Tuesday, September 01, 2015

earth note 359

just another weekday morning
cars rushing down the avenue
wrapped around their coffee cups
tied up in heat & humidity & time clocks
striking down in unison
sweat dripping off the trees
likes to think
it's a greenhouse
when in fact
the insides
are all but

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 31, 2015

words left on an empty park bench

aren't necessarily lost
intentional abandonment

tomorrow they'll take on
a new meaning
if it rains
only the vowels will
leach out

being in a fixed place
is overrated

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 24, 2015

earth note 358

spirit lake and beyond, colorado

all the footsteps     trails     origins
of the original people
immersed and living
with this land and water
for millennia
without malice
brought to life
through sudden sunrises
and rapid sunsets
commanded by the mountains
and the colors of each day's prism
borrowed then renewed
re spiriting all who were touched
or found reverence
were made sacred

then the mine owners
manifest destiny long rifles came
dominating from a void
without conscience
ripping through
aspen & pine forests
corralling the free
shredding the wind blown high grasses
leaving barbed wire walls
as the standard excuse
for private property

a few nights ago
i thought i heard
a strong solo drumbeat
coming from the canyons
in the north
just as the spirit lake blues festival
was winding down
a wavering blues harmonica
rose and faded away slow
the lake had now calmed
a fingernail moon
stamped its image
on the water
the rock faces of the canyon
spoke again
the drumbeat echoed
long into the darkness
     where the original dream
     lives on

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 17, 2015

earth note 357

rocky mountain national park, colorado

the grassland
before the peaks
shift each morning in the sunrise
it's in their nature
to confront & adjust

a mystic sculpture lies
at the top of the mountain
some say a woman
resting her eyes
from the troubles of the world
synthesizing all the green 
to become brown with the earth
brown as the origin
of all life
as the indigenous

when snow joins
the river
what passes
for calm
will be broken

--- e b bortz

Sunday, August 16, 2015

earth note 356

estes park, colorado

moss clings to the opposite side
of the creek
pines shelter out the sun
with a short meadow beyond
every rock challenges the flow
in the name of the dormant
     for now
when the sky opens
to the last of the summer
it'll be time to walk
the path of the mule deer
     search new pastures

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

it's important not to put too fine a point on it

this crossed my mind
as detached as i am in the colorado wilderness
how bernie sanders was answering
black lives matter
in his new stump speech
& i was finishing up
invisible man ralph ellison
in my tent
& thinking it would be good
if bernie took himself back
to that period & looked so straight
in the politician mirror
as distorted as that may be
& thought down deep to his marrow
how totally inadequate
(a weak word at that)
all the platforms he may build
if it only leads to more platforms
& more platforms
like the one that hung
thirty-eight dakota men & women
in mankato minnesota
on december 26th in 1862
with the official signature
of abraham lincoln
no less

if there's a politician
that can address
an empire's original sins
is the time
to step up

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 04, 2015


grand junction, colorado

catching up on household needs
after eight days on the mesa
leaving the rocks & forests
for a day
the colorado river cuts through
this valley ignoring the sprawl
and takes its direction
from a higher power
like gravity or mountain contours

down north avenue
college students seem
to be following a prescribed
early orientation
lining up on the sidewalk
still upbeat before
the semester begins

the laundromat change machine
spits out quarters
like an imaginary
slot machine payout
an imposter by any definition

you gotta know somebody
or have relatives in the city government
to get on the internet
in the one spot
we happen to be stuck in
this moment
for the next hour
(stop whining already) 

but can't say
the place isn't alive
though i almost
stepped outta line & butted in
to tell someone
they deserved free
laundromat services
after sweeping up the floor
with their flowery quilt
en route to the supersize machines

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 03, 2015

this dispatch queued up hurriedly from another day

grand mesa national forest, colorado

wind       rain
thunder on the mesa
came up last night
& throughout a halfhearted daybreak
all tent stakes secure
'cept the mosquitoes
weren't told
to take a day off
too cold & wet to venture
     the aspen leaves are shivering
     waiting for the sun

--- e b bortz

Saturday, August 01, 2015

earth note 355

cedaredge, colorado

he might be doing
the woman who owns the laundromat
but really all he wants
to do
is play pool
and is happy
to make change
with quarters
for the washers & dryers
unless you're bringing in
work clothing
from the oil & gas fields
in that case
as the sign says

the city park restrooms
have running water
the closest a camper
will get to a shower

& if you get down
as far as delta
the dust seems to settle
on every surface
right in line with
a sprawl beginning
'cause there's a four lane
ramming up against the mountains
and enough pickup trucks
with big mirrors
to fill
a rodeo parking lot

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

earth note 354

grand mesa national forest, colorado

sunset lake is small enough
to be missed
in the tall pine & aspen
capturing it
cold to the touch
& it has a way
of drawing you
to every corner
so you have to consciously
keep a distance
avoid the lure of the spillway
there can be danger
in a daydream

the wind is confused today
blowing hard from the west
then lackadaisically
from the north
there are no adequate descriptions
for the flight
of a blue dragon fly
or the squawking
of a mountain jay

--- e b bortz

earth note 353

rifle gap state park, colorado

photo by Sandra L Hazley

a patch of blue
still poking above
the crown
of a pi├▒on pine covered mountain
an hour left
before the sun dips behind
a long dusk
     storm clouds circling

--- e b bortz

Thursday, July 23, 2015

earth note 352

downtown denver

there is no imaginary
neal cassady & his dad
on these streets anymore

their story was one of a kind
spelled out at life's
first third marker
& even throwing in
another fifth for good measure
won't bring you anything new

the marijuana generation
has made it legal now
for folks like neal & his dad
to jam themselves
into a dusty church attic
to get a few winks of sleep
before heading out
into the streets again
or on over to the still under funded
elementary school
or down to the old union pacific
tracks & box cars heading west

not saying it's better or worse
than it was then
just different
all the promises were bullshit
it's just taken so many decades
for that simple acknowledgment

clothing for the homeless
is now all about corporate symbols
issued with an accompanying
pat on the back
& a mention on npr

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

earth note 351

the dog days of august
are a month early
as a forest of limping green
squeezes in co2
& releases o2
from the far fetches
of a shallow valley

where the trees breathe
we all answer
in deep breaths
     a lifeline

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 06, 2015


circa 1976

from that first minnesota winter
cutting ten cords of wood
to keep the furnace going
in the house
as well as
the demands
from the outside sauna
     a log building that
     served as
     the only means for bathing
it became clear
that learning
survival skills
was always
in season

it took almost an hour
from below zero
for a blazing wood stove
& makeshift water heater
to really get things going

clothes hooks
in the 'changing room'
were still cold
as we peeled off everything
& darted into the 'heat room'
& the steam of splashing water
on stones & stove

hot & cold water were mixed
with buckets to get
the temp just right
& then on to a quick
soaping & rinsing
while the heat flashed & soaked
through your body
like a purging
bringing you through
a first real sweat
     & renewal

--- e b bortz

Sunday, July 05, 2015

gulf of thailand 1989

by sundown
an orange mist
hangs just above
the water
letting the day's heat
release back through
a restless tide
to get on
with one's karma
from this moment
there will be no duplicates

--- e b bortz

Thursday, July 02, 2015

earth note 350

cloud cover
is a welcoming reprieve
shutting off the shadows
near high noon
leaving only the fading outline
of a wrought iron fence
tangling with bamboo

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

the air is heavy

& not without direction
laying out the trail
around the knob
past the gray cloud overhangs
disappearing with the hemlock

you follow without
qualifying the morning
it has come
& you've made your peace
another day

--- e b bortz

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