Tuesday, December 16, 2014

earth note 309

the canal jumped
the seawall again
prints of the key deer
left running
the open house
down the road
ended in a hurry

a cloud
of turkey vultures
for an answer

--- e b bortz

Friday, December 12, 2014

window/doorway outta no name key

sometimes the view
is blurred
by distraction
intentional and otherwise

touch the water
rub it in you

--- e b bortz

Sunday, December 07, 2014

earth note 308

turkey buzzards
know when to make noise
their wings shout
don't fuck with me

--- e b bortz

Thursday, December 04, 2014

minimum wage job on duval street

key west

to shake a tee-shirt
off the 75% off rack
inflated by 200%
as the cruise ship horn
screams over the seascape
to return
at once
to the pier
before sunset

the fishing jobs
and artist hangouts
are in decline
like the empire itself
so all there is
is the catering
to the high-rollers
international financiers
shift changing
off of wall street

a throng of christian dior
wagging tongues
will never
bring back margaritaville
they're only a whiff
on the sidewalk

a conch highway
can't be bought

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

earth note 307

high tide is higher
this year than last
the canal crept up
last night
and left its mark
at the feet
of the houses on stilts
road has a wet gray
to its face this morning
the bay is upset
wind blasts away
then suddenly dies
     osprey goes hiding

--- e b bortz

Monday, December 01, 2014

a blank piece of paper

and a gust right out
of my hands
blowing into the unknown
finding itself
gone & away
below the porch
fluttering on
the bicycle spokes
     ready for
     a journey

--- e b bortz

Saturday, November 29, 2014

i offer no excuses

or truths
we are vulnerable
     humans that is
to the glitter
& status extraordinaire
of dominant specie-ism
rationalizing dog-eat-dog
     a rabid misnomer
to career seeking
banking with a smile
payday loan-sharking
     shark misnomer

the district attorney stands
without clothes
but with his gun still cocked

so what will we do with our lives
before and after
     the great fall

we've never learned
to take care
of each other

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 24, 2014

no polemic

it's been one-half century
since the real streets
of hearts & minds
found each other

egos falling 
to the drama kings
coming and going

empty chants
making it
holier than thou
tuning out still an option 

a drum
even without rhythm
could become
an unexpected insight

began at dawn
caressed unconditionally

--- e b bortz

Friday, November 21, 2014

if you look long enough on big torch key

there might be an escape route
back from the mundane
that will reveal itself
maybe hidden just before the water
or right behind a misplaced road sign

it won't look like much
just a few well worn hoof or foot prints
like an old newspaper
before times new roman
took over the world 

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

first draft: life is a sea

conclusions from first contact with key west
& surrounding navigational maps
7305 days ago

you always need a safe harbor
or at least a cluster of mangroves

when coral becomes dead rock
rock becomes a road of trepidation
don't go barefooted

osprey see
far into the future

every pelican has the poise to lead
elect some to congress

from the barracuda
comes tenacity
from the sandpiper

find the patience
of a jellyfish
waiting for a rising tide

waves connect all beings
from the gulf of thailand to the mediterranean
from the source waters of kilimanjaro

a cajun band at the green parrot
was about as close as i got to mardi gras
     and then you danced like it was mardi gras

a sunset shadow
becomes a celebration
of sunrise

every storm seeks an eye
a tear is stronger than a poem

life is a sea
there is no final draft

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 10, 2014

iron ore strike update

near thanksgiving 1977
the strike ended
we went back to work
the layer of taconite dust
still in place
where we had left it in august

the machines started up
with reluctance

bodies moved across the grate
up steel steps & ladders
finding nothing mystical
in the grit
true or otherwise

sulfur exhaust
the chemistry
of the damned

& combustion chambers
moving without emotion
firing thru the seasons

every ton
a landscape paid for
lungs without resilience
even thunder
turning away

--- e b bortz

Saturday, November 08, 2014

the politics of collapse

can't be bailed out
by wall street

a dry river
leaves a bad taste
in your mouth

for every carbon artery
there are a thousand
hemorrhaging forests

the crows
will not be silenced
they gather for the darkness

corn rows
left their calling cards
the silos all are empty

the money
of the desperate
has no collateral

there are sunspots
to pull you closer
call it void if you must

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


isn't the best word
to begin with
it has way too many
misleading ways
but the election is over
and the roosters came home
a long time ago
when very few
were paying attention
     don't look for a way forward
all anyone can do
is feel what moves inside
and then
feel it again

find a tributary and let it touch you
before it dries up
shut off the noise
     sing while you still have a voice

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, Nov 8, 2014)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

earth note 306

there's a pile of gold
across the avenue
that should be left
to decay
& feed the soil

stall the blowers
with their own exhaust

listen for the starlings

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 26, 2014

earth note 305

it feels like
the last warm hour
before the night chill
takes over

open hands
around a spinner
in the yard
cups the breeze just right

takes off in a burst
repetition turning
with illusions
of perpetual motion

this is what upsets
the blue jays
who know better
deep into the hillside

every stadium echo
is hollowed out
by wooden chimes
trembling rose of sharon

--- e b bortz

Friday, October 24, 2014

the river is my addiction

every step
to a new revelation
so it seems
like a shifting current
collides with the wind
never repeating itself

it's easy to miss
what's significant
my eye takes in the landscape
but once 

geese head to
lean-to shelters
     weeping riverbanks
a flock

these are not
the whitecaps
of yesterday

nor tomorrow

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 23, 2014

earth note 304

west park, pittsburgh

there's a method
to the shuffling 
through fallen leaves & acorns
     a hundred wild
     pecking bills & swimmers' feet
     have left lake elizabeth
     for a morning scavenge
     before the rain
     while the getting is still good

every goose lets everyone know
they are here to stay
ducks simply keep their heads down
squirrels tuck away in a frenzy
only to forget
what's in the store

the lake might freeze this winter
or maybe not

city bureaucrats
have covered all contingencies
new signs & authority misrules
     no ice skating
     no swimming
     no wading
     no pets

no eating   no drinking   no breathing

--- e b bortz

Friday, October 17, 2014

earth note 303

a cliff dweller
reaches from millennia
where hands formed
every angle with the sun
shading secrets
only a maker

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 12, 2014

earth note 302

fineview pittsburgh

lone hawk soaring & dives
traverses a radio tower
signals cold hill morning

who cares if there are
a few extra beats

--- e b bortz

Friday, October 10, 2014

a river is time

as much as distance
loose intervals
portions of summer
lost friends
     before the drive-ins all closed
trails were what you made of them
car windows steamed up
'cause the heat was transparent
because that's the way
you wore it

a swim was a baptism
     explanation not needed

a boxing ring
     with circles instead of squares

the chimneys coughed
wheezed every morning
like the bartender moe

and the girls rolled up
their work-camp sleeves
& held your hand
even after the music

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 09, 2014

earth note 301

the road mapped itself
from what i remember
out past the last hay bales
the prairies started rolling
the sun kept a round face
until dusk
even the crows seemed
to have their directions set
looking to bed down
on a distant bluff
like a call from the forest
before the dark

the road had a unique vibration
of its own
empty & quiet for the most part
except when transitioning
between asphalt & concrete
the town lights came up suddenly
and then passed
like a silent acknowledgment

farmers in coveralls
a crowded diner
stress on a dozen faces
promises broken
by bank notes
& inflated seed panaceas
all of it parched
like a river diverted
for the grease pits

the road swayed
to the wind
western clouds breaking apart
wheat fields laboring
without hands
kneeling over
to touch
& loam

--- e b bortz

Monday, October 06, 2014

earth note 300

call it a day
to have an outdoor
cajun dance

wind northwest moves in
every tree in its own rhythm
beats a washboard

like any waltz
the steps seem somewhat

cept for the zydeco
coming thru
over the poplar tops

strings drown out
the sirens
greasy engines go quiet

for every distraction
there's a perfect escape
a new imagination

leaves never make a plan
to give up
untamed & no excuses

the sky a full blue
but by no means

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

earth note 299

rain stripped every
carrier of soot
a genetically modified bank statement
madmen hiding behind the wheel
at the helm
weaving in and out
of k & L gates & assorted
gated skyscrapers
extending out a hand
for three-card monte
to fool you
more than twice

if you see
the rain coming
leave the umbrella
at home

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 29, 2014

earth note 298

a full-blown sun
is running out the bottom
of a leaky bucket
so intense it'll be empty
before you know it

i need to find a way
to hide my impatience
with whatever comes next

there's nothing in spectator sports
to save
cept maybe the tailgates

so let me ride this
like a segue
outta the cities
toward the barrier islands
just this side
of the mangroves

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 27, 2014

earth note 297

i'm still searching
the riverbanks
for a clue
about where this all
might be going

the waves come home
and then collapse
like an unfinished motion

the leaves get airborne
and then drop listlessly
to the water

i don't put much stock
in so-called intelligent life
after all it's got us
to where we're at

so i'll keep the moneychangers
out of this one

a crow is still a caw
if we're listening

don't conclude
this is a forfeiture

if you're still looking

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

earth note 296

the peaks from
the houses
are positioned perfectly
with the sun
     they print angles
     onto the avenue
     in black & white
with an overlay of the yellow lines
     suppressing all caution
green maple leaves
begin their ascension
to red & brown

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

movin on...no roadkill

the backpack was too big
for the bus overhead
so it went into
the luggage carrier
and as he slipped into
one of the seats
his book "planet walker"
opened up
     a lot of terrain to cover
     no doubt
and only one lifetime
to do it
so catching the bus
as far as nashville
was something of a shortcut
still leaving enough road ahead
for you to still earn
     (sorry for the phony hierarchical phrasing)
but i wanted to break it down
for (who or whom?) ever
is keeping
the log

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

high techies

say that plastic is better
but it still looks like
cold steel
wrapped by american flag

every shot rings thru the valley
brings the street closer
to the surface
of a pockmarked teenager
looking for kicks & liquor
with an abandoned streetcar track
called spring garden avenue

a ripped screen door
can still stop flies
when you're sedated

billboards proclaim
more cash for your house
and weapons
don't miss the upcoming
gun extravaganza

this is nothing like
the sharks & jets
camaraderie is so passe

the incorporates
make the speeches
drill the minds
never play
the taps

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 15, 2014

earth note 295

even as the feet move
the steps appear
to be a circular motion

it's that time
of year again
somewhat confusing

the new of september
is not an oxymoron
but a beginning

without preconceived assumptions
a hundred colors of dogma
will become a forest trail

--- e b bortz

Friday, September 12, 2014

earth note 294

marshall trail
in the middle of the northside
of pittsburgh
could have fooled me
     (because i wanted to be fooled)
into thinking i was hiking along
a ridge on the continental divide
in northern minnesota

cept for a big 6-point buck
who never saw a minnesota winter

of course the trees are different too

plush maples and oak and black cherry
won't do too well in the midst of
tamarack     white birch and a lot of wetlands

the earth & stones
have their own stories to tell
i'll keep listening for them
     the moss on the outcrops
     stay green all year

& when you inhale
& realize it's autumn
let the fear go
     let the meditation begin

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

earth note 293

99% of the world's species
go unacknowledged

migrating is nature

to glean is to survive

usually doesn't make
good copy or gossip
or get above the noise

has no lobbyist or publicist

no bible

maybe a handful of advocates
looking at
their next grant proposal

ads bordering
national geographic
puff pieces

commercially viable
     an original sin

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 08, 2014

earth note 292

every rip tide
is a statement
an answer to the docile

even pocomoke river
& corkers creek
pay attention

if there's a way
to twist and exploit
a planet's skin

it'll be done
while the bankers
hide neath the boardwalk

--- e b bortz

Thursday, August 21, 2014

earth note 291

so much of the world is in decay
leading to conclusions
that this is a normal life cycle
but why with all the pain
do cherry tomatoes
still ripen
though it isn't like
living off the fat of the land
     that was stolen
     that we venture
or endure
past the cities and seascapes
looking for the quiet
or a new illusion
in a thousand

--- e b bortz

Saturday, August 16, 2014

with arms raised

the heat of the pavement
hangs in the balance
a heart can only skip so far
a community comes together
to ask another question
only to answer it
with another question

there is no court
of public opinion
worth saving
a blind alley
has no windows and doors
an edifice
is not an answer
for justice

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, Aug 21, 2014)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

it all starts by wandering

if you get close enough
to the water
you can leave footsteps
in the sand
     to mark
     your own face
     takes some courage
     to expose oneself

when the tide comes home
your personality
will have new dimensions
it won't be what you expect

if only
there was a way
to capture every wave
     and remember it

--- e b bortz

Friday, August 08, 2014

ideas are infinite

just when you thought
the compost barrel was empty
another being
crawls out
and begins
a new round robin

you just may not
the language

or how to read
between the lines

--- e b bortz