Monday, August 08, 2016

digital desperados waiting for the library to open

 durango, colorado

coming down
from the san juan mountains
tent campsite with giant pines
clean pit toilets
and good drinking water
but we've been so spoiled
in this digital world
of smart & unsmart phones
book readers
that coax our imaginations
even beyond the dirt roads
& smoky coal fired steam engines
winding thru the wilderness
to silverton

rain off & on a few times
with & without lightning
thunder rolling last night
shaking everything
'cept the dreams
lodged below the eyelids
the yearning for
a new day coming
in the spirit
of back country hikers
loading down along
the animas river
boulders rushing
marching with their packs
the shadows standing everyone tall
like the pines
melting into the woods

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

earth note 420

rico colorado
was about to come alive
or go to sleep
when we saw a pizza & bar sign
out near the road
touching our hunger nerves
braking & parking
at the side of the two-lane
in the company of a dozen
broken down buildings
a cook sitting out in front
of one of them
that we passed up for the pizza

the bar was old wood
embedded for decades
in beer & shot glasses
and when we ordered
the largest pizza with mushrooms
i can't say the thought
of dying from mushroom poisoning
didn't cross my mind
but of course that's all
long over with
glad to report
death missed us this time

the mountains peek down
on the valleys
in shadowy reverence
we pay homage
each late afternoon
as the aspens become
wind chimes
or prayer wheels

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

earth note 419

so the rock
jack pine
and oak
markings above the san juan river
forks east and west
ultimately meeting
beneath the rugged faces
of stone
pitched by the sun
always with the sound
     of renewal

--- e b bortz

Saturday, July 23, 2016

earth note 418

touch the skin of a cactus
or the needles of a yucca
just once
     the power of a defensive barrier
     like the one we've been waiting for
barricades grow natural
of this earth
may our spirits
pierce the fog
with truth

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

earth note 417

great sand dunes colorado

they were here before humans
from the summits
of the great sand dunes
to a foot of rushing water
in a creek now called medano
the calm of morning
can sometimes
make the world come to peace
in spite of itself
without asking for permission
or checking morning stock prices
centuries of hurt
real and never ignored
but without standing
in the sunrise shadows
of the mule deer
this other planet

--- e b bortz

Saturday, July 16, 2016

earth note 416

the wheat lands hotel
became the new sunflower inn
sometime before
the great deluge
yes the rainstorm
that flooded the rippled streets
of garden city kansas today
right after the chinese buffet
went from lunch to dinner
and everyone huddled around
the exit doors like they were
waiting for the skies to close
before a replenishment
of hot & sour soup
and the storm sewers
overflowing their capacities
within a famous kansas fifteen minutes
and then of course there was
the tornado in greensburg kansas
in 2007 that everyone remembered
& the ten lives that were cut short
& the plaque that was built
with the names & ages of the deceased
as we read their names just a hundred miles before
straddled by a line of new wind turbines
watching the clash
by southerly by northern winds
busting loose from the confines
of main street
nonexceptional america
into rolling sheets of water
and brimstone

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 04, 2016

blue green algae july 4th

flowing toward the abyss
up over the fuselages
of the blue angels
braggadocio warp speed
is just a modern day storyline
repeating john philip sousa
brass sections
     marching double-time
     to higher ground

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 30, 2016

earth note 415

from the dreamcatcher
comes the light of memory
clearly buried inside
but at a crossroads
you've been searching for

each texture turns
below the eyelids
bright and dark filters
even the wind
can be heard and touched

an unexplainable place
separated from logic
knowing and not knowing
rational in its limitations
will never see the color id

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

history is now

when the youth & the workers took over
the streets of paris in '68

only the top-shelf champagne & chardonnay were worried

when we filled the streets of chicago in '68
to stop the war and the democrat mayor daley war party

only the liberal & left career seekers thought it was the wrong tactic

dick gregory was on the ballot in pennsylvania & he would get
our nonwasted vote

legions of brute force of the state made it clear
we were on the human side of history

as were our brothers & sisters of the '68 prague spring

when civilians face down tanks & bayonets
that's usually recognized
as an end to democracy

all the focus groups might as well fold up
their platforms & side shows
and get ready for the main event

present tense noted

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

an inferno we can't see

burns in our midst
from the inside out
i run
looking for an escape
grabbing a strong branch
lifting the whole
dead body weight
to slip inside the canopy
like camouflage
the sight of smoke now
comes over the hill
     clear now
     even in darkness

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 26, 2016

who knocks on your front door

at dusk on a saturday night
trying to sell you a 'whole' package
of phone-internet-tv crap
that we've been busy shedding
like rattlesnakes
(watch our teeth)
as if there's some new electron
waiting to be claimed & resurrected
from the verizon archives
of obsolete machinery

oh yeah
can't wait
for the sunday morning
     monday morning
and selloffs

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 23, 2016

earth note 414

the trees are offering
the only passive resistance
carbon in
oxygen out
repeat until death
do us part

the high rollers
of 'progressive' politics
think they've figured out
just the right slogans
to cover the sham
misnamed an election

when it rains later today
it'll be a wash-out
in the broken tradition
of a rush to judgment
or a wall street circle jerk
gone awry

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

earth note 413

on the road
nothing is mundane
setting up and checking
the tent
this morning
in the driveway
still embedded with grit
from last year
before embarking
     a safety ritual
     or quirk of personality
though the zippers seem
to appreciate it
     in their shallow plastic
     that has replaced steel
before being called upon
by hot southwestern winds
petroglyphs and sand dunes
demanding from witnesses
an awareness
still to be written

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 20, 2016

earth note 412

circa 1989

lush is a meditation
not a commercial
it will make up
for the thousands of miles
of asphalt
concrete veins you've become

into another world
the rainforest is but
the original domain
that whispers when you thought
it might shout

from the hin lat falls
the flow is still against the tide
as i remember it
and a speculator's grip
can be made to open

if your sweat is genuine
gathering on your neck
and tastes
of mango

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 17, 2016

earth note 411

even dusk takes a short time-out
for one last angle of the sun
a yellow reflection stands
with the steel of the water tower
     trees of the ridge
sway in animated green
the river below prepares for darkness
as shadows move deliberately
up the ridge
songbirds take their last solos
     an improvisational ending
     or beginning

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 16, 2016

surviving another inquisition in the age of lesser-evil

the two choices
come down to
keep them all out
deport the ones still breathing
or surge the unintelligible
jackboot paraphernalia modern day
interrogation apparatus
     bone crushing when necessary
turn every self-hating or scared shitless
into an obedient informer
in the best traditions of monarchy
& authority

blah blah blah
you know how it goes
and ends
in a whimper

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, June 17, 2016)

Thursday, June 09, 2016

barely sixteen and in search of a bass clarinet

reggie & i
would venture over to the crawford grill
circa 1964
to catch
the jazz crusaders
or lionel hampton
or sonny rollins
and how did a misplaced teenager
still stuck in soprano clarinet garb
from the northside of pittsburgh
get hooked in as a jazzer
all of this with nothing
but coffee and cigarettes on the table
all of this
except the cigarettes i now deeply regret
is owed to reggie
who would walk a mile
with his standup bass
if there was a gig
to partake in
     for us
the wailing began when we walked
in the door
and the manager nodded to reggie
as we moved toward a quiet booth
in the back of the bar
and we sipped on coffee
for hours like the trance
would never end
and could only be experienced
but never actually described

the world might be coming apart
or shifting off its axis
but sonny rollins' saxophone
was just getting warmed up

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

earth note 410

a wild turkey
squawking alone
crossing over to
my side of the avenue
two doors up
he's been here
many times
knows the mail carrier
and which door
the mail slots are on

there's a band
of several others
somewhere in the lead
calling them out
the morning traffic

---e b bortz

Monday, June 06, 2016

earth note 409

in spite of all the so-called
of this culture
     bury your competitor
     when you have half a chance
it's pretty clear
from the songbirds this morning
     robins      blue jays      chickadees
in the trees on the ridge
no one's buying anything
of the nation state
they all sing their own tune
in their own voices
but not alone
and not in an army
of conscripts or volunteers

a chaotic chorus
of liberation

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 03, 2016

earth note 408

raindrops are sticking
to the north windows
suspended in flight
waiting for the wind
to evaporate them

i'm sorry this started off
as a weather report
i'll go where it leads me
even to the crossroads
of minutia

a poet told me
there is no content
without form
i refuse to believe that
sometimes form is a prison

there is no explanation
of why green tea
in the morning
takes me back
into the forests
of southern thailand

i need no explanation

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

earth note 407

not sure if it's superstition
or truly an alignment
of the planets
when a weed wacker
suddenly stalls in the shade
finally quiets
& lifts away its smoky fossil facade
before taking to the highway
on the back of a flatbed trailer
just as the sun goes setting

it might not seem like much
out of the ordinary
ask an astronomer
if we're heading into
some great unknown
celestial sphere

friends are dropping
all their routines
and setting out
into the unknown
or at least little known
away from the concrete sandbox
all its trappings
engineered road detours
mall constructions
gladiator games
of chance

if someone tries to sell you
another gadget
to alert you to the upcoming
wifi alerts just over the hill
tell them you're cool
and to stop texting you
about the greatest weed wacker
within or beyond
this universe
     'cause you're a hitchhiker
     and you travel light

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 29, 2016

early summer dreamscape from a thermonuclear war

real enough to suddenly wake me
in my own sweat and shared heartbeat
     from every specie
surrounded in hellfire damnation
burning to the center of the earth
the quiet of the president's words at hiroshima not withstanding
the only acknowledgement in this so-called
political season       of oligarchy & cartels never ending

the tweet machines & gonad aircraft carriers will peter out
     go silent with all their enigma codes in every language
          that never fooled anybody

who's the exceptional
     choose your pejorative here
thinking that they were born lucky
& unlucky enough
     to survive

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 27, 2016

earth note 406

in the heat
the maples seem to be holding hands
standing silent
like at a wake
body and spirit

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 26, 2016

wendell willkie hat in hand

mural in rushville indiana
looking down on us in his patriarchal way
as we ate our eggs
and wondered if every big-time politician
had at least one clean double-breasted suit
or pant suit
'cause the way things were going
folks were really losing all respect
to authority & authoritarians
so maybe a clean suit
will makeup somewhat for
the dirty money
sewn into the linings

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

earth note 405

highway 24 kansas revisited

in every tornado there is a wakeup call
when the path chosen
is too simple
the prairie in its rich knowledge
will always question your intentions
as darkness will pass
on a new crop of sunflowers
working its way
to where the roads

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 21, 2016

i can't for the lifeboat of me

figure out why millions of voters
who have finished their primary and caucus
     their voices all analyzed and deposited
     as small raindrops
     in the rising oceans
haven't deployed the green kayaks and moved on
abandoning their abusive relationships
in their respective (un)democratic & trump-republic
     parties of
money laundering schemes

i've been advised that all of that
is 'in process'
which i take to mean
there's still hope
provided we don't land on some small remote island
     and declare utopia

so forward on
keep paddling to the bittersweet end
     & watch for sandbars

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, May 21, 2016)

Friday, May 20, 2016

it ain't funny to be the laughing stock of the planet

when the water is rising
or there's a draught
or a thousand more refugees are locked away
it's easy to find heads in the sand or up someone's ass
     become the norm
cataclysmic events become secondary
to every single pubic hair on the body politic
a politician with a magnifying glass
and cell phone video just announced
he was getting ready to offer himself
to trump or clinton as vice president
in charge of public bathrooms

all coming up live
from the situation room

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

i tried my best

to keep a stride
running up brighton road
late for school
the graveyard monument stones
polished grey
standing up in the showroom window
watching me as i passed
on the balls of my feet

there was another track meet today
i wish the coach would stop trying
to make me a sprinter
i was strictly a long distancer

about the time i walked into homeroom
the bell for first period began
but it was just more machiavellian history
i was late for
and just cunning enough
to have memorized
the day's assignment

i ditched another class
that afternoon
and threaded new spikes
into my shoes

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 15, 2016

earth note 404

gulf of thailand, 1989

body surfing
you've given up everything
     except the moment

the waves are warm
when they pass
     you'll find yourself wanting

---e b bortz

Saturday, May 14, 2016

earth note 403

wanderlust is the only road
heading toward the rockies
that i've been able to keep
as a secret

the dust settles at night
without shooting stars
is the only shade of honesty

if you travel along the rio grande
the coyotes will guide you
wild voices will take you north
but you'll need to pack extra water

there are no riddles here
they've all been debunked
as decoys
from the truth

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 13, 2016

earth note 402

the tops of the trees
are a green movement
worth waiting for

sometimes wind can even move a mountain

on the street below
people ignore the signs
paycheck to paycheck

is a glass a whole lot less than full

if the clouds are bright enough
the shadows will try to follow you
so don't leave

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 05, 2016

earth note 401

lower northside, pittsburgh

before the baseball stadium
there was a neighborhood
of brick row houses
by the river
with small backyards
and an occasional fruit tree
just behind where
the old kenyon theatre
used to stand on federal street

the kids in those yards
were a page out of a
charles dickens novel
but without the chic crowd
to protect them
they became lost
sent away to some faraway land
with a rifle and a pep talk
about freedom

--- e b bortz