Friday, May 26, 2017

earth note 481

the deluge stopped
but then the drought continued

there were holes in the roof
but light never made its way in

even before the next rain
there needs to be some answers

we can't count on the bamboo
to cover the sins and injustice

looking for fruit in the shadows
might be noble or a waste of emotion

every morning we hear the buzz
but never see the energy

a mountain pose is more than a yoga position

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 25, 2017

eyes shut mind flees

a few lines of poetry
running out the back door
before anyone notices
it won't be missed

maybe it'll hookup
on its own terms
sometime in the future
somewhere down the line

no one knows the train schedule
'cept to say it'll come
as often
as the poets ask for it

it might sound a whistle
like a daniel thompson poem
so wake up & take notice
even if you can't explain why

as always
this is a time for words

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

itasca county road 8 meditation

end of may minnesota
early sun draws shadows
like a new clover
starting to green
bicycle wheels become singing bowls
it's all in the spin

[2nd coffee...3rd revision]

prevailing cool westerlies
move fast
coaxing you to breathe in deep
clear out the winter blues
put your back
back in parallel
with the universe

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 22, 2017

earth note 480

conventional indoctrination
every conventional dogma
modern society assumptions (carefully calculated confusion)
that this
          opening up from a pop-up tent
will leave you hungry
disappointed for more
that the whole cosmos
might be monetized
converted for a quick dollar
even with a twist of
on the road

don't believe it

     the high desert
     aspen mountains
     weathered rock faces
     beings before the plunder
     green valleys of rain
     and maize
     a squash blooming in loving hands
     sun sages
     timeless wisdom

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 20, 2017

earth note 479

animas river, colorado

aspen forest speaks every language
songs of the original people
if you cup your ears
you may hear voices

preempting college student hikers
sun worshippers along the banks
train crew & passengers
     passing through
transitioning leaves to yellow
     not fool's gold
by september

original trails
find the ridges
a black bear
goes into hiding

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 19, 2017

the sidewalk has been broken for fifty years

when the sun comes up
there's always a blue tinge to it
coming off the mural
making a stronger statement
than the nonprofit
down the street

if basquiat walked these alleys
he might say
the fractures will become
too great to bear
sweat and tears will make
their own path

---e b bortz

Thursday, May 18, 2017

earth note 478

sculls      kayaks      coal barges
squeeze between concrete shoulders
there's an empty blue houseboat
          for a homeless sailor
buildings coming down
to make parking spaces
a few tulips weave like yarn
in and out through a stone courtyard
     trying not to blush

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

earth note 477

butler county, pennsylvania

far down a jagged stretch
of human made lake
the carp have mutinied
schooling together
like it was their last stand
with the lily pads
and green algae
a blue heron takes up nesting in disguise
away from every possible fishing boat

calm water is a wednesday morning
just before school lets out
for the summer
all the news of the day
     goes unnoticed
the sun here
     is small
cloaked in faded cloud
     the only drama

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 14, 2017

earth note 476

sherman alexie and camus
appeared together
as brothers
on the used book table
of the friendship flower & folk festival

a cool morning might have been the spark
as they sent out
a subliminal message
reaching through the dampness
of several generations
some noticing and some not

even retired elegant greyhounds
& great danes
were listening for the magic
in the maples
now green
now finally full body

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 11, 2017

third clarinet in the all-city band, 1966

or maybe it was all-city orchestra
i'd have to check my yearbook
to be sure
a way of wrapping themes of west side story
around the bus stop i got off at
for taylor allderdice high school
where the best acoustics
and passion blossomed
in the short blond hair
of the piccolo player
a far cry from my northside walk-up
& urging high school music teacher


--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

the beatles brought her

pittsburgh 1964

just as she landed on the northside
at a church work camp
an aqua paint brush
over rough plaster
just down the hall
if you followed the music
and the spirit surreal
of the slow dance
that brought me to
a sweat

on her arrival from across the river
i wondered how
things might go
if we ever had a chance
to go
beyond the reach
of her boilermaker father
and his penchant
for racist rants

escape at sixteen
wasn't an easy option
so we learned the trails
of schenley park
and steamed up the windows
at skibo hall parking lot

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 08, 2017

earth note 475

two miles downstream
the ohio river coughs again
with its chronic hoarseness
even though the morning is clear
leaving nothing but blue sky

it's all an illusion

remnant shadows of a penitentiary
still focusing
like a workhouse
where money and authority
is exchanged for blood

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 05, 2017

earth note 474

mesa verde national park

morning visit from the mule deer
rubbing the side of the tent
shadows of ears pointing up
twitching slightly like a light breeze
as the rain let up
we hear the hooves leaving
peeking out from the rainfly
where eyes meet
dancing brown

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 04, 2017

there's organic soup

in poems
it may jump out
from a tongue
but eventually
if it's going anywhere
it moves
without notice
into body and soul
until words
no ownership implied

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

earth note 473

everything went from dark to gray
at sunrise
coming across the horizon
the beginning of light
translucent shift is the new paradigm
the clouds just a filter
overcast in subtle comfort
a convergence of the silent

the grass will stay wet today
throw a few words to feed the roots

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

earth note 472

high winds out of the west
don't seem to bother
late afternoon flight
of the crows
north to south
they're completely at ease
in their lack of form
voices free
know where to fly

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 27, 2017

earth note 471...history in short form

it's too late
to wave a protest sign
in front of george washington
but not too late
to plant three cherry trees
that won't be cut down
in the back on the ridge
before the cliff drops off
to the neighborhood
josh gibson struggled to live in
locked out of the big leagues
because he was black
and george washington
made up a thousand excuses
for slavery

a couple miles from here
george washington camped
near the river
claiming the water as his own
wanting an outpost
with dreams of an empire
the original people
shot down
or driven out of the valley
believe it      it happened
and it's still going on

so what about the cherry trees
they've been dwarfed from a hybrid
small but strong
in body and spirit
but where there's fruit
there's hope

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

earth note 470

the shadow from the utility pole
cuts through the avenue
before high noon

someday there's going to be a faceoff
between the yellow lines
and the rumors of a speed trap

that's simply propaganda
from the mayor's office
or the district attorney posing

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 21, 2017

earth note 469

a grey morning
has more than one meaning
what looks like gathering mist
could be sweat
from the hills
of a forest

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 20, 2017

earth note 468

the maple i've been watching for years
sprung the brightest green leaves today

that's the only news that counts

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 17, 2017

recovering notes from the deep, part 9

i should say their surnames
before i forget them
more than fifty years have passed
     but i'll say them to myself
since i'd like to stay away
from phone calls in the middle of the night
and lawsuits

before there were murals in the neighborhood
there were empty walls and vacant lots
and we'd chalk a rectangle on the wall
for a strike zone
for a hard pitched
tennis ball
and a batter
for a pickup game
and the mystique
of a ted kluszewski at bat
in the bottom of the ninth
the pirates with bases loaded
and mostly no hope
of winning

columbia place was an alley
     row houses
and soot on the window sills
and your voice carried
even when there was
no harmony

about the time
someone became sixteen
and got their hands
on the family car
the drive-ins just weren't
of an escape
from the smoke stacks
war dead 
& nightly news

there was always ripple wine
or thunderbird
to get you sick
i'm a lucky one with a low tolerance
learning my lessons
in the shadows
of the west view park roller coaster
(long gone)

for an under-achiever
high school was more like
putting in time
occasionally finding a book
that moved you
     & a couple of english teachers
who refused to force feed you
     the script

when i started taking the streetcar
from the northside to the leafy east end
more than one
would ask me
why are you deserting
     aren't we good enough

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 16, 2017

it would seem

that a rising jesus
was the catcher in the sky
of a medium range ballistic missile
off the coast of the
democratic people's republic of korea
this easter morning

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 15, 2017

earth note 467

the dirt road
into the national forest
out of durango
hangs in the air
suspended by sheer
updrafts from the valley

mountains can't shake
the haze or purple veneer
from the west
balancing along the ridge
but not unheard

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 09, 2017

earth note 466

a squirrel and a robin
decided to perch themselves
on the same bare mulberry tree
     no this is not a riddle
strong spring sun
brings their bodies
into focus
branches silhouette
the finest of detail
small buds shaking gently
as each traverse
and then move on

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

earth note 465

where the rivers meet

patch blue sky
air currents
finally warm enough
to keep a couple hawks
aloft & soaring above parking lots

traffic growl rising
like static notes
trying to bring you down

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 02, 2017

earth note 464

chimney rock, colorado

when the jewelry maker
told her story
her voice quivered slightly
the air was dry and acoustic
her notes crossed the landscape
in brown shadows
opening up
a squash blossom

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 30, 2017

i know i've used color orange like a drumbeat

as in sunsets
ocean horizons
summer mountains
autumn leaves

it writes itself
like a muse

spilling out pain
as necessary

it jumps in
without making excuses

speaks and listens
at the same time

it's a couple of tints more yellow
than blood red

though i'm certainly
no painter

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


is scorched memory
uniquely calculated
for longevity
like no other

as one scrapes
thru burning gun sights
the confusion of the shovels
with the tapping of survivors
is impossible to distinguish

speak their names

the sky fills once again
blind smoke
to hide every flag

--- e b bortz

Sunday, March 26, 2017

earth note 463

temperature inversion
pollution alert coming
if they're being honest
more carbon-petro-chemical
in the offing
the river valley
being the conduit
your sacrificial lungs
turning gray
then malignant
then a death spiral rising
called an uptick
in the markets

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

earth note 462

si surat stupa, surat thani province, thailand

on a bicycle in 1988
the hill was always a challenge
a magical view across the valley
rolling out into the gulf of thailand
refocusing your perspective
every turn of the crank

sunday was a day
to open every pore
lovers finding
cool shadows from the stone
where a whisper echoes
like a singing bowl

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

the words will know where to go

let them go
out the backdoor
down the ravine
toward the highway

touch a grassy berm
still wet from last night

there's no propriety in any of this
if you think your words
are sacred
look for obscure translations

planting seeds you may be surprised
sometimes they stay hidden

the rain will cleanse
the text
you've spilled it all out
no apologies

go easy on the critics
     grow the garden

--- e b bortz

Sunday, March 19, 2017

earth note 461

an overcast is easy
on your mind and eyes
without expectation
snow melts when mountains
and hollowed out bodies
every runoff is a tear
on swollen rivers
trees rub shoulder to shoulder
with rust
     an i beam has no ego

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 16, 2017

the wind storm has passed for now

in pittsburgh
waking up to the dutch election results
rolling in on their classic wind mills
or more recent wind turbines
keeping all the internet chatter
from going dark
or maybe it'll go dark

groenlinks (the greenleft) seems to be growing
like a new forest
emerging in a strong voice
democracy without corporate logos
solidarity with immigrants
the social safety-net
to stop austerity
or however it's described over there
     putting your body on the line
the xenophobes will go the way
of the false prophets

listen to the young

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

earth note 460

northside pittsburgh

a string of row houses
on mccullough way
& along california avenue
have gone to dirt lots
broken red brick
grass poking its head
out of the leftovers
blue bell diner long gone
blue moon coming back
only by special request  

and then there's the exact
location of the house
a teenager walks away from
at 1713 buena vista street
     now it's on record
where radical leaflets might still
be milling around in the rafters
waiting for the barricades
to go up
never one
to bowing down

--- e b bortz

Monday, March 13, 2017

earth note 459

northside pittsburgh

it took the whole winter
to finally get a forecast of
six inches of snow
on the marshall trail
if i want to ski again i've got to be ready

the ground
still has some give to it
the deer never seem surprised
their bodies in motion
in full contrast

forty-eight years ago
it rained
as i walked down
to the draft board
to say

every story has a moral
even this one
but don't ask 
the weatherman
to find the right map
it's time to go by instinct

forty-eight years ago
i refused army induction
passed out anti-war flyers & buttons
as the sergeant started his pep talk
and a couple of ready soldiers
grabbed me by the elbows
and moved me out

i tried eye contact
with the whole room
blurting out
a few words
you don't hafta cross that line

and that became my mantra
a muster of moral persuasion
in simple terms
but mainly
as if killing & dying
can be reduced
to a common denominator

--- e b bortz