Tuesday, July 28, 2015

earth note 354

grand mesa national forest, colorado

sunset lake is small enough
to be missed
in the tall pine & aspen
capturing it
cold to the touch
& it has a way
of drawing you
to every corner
so you have to consciously
keep a distance
avoid the lure of the spillway
there can be danger
in a daydream

the wind is confused today
blowing hard from the west
then lackadaisically
from the north
there are no adequate descriptions
for the flight
of a blue dragon fly
or the squawking
of a mountain jay

--- e b bortz

earth note 353

rifle gap state park, colorado

photo by Sandra L Hazley

a patch of blue
still poking above
the crown
of a pi├▒on pine covered mountain
an hour left
before the sun dips behind
a long dusk
     storm clouds circling

--- e b bortz

Thursday, July 23, 2015

earth note 352

downtown denver

there is no imaginary
neal cassady & his dad
on these streets anymore

their story was one of a kind
spelled out at life's
first third marker
& even throwing in
another fifth for good measure
won't bring you anything new

the marijuana generation
has made it legal now
for folks like neal & his dad
to jam themselves
into a dusty church attic
to get a few winks of sleep
before heading out
into the streets again
or on over to the still under funded
elementary school
or down to the old union pacific
tracks & box cars heading west

not saying it's better or worse
than it was then
just different
all the promises were bullshit
it's just taken so many decades
for that simple acknowledgment

clothing for the homeless
is now all about corporate symbols
issued with an accompanying
pat on the back
& a mention on npr

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

earth note 351

the dog days of august
are a month early
as a forest of limping green
squeezes in co2
& releases o2
from the far fetches
of a shallow valley

where the trees breathe
we all answer
in deep breaths
     a lifeline

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 06, 2015


circa 1976

from that first minnesota winter
cutting ten cords of wood
to keep the furnace going
in the house
as well as
the demands
from the outside sauna
     a log building that
     served as
     the only means for bathing
it became clear
that learning
survival skills
was always
in season

it took almost an hour
from below zero
for a blazing wood stove
& makeshift water heater
to really get things going

clothes hooks
in the 'changing room'
were still cold
as we peeled off everything
& darted into the 'heat room'
& the steam of splashing water
on stones & stove

hot & cold water were mixed
with buckets to get
the temp just right
& then on to a quick
soaping & rinsing
while the heat flashed & soaked
through your body
like a purging
bringing you through
a first real sweat
     & renewal

--- e b bortz

Sunday, July 05, 2015

gulf of thailand 1989

by sundown
an orange mist
hangs just above
the water
letting the day's heat
release back through
a restless tide
to get on
with one's karma
from this moment
there will be no duplicates

--- e b bortz

Thursday, July 02, 2015

earth note 350

cloud cover
is a welcoming reprieve
shutting off the shadows
near high noon
leaving only the fading outline
of a wrought iron fence
tangling with bamboo

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

the air is heavy

& not without direction
laying out the trail
around the knob
past the gray cloud overhangs
disappearing with the hemlock

you follow without
qualifying the morning
it has come
& you've made your peace
another day

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

most of the time

there's nowhere to go
to block out
the boredom & powerlessness
of the present

i retreat
not from fear
but from monotony

& find solace
in words
& the imagined

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 29, 2015

if there's a ticker tape from greece next month

let it be a beat
from the bluest
of the aegean sea

fearless facing the storm
alive in the tradition
of ancient mariners

where the surf
offers up hand to hand

where the shipwrecks
& outmoded machinery
are scrapped with every illusion

--- e b bortz

Saturday, June 27, 2015

there's no pattern here

never was
in every recipe
there's embarrassment
of the obvious
like a steady rain
for hours now
needs the freedom
to keep going

& when the wind
shakes the bowels
don't believe it
until all the dues
have been paid
a promise
is nothing but another schedule
that can change

scribble down everything
remember nothing
every answer is really a question
pick through the remnants
& if the thrift store closes early
keep your backpack empty
the sidewalks
are still open

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 26, 2015

earth note 349

colors of the soul
drip down
just after dawn

with a cluster of red-brown leaves
burrowing in
a leafy green maple
across the avenue

as the rains come
& the traffic slows
the withering ones
& try to cover their tracks
worming inward 
drooping lower

a steady crawl toward the body
     where the trunk
     does not flinch

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

earth note 348

the planet records
an endless toll
on everything & everyone
who speaks her name
in vain
never forgetting
the ornery fool
staking a claim
& recoloring the forest

--- e b bortz

Saturday, June 20, 2015

running out of excuses

hearing the phrase
ego is exploited by the system without your consent
can be confusing
free will via madison avenue evil lesser
is beyond your control

in an average lifetime
the bed you make
repeats itself
thirty thousand times

even the ration books
have been sold off
to the highest bidder
& you've known that
many thousand times

you still have the word

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 19, 2015

in the raindrops

left last night
is the original sin
brought to the shores
of a misnamed rock
near a forest
without borders

this is not an answer
nor a hypothesis
the great minds
have all forgotten
since it may have been
beyond the pale

a manifest
of innermost logic
self-fulfilling prophecy 
has no challengers
     but the river

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

earth note 347

assateague island

mosquitoes picked up
our tent
as the flap opened
& buzzed right up
our asses
as we headed
to the pit toilet

telling all of this
is like giving up
a pound of flesh
blood & all
& the secrets
of the goddess
of self-identified
nature know-it-alls

in the wind
kayak calm
finds a marsh
& crab landings

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 11, 2015

earth note 346

assateague island marshes & beyond

on the third day
just behind a cluster of trees
the wind calmed
at peace with the water
spots of sun bouncing upward
finding a pair of herons
circle the bay
     as one splits off
     leaving the other
to fetch in the high grass

to the north
at the town inlet
heat & commotion grows
at the breakwater
gulls glide
just above the spray
before heading out
     to open water

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

earth note 345

assateague island

if there's such a thing
as a light gale
     lots of wind
     & a little rain
lifting the sand
off the beach
like hard-hitting dust
on a lonesome highway
     it was last night
that i brushed back
the memories
of that journey

morning solar panels
soaked in wind & salt
with only a touch
of sun

in the old part
of the ocean city boardwalk
the old carnies are long gone
but the millennials
     or maybe generation z
still have a representative
in the space balls girl
sitting behind
a fading shell
     a slow day
     a faraway stare

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

earth note 344

mount 'elden', flagstaff, 1980

the boys were ready
to take on the world
so we settled
for climbing a mountain

each step
up the trail
volcanic rock
crunched & released
a faint presence of sulfur
& as we left the trail
digging into the steeper parts
a calmness opened
as we gazed the valley
the manic highway
in the distance
the snow capped peaks
     the original holy sites
     of the original people
     & so many

aspen hugged the range
in the distance
leaves waiting to turn yellow
while the pine
on our shoulders
& in our shaky grip
were still black
in their recovery
     fire a few years earlier
     had marked the land

where the footpath ended
& the outcrops protruded
our steps became
most deliberate
     the purity
     of ancient water vessels
     shaped & painted by many hands
     broken by upheaval
     & time

we still search
for your pure waters

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

earth note 343

out west
floods wash over
every precursor ignored

a tornado by any other name
is still a bad place
to bet the farm

the crows have left
a parched field
without a trace

when the wind
sings a new tune
it'll already be too late

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 29, 2015

the notepad stayed blank

for what seemed
like many days
of nondescript notions
of importance
     trappings in the
     final analysis
breaking free has nothing
to do with luck

pushing past
still empty archives
of so-called conventional wisdom
is a full-time job

from the highway berm
every blade of grass
the dew

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 28, 2015

the wind became a train


rolling up the valley
like every gust
another length
of steel

as i still remember
a spiking hammer
in a ragtag crew

& we laughed
at the possibility
that the town
would welcome us

even with peace symbols
on our sandals
holes for tee-shirts
& no draft card

after work
we'd hide in the hills
til dark
& then descend incognito
to the nearest roadhouse
joy to the world

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

earth note 342

moraine state park, pennsylvania

memorial day carp jumping
like they needed your attention
so forget about digging into
another 6-pack

and look around you
where the front lines
meet the fracking rigs
& wasteland miles of pipe & concrete

chewing up forest
faster than tent caterpillars
sometimes it's convenient to confuse
destiny with decision making

only a kayak can split
the coldest part of the lake
without waking the blue herons
     always watchful

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 24, 2015

earth note 341

there's rhythm
in the way
the grass moves

every beat on this
tortured planet
has a refrain

carry your drums
& words
with you

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 23, 2015

earth note 340

the tree tops
to sweep the sky
the sun has a finite
number of arcs left

the loss of patience
is a sign
of waking up

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 21, 2015

in the reflection of just one tear

i found your vision

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

primary election day, pittsburgh

my imaginary vote today
goes to a resilient
group of wild turkeys
in my neighborhood
on the north side

& to the deer
in mount lebanon

even to the groundhog
who burrows under
the collapsing

all of them represented
who they really were
without dialing for dollars

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 17, 2015

darkness at noon on a sunday

been trying to insulate
from these pep talks
the talkers never giving up
on redirecting
every possible thought & subject
     yeah like in a monarchy
or oligarchy

can't say i've had much success

the rain drums down
still the teams take the field
for the beer & peanut hucksters
just trying to get by

madness isn't the worry anymore
since it has become
the common denominator

drones circle the andaman sea
push refugees
to the end of the earth

death sentences
tweeted out
in monotone

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 16, 2015

earth note 339

there's no point
in belaboring the point
that by some obscure process
weather patterns
remain abstract in my eye
     yet need no consult
     from the newspapers
nor overt descriptions
in the way the clouds face off
northwest by southeast
as if a storm
gathering for a last hurrah
forced the leaves
to face upward
with open hands

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

not sorry for bursting a bubble

but this whole work ethic thing
really is a crock
people work so as not
to starve
it sure as hell shouldn't qualify
as a moral belief system
since every ruling elite
has the game rigged
& the prisons ready
to keep you next to nothing
yet they call it subsistence

the social safety net
is a gaping hole
might as well tell
those doctors & hospitals
thank you
but don't count on me
to recoup your fees
this stone is dry

making jobs
is nothing but propaganda
a mantra
loud & deafening
like the Ds & Rs
all had their chance
& all they gave us
was climate turmoil
oil spills
& broken kidneys

i guess just hanging on
is something of a rebellion
scroll that on your walls if you'd like
     or consider it dues
     & don't ask me
     for a contribution

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 10, 2015

is it ego and/or fear

that stops me
without apology
another year
in the finite span
i find it convenient
not to mention

there's always
another rationalization
for two lonely gardeners
or maybe adventurers
the best of the day
ahead of us
which for today
is sufficient

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 07, 2015

earth note 338

the peach
& apple trees
have been chanting
for a few days now
     let me live
     put me in the ground
     with room to grow
     & give me a long cold drink
     from an infinite well or spring
          my health is your salvation
     if you want redemption
     make room for me  
     leave those fossils
          in the ground
                    rip out the strip malls
          & build a living altar
          with the colors
          of the rainbow

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

earth note 337

it's rough being 
an optimist
in fact any kind
of ist

where the monongahela valley
cuts hard south
the smog concentrates
on slowly killing everything
within reach

there will always be
the rah rah newspapers
of american power
conformity without admitting
you've been suckered
by flags & gadgets

on the news last night
we were told about
how much progress
has been made
cleaning up the air
     democrat & republican
hands across the river
one more time

obviously no one
is checking
the cancer hollows

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 04, 2015

earth note 336

this day may 4th
always leaves me
anxious for what
comes next
the sun yesterday
in kent ohio
broke all records
for clarity
each year
a new record
in clarity
as every poet
marks time
and the river answers
those impenetrable questions

i can't help
but listen to the road
     a bicycle
& the sound of a scythe
cutting through the grass
as the equator
finishes another day

& on this side of the planet
the marchers will continue
& the elites will be listening

from every field & forest

--- e b bortz