Saturday, May 19, 2018

earth note 583

canopy waving
leaves turning over
like hands opening to rain
or an ocean surf
or a corner of the world
that can't be bought

i never understood
much about the buddha
except the stillness of the form
in the heat
in the afternoon

before the monsoon
your body will drip
like a rubber tree
water not blood
is where the river begins

if the soul could speak
it would begin
with a whisper
that you might not hear

once in a rainforest
i heard but never saw
a waterfall
laughing in steady rhythm
     like a heartbeat

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 14, 2018

don't talk to me about context

the editorials leave blood on the page
the only thing real
are dead palestinians
at the gaza border
drones survey a plain of death
thousands of gunshot wounds
below the kneecap
a generation missing limbs
facing a generation of snipers
where symbols have no meaning
you only need to see
the missing limbs

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

earth note 582

photos by Sandra L Hazley

bear river, nova scotia, late summer 2004

as the tide went
so went the clam pickers
the artists having now moved in
praising the ritual
as old as human feet at this inlet
there's a frame house with dylan's verse
painted on in bold mind-blowing colors
     one hand waving free    
     in quotes

at the mi'kmaq gathering
the drums and dream catchers
find whale voices
in harmony

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

earth note 581

canyon walls like cursive
their lines impatient with the sun
and the river rush     
     an echo below 

when dusk comes
there are words that fit the poem
you think you've found
before they adjust and move on
fissures are connected
passing over each hour
finding new meaning
from warm and cold rock
     a grounding for the body
there might be talk from some
that a hand came down
to touch all this
or maybe it's just magic
beyond the supernatural
the sun and moon
with a hand as well 

by night
a new song
and galaxy
will take flight
--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 06, 2018

earth note 580

i thought the end of the road
would T-off into
two new directions
so i kept walking
even shin-deep in peat
wetlands to feed
all of your best intentions
but no
that isn't enough
the end of the road just
brings you back
to where you started

when ginsberg played his squeeze box
all the walls and cigarette smokers
went into a panic
even strom thurmond shit his pants
the monsters went into hiding
even if it was just
for an overnight

then when you least expect it
the road will turn dry and rocky
the heat will pry out every last
drop of your brow
leaving you a hollow frame
in place of that fleshy smile
lips love
diving into

at some point
you'll become
on the great prairie
of endless sunflowers
without fear or compass
and earth
will breathe
in spite of the plunderers

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 03, 2018

climb inside the words

for a sound
without rehearsal
from a root
beginning renewal
where a river
chases a dream

even with the body
flesh is but a medium

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

earth note 579

i will only think of wild flowers today
crowding out
the know-it-all
and know-it-less
selling a thousand kinds
of toothpaste and ointments
often confused with preparation h
like another advertising blitz
of wealthy health insurance companies
for the healthy only

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 16, 2018

time traveler

camus would often wear one of those
mister rogers sweaters when he walked
his french poodles thru the narrow linear park
along friendship avenue

the dogs of course were intellectuals
they were so smart they would curl their own hair

camus did his best to do all of his cigarette smoking
the dogs would have it no other way

in summer       there would always be a neighborhood festival
with prizes awarded for the best spaghetti sauce
and the best tomato plants       camus always entered
but never won     few people knew him other than
by his poodles     the guy with the poodles

he always carried a small spiral notepad and pen
he gathered recipes and poetry in the alleys
and wrote in phonetic french the sound of every
dog bark in the neighborhood

he gazed into each humid night
often speaking to himself
sometimes in his study
in an attic along friendship avenue
or standing on the old carriage step stones
much like a soapbox
like a voice to be reasoned with
unafraid and mostly ignored

he read newspapers incessantly
connecting the dots
long before the french workers and students '68 revolt
long before the counter-revolutionary bullshitters
left their privileged castes

even before the paris commune 
there was his lonely death
in the sports car of his publisher

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 15, 2018

earth note 578

an in-between time
like the sun
partially moving
past thick dark clouds
or the blossoming of magnolia
before a total acclimation
to spring

the river valley will flood again
confusing all the muscle car drivers
thinking it's summer
weeping with the demise
of the last drive-in movie
the beach on the river
where your hair slicks back
sunning on cold pebbles
old barges growing shrubbery
from their hulls
sumac still looking
for a place to root

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

poverty is a rabbit cage

and dead carcasses
when food is scarce
the front yard tells part of the story
what is collected in scrap metal
and used tires
makes a grown man weep
if the newscaster and police insist on shame
make it something to be shared
this city has a long history
of ignoring pain
with renaissance projects
urban renewals
hand-outs to those most able
to buy a politician's ear

a man needed a meal
and thought he could pull himself up
out of the west end valley
appalachian rock fall
selling and eating rabbits and chickens
scrounging enough to spice up his
convenience store lunch table
with beef jerky

as the police yanked him into the cruiser
with a blanket draped over his head
     a murderer they said
the dead and near-dead animals desperate
beyond their cages
joining a collective scream

for a country buried in its own feces

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

earth note 577

photos by Sandra L Hazley

the road to the sun
had to first pass through
bald bare rock
sometimes lost
rocky mountain goat
bighorn sheep
your winter coat
dug out from under
the camping gear
a steady stream
melting glacier
abandoning history
crossing in front of you

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 07, 2018

earth note 576

photos by Sandra L Hazley

a glacier disappearing in drought
leaves a footprint and a message
only the horses will notice
as they comb the free pastures
just below the tree line
far beyond the fences

there's a pine forest
bleeding silently
refusing to be an annuity
     for us all

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

from the arch the body draws in the heat

there's an angle of the sun
that only the pueblo can see
it dances with millennia
leaving others to stumble in darkness

the small of your back
becomes part of the stone
all the light will gather
and then slip past you

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 01, 2018

earth note 575

the hillside is slipping
ground rolls in dark soggy shoulders
inertia speaks for itself
     with the wind
     more gray sky

--- e b bortz

Saturday, March 31, 2018

earth note 574

in the spring
the river learns how
to climb the scaffolding
and bridge abutments
like the sure trusty feet
of an ironworker
who can strike an arc
even when hanging
upside down


the flow down at the dam
has slowed
with the barges backing up
like a friday night rush hour


by morning
the willows
will be stretching their torsos
roots digging in
for the dry season

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 30, 2018

i'm gonna walk past the screaming good friday headlines

keeping my eyes trained on what's coming up next
like a westbound freight train
rattling all the way to the pacific
where it runs out of land
and the mountains slope on down
to the columbia river
and the farmers gather every pitchfork
in the valley
and go to the courthouses
that feign justice but hide
their company ledgers
and tell the silo operators
that the world is just waiting
for the next famine
and if you question
any of this
you oughta go back to the drought
and forget about the next
bridge loan
'cause all the bridges
are coming down anyway
in the next correction
and all the words that might be left
that coulda made a difference
might as well be thrown in the compost heap
because you always knew
it would come to this
the breaking of the moonlight
doesn't mean
a new morning
is coming

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

earth note 573

there's no claim
to notoriety here
but a rain soaked
maple limb
just took a dive
across the avenue
i saw it in all stages of its fracture
and fall
and then it tumbled
down the hillside a few feet
came to a tentative rest
where it goes from here
is mere speculation

--- e b bortz

Monday, March 26, 2018

love locks you above panther hollow

early spring sun
strong and direct
to the soul
--- e b bortz

Saturday, March 24, 2018

stream of consciousness

rises in the spring
like no other body

the banks overflow
when you least expect it
first thought not necessarily best

but speaking within the instant
can be dangerous
and liberating all the same

the news can be such a downer
until the streets are flooded
with voices

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 23, 2018

earth note 572

loose tears in the snow
the roof of your mouth is dry
in spite of the sun

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

optimism is a false flag i've decided to burn

i finally said it
not that i've given up
on any just cause
if the song fits the feeling
keep me in the choir
my tongue
has lost a few steps
& there's an extra touch
of bitterness
     we've been unable
     to stop the carnage
and i'm not so sure
when or even if
this will pass

but i'm pretty sure
i've given up
on flags

--- e b bortz

Monday, March 19, 2018

if you could assign a mathematical curve

for a growing ecological awareness
versus a curve
for fossil fuel exploitation
& consumption

make no mistake
these are essentially
two diametrically opposed
human endeavors

at this moment in time
the dark exponential curve of the fossil
is dominant
smothering the gradual green curve
of rising social consciousness

look no further than the 'natural' gas 'fields'
of pennsylvania
or the coal-fired power plant construction of china

the world meets
the planet burns some more
congress is so obedient
they don't warrant a mention

the situation is dire
the curve has jumped off the page
a serial killer out of control
where are the public service announcements
for children and other living things

"don't leave home without your respirator"

--- e b bortz

Sunday, March 18, 2018

earth note 571

the river is a drum
every beat a signal
from the past
the direction of the flow
is not as important
as the origin

there were hands and clay
in the form of riverbanks
before the railroads
the hillsides were lush
campfires spoke
in their native tongue

when the river flooded
there was an exodus
and canoes
higher ground
was always within reach

crops came to the valleys
from original seed
rain brought sun
in perfect proportions
for every empty basket
there were full ones to share

the river is a drum

--- e b bortz

Saturday, March 17, 2018

i'm glad i didn't try & write a poem today

ya know
you're only as good as your last one
so i know when it's time to walk away for awhile
before you cast it
or throw it up
over the internet

sometimes making up bullshit
can be counter-productive
or counter-revolutionary
or both

though i've never seen it
i can imagine
how an apprentice or american idol
might just go on without caring
about ultimate consequences
     for every porta-potty
     there's an advertiser
     trying to sell you shit

but they're not the poets
they're not the stewards


--- e b bortz

Friday, March 16, 2018

recovering notes from the deep, part 17

d had olive skin
     imagine joan baez
but then deserting
her northside roots
for some guy
in the shady side academy

but before all that
she spoke to me
in the hallway
at oliver high school
asking me when i moved
to the northside
and how was it going

it wasn't
since being uprooted
once again
and never adjusting
to the fall hay fever season
and coal dust clouds
rising off the allegheny
monongahela & ohio valleys

everybody at oliver
seemed to have a chip on their shoulder
at one time or another
myself included

and it would be another year
before my attempt at track & football
trading in a trench coat
with the collar turned up
for eventually a letter sweater
with a big orange "o"
but all of that
too late
for d

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 15, 2018

think then write

is what i've been told
by those in the know

'cept i usually stand it
on its head

with something closer to
write then think

if you keep at it long enough
it'll all shake out like a cobweb

or freewheeling
like a coffee klatch

without a compass
every direction is possible

without a hammer
the noise is never deafening

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

earth note 570

marshall trail

it's still too early
in the year
to tell
among the ravaged
who survived the winter
and who didn't make it

the tree line
looks broken in parts
gaps like missing teeth

broken branches and new buds
have joined the trail
crossing over
like a blended family

perhaps they'll find a nurturer
and take root

--- e b bortz