Wednesday, November 25, 2015

earth note 373

atlantis blew in like a virus
like it had somewhere to go

the gnats are biting
like they're on their death bed

false advertising & political campaigns
can barf up the unexpected

if there's a will
it would be good to know yah

i guess this is seasonable
hyperbole     what goes in must come out

take a couple aspirin
& call your proctologist in the morning
(kudos to daniel thompson)

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 23, 2015

earth note 372

hollywood, florida

the moon can't be trivialized
to fractions
like last night's seven/eighths
or maybe it was five/sixths

it was bright enough
to differentiate the recycling
from the rubbish cans
though the puddles in the alley
needed galoshes
     who even uses that word now
     being from pittsburgh
          is enough of a reason

strange times indeed
keeping everyone off-balance
     you can tell by their driving habits
like hydroplaning
& continuous braking
and for every new-old construction site
there's another flashing emergency vehicle
about to be deployed
     you take your life seriously
     as a rear view mirror

is that eighteen wheeler
closer or further than it appears

even a full moon
has its unexpected detractors
what hides in the clouds
can be whimsically left
as a secret

--- e b bortz

Sunday, November 22, 2015

earth note 371

hollywood, florida

a woodpecker
in the tropics
sifting through
the fronds
fire ants
run for cover
     there will come a time
     when peace will prevail

a drawbridge creaks
another sequence
just after the bicycles
make their way

is it really ocean sand
or just an imposter
to these parts
     does it really matter
     will the pelicans complain

will it keep the tourists away

--- e b bortz

Friday, November 20, 2015

earth note 370

the yucca plant
has its own defenses
sharpened through millennia

the earth
& its cumulative knowledge
answers to no one

there's no such thing
as an invasive species
walls are not the answer

what has been misnamed
a desert
will grow & bend with time

--- e b bortz

Thursday, November 12, 2015

earth note 369

pinging on a tin roof
in short intervals
is some kind
of internal song
that awakens
but is impossible
to understand

when the rain turns cold
the northeast will speak
in tongues
& you'll wonder
how long it's been that way
or how long you'll
keep listening

--- e b bortz

Friday, November 06, 2015

call it a convergence

or focus
there are loose ends
like scattered range grass
that come together
without being noticed

the subtle
are not voiceless

no commodities
to be exchanged
     will sleep on their euros
the thousand dollar suit
will never notice
in its stupor

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 02, 2015

there's no fooling anyone

with a phony quiet
     at this instant
calm & autumn leaves are only
on a park trail

but go back a few days
& that's when
two people
were gunned down
a few blocks from
in front of the high school
i graduated from
49 years ago

no teenage scuffle
like it used to be

the season has changed
start looking deeper
the forest can only weep
so long

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 31, 2015

earth note 368

a valley with empty hardwoods
lies ahead

the river moves
north then south

never forgetting
a contour as a map

requires no human interface

a red leaf
rises on the wind

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 18, 2015

gangrene is the new antidote for the body politic

if the patients die
bury them quickly in unmarked graves
endless war is the new peace
when in doubt
     no signature required
     you've signed by default
     add military music
     turn in the slackers
when you find the cave
proceed cautiously
in the 14th year
or sometime thereafter
the rock crevice
will lead to light
but just in case
     let the drone go first

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

1968 pittsburgh

walking down
the steepest part
of buena vista street
slick with a thin film
from rain
she said we need to talk
at the broken city steps
     a map that had become
     an outline of my being
she said
you aren't serious yet
about your life
i need to move on
she said
with a quiet maturity
i guess i wasn't ready for

at nineteen
i felt as old
as the paris commune
thinking this pain
was just a part
of what the future
would lead to

there was still
a meeting to organize
a decision to make about a draft card
rent to pay
the haze below the city steps
reluctantly spread out
toward the rivers
as true and as unexpected
as this instant in time

the way forward from here
was about 4am getups
to make it to the laborers
daily hiring hall
the dirtiest & discarded jobs
     the prize
(i might still be paying for)

but from illusion
there can come
thousands of small steps
     & without a calendar or astronomy
new seasons
can barge right in
& transform
every living image
the only tool
to keep
a vision

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 10, 2015

earth note 367

in between the last flood
and the drought
there was a glimmer
of a bumper crop
     of something
enough to fill
the silos of the one-percent
but not enough to meet
the hunger of four million refugees

there's no dilemma here
and it really doesn't take
a lot of words
     the corn gets picked
     the stalks are cut down
     with the precision
     of opulent machinery
every shareholder looks
like a quiet banker
carefully stepping through
the rows
so as not to jinx
the monday morning stock market

the true cost of food & oil
& the whole carbon family
& their genetically modified cousins
have been relegated
to a future
     someone else
splurge today
hoard tomorrow
repeat as necessary

the crows are at it again
never giving up
a mixed metaphor
squawking through the cemetery
like a sun
bright enough
to make shadows

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 08, 2015

earth note 366

keep searching
for wildness
remember each tree is untamed
and a potential participant
     from a mountain
there is limitless solitude
if ready to listen

there are bodies & flora
willing to take a stand
without social relationship
all the theory in the universe
will not save us
from ourselves

the fog was damp
but lifted quickly
     this morning

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 04, 2015

earth note 365

coming down
from the western rockies
onto the plains
of eastern colorado & kansas
is like a sunflower
making full bloom
& vast
on out
to the fragile edge
where the sky curves
with an arc
from every side
& a tree stands fast
for miles
on a solo stage 

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 28, 2015

earth note 364

drizzle makes a poet envious
the cadence is subtle
it'll tap your shoulder
going directly to your heart
you'll get cold
trying to figure out
the difference between
a dark afternoon
and a lament
you've heard before

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 26, 2015

with october approaching

there comes a decision
standing equidistant
on the stairwell
between maximum & minimum emotion
     which way to go
what should be taken from autumn
     what should be let go of

i've been told
there are no recurring themes
a story leaves out details
from before
that you'll never notice
and you'll adjust to them
like a missing character
or a forgotten name

it's not enough to dwell
in the change of season
there are transitions
so quiet
that what touches you
is complete
though sometimes seen
as less
than whole

--- e b bortz

Thursday, September 24, 2015

better to remain anonymous

sitting with a ten-year-old minivan
from dead
this morning
nothing to do
'cept wait it out

reading through an online nytimes version
of nostalgia
for late 70s new york city
     how could they fail to mention basquiat
          revolutionary gospel that is
     doesn't usually make it into
     self-absorbed congratulatory circles
(o.k. i understand now)

like poetic milquetoast 
running off
to another workshop
some still faking the pain & poverty of those days
presenting the in-crowd as
a red badge of courage
or was it all
just another cliquish andy w production
repetitions co-opted
     and carefully
     only skin deep

(o.k. i understand now)

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 21, 2015

not much long after the leaves change

free-falling to their deaths
     there won't be any excuses left
for not leaving every pennsylvania-west virginia
coal hollowed road
& grit hill
hoping to hide
from another season
of dark high noons
     fresh wind weakened
     by the rattle of coal trains & half-burned diesel trucks
every last one of those tongues
snarling apologetic superpaks
always trying to sell you
     another load

we'll take our lesser evil
gouging gasoline price
& head towards the caribbean
even though there are
no perfect sunsets

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 19, 2015

from a raft a first step

a backpack
finds the shore
of europe
leaving western guns to ultimately rust
in the sand
     (along with firewater      smallpox    
     cluster bombs      depleted uranium)

children rest upon a generation's shoulders
their smiles yet to come
millions praise
your bare

--- e b bortz

Friday, September 18, 2015

earth note 363

a train of coal cars
squealing over the river
signaling an end to summer
with no patience
for a better way

a dove on the wire
in meditation

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

earth note 362

a trail with shoulders
still soft from the rain
     a dozen footprints
     split off on their own

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 14, 2015

earth note 361

cawker city, kansas

the great plains
rolling right up to main street
& an art gallery & antique store
filled to the brim
always saying it's open
which i guess it is
in a figurative sense
as open as the prairie 
as the sunflower & wheat fields
are open
open & empty
as the only road
passing through

your eyes will never
bring the horizon
into absolute focus
it will hesitate on the edge
before fading
     leaving your brow
     damp with questions    

---e b bortz

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

earth note 360

from the mesa grande
the valley floor
emits a dusty bottom
almost effervescent
& the bodies & cars
scramble from their hives
without purpose
sun providing no clarity
just a mix of granules
& out-of-sync energy

when dusk comes
the forest finds the ridge
& goes into hiding

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 05, 2015

the long walk

from budapest to austria & germany
is only the beginning
the road goes on
like a melancholy roma song
prodding a response
that can only be hoped for
stepping into
those shoes
     you will dare
     to be human    

--- e b bortz

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

(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

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