Tuesday, June 30, 2015

most of the time

there's nowhere to go
to block out
the boredom & powerlessness
of the present

i retreat
not from fear
but from monotony

& find solace
in words
& the imagined

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 29, 2015

if there's a ticker tape from greece next month

let it be a beat
from the bluest
of the aegean sea

fearless facing the storm
alive in the tradition
of ancient mariners

where the surf
offers up hand to hand

where the shipwrecks
& outmoded machinery
are scrapped with every illusion

--- e b bortz

Saturday, June 27, 2015

there's no pattern here

never was
in every recipe
there's embarrassment
of the obvious
like a steady rain
for hours now
needs the freedom
to keep going

& when the wind
shakes the bowels
don't believe it
until all the dues
have been paid
a promise
is nothing but another schedule
that can change

scribble down everything
remember nothing
every answer is really a question
pick through the remnants
& if the thrift store closes early
keep your backpack empty
the sidewalks
are still open

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 26, 2015

earth note 349

colors of the soul
drip down
just after dawn

with a cluster of red-brown leaves
burrowing in
a leafy green maple
across the avenue

as the rains come
& the traffic slows
the withering ones
& try to cover their tracks
worming inward 
drooping lower

a steady crawl toward the body
     where the trunk
     does not flinch

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

earth note 348

the planet records
an endless toll
on everything & everyone
who speaks her name
in vain
never forgetting
the ornery fool
staking a claim
& recoloring the forest

--- e b bortz

Saturday, June 20, 2015

running out of excuses

hearing the phrase
ego is exploited by the system without your consent
can be confusing
free will via madison avenue evil lesser
is beyond your control

in an average lifetime
the bed you make
repeats itself
thirty thousand times

even the ration books
have been sold off
to the highest bidder
& you've known that
many thousand times

you still have the word

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 19, 2015

in the raindrops

left last night
is the original sin
brought to the shores
of a misnamed rock
near a forest
without borders

this is not an answer
nor a hypothesis
the great minds
have all forgotten
since it may have been
beyond the pale

a manifest
of innermost logic
self-fulfilling prophecy 
has no challengers
     but the river

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

earth note 347

assateague island

mosquitoes picked up
our tent
as the flap opened
& buzzed right up
our asses
as we headed
to the pit toilet

telling all of this
is like giving up
a pound of flesh
blood & all
& the secrets
of the goddess
of self-identified
nature know-it-alls

in the wind
kayak calm
finds a marsh
& crab landings

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 11, 2015

earth note 346

assateague island marshes & beyond

on the third day
just behind a cluster of trees
the wind calmed
at peace with the water
spots of sun bouncing upward
finding a pair of herons
circle the bay
     as one splits off
     leaving the other
to fetch in the high grass

to the north
at the town inlet
heat & commotion grows
at the breakwater
gulls glide
just above the spray
before heading out
     to open water

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

earth note 345

assateague island

if there's such a thing
as a light gale
     lots of wind
     & a little rain
lifting the sand
off the beach
like hard-hitting dust
on a lonesome highway
     it was last night
that i brushed back
the memories
of that journey

morning solar panels
soaked in wind & salt
with only a touch
of sun

in the old part
of the ocean city boardwalk
the old carnies are long gone
but the millennials
     or maybe generation z
still have a representative
in the space balls girl
sitting behind
a fading shell
     a slow day
     a faraway stare

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

earth note 344

mount 'elden', flagstaff, 1980

the boys were ready
to take on the world
so we settled
for climbing a mountain

each step
up the trail
volcanic rock
crunched & released
a faint presence of sulfur
& as we left the trail
digging into the steeper parts
a calmness opened
as we gazed the valley
the manic highway
in the distance
the snow capped peaks
     the original holy sites
     of the original people
     & so many

aspen hugged the range
in the distance
leaves waiting to turn yellow
while the pine
on our shoulders
& in our shaky grip
were still black
in their recovery
     fire a few years earlier
     had marked the land

where the footpath ended
& the outcrops protruded
our steps became
most deliberate
     the purity
     of ancient water vessels
     shaped & painted by many hands
     broken by upheaval
     & time

we still search
for your pure waters

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

earth note 343

out west
floods wash over
every precursor ignored

a tornado by any other name
is still a bad place
to bet the farm

the crows have left
a parched field
without a trace

when the wind
sings a new tune
it'll already be too late

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 29, 2015

the notepad stayed blank

for what seemed
like many days
of nondescript notions
of importance
     trappings in the
     final analysis
breaking free has nothing
to do with luck

pushing past
still empty archives
of so-called conventional wisdom
is a full-time job

from the highway berm
every blade of grass
the dew

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 28, 2015

the wind became a train


rolling up the valley
like every gust
another length
of steel

as i still remember
a spiking hammer
in a ragtag crew

& we laughed
at the possibility
that the town
would welcome us

even with peace symbols
on our sandals
holes for tee-shirts
& no draft card

after work
we'd hide in the hills
til dark
& then descend incognito
to the nearest roadhouse
joy to the world

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

earth note 342

moraine state park, pennsylvania

memorial day carp jumping
like they needed your attention
so forget about digging into
another 6-pack

and look around you
where the front lines
meet the fracking rigs
& wasteland miles of pipe & concrete

chewing up forest
faster than tent caterpillars
sometimes it's convenient to confuse
destiny with decision making

only a kayak can split
the coldest part of the lake
without waking the blue herons
     always watchful

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 24, 2015

earth note 341

there's rhythm
in the way
the grass moves

every beat on this
tortured planet
has a refrain

carry your drums
& words
with you

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 23, 2015

earth note 340

the tree tops
to sweep the sky
the sun has a finite
number of arcs left

the loss of patience
is a sign
of waking up

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 21, 2015

in the reflection of just one tear

i found your vision

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

primary election day, pittsburgh

my imaginary vote today
goes to a resilient
group of wild turkeys
in my neighborhood
on the north side

& to the deer
in mount lebanon

even to the groundhog
who burrows under
the collapsing

all of them represented
who they really were
without dialing for dollars

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 17, 2015

darkness at noon on a sunday

been trying to insulate
from these pep talks
the talkers never giving up
on redirecting
every possible thought & subject
     yeah like in a monarchy
or oligarchy

can't say i've had much success

the rain drums down
still the teams take the field
for the beer & peanut hucksters
just trying to get by

madness isn't the worry anymore
since it has become
the common denominator

drones circle the andaman sea
push refugees
to the end of the earth

death sentences
tweeted out
in monotone

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 16, 2015

earth note 339

there's no point
in belaboring the point
that by some obscure process
weather patterns
remain abstract in my eye
     yet need no consult
     from the newspapers
nor overt descriptions
in the way the clouds face off
northwest by southeast
as if a storm
gathering for a last hurrah
forced the leaves
to face upward
with open hands

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

not sorry for bursting a bubble

but this whole work ethic thing
really is a crock
people work so as not
to starve
it sure as hell shouldn't qualify
as a moral belief system
since every ruling elite
has the game rigged
& the prisons ready
to keep you next to nothing
yet they call it subsistence

the social safety net
is a gaping hole
might as well tell
those doctors & hospitals
thank you
but don't count on me
to recoup your fees
this stone is dry

making jobs
is nothing but propaganda
a mantra
loud & deafening
like the Ds & Rs
all had their chance
& all they gave us
was climate turmoil
oil spills
& broken kidneys

i guess just hanging on
is something of a rebellion
scroll that on your walls if you'd like
     or consider it dues
     & don't ask me
     for a contribution

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 10, 2015

is it ego and/or fear

that stops me
without apology
another year
in the finite span
i find it convenient
not to mention

there's always
another rationalization
for two lonely gardeners
or maybe adventurers
the best of the day
ahead of us
which for today
is sufficient

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 07, 2015

earth note 338

the peach
& apple trees
have been chanting
for a few days now
     let me live
     put me in the ground
     with room to grow
     & give me a long cold drink
     from an infinite well or spring
          my health is your salvation
     if you want redemption
     make room for me  
     leave those fossils
          in the ground
                    rip out the strip malls
          & build a living altar
          with the colors
          of the rainbow

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

earth note 337

it's rough being 
an optimist
in fact any kind
of ist

where the monongahela valley
cuts hard south
the smog concentrates
on slowly killing everything
within reach

there will always be
the rah rah newspapers
of american power
conformity without admitting
you've been suckered
by flags & gadgets

on the news last night
we were told about
how much progress
has been made
cleaning up the air
     democrat & republican
hands across the river
one more time

obviously no one
is checking
the cancer hollows

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 04, 2015

earth note 336

this day may 4th
always leaves me
anxious for what
comes next
the sun yesterday
in kent ohio
broke all records
for clarity
each year
a new record
in clarity
as every poet
marks time
and the river answers
those impenetrable questions

i can't help
but listen to the road
     a bicycle
& the sound of a scythe
cutting through the grass
as the equator
finishes another day

& on this side of the planet
the marchers will continue
& the elites will be listening

from every field & forest

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 01, 2015

earth note 335

fog divides
like a ravine
which side
to be on

there aren't many
black cherry left
to be cashed in
so now they're digging
into the womb

every breathing lung
tells a life story
immersed in micro soot
chemistry becomes
your diagnosis

a doctor's notepad
is not legal tender
this valley
is set to be trampled
one more time

choose your side

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

earth note 334

north dakota / minnesota line

first light
is always a surprise
when shadows cast
& the road appears
there will be no
     ration books
in the next town
     where broken tractors
rust in the wheat belt
& silos speak
of shortages

farmers & coveralls drape
the round table
in the restaurant
a circle
looks out

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 27, 2015

earth note 333

from the school
on the ridge
there's a great lawn
with a font no one else
can read
the words come & go
leaving clues
& the mind has a mind
to create
without boundaries & dogma
     so beware

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 26, 2015

earth note 332

some trails
continue misleading
by covering over
all previous
when every tree
was in full bloom
and a songbird
still had voice

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 23, 2015

poetry without walls 1997

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

earth note 331

west park, pittsburgh

gutters on western avenue
pushing to the river
like a deluge
long awaited

a railroad trestle bridge
fenced off for decades
separates the have-not
from the have even less

a footpath from a child's first steps
but noted here
this earth day rain

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 19, 2015

earth note 330

the low cooing
from the roof
is a mourning dove
a very full
body of feathers
beige with a tint of rouge

followed by the boldest cardinal
     edith piaf

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 18, 2015

recovering notes from the deep, part 7

it was always cold enough in november
for a flooded cloverdale ice rink
to draw pickup hockey games
on the weekends

young & old found
new & old glory

the boys had a way
of ribbing me
to my limits
like when are you going
to learn
to skate backwards

i never did

by january
the cold
shortened the games
     we transitioned
to cross-country skiing
by then
after the wood pile
was replenished

every blue sky
     and they were deep blue
that lasted through high noon
was a gift

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 16, 2015

earth note 329

thoughts are still there
in the peaks near
ouray colorado
in the back of a pickup
a steel bed can be soft
if you give it freedom
to move

and the middle of the night
is truly the darkest hour
in the best sense of the word
when every star brings its mission

we portaged a canoe
from northern minnesota
dipped it a few times
in the susquehanna
& lake mary arizona
never thinking for a moment
that being permanent
was an accomplishment 

the high desert is drier now
every cottonwood you see
is on life support
& remember
the cottonwood is
the resourceful one

the water barons
are the new elites
packaged with desperation
to fool us
one more time

so stay nimble
we've traded up the canoe
for kayaks
even if there are
no getaways

--- e b bortz