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

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

his trigger finger to the world

is his middle finger
caught in the chamber
of no return
without an amputation
nuclear armageddon has no sex appeal
     isn't yet a new thriller
(but watch for the worldwide video game release)
     available in all languages

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 04, 2017

earth note 520

    photo by Sandra L Hazley

   highway 36 kansas

  no apologies
  for a back road
  and a field of sunflower sutras
  they started as wild flowers
  along the shoulders
  until they discovered
  the farmers
  since then
  every town makes a point
  of exclamation
  for their particular shade of gold
  wrapping 'round brown cores
  like the earth itself
  without grease & machinery

  the rain comes
  in deliberate beats
  like a chant
  passing mouth to mouth
  between the stems
  a field of flower

  --- e b bortz

Sunday, September 03, 2017

earth note 519

joes, colorado

just down the road
from cope
isn't a bar
or rib joint
but a flatlander town
with a grassroots community organization
that maintains
the activity building
a park
& pit toilets
clean as a field of sunflowers
the horizon
never gives up
a day without
a nod to a strong wind
as the crops bend
giving reverence
as their due

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 02, 2017


are covering
a well-worn carpet
with their secondary bets

the rain won't stop
until everyone
wipes their feet

takes a deep breath
and comes in
from the parking lot sprawl

eventually acknowledging
that we'll need multiple million jackhammers
to break up the paralysis

the negation of negations

--- e b bortz

Thursday, August 31, 2017

earth note 518

   i lay in the arch
   where time curves
   piñon pine has the bird's eye view
   the wind will force you
   to notice
   the grooves in your skin
   are transitory

   --- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

earth note 517

we left the aspen
the manti-lasal national forest
in utah
a few days earlier than planned
packing it all up
is a kind of separation anxiety
finally stuffing in the tent rainfly
as we're not ones to ever look forward
to a long drive back
to pittsburgh
it's usually hollow and uneventful
like the shell of a bygone era
keeping the radio off keeps the drivel down
the political signs
have all come down
or have rotted off their posts

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

earth note 516


birds shit in the water
this isn't so much
a statement of fact
just a possible verb tense
for present conditions
so either boil your water
or join the line at the buffalo
to get your water
which i failed to know about
early this morning
thus was just sipping coffee
as the phone message
came in advising me
to boil it first
before you drink
wash dishes
brush your teeth
     let me clarify this is
     for all of us on the northside
     and areas north of northside
     if you're confused
     call pgh water authority
     or to be safe just assume
     we're all northsiders now

repeat: birds shit in the water
this undoubtedly happened
and all precautions are now in place
including a duct tape repair
to the reservoir cover
and removing the word infrastructure
from all political shit lists

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 28, 2017

earth note 515

manti-lasal national forest, utah

daylight hangs suspended
transient in the aspen
bodies of white bark blemished
contrasting with the dark
long after
the pine and mountain grass fade
the deer finally bed down
as the sky opens
lifting our burdens
unmarked and unclaimed
without judgment

--- e b bortz

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