Thursday, December 01, 2016

earth note 440

there's no need
for excuses
when the air turns hot
dripping in moisture
asking all
for a pound of sweat
a payment
to the false gods
of human dominance
their boats & trailers & shouts
negotiate the narrow canal
shifting quickly
to avoid collision
other life beings
trying to stay away
from contact

but there is music
from the sea birds
when you decide
to listen

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

earth note 439

turkey buzzards
touching down
a mile from last year's
gathering point
they seem to have lost
a little speed
or maybe just deflated enthusiasm
the mangroves
haven't changed too much
though the wind
keeps the ibis

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 21, 2016

this is a test

for the next week
i'm going to try
to not say
the following words
and see if my mind clears
or my attitude improves:
clinton (either one)
republican or republicrat
democrat or demopublican
cabinet appointments
traffic on I-95

--- e b bortz

Sunday, November 20, 2016

earth note 438

even without a photo
the sight of a solitary hawk
in a mangrove
as the kayak slips up
fifteen feet between our eyes
as they meet
her or his eyes
head & shoulders above
peering down
no image
no prey
i move on

ibis clustering
along the intercoastal
standing their ground
pecking forever pecking
where the grass
is always greener

osprey waits
on a barren branch
head jerking east then west
the most patient will prevail
     or to each
     according to their need

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 14, 2016

earth note 437

our kayaks
have always been

you learned how
to put your shoulders
arms and back
into the motion
without the help
of navigators

if the wave breaks against you
you learn to make corrections
before it swallows you

there's nothing like
the salt
of your brow
as it touches your lips

---e b bortz

Saturday, November 12, 2016

earth note 436

there's always one
drafting on the migratory flock
saving up for the headwinds
& storms
a long journey
sometimes has
no logical ending
though you know it
the moment you arrive
steady heartbeats
are not for storing
spend them as you go

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 07, 2016

earth note 435

not too often
that the sky moves to
a deep blue
on this side
of the continental divide

giving you angles of sunlight
deceptively cold & piercing thru the canopy
from the marshall trail
lies a forest of leaves
to lead you on

stone benches
pull your body heat
straight to ground
the angst of the season

--- e b bortz

Friday, November 04, 2016

my hypothetical friend in this election

spent not his youth
but his current teetering seniorhood
fake believer in what appears to be
an empty room for the lesser evil
star studded wallpaper as an option
(no thank you i'll keep my faux pas rather than)
essential incrementalism
too little too late
maybe rubbing shoulders
with talkers who go over my head
     as i try to throw up my verbal defenses
     usually failing
     borrowing from camus and simple rebellion
telling my friend the obvious
that this might be our last go around
     the imprint left on the trail outside
     is our only truth
     coming from our mostly honest bare feet
     making the journey to ashes or dust
     one for celebration

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

earth note 434

there's a toll road
to the whitehouse
that goes thru pennsylvania
broken upended sections of concrete
like a split in the ruling elites
(where the light slips in like leonard might say)
from the last hurricane
to the first standing rock
an fbi shuffle
is in the cards
satisfying bottomliners
both sides of a crooked aisle
keeping a lid on things
becomes an end in itself

a seed is found
& cast as a green vote
the ridge finds
a river moving

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 30, 2016

earth note 433

one maple
can change the world
if we let it speak
for itself

high cirrus
find their own way
past the jets
& political hot air

a warm morning
is so out of place
leaves not knowing
which way to turn

there's peace
in the high grass
rolling in to clumps
of silence

--- e b bortz

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