Thursday, August 17, 2017

earth note 514

montrose, colorado

coming off the top of the black canyon
     leaving freedom
the clouds darken every corner
of the sky on the way down
     resembling jackboot imprints
     no that's not an overstatement
quarter horses fidget in the corral
the dust of an empty
desperate empire stirs
like a storm of locusts
tacking their way in autopilot

no way of knowing
if there's a news blackout
we keep the radio off
talk over various scenarios
     listen for the mountain jay

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 14, 2017

earth note 513

black canyon of the gunnison

from the top of painted wall
the river is a small rush
pressing the base
like a sculptor's tool
as the world draws in
a serene yet endless energy

without mandate
some species
one in particular
press their objectives
without awareness

what's left of daylight
will be scrawled
on your body
on your conscience
for the ancients
yet to come

--- e b bortz

Friday, August 11, 2017

somewhere along the rio grande

he waits on the bluff
watching moonlit shadows
of every person crossing the river
til sunrise
he's waited for her shadow
for two years
for this moment

they were schoolmates
then lovers     then separated
by five hundred miles of dusty sacrifice

he went north
in search of wages
she stayed behind
caring for her mother

he eventually found work
as a carpenter
building everything from
rough forms for concrete
to fine interior cabinetry

but with every new plan they made
there were new barriers
details unexpected

     til tonight
a mad dash
thru a window opening
they will hold on
     to the moon
& dive on thru

--- e b bortz

Saturday, August 05, 2017

so some teens are wearing camouflage

gathering under the flagpole
next to the man-made
one-acre pond
stocked with fish
and strict regulations
some practicing their casting
others thinking about enlistment
college maybe a dream away
the options are manufactured
and manipulated by old men
still seeking a hard on
as the country sinks
up to the waist
     in shit
and all you'll get
are rationalizations
for starting another war

the longhairs take off
on skateboards
the sun is finally breaking out
and the taste
of being free 
is about all there is
to hope for

--- e b bortz

Friday, August 04, 2017

earth note 512

woodland park / pike national forest

as the temperature drops tonight
the flies from the pit toilets
might just consider hibernation
maybe hibernation isn't 
in their genes
but hiding out might work
     for us anyway

on & off rain 
kept memorial park
kinda quiet
it's usually busy
during the day
dog walkers and 
pickup basketball games
and fully packed for
the farmers' market on fridays

from the library windows
you can see the high rockies
to the west
the smaller     rounder     older
green hills in the foreground
the buzz of dusty pickup trucks
along the two-lane going north
crazier yet on the city avenue
& in the strip malls

there's even an old inn
crying out for an open mic
where musicians and maybe
can lose themselves
in the moment
like generations before
doing the hard travelin
just after the gold rush
went bust

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

earth note 511

tuesday dusk, pike national forest

merging with the tall pines
the campsites blend
with neighboring
black angus cattle
scores roaming back & forth
separable by four strands
of wire fence
cow voices of many tongues
(in the early morning also)
a mama with full udders
and a calf in tow
she screams doesn't moo
the little one catches up
in a hurry

two thirds of the campers
have moved on
another round will
fill it up by friday night

there are painted rocks
to view the world
windows in fact
a crow sounds off
bringing the distance

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

earth note 510

victor, colorado

the casino lobbyists
won out
taking over cripple creek
just down the road
from victor
     an old working gold mining town
of about four hundred and fifty people

cripple creek buses in
the senior citizen gamblers
through winding mountain roads
sometimes a herd of cattle
     milks them
     and then returns them
     to their cities

continues to fight off
the gambling predators
(in favor of gold one might argue)
nevertheless opening their doors
to the artists     artisans   
     bohemian rhapsodies
as the old buildings sing-out
rejoicing in the fact that they're
still standing
carrying on tradition
shouting down
the bought and paid for hucksters
before they open their mouths

--- e b bortz

Saturday, July 29, 2017

earth note 509

pike national forest north of woodland park, colorado

the storm held off
just enough
to get the tent up
water jug filled
reading matter sorted out
with a touch
only a gary snyder
left out in the rain poem
can give you
and the first blast
of rain giving us
some confidence that
the western forest fires
might actually be subsiding

all the motor home tourists
are still coming
barreling down the road
to make it to
the nearest sports bar
in time for happy hour

and we
simply sit and think
and raise our lounge lizard voices
in just as good a harmony
     as the thunder
     crack of lightning
     tall pines trembling

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

earth note 508

emporia, kansas

5am motorcycle
starts fast
right after a fading train whistle
     did you hear 'em?
everyone will be trying
to beat the heat
maybe a hundred degree day
just below the horizon
     when the sun finally gets up
we'll see
what kind of mood she's in

--- e b bortz

Friday, July 21, 2017

heat is a revelation

growing right below your chest bones
making any sense of it
is only half an answer
so you dig more
without preconceived direction
turning away
once and for all
from the canned explanations

easy dogma
needs to go out
and run a bit

there used to be
recipes for the masses
before the stockbrokers
took over the kitchen
result is not edible

the body politic is an incubator
growing life and disease
taking chances
can be a holy act

--- e b bortz

Thursday, July 20, 2017

earth note 507

marshall trail, pittsburgh

matter of flora
sticks to the skin
pollen goes limp
in the shade
pores stay wet
succumb to moisture
pine trees even at this latitude
start thinking
they're a rainforest

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

earth note 506

songkhla, thailand, 1989

sunlight bouncing across the craters of the moon
staying visible thru half-a-day
rolling waves take their cue
fishing boats paused and bobbing
the surf labors to bring home the tide

where there are shadows within the grasp
of the mermaid
the sun will abide
sands forever beige
warming every touch

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 17, 2017

memory needs no script

prague, 1968

i never said
i knew enough
to write about the nurturing black soil
of czechoslovakia
or the soviet tanks
crushing every seedling rising in the field
then building expressways
to the money markets
the spring would have to wait
another year
another generation

vietnam, 1968

the planes dropped
burning chemical defoliants
and cluster bombs
emblazoned with
usa     usa
while a new plastic
hit the market
originally designed
for body bags

chicago, 1968

the democratic party
was a lethal machine
and after
the chicago convention
floodlights and police nightsticks
bayonets in formation
blood throughout the ranks
chemical defoliants

--- e b bortz

Sunday, July 16, 2017

earth note 505

i can't remember
the last time
rose of sharon
told everyone
on the back porch
that this is
the season we sing
in mountain thyme
or that red is still the rose
we open in our hands

--- e b bortz

Friday, July 14, 2017

earth note 504

does the rocky mountain lady
turn her head up
as the sun moves up

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

recovering notes from the deep, part 13

haifa, 1991

i'm going to catch hell
from the political and personal
for what comes out now
but if you can't say it
the way you feel it
why say it at all

we bicycled in the early morning
before the heat
through the haifa port area
before finally breaking out
into the countryside
heading north
past an orange growing kibbutz
with newfound friends
physicians from montreal
where fate brought us together
in a somewhat thatched hostel bungalow
the night before

we were animated
talking about what might lie ahead
even the world situation
came up and challenged
all preconceptions
they asked me about the last war
     the first gulf war
and all i could tell them was that
there were scuds from iraq
that hit residential buildings
killing several civilians
and that this was at a particular
tactical period when the israeli military
stayed out of direct conflict
so as not to upset
     somebody's grand coalition  
but really it was before my time in this place
and i certainly was no expert

but i knew the best bicycling roads
to akka or akko
as our eyes caught
each other's expression
we knew this might be karma

some details aren't as important
as the physical landscape
but i do remember the old walls
     in akka
and even more so
how the shadows wrapped around us
as i took her hand
for the first time

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

congressman, you've asked me to sign one more petition

and that's fine
i might just do it
but without using the word don't
i want to ask you something
     when will you stop cleaning up
     the shithouse
     known as the democratic party
they have oodles of corporate shills
paid in apartheid krugerrands
borrowed from your republican colleagues
to do those dirty deeds

is it not time to crawl out
& pitch your tent with the living

--- e b bortz

earth note 503

the dump trucks
keep coming
up the avenue
tarped over
to keep the dust down
even as the unburned diesel
darkens the tree line

what they're hauling
is a mystery
in the neighborhood
something that needs
to be asked about
or put up placards
before it tumbles down
a captive ravine

scrap concrete
from road repair
or coal
or limestone
or sand & gravel
or maybe
the mayor knows

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 10, 2017

death in manchester

who am i to write about this
a young woman and her friend
shot down on the street
     one died
many lives scarred
on the very streets
i walked down
fifty years earlier
with names like
liverpool and sheffield
the summer heat
m & i touched between us
at the very moment
every flower blooms
the wooden lattice
on your front porch
an organic framework
for what may be a future
your parents asking
how and where will you be going
     in the fall

--- e b bortz

Sunday, July 09, 2017

earth note 502

one self-absorbed hawk soars in the foreground
from the background
gray white cumulus
take extensive journal notes

there's an outside chance
a literary coup
is in the making

what the hawk stares at
becomes written verbatim
     this will not be workshopped
alive & synthesizing every moving detail
the ultimate full wingspan
even to the point
of chasing down & snagging
those pesky promotional blurbs

--- e b bortz

Saturday, July 08, 2017

earth note 501

the mirage at the end of the highway
is not the end of capitalism
we've been fooled before

billions of bank notes
have been stowed away
just for these emergencies

camus spoke of the absurd
did he include the oil tenders
of the machinery
and a trillion moving parts

infrastructure has no color
it was never meant to be alive
it grinds on
even after the road turns to water

--- e b bortz

Thursday, July 06, 2017

earth note 500

the storms are coming
and the only question is
when is it time
to lie fully prone
in a ditch
holding on to those teenage memories
scattered phrases
between bird songs
and what the experts say
when it's a couple minutes
to midnight

there might still be time
to pull weeds
keep up with the recycling
take a last cold shower
before heading
into the forest
standing somewhat erect
like our ancestors
expect from us

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

earth note 499

tired hills of eastern ohio
away from the interstate
at the bottom of a handmade clay pot
there's a spider that hasn't moved
in a century

clapboard houses
lining the two-lane
paint peeling up until
it gets dark

the timber too
has taken
a beating
leaves will be browning
before their time

overweight semis
roll through
on a regular schedule
crossing the centerline
skirting the shoulder
sweeping up gravel

mom & pop places
keep the old folks busy
the kids will be leaving
before summer ends

--- e b bortz

Saturday, July 01, 2017

earth note 498

marshall trail, north side pittsburgh

cool damp
will give way
to hot damp
a spotted fawn
takes flight
on its own

when i last hiked
there were footprints left
by the anonymous
from a paleontologist

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 30, 2017

earth note 497

ouray colorado
touching the land circa 1979...2016

between the years
and many decades prior
the uncompahgre river
tried but failed to vomit & flush away
the heavy metals
the murky orange
legacy european settler poison
growing out of
and still leaching
from the mines

the horses smell it and
know better
than to drink from it

before the plunder
chief ouray and the original people
fished   hunted   farmed   protected
at least 23 million acres
every river now
from their absence

by next election
the buck will get passed

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

recovering notes from the deep, part 12

june 1966

on that last official day
of high school
i didn't realize
it would be
a graduation of sorts
out of childhood
since i thought
i had passed that milestone
the pennsylvania turnpike to nyc
or the ohio turnpike to chicago
or the backroads
through tyrone on the way
to state college

at some point
i had a guitar
strapped on
and a denim shirt
missing buttons

there were low-wage jobs
and crash pads that
thrust me in the direction
of growing up
     not sure what that meant
     or even what it means now

i was always in favor of wearing beliefs
whenever they landed
not running from them
     accepting them like a kind of destiny
     with family roots or no roots

the summer blew past me
toward the fall-winter fur coat retrieval
warehouse job
earning enough before
seasonal layoff
to find a ride to california

by late winter
the money ran out
and some were wondering
when or if i was coming back

to a pittsburgh daytime
looking so dark

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 26, 2017

earth note 496

this one will be so bright
you'll need shades to read it

leave everything as it is
look for wild turkeys

the deer have brought you summer
take them at their word

there's high pressure in the west
let it lift you right off the street

there's no embarrassment
in getting lost on the trail

the rivers only promise movement
imagination must do the rest

--- e b bortz

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