Friday, October 21, 2016

earth note 432

fifty-five years ago
my dad would say
as we crawled & bumped along
     endless stop & go
in his appliance repair panel truck
his tools rattling inside
a wooden box used as my seat
antsy against the traffic on mcknight road
especially when it snowed
     feh he'd say
who'd want to live out here

today the dozers & backhoes
are tearing down a mall
in order to build a bigger one

looks like a lotta dust to me

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

stop denigrating poetry

like it's an appendage
on the academic lecture circuit
smoothing over the dissonance
like an obedient subject
providing milque-toast
to the toastmasters
rationales to the powerbrokers

poetry comes from the deepest
of the deep
the most subversive
where blood
is paid like duty
where chains are unlocked
only after death
where the voice
never signs-off

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 13, 2016

the rubicon continues to fall into place

a few minutes to midnight

syria iraq yemen in flames
ukraine & the baltic states
like chess pieces
shoved down a fossil throat

cheap politicians
trade epitaphs
for their future grave markers
and currency

moguls find new clothing
change quickly
in the senate cloakroom
steal the latest itune

in this kind of world
encryption wraps king tut
like an adolescent's
wet dream

hate and/or neglect
speaks the language of the airwaves
levees break upstream
an outstretched arm pokes from a rooftop

elites gush
like they just found the secret code
browbeating & interrogation
morphs into guilt by association

a chameleon on every block
a snitch in every bedroom

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

earth note 431

a groundhog with a nasty road-rash
hobbles thru the backyard
deliberate but recovering
it seems
just in time for winter

cars shoot over the hill
rush down toward the river
work and work
is the four letter word
before this week's football game
or next week's so-called presidential

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

earth note 430

key west night
away from duval street
no shuffling crowds
just the heat and smell of mint tea
in old town
creaking porches
and loose coconuts
the street sweats in papaya
i'm still walking free
for the open mic

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 01, 2016

earth note 429

the wet pavement
is a mirage
on the waving grasslands
of northeastern new mexico

late summer
everything is brown
the radio station carries
for a couple hundred miles

the country schools
are having a paper sale
still looking
for teachers

you don't need a weatherman
just look at the big sky
it takes a long view
before knowing the future

i'm told there's another crossroads
to contemplate
i'm not so sure
it didn't disappear

behind the dried up water tower

--- e b bortz

Friday, September 30, 2016

earth note 428

khao sok national park 1989

the gravel road
is a challenge
on skinny tires

the sun makes you
remember the first song
you sang out loud

hardwoods are a surprise
here on the edge
of a rain forest

the reservoir is quiet
almost motionless
rubber trees misplaced

heat will bring you
to a new plateau
your ankles will sweat

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 24, 2016

class struggle


it was a sunday afternoon
at the bowling alley
brighton place & california avenue
in the hallway downstairs
that elmer fleishman
asked tiny (the biggest among us) & me
when we were going to go upstairs
and get ready to set up pins
for the steelworkers duck pin league

we both said in unison
we were on-strike today
for higher cents-per-line
and now a couple more pinsetters
chimed in and it looked like a full-fledged
worker action of 13-year-olds
and elmer was nearly in tears
as he whined about how bad
the business was
and then
even a couple of union steelworkers
started pleading with us that we should just
pin-set for them today and "negotiate" tomorrow
with elmer 'cause that's the way
their union would do it
but we remained "belligerent"
13-year-old "wildcatters"
trying to get more pinsetters to join us
and after about a half-hour
realizing we only had half the numbers we needed
to really shut it down
we joined the others in our holes at the end of the lanes
thinking about how to do it better next time
scarfing up the extra quarters coming down the lanes
for tips
& lessons
in half-ass solidarity

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

a simple pledge

refusing to choose
among the trumps&clintons
fire makes ice makes water makes fire
from this cycle

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 17, 2016

when the storm finally comes

watch the tops of the trees
and stay downwind
keep a shovel nearby
dig a hole if you have time
don't worry about phone reception    

there are trails to follow
that lead to the outcrops
after all
your ancestors
were cliff dweller stone masons
not pokemon

the emergency broadcast signal
is a failure to communicate
we shoulda been worrying
about all of this about the time
of the industrial revolution

before going off the high ground
learn to be a sailor
take all precautions
for the high water
there'll be no kayaks
to rent
or steal

don't bother reporting
suspicious activity

--- e b bortz

Thursday, September 15, 2016

earth note 427

you think you know
the depths
of a september river
but you forgot
that there is silt
coming up from the floor
stirring free
     clouding your brain 
rising from dormant
like iron ore waste piles
broken up in life
a life just as well
kept hidden
from every dream
left in fragments
     green landings
     just beyond

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

earth note 426

sometimes the prevailing winds
will be less than truthful
sending out false signals
that the sky is clearing

norway spruce and white pine
on the ridge
go limp

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 12, 2016

earth note 425

big torch key

struts out a few miles
past the highway
its wetlands and inlets
resisting the bullies
old ways and natural decay
merge in the mangroves
egrets & herons
look for cover

--- e b bortz

Sunday, September 11, 2016

earth note 424

key west

on the atlantic side
there's an irregular juxtaposition
most notable
between food trucks
heavy in frying
and the expensive hotels
just across the avenue

the ocean
is the common denominator
settling all disputes
as the tide speaks
you will put away
territorial notions
and just listen

once in a while
a group stuffed
in a convertible
will pull up
onto the beachside sidewalk
for photos
and showing off bodies

we're living through
ego mania like it's
a new survival technique
there's no use complaining
i can't rationalize it
'cause i'm part
of the problem

the city streets
are packed
with once-a-year bicycles
i wear my eco stickers
on my bicycle top tube
and believe i'm doing
my part

yes aleppo
that city in syria
is being bombed again
refugees flood toward
the ocean
connecting us all

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 10, 2016

sad times indeed

my dad would often say
be the optimist
find the positive
within the negative

i've tried dad

fifteen years out
and the planet
is afire
worse than
my dark imagination

water wells
are not running
oil & gas wells
have pushed everything else
to the edge
an abyss
in the making

poverty is the
sole identifying
for what was once
called life

so many wars
the protagonists
haven't even named
them all

the democrat apparatchiks
still blame ralph nader
for speaking truth

the summer of love
is only a rerun
the creatives now
are all in it for the money

trees are afflicted
throwing up their offspring
leaves going directly
from green to dead

a particulate mask
is the new fashion
madison avenue

leaving only
a throat
as a voice
as a statement
as a rant
as a blank sign
to be filled in
as quick as possible

--- e b bortz

Thursday, September 08, 2016

earth note 423

unless you live in a mountain chalet
in durango colorado
with a paved driveway
snaking up to your outdoor hot-tub
the dust never really settles
coming up the dirt road by junction creek
up up to the big pines
of the national forest campsites

the dust near sunset
is sepia
giving you faraway thoughts
of green hills
rubber trees
a big buddha on koh samui
in thirty baht flip-flops

the hikers near junction creek
traverse their way to the trailhead
over-compensating their start
in four-wheel drives
and two hundred dollar hiking boots

i tried but failed
to get good pictures
with the dust suspended
from memory

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

earth note 422

u.s. route 20, euclid avenue

the only tangible
is one that you can hold
in your palms
rub the earth
behind your fingernails
pickup food and pass it along
like daniel
to the folks who
need it most
and then go rest
in lakeview cemetary
i'm sorry i missed
his transition

the planet is filled
with imposters
war machines
built on so many
twisted fears
the leaves are not
but life itself
to shade out the bitterness
the rain will come
and wash us all
if we're so lucky

those are not clouds
but haze
hanging in the gallows
there are no clever
when walking alone
every highway
will leave you
for another explanation
so you revert
to the things you think
you know

a couple sparrows
are dumpster diving
into the rain gutters
passing their food around
like a potluck commune
it's just

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 29, 2016

oil boom to dustbowl to fracking rigs & tornadoes

read the history of oklahoma
or let your eyes really open
on its horizon
and it looks like everyone
     except regular folks
have made all the decisions

factory hog farms & feeder lots
chemical fertilizers
& monsanto terminator seeds
pick up what's left
and bury the prairie
and foothills
in shit
& blue green algae

hear the aboriginal drums
     now listen
          let the buffalo roam

--- e b bortz

Sunday, August 28, 2016

earth note 421

ancient pueblo cliff dwellers
stone and mud mortar
reaching high above fertile valleys
cultivating and harvesting
corn beans squash
their secrets held sacred
fire pits and water basins
pottery a practical art
from ten thousand brown hands
living through millennia
pulling in the sun
through time and space

before the europeans plundered
& the rivers dried up

--- e b bortz

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