Wednesday, June 29, 2016

history is now

when the youth & the workers took over
the streets of paris in '68

only the top-shelf champagne & chardonnay were worried

when we filled the streets of chicago in '68
to stop the war and the democrat mayor daley war party

only the liberal & left career seekers thought it was the wrong tactic

dick gregory was on the ballot in pennsylvania & he would get
our nonwasted vote

legions of brute force of the state made it clear
we were on the human side of history

as were our brothers & sisters of the '68 prague spring

when civilians face down tanks & bayonets
that's usually recognized
as an end to democracy

all the focus groups might as well fold up
their platforms & side shows
and get ready for the main event

present tense noted

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

an inferno we can't see

burns in our midst
from the inside out
i run
looking for an escape
grabbing a strong branch
lifting the whole
dead body weight
to slip inside the canopy
like camouflage
the sight of smoke now
comes over the hill
     clear now
     even in darkness

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 26, 2016

who knocks on your front door

at dusk on a saturday night
trying to sell you a 'whole' package
of phone-internet-tv crap
that we've been busy shedding
like rattlesnakes
(watch our teeth)
as if there's some new electron
waiting to be claimed & resurrected
from the verizon archives
of obsolete machinery

oh yeah
can't wait
for the sunday morning
     monday morning
and selloffs

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 23, 2016

earth note 414

the trees are offering
the only passive resistance
carbon in
oxygen out
repeat until death
do us part

the high rollers
of 'progressive' politics
think they've figured out
just the right slogans
to cover the sham
misnamed an election

when it rains later today
it'll be a wash-out
in the broken tradition
of a rush to judgment
or a wall street circle jerk
gone awry

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

earth note 413

on the road
nothing is mundane
setting up and checking
the tent
this morning
in the driveway
still embedded with grit
from last year
before embarking
     a safety ritual
     or quirk of personality
though the zippers seem
to appreciate it
     in their shallow plastic
     that has replaced steel
before being called upon
by hot southwestern winds
petroglyphs and sand dunes
demanding from witnesses
an awareness
still to be written

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 20, 2016

earth note 412

circa 1989

lush is a meditation
not a commercial
it will make up
for the thousands of miles
of asphalt
concrete veins you've become

into another world
the rainforest is but
the original domain
that whispers when you thought
it might shout

from the hin lat falls
the flow is still against the tide
as i remember it
and a speculator's grip
can be made to open

if your sweat is genuine
gathering on your neck
and tastes
of mango

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 17, 2016

earth note 411

even dusk takes a short time-out
for one last angle of the sun
a yellow reflection stands
with the steel of the water tower
     trees of the ridge
sway in animated green
the river below prepares for darkness
as shadows move deliberately
up the ridge
songbirds take their last solos
     an improvisational ending
     or beginning

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 16, 2016

surviving another inquisition in the age of lesser-evil

the two choices
come down to
keep them all out
deport the ones still breathing
or surge the unintelligible
jackboot paraphernalia modern day
interrogation apparatus
     bone crushing when necessary
turn every self-hating or scared shitless
into an obedient informer
in the best traditions of monarchy
& authority

blah blah blah
you know how it goes
and ends
in a whimper

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, June 17, 2016)

Thursday, June 09, 2016

barely sixteen and in search of a bass clarinet

reggie & i
would venture over to the crawford grill
circa 1964
to catch
the jazz crusaders
or lionel hampton
or sonny rollins
and how did a misplaced teenager
still stuck in soprano clarinet garb
from the northside of pittsburgh
get hooked in as a jazzer
all of this with nothing
but coffee and cigarettes on the table
all of this
except the cigarettes i now deeply regret
is owed to reggie
who would walk a mile
with his standup bass
if there was a gig
to partake in
     for us
the wailing began when we walked
in the door
and the manager nodded to reggie
as we moved toward a quiet booth
in the back of the bar
and we sipped on coffee
for hours like the trance
would never end
and could only be experienced
but never actually described

the world might be coming apart
or shifting off its axis
but sonny rollins' saxophone
was just getting warmed up

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

earth note 410

a wild turkey
squawking alone
crossing over to
my side of the avenue
two doors up
he's been here
many times
knows the mail carrier
and which door
the mail slots are on

there's a band
of several others
somewhere in the lead
calling them out
the morning traffic

---e b bortz

Monday, June 06, 2016

earth note 409

in spite of all the so-called
of this culture
     bury your competitor
     when you have half a chance
it's pretty clear
from the songbirds this morning
     robins      blue jays      chickadees
in the trees on the ridge
no one's buying anything
of the nation state
they all sing their own tune
in their own voices
but not alone
and not in an army
of conscripts or volunteers

a chaotic chorus
of liberation

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 03, 2016

earth note 408

raindrops are sticking
to the north windows
suspended in flight
waiting for the wind
to evaporate them

i'm sorry this started off
as a weather report
i'll go where it leads me
even to the crossroads
of minutia

a poet told me
there is no content
without form
i refuse to believe that
sometimes form is a prison

there is no explanation
of why green tea
in the morning
takes me back
into the forests
of southern thailand

i need no explanation

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

earth note 407

not sure if it's superstition
or truly an alignment
of the planets
when a weed wacker
suddenly stalls in the shade
finally quiets
& lifts away its smoky fossil facade
before taking to the highway
on the back of a flatbed trailer
just as the sun goes setting

it might not seem like much
out of the ordinary
ask an astronomer
if we're heading into
some great unknown
celestial sphere

friends are dropping
all their routines
and setting out
into the unknown
or at least little known
away from the concrete sandbox
all its trappings
engineered road detours
mall constructions
gladiator games
of chance

if someone tries to sell you
another gadget
to alert you to the upcoming
wifi alerts just over the hill
tell them you're cool
and to stop texting you
about the greatest weed wacker
within or beyond
this universe
     'cause you're a hitchhiker
     and you travel light

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 29, 2016

early summer dreamscape from a thermonuclear war

real enough to suddenly wake me
in my own sweat and shared heartbeat
     from every specie
surrounded in hellfire damnation
burning to the center of the earth
the quiet of the president's words at hiroshima not withstanding
the only acknowledgement in this so-called
political season       of oligarchy & cartels never ending

the tweet machines & gonad aircraft carriers will peter out
     go silent with all their enigma codes in every language
          that never fooled anybody

who's the exceptional
     choose your pejorative here
thinking that they were born lucky
& unlucky enough
     to survive

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 27, 2016

earth note 406

in the heat
the maples seem to be holding hands
standing silent
like at a wake
body and spirit

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 26, 2016

wendell willkie hat in hand

mural in rushville indiana
looking down on us in his patriarchal way
as we ate our eggs
and wondered if every big-time politician
had at least one clean double-breasted suit
or pant suit
'cause the way things were going
folks were really losing all respect
to authority & authoritarians
so maybe a clean suit
will makeup somewhat for
the dirty money
sewn into the linings

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

earth note 405

highway 24 kansas revisited

in every tornado there is a wakeup call
when the path chosen
is too simple
the prairie in its rich knowledge
will always question your intentions
as darkness will pass
on a new crop of sunflowers
working its way
to where the roads

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 21, 2016

i can't for the lifeboat of me

figure out why millions of voters
who have finished their primary and caucus
     their voices all analyzed and deposited
     as small raindrops
     in the rising oceans
haven't deployed the green kayaks and moved on
abandoning their abusive relationships
in their respective (un)democratic & trump-republic
     parties of
money laundering schemes

i've been advised that all of that
is 'in process'
which i take to mean
there's still hope
provided we don't land on some small remote island
     and declare utopia

so forward on
keep paddling to the bittersweet end
     & watch for sandbars

--- e b bortz

(published in opednews.com, May 21, 2016)

Friday, May 20, 2016

it ain't funny to be the laughing stock of the planet

when the water is rising
or there's a draught
or a thousand more refugees are locked away
it's easy to find heads in the sand or up someone's ass
     become the norm
cataclysmic events become secondary
to every single pubic hair on the body politic
a politician with a magnifying glass
and cell phone video just announced
he was getting ready to offer himself
to trump or clinton as vice president
in charge of public bathrooms

all coming up live
from the situation room

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

i tried my best

to keep a stride
running up brighton road
late for school
the graveyard monument stones
polished grey
standing up in the showroom window
watching me as i passed
on the balls of my feet

there was another track meet today
i wish the coach would stop trying
to make me a sprinter
i was strictly a long distancer

about the time i walked into homeroom
the bell for first period began
but it was just more machiavellian history
i was late for
and just cunning enough
to have memorized
the day's assignment

i ditched another class
that afternoon
and threaded new spikes
into my shoes

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 15, 2016

earth note 404

gulf of thailand, 1989

body surfing
you've given up everything
     except the moment

the waves are warm
when they pass
     you'll find yourself wanting

---e b bortz

Saturday, May 14, 2016

earth note 403

wanderlust is the only road
heading toward the rockies
that i've been able to keep
as a secret

the dust settles at night
without shooting stars
is the only shade of honesty

if you travel along the rio grande
the coyotes will guide you
wild voices will take you north
but you'll need to pack extra water

there are no riddles here
they've all been debunked
as decoys
from the truth

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 13, 2016

earth note 402

the tops of the trees
are a green movement
worth waiting for

sometimes wind can even move a mountain

on the street below
people ignore the signs
paycheck to paycheck

is a glass a whole lot less than full

if the clouds are bright enough
the shadows will try to follow you
so don't leave

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 05, 2016

earth note 401

lower northside, pittsburgh

before the baseball stadium
there was a neighborhood
of brick row houses
by the river
with small backyards
and an occasional fruit tree
just behind where
the old kenyon theatre
used to stand on federal street

the kids in those yards
were a page out of a
charles dickens novel
but without the chic crowd
to protect them
they became lost
sent away to some faraway land
with a rifle and a pep talk
about freedom

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 02, 2016

earth note 400

the kimchi was
a perfect sour
like the cabbage knew
before it was cut

on this sunday
seoul would let the rains come
but not before
my bicycle traversed the hills again
to itaewon where i politely
passed up handmade shoes
a clipless demeanor needs no apology
i held my gaze on the river han
& a score of kites
swallowing the sun & wind offering

across the river
thousands of teachers marched
for their rights
the tear gas came
just as the rain started
a family motioned me
into their shop
huddling in a corner
to share shelter

--- e b bortz
    seoul, 1990

Sunday, May 01, 2016

earth note 399

phlox drank all night
waking up in a stupor of
soaked to the marrow
bobbing their heads
in the rain

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 30, 2016

you say you wanna wear your rustbelt for celibacy

to keep yourself working & out of trouble
like an ancient chastity belt
but of non-rusting new age materials
like aluminum or polymer
(be sure & wear your hazmat suit)

rust & pleasure
are incompatible
they'll have to go their separate ways first
& get ready for
the old world of the new world economy
low wages and big promises
mountains of student debt
uniforms with your name & biodata
stitched on your breast
inside a smiley face

if that doesn't necessarily
strike you as a life's endeavor
don't be afraid to chuck it all
get your bearings
tune-up that instrument
write those poems
rewrite that novel
take it to the streets
sometimes the grass is greener
     a million drums can't be wrong

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 29, 2016

indian god rock

allegheny river

stands through the centuries
of abuse and expropriation
     europeans always envying
     the algonquin nations
their figures
     free in the river flow
before the dams and railroads
water sounds rising from the riverbed
surround the maples
in a language beyond
and beholden
     to no master

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 25, 2016

every shovel full speaks

the tag read like a flag
     gold mop false cypress
a disguised cousin of the
     japanese lemon thread
as we liberated mostly clay
some sweat & spirits
and stood them up proudly
in holes three feet apart
on a terrace still recovering
from the sharpest
of rose bush
many red badges of courage
and history of pain
     where a fort once stood
     a hundred-fifty-three years ago
and people dug defensive trenches
designed to stop the confederates
if they turned west
instead of east
     to gettysburg

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 23, 2016

earth note 398

head of the ohio river

there's a gray tinge on the water
skimming across to brunot island
making a mix of reconstituted green
and a reflection of fool's gold
from an orthodox dome in mckees rocks

barges and railroad cars labor in coal
diesels get hot under the collar
trying to finish by quitting time
after all it's friday night
     and earth day

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

a blue jay flew in with a message

and a blank new york state ballot
singing the praises of an idealized world
rationalizing even forecasting
how every bird song will grow into
a chorus of justice and peace

is there really any other way
to carry on?

reality fracks into the soul
eating away the marrow
drowning your better instincts
before being fully exposed
in the pain of revelation

but for this day
let the treetops

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 15, 2016

no one invited me

but i'm gonna throw out the first pitch
for bernie sanders
and his brooklyn neighborhood
in memory of jackie robinson
and ebbetts field
and the wooden bench bleachers
of forbes field
and roberto's first games in right field
in a strike against the lynch mob
and the cackling thugs
miscalled the masses
     just wake up

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 04, 2016

freeport pennsylvania beach 1959

if you thought there was sand
you'd be wrong
nothing but pebbles
along the allegheny river
the morgan kids leaving their farm
for the day
showing us the world in their
customized '50 chevy
and even the surf of a few coal barges
ripping past our side strokes
always mindful of the current
with a dream of a mouseketeer
on santa catalina island
without sunbaked beauties
or sailboats
no jellyfish in these parts
to get stung by
but plenty
of fishing line

by the time dusk fell
the cars revved & moaned
their loneliness
i didn't know the word
and maybe still don't
but we changed back into our denims
circled the block one last time
     never finding
     that beach road

--- e b bortz