not trying to preach to anyone
least of all
the choir

as obsolete as the idea of nationhood is
that's not to say that nations
shouldn't be mandated to make
fundamental change
away from all fossil fuels
& forward to clean energy

the moral equivalent to carbon
is death
so how much death
will you rationalize

coal dust finds
every living lung
a cancer-emphysema-asthma incubator

i've tasted the inside
of a coal-fired boiler
oil-fired furnace
methane exhaust

so don't tell me otherwise

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 01, 2017

earth note 483

not sure
if the great sand dunes in colorado
are still growing
or moving on with their scattered beings

the river that runs at their feet
doesn't know who went where
only that the cool water
is still a steady anchor

the prevailing winds
used to bring new sand
up from the south
deposit and grow the dunes

that was when the land was young
and all reverence originated with the sun

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 29, 2017

alienation, inc

the straw man cometh
getting on the last car
of the last train of the day
he should     but takes no responsibility
for anything after that
rolling past the vacant lots
empty crane runways
a corrugated steel world
whose destiny was hand written
on phony ledgers
by bamboozling
get-rich-quick schemers

but it's not the straw man
     to blame
he just wants to get home
eat a quiet dinner
with his wife and one point seven
and then ruminate with a bottle of whiskey
over the life he never had

--- e b bortz

earth note 482

it's being sold as a free society
where a liberal modernist
can rail forever
buy up all the tv time
wall street & political favors
for their fracking
concept of enlightenment
carbon gas     poisoned water     scarred forests
as if this is the way forward
past the broken coal bodies
and dank coal hollows
that will 'bridge' us
like a medieval body stretcher
to the next panacea

i'm shutting you out to let
the sun     wind     & imagination

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 27, 2017

the overriding narrative

has always been a cliché
promises built by hedge funders
their miserable small mouths
propagating big lies

the elites speak their hour
and then pickup their check
cloak themselves 
like the genteel of old

if there are commitments
there are also betrayals
only those in the trenches
see the water rising

the best of the offerings
are stale cotton candy
when you melt it down
the colors are indistinguishable

it makes no difference
whether you were a true blue believer
in the charade
or simply a go-along get-along

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 26, 2017

earth note 481

the deluge stopped
but then the drought continued

there were holes in the roof
but light never made its way in

even before the next rain
there needs to be some answers

we can't count on the bamboo
to cover the sins and injustice

looking for fruit in the shadows
might be noble or a waste of emotion

every morning we hear the buzz
but never see the energy

a mountain pose is more than a yoga position

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 25, 2017

eyes shut mind flees

a few lines of poetry
running out the back door
before anyone notices
it won't be missed

maybe it'll hookup
on its own terms
sometime in the future
somewhere down the line

no one knows the train schedule
'cept to say it'll come
as often
as the poets ask for it

it might sound a whistle
like a daniel thompson poem
so wake up & take notice
even if you can't explain why

as always
this is a time for words

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

itasca county road 8 meditation

end of may minnesota
early sun draws shadows
like a new clover
starting to green
bicycle wheels become singing bowls
it's all in the spin

[2nd coffee...3rd revision]

prevailing cool westerlies
move fast
coaxing you to breathe in deep
clear out the winter blues
put your back
back in parallel
with the universe

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 22, 2017

earth note 480

conventional indoctrination
every conventional dogma
modern society assumptions (carefully calculated confusion)
that this
          opening up from a pop-up tent
will leave you hungry
disappointed for more
that the whole cosmos
might be monetized
converted for a quick dollar
even with a twist of
on the road

don't believe it

     the high desert
     aspen mountains
     weathered rock faces
     beings before the plunder
     green valleys of rain
     and maize
     a squash blooming in loving hands
     sun sages
     timeless wisdom

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 20, 2017

earth note 479

animas river, colorado

aspen forest speaks every language
songs of the original people
if you cup your ears
you may hear voices

preempting college student hikers
sun worshippers along the banks
train crew & passengers
     passing through
transitioning leaves to yellow
     not fool's gold
by september

original trails
find the ridges
a black bear
goes into hiding

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 19, 2017

the sidewalk has been broken for fifty years

when the sun comes up
there's always a blue tinge to it
coming off the mural
making a stronger statement
than the nonprofit
down the street

if basquiat walked these alleys
he might say
the fractures will become
too great to bear
sweat and tears will make
their own path

---e b bortz

Thursday, May 18, 2017

earth note 478

sculls      kayaks      coal barges
squeeze between concrete shoulders
there's an empty blue houseboat
          for a homeless sailor
buildings coming down
to make parking spaces
a few tulips weave like yarn
in and out through a stone courtyard
     trying not to blush

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

earth note 477

butler county, pennsylvania

far down a jagged stretch
of human made lake
the carp have mutinied
schooling together
like it was their last stand
with the lily pads
and green algae
a blue heron takes up nesting in disguise
away from every possible fishing boat

calm water is a wednesday morning
just before school lets out
for the summer
all the news of the day
     goes unnoticed
the sun here
     is small
cloaked in faded cloud
     the only drama

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 14, 2017

earth note 476

sherman alexie and camus
appeared together
as brothers
on the used book table
of the friendship flower & folk festival

a cool morning might have been the spark
as they sent out
a subliminal message
reaching through the dampness
of several generations
some noticing and some not

even retired elegant greyhounds
& great danes
were listening for the magic
in the maples
now green
now finally full body

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 11, 2017

third clarinet in the all-city band, 1966

or maybe it was all-city orchestra
i'd have to check my yearbook
to be sure
a way of wrapping themes of west side story
around the bus stop i got off at
for taylor allderdice high school
where the best acoustics
and passion blossomed
in the short blond hair
of the piccolo player
a far cry from my northside walk-up
& urging high school music teacher


--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

the beatles brought her

pittsburgh 1964

just as she landed on the northside
at a church work camp
an aqua paint brush
over rough plaster
just down the hall
if you followed the music
and the spirit surreal
of the slow dance
that brought me to
a sweat

on her arrival from across the river
i wondered how
things might go
if we ever had a chance
to go
beyond the reach
of her boilermaker father
and his penchant
for racist rants

escape at sixteen
wasn't an easy option
so we learned the trails
of schenley park
and steamed up the windows
at skibo hall parking lot

--- e b bortz