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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

earth note 491

an online content provider
big honcho on the web
seeking more advertising dollars
and paid subscribers
once emailed me with a comment
that my earth notes should have
actual titles or subtitles
so that readers might be more
to reading them
at which point i answered
by picking up a crayon

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 16, 2017

earth note 490

peach      pear      cherry
on the edge of recognition
white pine spreading
up and out by the foot
bamboo waiting
will take off at anytime with a good windstorm
     a perky bush of pink flowers
     living the good life
     still without a name

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

recovering notes from the deep, part 11

about a dozen years after the release
of bob marley's no woman no cry
i found myself on a beach in southern thailand
on my only day off of the week
with a group of thai and farang and voices
and waves of guitar and keyboard solos

it was a time to hold your head up
speak up
the future wasn't clear
but every song had the potential
to become an anthem
and of course the whole world came to know
the music of marley & the wailers
so deeply
that you had no choice
but to look at yourself
stone sober
and act in his words
my feet is my only carriage

the teak forests of asia
were burning
the rivers flooding
the international mining interests
buying up every political hack
willing to be branded

but there was the message
of the music
and the many tears remembered
and left on that beach
and like the waves
and the ripples that still spread
the cut of the coral
will be painful
or a poverty of options
not always predictable
like an orange sunrise
touching the water
letting the spirit grow

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

concrete is a horrible first word of the summer

it makes steel reinforcing rods
seem benign
like there's an orderly framework
to a jackson pollock
     not a norman rockwell
          we've buried ourselves
          in our own propaganda
trucks & detour signs
forcing a new regime
     a derivative of regimentation
into the heat of july & august

don't forget your lane change
before the purgatory exit

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 12, 2017

earth note 489

one-act play

a dove sits alone
on a flat roof
waiting for the sun
to burn off
water droplets
     the maples wave
          leaves turning their backs

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 11, 2017

earth note 488

revisiting spider lake, itasca county minnesota

so i should start by saying
i never really made it to the water
on my 'revisit'
because maybe it's impossible
to wash the years away so easily
     the herons are still aloft
     but in many new generations
and anyway everything else
in the world has
so reconciling the new
unreality with what came before
is fundamentally
lying to yourself

but i took in everything i could
in as close
a proximity
as my old and new imagination
would permit
chewing on white birch bark
until my teeth began squeaking
being patient
letting the sky clear
& the whitecaps speak for themselves

--- e b bortz

Saturday, June 10, 2017

recovering notes from the deep, part 10

leaving pittsburgh
on july 4th 1976
was a combination of a subject
and a verb

it took determination and time
to move out
electrician tools stowed
behind the bench seat
of a candy-apple red pickup truck
the summer heat already oppressive
     sulfur dioxide haze and fireworks
have nothing to do with patriotism

the road to minnesota
through the great northwoods
could shake your mind loose
if you'd let it

so we ended up with
a pile of rocks in the middle
of a worked-out hay field
and a spread of wet lowlands
that seemed to open
your arms to cattails
and migrating geese

cutting ten cord of wood
made the summer
go fast
feeding the furnace
about eight months
of the year

there was nothing like
an outdoor sauna
in below zero
purging your pores
like fire and brimstone

on my way to the taconite plant
a grey wolf crossed the service road
eyes and nose straight ahead
mouth slightly open breathing
running for the deeper quiet
     we all seek

a snowshoe rabbit
blends in for most of the winter
sometimes you can get close enough
to see their nose twitch
their fur sway
with the wind

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 08, 2017

earth note 487

the clouds evolved
into the face of buddha
for about thirty seconds
enough to mark the day

when the wind dies
there will be no wake
only memories
of peace and beauty

our words
inadequate for the times
are a drop in the river
so let the flow be the journey

--- e b bortz