Wednesday, July 30, 2014

earth note 289

as the coal cars roll
over the railroad bridge
river below
always wondering
if the destination
is worth the pain

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 28, 2014

earth note 288

a morning chill
can be the wakeup
you've been waiting for

it's not enough to say
the heat's been broken

a new kind of day
can barge right in
when least expected

wild green brush
now a wave
deliberates downwind

broken edges of the sidewalk
become a blur

an orange cat
sits pensive
     suddenly scrambles

a moment is hard to measure

--- e b bortz

Saturday, July 26, 2014

earth note 287


schenley park has been overthrown
by urban cosmopolitan society
     new soccer fields
     all-weather track
it motors on with
bmw & the impatience
of another bureaucratic job
euphemistically dressed
in a snotty
health industry blazer

for every hiker
there are four joggers
with headsets

since the last i wrote about this
the cyclone fence has been replaced
the tennis courts resurfaced

yet the squirrels
are gone
running for the thicket

i follow

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

in this moment

the most meaningful
is to trade places
with the most vulnerable
become the parent
of a lynched teenager
become a collateral damage
     a child in gaza
become a disruptor
of the propaganda mill
ignore pundits
expect ostracism
close your eye for an eye
past the walls & borders
     open a hand
     reach out
     past the wire

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, July 12, 2014)

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

camus still cuts the grass


a couple of barren rooms
look out on friendship avenue
the windows are drape-less
on the second floor
leaving the woodwork
open to view

creative minds
it would seem
clashed within these interiors
a house of painters or potters
even poets

the empty walls
stand together
visible only
by dim reflection
     of years gone

---e b bortz

Sunday, June 29, 2014

earth note 286

there's a poem
that hides
in the thicket
of a 60-foot norway spruce
along the back ridge

it precedes us
by decades

the poem/spruce
carries our burden

pine cones cover
the ground every year

our friend paints them
for the holidays

the tin birdhouse is empty
but the thicket sings

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

earth note 285

even without a rain
sometimes the air
is as thick and moist
as a teardrop

heavy enough
to leave an impression
on your tongue

in a language
as common
as sorrow

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

earth note 284

a couple of books
in a backpack
one being the atlas of thailand
a phrase book
two water bottles
an empty space
for chrome fenders
now gone
a crank & chain
in need of a degreasing
the road
just too hot
first light is best
for leaving

no movement
in the coconuts
another breeze-less

dark corners
on the cliff
at bannasan
rock still
as it swallows
the whole sun

two water buffalo
work the field

orange & red prayer flags
make an offering

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 22, 2014

solstice report

news: still waiting for peace to break out
weather: it'll change tomorrow
tides: check them before putting in
civics: go back down to the river & cleanup
arts: foundations are precast pedestals
sports: make it participatory
financial: take those silver spoons & ...whatever
traffic: take the bus
science: watch for floods
energy: you've been fracked
politics: see energy

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


as in everyday
the weight of the world
is measured
by the cumulative
breaking away
lifting off
broken streets

--- e b bortz

(published in firedoglake.com, July 29, 2014)

Monday, June 16, 2014

water is running out in iraq

blood will be the replacement
thousands more refugees
keep their heads down
& scatter
coming to the conclusion
that oil is the
the tic in the uptick
of the dow
the plague
on being borne
our ethos
     being written

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, June 16, 2014)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

there are no sand sculptures

on a desert
unless scorpions
are having an opening

no beach parties
unless the ukes are perfectly tuned
and the wind has passed

once the sun goes under
all you can do is wait

the highway is deceitful
in time it will disappear

your shoes are finally broken in
& you can search again tomorrow

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

earth note 283

morning fog
the mask
that leaves
the imagination

concrete truck
starts its day
up the avenue
can't stop

sky mixes
like gray soup
dripping heavy
with maples
barely passing for canopy

river is silk
rolls like a cloud

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 05, 2014

burning fossil fuels...subtlety at its minimum

even without the additives
even the most submissive
will wake up
smelling the gas

but there is no shortcut
or endless scenario
or grand bargain
on the pathway
where extinction looms
yet the valley remains

when did geoengineering
become anything other
than dark holes from snake oil hucksters
& when will universities become unapologetic
     when will middle ground
     be seen for what it is

methane shifts & finds the fractures
the casing & tank & human failures
leaving a burned-off poison
on our collective tongue
garbling our speech in so many words
the money follows the accomplices
     we'd be fools to think otherwise

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, June 7, 2014)

Sunday, June 01, 2014

there were times

when i kissed
the pacific ocean
that i imagined
the gulf of thailand

maybe camus
could explain this
or maybe
no explanation
is needed

the water is
seldom gentle

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 31, 2014

earth note 282

during the drunken frat party
the bankers changed suits
grabbing their insiders
& raising the extractive industries
up to the highest altar
grotesque contours
to the land
from its dark bowels
to the sun of its mountain tops

a hangman's noose
a fait accompli
outlives the judge
posing now
as a lariat
changing colors regularly
to match the new panache
threading the new hipsters
for another go around

the growling heard
is the same old machinery
chewing & spitting
covering the tracks
like any addiction

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 24, 2014

talkin earth note blues, rev zero

so the united states and russia
have carved up the fracking planet
for their similar yet disparate ends

and those of us who scream on the coasts
on the river fronts
in the lakes & forests
on the deserts
at the wellheads
are deemed alarm makers
and worse

so we won't be entering
that McPeter
without the do-ra-me
as woody might say
staying right here instead
passing on the song
in climate refugee purgatory
clockin time
diggin sod
gathering raindrops

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 23, 2014

earth note 281

love is a hot
westerly breeze
strong enough
to raise waves
downwind ohio river geese
with a row of goslings

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 18, 2014

red-blue-red, part 4

a cardinal flies in with a message
lands near the top of a small white pine
leaves a calling card
with a website
disconnected phone number
a press release announcing
a presidential run
looks left and right
by the sound
of wings flapping

a blue jay follows
singing's not his strong suit
stage left

the geese on the ohio river
have post-traumatic-stress
     bloodshot eyes

i'm not colorblind

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 17, 2014

recovering notes from the deep, part 6

it can take decades
to write it down
maybe even irony has a place in this

the greyhound bus lines began
in hibbing minnesota in 1914
i took a one-way greyhound
leaving the iron range
from hibbing in 1991
with a backpack
and a boxed-up bicycle

scores of towns & stops
before nyc
and then jfk airport
and then israel

but this isn't about that

but about the act of leaving
the beginning of summer
coming on strong
drying up the low lands a bit
the first real heat 
bicycling itasca county 8
     the boys bravely keeping up
     with the 'club' ride
the new sprouts
on both sides of the road
though my eyes looked
straight and immediate

separating from my sons
the twins graduating from high school
the two older ones off to college
our futures were destined
for many directions

the hundred pine seedlings dying
in the front field
a few weeks late
in the planting
still glad we tried

on the way out
a last go around
at nashwauk high school & track
where frozen spring begins
with a pounding on your feet

and then on to hibbing
past the library and high school
it'll always be zimmerman's high school

in the distance
the mines & stacks
of the taconite plant
brothers & sisters
keeping on
it'll always be north country blues

with every blue lake
the thaw is only temporary
gouged out red rock piles
every white birch       bark peeling
deep green tamarack    
aiming straight for the northern lights
remembering when my eyes
first crossed sight
with a gray wolf
a fly over of geese
letting us all know
     there comes a path
     and a time

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 15, 2014

earth note 280

heat & rain
rush in
clouds parting way
to awaken a japanese lemon thread
     wild yellow
through the night
up the hillside
     a radical renewal
     from the dormant
every border has been scaled
worms tunnel      topsoil breathes
leaves turn over
their veins swelling
green & sweating
     an anonymous catalyst
          handing off       an embryo

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

breakout is like spring

a red maple grows a thicker skin
worn without apology
the new day shocks every status seeker
     old ways die first
     by not being listened to
washed out political honchos
spill like cliches
emit what can't be acknowledged

     most everyone is moving on

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, May 16, 2014)

Monday, May 05, 2014

beliefs in a backpack

still waiting for the paper
to spit the words onto

saying it won't happen
is defeatist

doesn't matter what the
weather's like
or where a daydream
comes from
or what the crows
keep squawking about

the paper is its own voice
considers itself
still a cousin to the forest
simple and complex
in a hurry
when the water's high & fast
     slow when the decay
     sets in

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 28, 2014

earth note 279

ohio river marina
bobbing in the current
early in the season
they're still mostly vacant
     wealthy cabin cruisers
     dry docked or sold
     to the highest bidder

the bicycle trail
runs with the valley
making its land claim
empty docks sway and sing
     metal to metal
     the wind
     a tuning fork

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 25, 2014

what comes around

thinking that lone turkey
pecking around at the end of the yard
paying attention to the hillside drop-off
lost from a half-dozen others
     a roost of one
just might be
my mother incarnate

a true rosie-the-riveter
scarfing up loose food
providing for the community
     if she ever reconnects
stepping through resurrected
green buds
new grass
a trail of her own

running away
if i approach

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 24, 2014

poetry critic conundrum

don't ever try to finish a poet's thought

many think only
in code

seldom speak in sentences

never give up much
by expression

hand gestures
might be a distraction

a voice is still
only one voice
on one day

the paper is always a draft

everything that exists today
is considered temporary

locations are all in transit

spontaneity is a beginning
and end in itself

and most important
the poet always
gets the last word

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

internet walls

in a closet
not unlike provincialism
creating its own rationale
friendship propaganda

multitudes navigate
gated panaceas
exclusive interlocking webs
words & images pass
back & forth with quips
     & minutiae dangling
          for loose change

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

mother earth knows

you can't harangue
the children
into behaving
     growing up is painful
and liberating
all at the same time

watch out for the chest thumping
super heroes
they just might be hollow
& some stories just don't have heroes

holier than thou
isn't tried and true

but if you'll dance
with her
     your life will change

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 20, 2014

this cycle is coming to an end

after the headache is gone
every word thereafter
begins a new poem
unfinished     irreverent     without cares
like throwing seeds
upon a blank canvas
waiting for the sun
to surface

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 14, 2014

a stake tears through pennsylvania

it comes in vertically
then makes a ninety degree turn
heart and lungs collapse
rigs      pipes      toxic fluids
compressors cough
bring up blood
cover the carcass
old scar tissue
cut again
methane oozes from the pores

the emergency room was torn down
     years ago
the land
an industrial colony
lost its way
when the creeks
dried up
and the politicians
     swallowed the silver

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, April 17, 2014)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

whatever it takes

will be less
than what exists
that broken down cityscape
might last a few generations
so get used to it

making the rivers run like sewer runoff
is like a thousand taste-dead
empty mouths
with nothing but salt
on their tongues

the fiber optic cable
offers very little light
so keep groping       imagining
when rubber hits the road
& skid marks go missing

what's the point
of disassembling every keyword
& losing random bits
there is no technocrat
with a new codeword

for happiness

--- e b bortz

protest in the street

picks itself up
& bounces thru the stop light
the newspapers
are but scraps
a gray courtroom
grows padded walls
deafening to all
but the powerful
     tuning out
     all but
     the secret codes

a voice escapes
justice waits

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 06, 2014

earth note 278

in the rush
where leaves
find their final
not because of any
higher consciousness
or new awareness
but because the hillside
is just steep enough
to keep leaf blowers
and their gassy assholes
off balance
confined to manicure
the cushy few
in the suburbs

a couple of squirrels
shift and chase their tails
through the maple leaf beds
     their playful softness in the brush
     is an illusion

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 27, 2014

we were probably the only family

washing the kids' jeans in the bathtub
one day shy of payday in simi valley california
two thirds of a salary going to rent & utilities
but close enough to bike to work
     and a damn good thing

we loaded a fiberglass canoe     bicycles
     the kids' beds and no furniture
     into a supercab pickup
made the trip from northern minnesota
to the san fernando valley and then over the mountain
     into ventura county
          just to find other families living in cars
               and picking through trash bins
but those beautiful tan bodies on the beach
     sure could fool ya

my oldest boy spent hours
     in an empty bedroom with a guitar
     making sun baked middle class blues licks
alone but juxtaposed
with the television generation millions

the next son read almost all the ray bradberry books
     all the science and chemistry he could take in
     creating a room full of maps & procedures
          a labyrinth of logical fantasy

the twins sean and neil ended up being
     the most social among us
     bringing over the neighbor kids
     to build a fort in the rocks      cactus
     ledges with black widows behind the house
     telling them that our furniture was
          coming soon
     when they peeked in
     at empty walls

those california freeways weren't free at all
     we packed it all in after a year
retraced the road back to the minnesota woods
just in time to smell the last hay cuttings of august
          and a lake superior thunderstorm

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

earth note 277

there's an assumption
that the virtual world
is smaller now

corporate banners drape
the walls
just beyond the buddha gaze

it's over twenty-five years
since i worked in southern thailand
the heat persists
everything else has changed

i stopped eating prawns
decades ago
mango rambutan and little bananas
are still sweet

the tapi river
may not be fished out
but the teak forests
need to be hidden away

in every dark alley
a lone welder strikes an arc
a hundred baht
less than yesterday's exchange

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 21, 2014

earth note 276

two wild turkeys
feathered angst
in a strip mall
parking lot
anxious to leave
the roar
of the highway
penned in between
another sprawl
with vengeance
like looking for safety
in steel awnings
dark corners to hide in
a pile of loose
auto parts & asphalt
everything feeds
an unspoken chaos
politicos offer their personal
dialing for dollars
that special touch
     warm as concrete

--- e b bortz

Saturday, March 15, 2014

earth note 275

where are the seeds
or maybe you're already
a seedling

a barren hill
is only temporary

an open hand
kneads the soil

make no mistake
simple digressing
will happen on its own

sometimes the sun leaves
without being noticed

there's already
another one coming

when the crow finds
gray clouds
new roots are taking

--- e b bortz