Wednesday, November 22, 2017

every border that rises

is built on a lie
the river gives us water
not a bureaucratic line of demarcation
when was the last time
the first humans
scrawling figures on rock walls
the land and oceans
around them

what's so civil
about property

can ritual
and dogma
be separate

the sun will make us grow
or it will starve us

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 20, 2017

earth note 546

if this was a garden
in korea
it might unleash
a lush potpourri
given half a chance

--- e b bortz

Friday, November 17, 2017

earth note 545

4pm crows
speak loud
like they were getting ready
to flood out of a factory gate
on their way
to a boilermaker

there's usually at least one
that takes the highest perch
barks out directions
reminds everyone
that participation
is appreciated

--- e b bortz

Thursday, November 16, 2017

earth note 544

seoul, 1990

highways rumbled
with weekend escapees
college entry exams for the year
were over
families happy or resigned
to the outcomes

teachers had given it
and everywhere
along the han river
kites found the wind
heard the call
like a resurrection

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

earth note 543

photo by Sandra L Hazley
a simple offering
no human can imitate or buy
our veins run pale
--- e b bortz

Friday, November 10, 2017

the drone is a bird or the bird is a drone

every surveillance camera on the avenue
will have an opinion
falling leaves disregard everything
take their own flight path
where there's gold    
there's red & brown
authenticity won't be recorded
it's all a sham
dreamed up by a pencil pusher
at the pentagon
pissed off for getting canned
by way of automation

soon the trees will be stripped bare
darkness will come suddenly
there'll be nowhere to hide
fix your camera for permanent video
the sirens are coming through
in hot pursuit
if you happen to be bicycling
be sure & use your flashers

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

earth note 542

a short walk
like out the back door
rain reviews
every hue
voting is underway
--- e b bortz

Saturday, November 04, 2017

earth note 541

big torch key

will always leave
a hole and a heartbreak
like a hurricane

yet the mangroves
create roots of life
buoyant and marking time

--- e b bortz

Thursday, November 02, 2017

ad men and ad women

ain't gonna run my world
or advertise their way out of it
with or without superbowl fireworks
sitcom twitter trash & branding
self-righteous anything
a strange bed of mega-million
foundations & self-delusion     
with or without concussions
with any self-respect
would ever carry water
from these poisoned feed lots
of a billion
steers & heifers

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

earth note 540

raindrops make perfect circles
on a flat roof
even as they melt away
leaving a morning chill
there's fog
that reaches just beyond
your hand
to a maple
     bright yellow

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 29, 2017

earth note 539

once you pass thru
the rubicon
the high desert beyond
will reshape
your feet
for the long walk
only imagination
may recognize

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 28, 2017


we've walked
this ohio river line
a thousand times
back then
the summer heat
pulled us forward
til we dove off
the concrete shoulders
at woods run
people said there were cars
dumped in the river
so you had to be careful diving

every so often
you'd hear shouts & whistles
from the penitentiary
someone said there was
an underground escape tunnel

there was always
wonder bread that could be rolled
into dough balls
for catching carp & catfish

but the window sills gathered coal dust
enough to make their own storm
and there was nothing joe magarac nostalgic
about the bottoms in mckees rocks
or the chemical fires downriver
on neville island

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 26, 2017

earth note 538

you reach the sun
just once
it will find its way
to your frontal lobe
perceptions like lovers
need not be science
dark & light
for every moment

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

earth note 537

great sand dunes, colorado

sun      moon      wind 
throw their bodies
upon the land
until you notice

every grain
with a purpose
every riverbed
to be followed

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 22, 2017

earth note 536

telluride, colorado

your right to flower here
take a vote
the eyes have it

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 21, 2017

earth note 535

evergreen in sunrise
hands from the east

--- e b bortz

Friday, October 20, 2017

earth note 534

dream lake
is just over the mountain
the trails are marked
the bear might see you
walkins are welcome
every message acknowledged

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

when you reach the end of the bridge

the light can blind you
there aren't any
roads less traveled
because there aren't any roads
it's just you
and that undefined light
mind you
i'm not suggesting
this is the hereafter
we're mortals and all
we can come up with
are questions not answers

so far
the sun never takes a holiday
the wind will still hit you broadside
and i do hear the creek speaking

that's enough

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 15, 2017

earth note 533

weigela java red
could be a shrub
or a
nom de guerre
an alias like
lou bradley
aka lou bortz
of the abraham lincoln brigade
when it all flowers
in the spring
we'll praise
the beauty of the soil
as our marching song

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 14, 2017

earth note 532

jumbo campground
on the grand mesa
was somewhat hidden
through the aspens
next to a small clear lake

an unofficial
gathering of campers
on the main road
was a clue
that some were waiting
for something to open up
like an empty campsite

so even though
our many-months-ago
internet reservation
worked to our benefit
i can't deny
the feeling of guilt
about setting up our tent
as the afternoon waned
and the queue
at the main road
dissipated in frustration

those who travel light
will ultimately spread
throughout the forest
the unmarked trails
the outcrops
moss covered or bare
burrowing in
beyond authority

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 12, 2017

sunrise commodified

if the phone rings
let your reflection
answer it
tell the telemarketer
you're not interested
in a bathtub coverall

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

earth note 531

i don't know
how no-name key
fared during the hurricane
but of course we do know
who gets the last word
looking past the wreckage
pushing off from the mangroves
     following the pelicans

--- e b bortz

Monday, October 09, 2017

earth note 530

the eye is stone
and sometimes vision

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 07, 2017

earth note 529

hot breeze october
thru the shadows
moves wooden wind chimes
from a deep hollow
like a rhythmic calming
by any objective ear
finds the last
of the cicadas

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

recovering notes from the deep, part 14

my mom in her early sixties
finally decided to hop a greyhound
& visit her grandkids
in our northern minnesota homestead

it was a long but interesting journey
for her as she described some of the characters
she heard stories from along the way

and i think i had just finished plumbing in
the bathroom though the electric heat installation
was still another project to-do
it was already june
warming up fast
& at least we were finished burning wood
until september

mom wasn't especially geared for the wilderness
as she called it
but she brought books to read
stories to tell
and wouldn't you know
she even looked through
the local yellow pages
and found under "synagogues"
one in hibbing
she wanted to visit
so maybe it was on a saturday
that we piled into the truck
and drove the fifteen miles to hibbing
to an old building on a shady corner
where an old caretaker answered the door
and mom spoke some of her fluent yiddish
that the caretaker seemed to recognize
as she invited us in

and after a few minutes
it came out that
bobby zimmerman
before he ran away for the last time
from home
guitar strapped over his back
and thousands of songs and miles before him
came with his family to this very synagogue
in the wilderness as mom might say
where there used to be old streetcar tracks
running through the iron range in the 1930s
& people carrying live chickens
to the rabbi for friday night dinner

and in those very 30s
there was also the bitterness
in the body of the red rock ore
ravenous eastern banking investments
strike and strife
that brought together
jews and finns and norwegians and serbs and swedes
and yes the original
dispossessed & robbed
proud ojibwe people
whose hands and wild rice
created all life 
from this land
long after
the last
& my mother's last story

--- e b bortz 

Friday, September 29, 2017

earth note 528

black canyon of the gunnison, colorado

a photo misses the heartbeat
touching deep
below your breastbone

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

it's a short jump

from the cult of the individual
to the cult of personality
in every president
there's a dictator
falling all over himself
the landed gentry
always with their hands out
a handshake seals the deal
even through a hurricane
even as the floods
swallow the sperm

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

earth note 527

photo by Sandra L Hazley

monticello utah: august 21, 2017

an hour south of moab
we camp in the aspens
dodging the archery hunters
with the deer

one cafe in town
with a pick your kind
of breakfast wrap
hoping the spice lingers

this is open range land
where angus graze
in sight of the schoolhouse door
     where kids wait & chatter for the eclipse

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

earth note 526

north shore ohio river trail

bituminous is still hanging on
in the epoch
of forgotten autumns
the colors change
the river churns up
silt and coal ash
out of cold furnaces
rusted reds and yellows
call them out
for being late

--- e b bortz

earth note 525

a blue jay
with a loud voice
picking thru the rain gutter
i'd be surprised
if he wasn't from the northside
like us

school buses speed
up & down the avenue
getting antsy
behind the beer truck

the casino never closes
there's always a safe place
     to lose
your self-esteem
just a piss away

i expect to see the cardinal
or poet christopher franke today
there's nothing embarrassing
about wearing red
if you really believe in it

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 18, 2017

earth note 524

dove sits alone
deep in the fog
on a wire
the body listens
cicada early this morning
no crescendo til evening
dove sits alone

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 16, 2017

earth note 523

marshall trail

mosquitoes have eaten their way
to the promised land
at least for the rest of the year

stones pulled up from cobblestone streets
still capable of working
are dumped near the trail

one hundred rings
on a sawed-off tree
     still counting

for every leaf turning color
there are three premature

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

the cemetery in key west

is buried in hurricane water
     except for the catholics
who get a little extra lift
from the cross

the latinos and latinas
proudly display
de colores
     otherwise keeping a low profile

jews keep their foundations
even to the point
of segregating the suicides

most likely
there are quakers
and many others
who defy most definitions
but speak with their silence
or absence
by choice

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

earth note 522

after the boats capsize
the trailers topple
the road chews up what is left
& you know it's time
for the floods
they've been promised
like a covenant
covering the land
all the way in salt water
til you puke
til you reach
the great north woods
where the northern lights
never betray you
even in the snowbound
of frozen lakes
unaltered memories
leave the loons and herons
to sort out what comes next

there's no point in arguing
with the willingly deceived
every insurance settlement
is grand larceny
the losses are infinite
it may be a hundred years
before you see it

have always known this
     higher ground
may be rocky
roof falls happen daily
but moses never asked
for an arc

the superhighways
are false prophets
there's no concrete
water can't cover
all the mouths that
keep moving
have passed up the last
sound barrier

the sky makes no promises
the leaves are beginning to turn
but they're not
as sure of themselves
each year more tentative
for high noon

--- e b bortz

Friday, September 08, 2017

earth note 521

black canyon of the gunnison, colorado

the shadows and light
are never duplicated here
each line on the painted walls
mark the beginning
of a poem

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

some artists have left their paintings

on the walls of a cafe
     i think it was norwood colorado
an out-of-the-way town
just past the big red rocks
you'd only see if you
were looking for an escape

the walls were plain
but some of the pictures were
dark and dense
like a message
with so little time
like an hourglass

i looked around the room hard
for color
and pastels
and finally found it
on a wall by themselves
who are these painters
next to a sunny open window
with dark interiors
are they lost now
     have they moved on

--- e b bortz