Friday, September 21, 2018

earth note 617


rock shards
hard rock candy mountain
sharp as a tinge of iron
in a woody guthrie moan

when the mountainside
gives you the slip
let your boot strings
run like a 12-string

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

earth note 616

isn't every day
a day of atonement
isn't every day
earth day

the mouth of the hillside
is missing teeth
leaves nothing
but loose tongues

know-it-alls garble
the forest colors
rule from the shadows
the bond is broken

pistols running wild
paint and lead
provoking car alarms
smashing an hourglass
before its time

someone just panicked
failed the hairpin curve
two wheels too few

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 17, 2018

toledo stock car death, 1957

the neighbor told the story
like it was one of his kids

kenny nemire leading the pack
died in his ford convertible
on a hot july night

how does a nine-year-old
put away that memory
     his first recognition of death

the night was steaming
walking with mom
down to the soda fountain
for a milkshake

the neighbor came off his porch
greeted us on the sidewalk
with the sad news

only a couple weeks before
he had taken us
to the toledo raceway
where kenny had won
the checkered flag

the neighbor knew kenny
like a son
said he looked like
one of the everly brothers
singing bye-bye love

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

earth note 615

the chrome on the thai bicycle fenders
was starting to pit
heavy moisture & road heat
for the past eight months
     i asked srimorn if she could
keep everything until
who knows when

the crowded street
in surat thani
was always alive
scooters filled with families
down toward the marketplace
defensive bicycling

in hatyai
we laid on a mat
on your uncle's
cold concrete floor
a wild mix of coolness & heat
our bodies
the equilibrium

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 10, 2018

earth note 614

from dry wash
to rushing river
there were footsteps
and then followed
what might be called
     original questions
to be answered
falling to ground
hopeless to be heard

--- e b bortz

Sunday, September 09, 2018

earth note 613

water rises in a surge
from a route 40 mountaintop
hovering over uniontown
like a hydroplane
waiting to lift you off the pavement

the rain came disguised
then revealed
as cousin of a hurricane
squelching out the summer heat
for maybe its last gasp of the year

the creeks & rivers will flood
like prophecy
the date might change
but keep your hands
steady to the wheel

--- e b bortz

Friday, September 07, 2018

earth note 612

ocean city, maryland

beach volleyball court
cash on the barrelhead
reserved for the seagulls
dishing out september 90 degree burns
just before the approaching hurricane
     always prone to changing direction
though not enough wind yet
to change anybody's opinion
     in congress

there'll be enough motorcycles soon
to take over the streets
settling all scores and disputes
with the roar of an engine

split wood makes a boardwalk weep
after taking a beating
keep your shoes on
the head of a nail
pushes up like a white hot dagger

--- e b bortz

Sunday, September 02, 2018

earth note 611

dolores river, slick rock colorado

a barren land is bountiful
giving dry throats
a song to sing
     tuned into the wind
pulling your head
from side to side
like you've seen
a wild canyon
before the settlers
bought the sunrise

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

billy clubs michigan avenue chicago police/national guard riot 1968

had that weathered look
like a hard oak or mahogany
marks like notches
wielding sweeping wild
circular motions
floodlights and shimmering bayonets
armored legion columns
like orders being followed
clubs ramming ribs
all the way through to the insides
we finally ripped away our shrouds
and kissed desperate
in a cloud of tear gas
like lovers before the gallows

we tried walking
not running
hands clasping tightly
left only with dignity
eyes wide open
a tactical retreat
deep into the dark of grant park

the police streamed through
grabbing stray bodies
like lost deer from a herd
wrapping up and dragging their bounty
into trucks and busses

convention delegates
looked on from the other side
of michigan avenue
hiding in their hotel
some cried
all were witnesses

the nights rolled into days
we lost & found each other
many times
our lips stayed true
as our new skin

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

earth note 610

it takes a deluge
near the equator
to cleanse the body

no one can hide
in a pinhole
out on the open water

my reflection
in the wake
brings up grit & blemishes

before every sunrise
the piper demands payment
there's a price for ambivalence

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

earth note 609

the river rises
and leaves behind
of all protection
knotty elbows & kneecaps
like a tai chi puzzle

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

one of those online ads

submit your best poems
and then take a break
have a thousand cups of coffee
and we'll get back to ya
we have all these professionals
sitting around waiting to evaluate
     even you
we'll even give you some pointers
vouch for your credentials
on your next graduate school application
give you the agent-inside-track on the
there's a lot more to this
then meets the eye

we lead the industry
in contact lenses down the toilet

don't get yourself in a tizzy
about mixed metaphors and verb tense
don't worry about running out of time
we can help you with your next draft
every career has its downtime
maybe you've hit bottom before
and since you've stumbled on to our ad
maybe you should just take this
     as a sign

--- e b bortz

Thursday, August 16, 2018

earth note 608

the search begins
by looking under every leaf
this is a lifetime

in every allegory
there will be a lesson
the answers are not easy to find

the rain often breaks
the membrane
the body often carries a message

if there's a third eye
will that guarantee vision
there will always be another leaf

--- e b bortz

Saturday, August 11, 2018

earth note 607

i'm still learning
to claw my way
up through the ash & maple
above the trail
below the bus shelter
the hill feels like it's falling
from the sky
and all its undergarments
white fluff and then metal gray
the leaves weep
looking for a way out to the avenue
the daylight will only take you so far

after that
you'll need to get down on all fours
the ground is shifting

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

by the time we got to norwood colorado

we were feeling separation anxiety
     from the black canyon of the gunnison
a rock wall can warm the body organs
bring it back to life
when all else is cold

the messages are all there
if the eyes let you in
when the bees insist on their turf
there are no tourists
or spectators

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

earth note 606

a sidewalk that closes
can't be rolled up

if you want to learn to fly
follow the pelican

as an alternative
find a trail
without a name

--- e b bortz

Sunday, August 05, 2018

earth note 605

sunset august
minnesota itasca county road 8
leads you west toward the scenic highway
mapping it all out in my mind
     if you keep a bicycle rolling
     the mosquitos will become frustrated
     they'll tell you that much in their wings

there'll be some small lakes
if you're lucky
     a soaring blue heron
& geese
crappies jumping
a-frames aging

it's hard to let the summer go
guess you could say
this is somewhat of a rehearsal
take the blue with the clouds
while you got 'em

touch every bit of the light

--- e b bortz

Thursday, August 02, 2018

earth note 604


a deer run will only take you so far
after that it's all the sweat of your brow
or the odd or lucky conjugation
of a made-up verb
that'll bring you to the finish line
this being near the convergence
of the oliver high school cross country course
which i never mustered
therefore can't brag about

by the time i reached sixteen
and could coax my dad into letting
me have the car for the night
riverview park wasn't for running
but for making out

and now
who knew it would come to this
a captured thought
in a morning downpour
walking not running
a million steps gone missing
     still looking to liberate
     a verb

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

i'm not gonna swallow the bitter pill

as long as i can rage from within
there's a month of sundays difference
between what passes for truth
and whose shoe really touches the road
a long distance friend once told me
to leave well enough alone
find out where the squirrel hides the nuts
leave the rest or the nest to the robins
when you hear the voice of the cicada
many years will have passed

--- e b bortz

Friday, July 27, 2018

earth note 603

a switchback
might seem like a long way around
like the one off marshall trail
called kilbuck
in riverview park
where there were once stone masons
building streetcar shelters
along perrysville avenue

today the rain runoff
looks like a small fast creek
still glistening after the storm leaves
long after the trail remembers
where to give you footing
where to turn and twist
inside and through the arms
of the hillside canopy

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

it's never too late

even if it's long past time
for us to carry our poems
to the street
speak it out
in a public space
in everyone's ear
right smack dab
between the marble halls
and the tone-deaf
     power elite ain't no cliche

you shouldn't be imagining the worst
it'll turn in to an ultimate writer block
built around your cerebral cortex
before you know it
turn your head away

stop slamming into the wall

i know the bus schedules
let me know
where & when to meet
the poems will merge
from many hands & mouths
the grass will open
like new found metaphors
swarming to the end of the horizon

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 23, 2018

questions for a hot summer

are we waiting for iran to be bombed
before there's an antiwar march on washington

is the twitter generation ready for the draft

does anyone in the trump house read....farsi

is there a doctor in the house

what is congress waiting for

can i support the green marchers in iran
without approval

is there any way to grow enough flowers
to stuff all the gun barrels

have the holes in your boat been patched

will you carry your neighbor with you

--- e b bortz

Friday, July 20, 2018

we were just fifteen

walking back from our loafing stoops
on columbia place
to her stoop on flocker way

not sure how it happened exactly
but when i brought my clarinet
over to the second-fifth presbyterian church
on brighton road
and placed the sheet music down for
     stranger on the shore
i never thought for a moment
there would be someone
who would sit down next to me
and sight read perfectly
the piano accompaniment

but she did
without hesitating
sweat rolling off my fingertips
her fingers
bridging the keyboard

--- e b bortz

Thursday, July 19, 2018

earth note 602

more than one
generational change
down on river road
from the babushkas
ketchup & pickle plant
to the river trail
bicycles     kayaks    
rowers     runners
the old people still fish
     a few young ones
     push baby carriages

cars with bike racks
fighting with each other
looking for a parking space

the suburbs have shoved
their way into the urban

the condos have pushed out
the pork bellies & cow tongues

the river listens
then moves on
from the auctioneer cadence

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

earth note 601

black clouds filling up
close to dusk
a lone chimney swift calls
before the downpour

--- e b bortz

Friday, July 13, 2018

earth note 600

itasca county minnesota

a few miles up the road
from town
in the middle of a rock pile
and broken glass
someone thinks they have a bead
on bob dylan's dream
even if they never cleaned
creosote out of a wood stove
or saw the inside
of a log-built sauna

there are crappies chasing
shadows they thought
were dragon flies
the great blue heron
takes a final swoop
before the summer thunderstorm
and even out on spider lake
white birch bark becomes your parchment
taking on a whole new meaning

of what it means to write a story
in the middle of a memory
in the middle of a rock pile

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 09, 2018

earth note 599

marshall trail

smooth gray pebbles
small sharp cinders
a few loosely sunken cobblestones
indigenous black topsoil
a mixup like a stew
spread by unnatural selection
crossing over mountain bike tire tracks
where the trail divides and pushes on through
like a reprieve from a heat wave
a large doe
springing to her feet
long leaps across
oak      maple      ash
leaning into a soggy hillside
to catch the sky
deepest blue

--- e b bortz

Friday, July 06, 2018

earth note 598

little colorado river

for every dry wash
on the high desert
there are lost communities
parched bodies
hidden beneath the flame
perceptive beyond explanation
way beyond
the modern sun worshippers
and expensive sandals

the original people
grew squash
made decisions together
knew the seasons
nurtured families
made music
told stories

of the future

--- e b bortz