Tuesday, May 31, 2005

earth note 52

big pine key, florida

a morning winter star 6am
     running
     rising fast
red black southeast shadows
coral water lips sealed in secrecy
pelicans     gulls     turkey buzzards
     footbridge squatters
next to highway one
the traffic snarls
growls

an ocean mimics a mirror
     meets the sun

--- e b bortz


(published in leastbitternbooks, May 2015)

Monday, May 30, 2005

hunger road

is the longest distance between two points
beginning and destination
the characters time and experience live in the middle
at intersections or in themselves
the sun and darkness around them
alone

a hazy morning ribbon of asphalt
cuts through the maryland hills
footsteps & meditation down to
the wall in washington
last night's dinner at
hagerstown mcdonald's dumpster
nestled under tartar-sauce-covered
cardboard
half-full coke cups
and then a whole big mac --- a kid's secret from his dad
or maybe a message to us

a greasy road through dusty fields of corn
once forests
corn stripped and milled and stuffed in warehouses
for what? for hungrier times?

torn backpack and sneakers sluggishly moving
down the highway
a big red rig stops and asks if i want a ride to bethesda
as long as i don't smoke
or complain about david allan coe's
underground tape of raw sex songs
i told him i don't smoke

the diesel roars and whines through the hill country
blurting out a tale
of marriage and trucks and betrayal and trucks
windows wide open guitars reverberate
the stench of a backpack breaking free
a hot humid breeze masks the odor
sunny lazy droplets linger
up over the green furry ridge
near the west virginia border

i doze off for moments at a time
instantly forgetting the road
beneath me
instantly dreaming of mango
and rambutan
the bungalows of koh samui thailand
their gold-brown touch
the gentleness of the horizon

on the curb in bethesda
looking for a wendy's
walking all the way to georgetown
chic-town
people and shops stuffed and upscale
off-center
concerned but at a distance
i walk on through and cease to exist

limos buzzing pennsylvania avenue
chrome-covered headlamps with blinders on
a family with shopping bags squatting in the park
an old black man with a basset hound
curled up on a bench
afraid to move in the heat
the next bench over a chess game ducks
as a stream of rollerblades fly by on their lunch break

seagulls cruise the reflecting pool
bare feet dig deep into the grass
clawing scratching earth
black and moist under toenails
earth of life
in the shadows a black wall forever sings
a dirge upon the water
no
three million dirges
a swan wing flutters & weeps
i taste the earth
my hunger lives

--- e b bortz

(published in The Exchange #3, 1995)

earth note 81


steps
mostly one by one
broken patchwork
a rust of defoliated grassland
dustbowl yellow river
where there are no endless roads
'cept time
and we ask the mother
earth god
to heal us


photo by Sandra L. Hazley
 
--- e b bortz
 
(published in ArtCrimes #20, 2002)
 

Sunday, May 29, 2005

earth note 50

public beach, south marco island, florida

a commoner's space
wedged between well preserved
flowing blond heads
reinforced sagging asses
fingers pinched between rocks and gold
out of place high-rise edifice
the calmness and patience of a sheller's lament
lonely women old men sandpipers hop above
light green waves

--- e b bortz

earth note 49

holmes beach, florida

ancestors of gulf stream seagulls
flying up from key west in the thirties
after losing their balance
on hemingway's fishing sloop
hearing the old man swear
chewing on his pipe stem soaked in bourbon
deciding
better to nestle in the crystal white sands up north
leaving ernest with the troubles of the world
in his eyes
the anticipation and broken dreams of madrid
of barcelona
a swimming pool lined in gold
his fountain pen
dipped in pain

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 28, 2005

earth note 11

allegheny, monongahela, ohio rivers

once the haze settles in at the point
thick greasy straight-jacket
lips against the water
fog dance
mist puffing
gun metal knots
blocking all escape routes
i squirm in the relative coolness
of the mud
dream of diving deep beneath the film
or stretching out full in the bottom of a sea-worthy canoe
striking deep into a green horizon
freedom singing

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 27, 2005

earth note 36

twelve thousand miles from the
hin lat falls thailand
a sweet rainforest pulls
within me
transposing the henderson street steps
above the allegheny
cool rain pellets melt deep into all my openings
renewal screaming sunrise openings
the difference in taste is hard to distinguish
water with a message of its own
my tongue & legs
laugh out loud
climb the steps
or is it
the falls
a wolf perched on a tee-shirt
sweeps through lush green overhang
clouds of mist

spray & orchids
i breathe the water of lost rainforests

--- e b bortz

earth note 79

i kayaked from koh samui thailand
to the san francisco bay and never thought
for a moment that the journey would put an end to me
but that first plate of pad thai
telegraph avenue berkeley
was different
the years came crashing down &
i knew it was close to over
the waitress looked away quick
probably knowing i’d never see the sun
strike the sailboats of sausalito
again
too weak
love inside out
the icy summer wind off the bay wasn’t cold enough
to shake me free from those dark valleys
self-pity
deception
out there way too long without
as much as a plan
there would be no redemption
only shadows
a restless life
a world running away
from everything that was meaningful
liberation
but a dream of foolish lovers

--- e b bortz

(published in Jawbone 2001)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

transition

she caught me from the corner of her eye
running along side the running board
indecisive
a wobbly motion up to the board
my other leg left dangling
half-planting canvas holes
on a morning roadbed

lush rows of mangos, oranges, olives
ears of corn, yellow aspen, norway pine
converging
disjointed continents inching in
a magnetic pool of long lost fields
dormant dreams
an envelope of the living
surrounding
nearly touching the asphalt abscess
underground gridwork
concrete network

a late summer rain steams an open field of clover
cutting the tail of a southeast sunrise
i find no reason
not to complete the leap
sundrops rinsing soot and road dust
inside a deep sweet breath washes me thorough
hesitantly springing forward
a wet oily muscle unravels
a hand reaches out
hungry

--- e b bortz

(thailand, korea, israel, minnesota, arizona,
california, cleveland, pittsburgh)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

earth note 75

a motion unrelated but connected
to that lost poem
just below the surface
beginning to sound like typical
writer's block
words without a window
or an opening in the wall but no sunrise

i pick up the only elements alive
from the bottom of my shoes
petitions and sidewalks
we beat the drum ‘til morning
drinking in a cold rain
hopefully a beginning
of vision

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

liberty avenue pittsburgh 2003

that musty old army-navy store
flags a still-life in the window
sitting right across from a dee-funct
fire-escaped old hotel
strange and uncommon
with my father’s dub-bu-yu dub-bu-yu two
or those who died alone
some blowing out their own brains
widows mothers vietnam to iraq
to america
wonder
why the kids still play
in camouflage

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 23, 2005

earth note 68

heard on the news the other day
there was a concrete shortage
because we've been so
fucking busy
paving the earth
and on an ozone action day alert
to boot
115 degree temperatures in texas
floods in tennessee
parched forests to feed florida's wildfires
(we drained the wetlands, remember?)

where have
all
the flowers
gone
grow them in your basement
you may want to eat them

--- e b bortz

(published in Whiskey Island #42, 2000)

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

earth note 60

monongahela river

twenty geese mostly white
some blended gray
run the shoreline
three pairs of mallards
plus an odd male left out
twisting his deep green collar
polished like a loner's vanity
a cagey squirrel closes his eyes
throws his head back
maybe a shot of high test
brown river

bubbly wake
rushing out the rear of a jet-ski slasher
splitting the water with the rage of a sawmill

a malamute's wild barking protest
is swallowed below the shrill
a willow weeps

echoes

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 21, 2005

earth note 12

my bicycle is my picket sign
wheels ranting past smog-stained
parking garages cluttering up the riverfront
green space movement looking for partisans
green guerrilla walkers
joggers runners rollerbladers
wheelchair-rollers skateboarders
rowers kayakers canoeists
bicyclists
of the world unite
we have nothing to lose
but our
cellulite
an intravenous high-octane-sucking
disorder
occupy life

---- e b bortz

(published in Suburban Wasteland #4, 1997)

Friday, May 20, 2005

all the news that's fit to dream

1998

i had a strange dream last night
that the self-perpetuating federal bureaucracy,
the so-called independent counselor's office, and all the lawyers
for monica lewinsky, linda tripp, bill clinton, republican and democratic party hacks involved in scandals, plus a cast of thousands --- were methodically inching toward the abyss, self-destructing into a deep black hole --- while us ordinary citizens were just standing around, talking about el nino and global warming and all the other things we usually talk about --- not really caring much for what those good ol' boys and girls were doing to each other. they'd been doing it to us too, so it just looked as if the chickens had come home to roost. trent lott and newt gingrich were in there too, their shrill rising above the fray, more than likely watching out for their own asses, slamming their closet doors tight to keep all those media types in the dark, who won't be deterred anyway. they simply sniff out the money, follow the scent better than a basset hound in the bush...update 2005: at least they should.

and just as the first sun crept into my eyelids and everyone was about to tumble over the edge, chelsea clinton comes roaring in from california on a black and white appaloosa, screaming out the sunflower sutra by allen ginsberg and the art of loving by erich fromm with an all-star chorus that included jerry garcia and janis joplin. see, chelsea just couldn't let those gucci men and women slip away without hearing the truth as she saw it ... that this world was just too important and too beautiful to be reduced to a lot of noise ... desperate human egos.

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 19, 2005

earth note 51

key west 1997

a bitter wind in january
mangled mango trees
mangroves
goatskin wine sacks
crusty sand dipped ponytails
some broken down huffys with coaster brakes
whine up duval street
stop paranoid on their way to the green parrot
elbow to elbow motion manic
a blast of northeast chill raises goose-bumps
while the cruise ship plunderers
.....escape running
.....to the pier
and the regulars unravel their gods
for yet another sundown celebration
a german girl innocently asks for directions
and what time the festival begins
i manage a distant smile
.....an orange space along the horizon

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

death

for drunken drivers
death to kaczynski
death for mcveigh
death for texans africans iraqis jews & palestinians
death to the wolves
death to the workers
death for the ojibwa cheyenne apache arapaho sioux
shell oil death for ken saro-wiwa
death for sacco and vanzetti
joe hill
mumia abu-jamal
jonny gammage
death is what we teach our children
cyber comic superhero dragon slayer
death is a television
death is the road we are paving with crushed roses
fallen sugar maples
death is in our music
our rivers forests sky weep in
death is our decision
our history     our delusion
our reckoning
death to the poets

--- e b bortz

(an earlier version published in The Exchange #8, 1999)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

earth note 83

fineview, pittsburgh

black cat steps greenway
wraps the hilltop to the flats
sticks the shade up a cool edge
crow eyes
anxious dark & glassy
a sandal slips
groundhog lumbers
freight train
drowsy breeze
limp on thru

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 16, 2005

9th street bridge jogger

pittsburgh

yellow shorts
yellow top
yellow hair windswept sun
like a shroud around a steel i-beam (yellow)
my words gray and rigid are cobblestones
artificially imposed between concrete slabs
catch them being pushed from the trail
breaking loose
down to the river
stones & years slip
disappear

--- e b bortz

earth note 23

notes dancing off steel rails
singing out early morning blackness
wheels of an eastbound slowing down to a crawl
a gentle curve
an iron bridge twists and rolls
a restless allegheny
then silence

dawn still a dream away
waiting listening for another song
there are none
only eyes in a cold steel corridor

from an inner distance a vision of waterfalls
small cool pools
tropical wood
a sweet haze of rainforest rich droplets
grab my skin
hiking toward the falls
rushing water rendezvous
the pools gather in intervals
splashing bronze arms
hand prisms of sunlight
through coconut leaves
finding deep brown eyes
a living connection

a dream of desert wind and sandstone
piercing bayonet dust squalls
against the asphalt
a road parched but not lifeless
bedouin canyons and water holes
ragged goats gnarled-hair camels
a misplaced land rover
a sun with vengeance

burning clean my remains of pretense

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 14, 2005

earth note 85

youghiogheny river trail

there’s a primeval crashing
of whitecaps along the trail
syncopated thunder lighting
a dark eerie precursor to sundown
rain beating through every porous
rain-jacket opening
a rude cold awakening
bike tires looking for a hard surface to roll on
never thought of myself as a religious person
but it seems like some pagan god
is watching
maybe speaking

i’ve covered this trail many times before
it felt different...like morning not evening
there were times i went on endlessly
half-dreaming...warm beaches 12000 miles away
every songbird
like a personal message

this time i hear kerouac’s desolation angels
a far-off peak...no comfort in these thoughts
jack died in his bottle...stealing his warmth
through our fingertips holding the page
now beaten into a cold rain

there’s a heavy canopy of trees
shielding off the strongest of the downpour
a crack of white lighting speaks with power
and directness for anyone listening

the river divides into boulders
swirling pools
a chute that drops four feet and races
mad as a street poet in chelsea
there were times i saw this river low & limp
warmly sleeping in the moss

but now

i’m afraid of stopping
better to just lean into a wet wind
until it passes
new clouds of darkness are rolling up
from the north...i see it in the gap on my left
a wash of water cleans out a nest of fallen dead leaves
a rock dislodges
gets buried in confusion
chipmunks have stopped crossing the trail

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 13, 2005

earth note 40

on reading adam brodsky's no body
in cedarvale park toronto

there's a secret in my ear
pulling it out
it speaks
sunshine volumes green rye grass
sienna indian
peacock turban
sky
another blue turban
cocker spaniels and petunias
a violet wide-brimmed hat
over pink tennis shoes
all three feet head to toe
some stray seagulls off lake ontario labor day shopping
join the upward mobile bohemians


maple leaves sucking in their body fluid still intact
sycamore giving up their dead in a flash of yellow
a crow screams above a father's patience
wheels without training wheels unleash the sod
bicycles scatter in-path sparrows
animated black & white 60ish women walk hand in hand
teaching seas
of justice
silver and turquoise subliminal messages
bounce off sandra's ear
a crutch falls
a tear dries

--- e b bortz

earth note 76

election 2000 blues

i wish i could throw enough
of a guilt trip
on those liberals
to get a few million
more votes for ralph nader & winona laduke

guess it's the jewish mother in me calling
or maybe my jewish mother
since passed

but i don't think it’ll happen
they keep looking at their stock portfolios
with their heads
so far up their asses they may never see
daylight again
thinking it's all safe in the hands of mr smooth
algore-joelieberman-nafta-gatt-worldorder
think again

you know in your gut that it will
all
eventually
break
or just die of thirst
and we'll wish we had spent more time
talking with that other
50%
who haven't yet
bothered to vote

--- e b bortz

pre-gentrified mexican war street blues, pittsburgh

columbia place: an alleyway packed with narrow row
houses behind buena vista street
on the central northside
out your door to meet the steps
that meet the sidewalk
that meet the street
before the door swings closed
behind you

hot summer nights on the stoops listening to the
blue moon doo-wap of the marcels
from our neighborhood
making it big-time
rings of cigarette smoke and cool talk
bouncing up and down the brick walls
slow sweaty hands of passion
inching along
under thighs
into flashes of newfound sensitivity

scrappy sunday afternoon pickup football on
monument hill
another lesson in hard dirt defeat
like the horace mann dirt field the previous week
and the oily hard dirt field at oliver the week
before that
the grassy fields
were all in the suburbs

and the suburbs brought us do-gooders
of all kinds
complete with work camp projects
and beatles records
and ideas

but then kennedy, chaney, schwerner, and goodman
were murdered
and the war came
songs of dissonance zig-zagged
right up columbia place
pushed each of us
up against the wall
to take a stand
no compromise

polemics in creative writing thank you s.m.
gandhi and dylan
til morning
ideas whose time had come
thumbing down the turnpike
to washington square
in dirty white jeans and sandals
freewheels impatient
in love
and a long way down the highway

death notices from the war appeared regularly
in the newspapers
familiar names
classmates
guys from monument hill
and columbia place
it was no time to run or hide
time to follow your conscience
to danang
or to face it head-on and say
hell-no

--- e b bortz

(published in Voices of a Wanderer, 1993)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

earth note 34

snowshoe, pennsylvania

treetop skyline
slate background
bare maple branches
fine etched thin brushes
tickling fog laden breasts
a sun spot chilled and buried
a raven picks and dodges
at the side of the road
a highway with blinders turns away

--- e b bortz

noodles

an unusual place richlands virginia
to be chewing on chicken lo mein
slightly askew wooden chopsticks
scooping squeezing curling
the moist loose noodles
scattered over our wet plates
right from the dishwasher
to the stack at the end of the buffet

we take our turn and fill up
with the sweet and sour options
before us
choices we each make
looking into each other’s eyes
without judgment
as slippery loops
passing between puckered lips
warm our insides

--- e b bortz

(published in Voices of a Wanderer, 1993)

tracks

silence deadened the last sparks between us
the words crushed and stalled in my throat
emptiness across my chest
exposing the organs
you said
things have changed we don't touch in the same way

(better poets have said
the only constant in life
is change
the sun doesn't rise or set the same way
every day
this is our world)

your hands were warm as they stroked my neck
as i lay limp
drained and alone
was your touch true or was it just
a motion
a gesture to my bleeding
(to this day i don't know)
my reciprocation failed
where was my energy
where was the heat of the negev
the loveburn of yesterday
was this your way out
was it my way out?

we had a last warm kiss
on a frozen river in laval
eyes bright brown
in the ice white wind
the sun jousting but then bending the ice fog
eastward
deep into the pine covered riverbank shoulders
the shadows of your skates masking deep straight cracks
in the new fallen snowdust
of my silence

--- e b bortz

(Montreal, January 1992)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

america who do we have a blood pact with?

april 2003

protesters fall in fallujah mosul baghdad
is it still a majority of americans
who smirk that rebel yell?
17 dead 10 dead a hundred wounded
white house lies...no challenge
how many in congress & the media
even give a shit?
(the best complicity money can buy)

on september 11th as we were all crowded around
the televisions in the office...not long after the second plane
hit the world trade center...a co-worker i previously had some
respect for...said we needed to nuke somebody...burn them all...
he said it clearly...no hesitation...no prompting
his own pain? twisted sense of making someone
anyone
pay?

humans are slaves to vengeance
hate admitting they are wrong
able to waste
planets

do we refuse to end it here?
your pulse slipping out the door?
love nonviolence self-reflection
antidote sanity potion
non-compliant patriots
look up from the bottom of the well
sing your praise
to the sky

--- e b bortz

red-blue-red

hyper endorphin scat red bop rebel
crank pedal medley madness
reggae induced motion psychic
a back dropped straight
parallel with the top tube
a smooth
spear in the wind
whistle tires
shout
awake!

burned hollow below the surface
raw texture yawning disbelief
egocentric root canal
carved like a dug-out canoe
a pile of pulp and wood chips
cover each nerve ending
disconnecting
all relevant reasoning
washed in blue and pointless

a bead of sweat grows to red hot puddles
rejected sewer runoff
silver spokes
lightning charged serpents
spin a draft of air swirls
a vacuum shot of adrenalin screaming innocence
unearthed barren pavement
shifts near the mountain crest
gropes ahead in darkness
drinking twisted red and blue

--- e b bortz

betrayal

has as many species
as there are flowers
closing their petals
darkness needs no invitation

sometimes it’s not noticed immediately
the long silence
when you expect a shout
words in place of deeds
deeds trailing off past yellow horizons
abandoned sagebrush
fencepost termites

dialectical historical sophistry
taking its usual place
at the head of the table

those plodding in the gutters
have tasted all the leftovers
you gave away last weekend
thank you brothers and sisters
go ahead undo un-live those early days
of the dissident
objectors of conscience
before the suburban wasteland
the rich forest quiet as a drifter

admit your eyes are covered by a not-so-great-gettin-up
gray morning

submission manufactured
complete with instructions

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

earth note 20

itasca county minnesota

frozen stalks of timothy hay
uncut another desperate year
windbent southeast
some touching the white ice crust earth shield
others
chaos contorted left standing
northwest downwind a slab of creaky barn board
lets loose takes flight
barn swallows swoop to new corners
gophers dive for cover
a ten-day subzero freeze is in the air

i look to the void of black winter darkness and northern lights

--- e b bortz

(published in split w*sky 2002)

iron ore strike, 1977, hibbing minnesota

november on the picket line
couple of games of smear
scattered in front of the taconite plant service road
a beat up trailer
but with a heater
beating back an arctic northwesterly

small groups of workers lost in their own thoughts
no joe hill or woody guthrie songs
i sat squarely in the middle of the road
with the other electricians
drew the queen of spades
decided it was time to shoot for the moon

three and a half months without a paycheck was nothing
like the little steel strike of '37
the ten republic steel memorial day martyrs in chicago
nothing like my father and his comrades
of the spanish civil war
the international brigades
dropping their blood forever in the soil
of barcelona and brunete
but this was our brunete

iron ore was shut down
from the mesabi and vermilion ranges
all the way across the great lakes
to every steel mill of the ohio and monongahela valleys
sparrows point maryland gary indiana south chicago
our brother and sister steelworkers stood by us
as best they could

but when it was all said and done
it was 12,000 iron ore families
that faced down bethlehem    u.s. steel    Ltv
on a lost road in northern minnesota
shoulder to shoulder with clean rigid stands
of white birch   tamarack   poplar   norway pine
the liberating song of the greywolf

--- e b bortz

(published in split w*sky 2002)

earth note 70

itasca county, minnesota

cold white dust rolls across the highway
through chewed down alfalfa stubble
gathering 'round dry-rot fence posts
leaving nothing but ragged imprints
another season gone sour

an a-frame on the hill rattles a snake dance
the frozen creek unable to answer
early december
geese gone a month now

you left the window open in the sauna
to purge out our last hot touch
our smell
of summer

--- e b bortz


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

Monday, May 09, 2005

earth note 71

pittsburgh

allegheny observatory riverview park
takes the long view of the cosmos
dead scientists
copernicus galileo newton herschel
laplace le verrier secchi draper
keeler adams fraunhoffer bond
peirce huygens langley newcomb
(alright so their names are etched in stone)
as they reach out from the white columns
to watch
a line of limos and junkers in a funeral procession
across the valley
rolling like a steady stream of vision
unison
slowly up the hillside
and the trumpet of a woodpecker
speaks truth to power
and memory

---e b bortz

(published in The Exchange, #10, 2001)

convention and wisdom

are not borne of the same mother
antagonists
ripping each other's innards
rudimentary
status quo cracking in a pavement narrowing
how many years with a half-full glass
before it's declared empty
quieting eyes shift and dip
misread by convention as
loving
we're always inclined to believe our own lies

a sliver of moon and yucca plants leave
blood on the desert
sandcloud parched transparencies
crawl up a road
limping toward sunrise

--- e b bortz

(published in split w*sky, 2002)

earth note 65

neo conservative liberal ruling classism
you don't need to listen
this won't be another didactic rag
the buffalo know your intentions
as do the salmon
columbia river salmon plutonium
roll on columbia woody guthrie
we should lighten the blows
after all they've given us
their best and brightest
the drumbeats of missile silos fade
under darkness
as the submarines are being re-armed
the payload shifted
sweaty hands of eighteen-year-olds
sift through landmines
let's give a wink to the banker boys
buying up asia with a smile
forget our cities
chaos begins
at the tollgate
concrete blinders wrapped around
eighty-mile-an-hour autobahns
coast to coast
suicide bunkers
we bury ourselves

neo liberal cultural icon
i'm sorry my poem sounds
like jargon
you've shown the light on the higher road
you own the higher road
though it's covered with empty tree bark
aboriginal images long ago robber baroned
and just esoteric enough to shield us
from our deepest thoughts
not that you asked me
but my fire is not for sale

--- e b bortz

(published in Jawbone 2000)

cats and history

while the hemingway cats stood
in the footsteps of ernest
and drank water from the old man's urinal
spanish soil bled

ernest broke bread with my father and his comrades
at valencia
in the shadows of a firestorm
from franco's insurgents, hitler's luftwaffe, mussolini's legions

the international brigades threw their bodies
at
fascism
the trenches filled with the first martyrs
of the holocaust

ernest got drunk at valencia and filed
his report with a new york newspaper
the hemingway cats drank
from the old man's urinal

--- e b bortz

 (published in ordinary shoes, #2, 1997)

earth note 21

eilat, israel

red sea clear waters
you lie on your back
my arms outstretched
floating dancing we speak in tongues
transient pulses stroke your inner thigh
the sun nods and passes noonday
life connects like the crosscurrents
of aqaba

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 08, 2005

earth note 77

i lifted my poems from the bottom
of a kayak and fed them to a manta ray
off bahia honda beach florida keys

buried them with sand dunes & crabs
near provincetown

the negev sun ate the print
right off the page
leaving an emptiness as long as
brown barren canyons

still good enough to wipe oil
off a dipstick
acid new jersey ain't no freeway

i'd like to compost them
inside the rotting stumps of the alleghenies

before i'd strip away the soul
deconstruct
sanitize them
for the academics

maybe it's time to pack up the originals
and walk those 500 miles
to my mother's headstone

--- e b bortz


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

Saturday, May 07, 2005

our generation

has never been quiet
we will never go quietly
tear gas tear tracks
jockey with the last vestiges
of the me-centered decade
of stock scammers
and down-sized cock worshipers
shred your golden parachute
fly
with us

--- e b bortz

wing-tips

long time sitting in an airport --- dallas / fort worth
without a formal thought to hold on to
'cept those retrospective glances you take
around the room
still looking for what was lost your last time out
the disconnect
the only lasting emotion that surfaces
grays and blues of terminal carpeting
a million feet
the dusty browns of a texas summer
pretty much sums up your perspective
the future
the broken writers and their slow deaths bukowski called it
leaves you
without definition

then there's abilene
those bastard city planners managed to tear down
damn near every historic building in that town
in less than a generation
probably some twits selling out their last flair of conscience
to appease the power brokers
what right did they have
robbing the cowpokes and roughnecks
of their buildings
where the grit from the street
still had life
and those old neon lit saloons
old men and fire escaped old hotels
pitting the gamblers against the odds of finding a warm
body to bed down with
the kids will never know what that’s all about
now that the bank & insurance tightasses have taken their place

well this plane finally made it airborne
filled with the so-called achievers
bullshit salesmen
most of them going back to their ‘burbs
racquetball courts golf courses
where the freeways gnarl the brain
aggression rules
and a few of us escape with the clouds
looking for that spark
in a metropolitan wing-tip night

--- e b bortz

(published in split w*sky, 2003)

earth note 87

two-tone duplex
half brown shingle half green vinyl
two families an impossible compromise
‘cept for a chimney shared
reluctant at that
walls between barrier perception
spiteful partition
cattle pen imagination
street subversion
brewing in the hillside
a cobbled together disunity
cracks with evidence
but not so obvious
rules imposed
imposition final

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 06, 2005

hypocrisy is dead

rusty nose-ring rules
blowing dust and hair spray
up madison avenue
even bank managers are smiling
new way hipsters
alone
drowning in chastity belt synthetic structures
alienation is in
everything
nothing
has changed

--- e b bortz

bowing down to the almighty carbon dollar

(or how we live in the greenhouse glasshouse)

walking through the monongahela parking wharf
the other day
we spot some spanish pesetas
which must be a sign
that it really doesn't matter how much
or what kind of money you throw to the carbon gods
they just keep regenerating themselves
dying to support our habit
grinding up all the plant and animal matter
under a mother earth cradle
leading those tri-spectacled geologists
with their instruments to the holy grail
path of discovery
and with a sweeping hand
magic
the oil and coal spring to our dinner tables
we eat dumb and indebted to the carbon martyrs
who gave (and give) their lives for our standard
some call living

take those suvs right up to the drive-thru drugstore
(where the old hardware store used to be)
and tell them you need a strong drug
that keeps you wound
and angry
for that daily (new jersey style)
(ain't no freeway)
commute

--- e b bortz

earth note 86

walk street
street walks
an eavesdropper lifts a yellow shade
moon winks
covers low hanging willows

tow barges
barge tows
last geese land
land of goose turds
no one asks
why
the river is sinking

words spit
spitting words
hang in the last scrap of newsprint
printers print
an empty O
gets violated

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 05, 2005

earth note 80

bicycling the little cities of black diamonds

hemlock ohio bittersweet land
only a mountain song could love
a ’68 charger propped up on cement blocks
with a pair of dangling black engineer boots
sticking out from underneath
shadows of an abandoned coal mine
rammed into slumping green shoulders
hillsides beaten round at the tops
the blackness before and after noon
has passed

a concrete railroad trestle is coming down
while the grass is overgrowing up
a seniority list of railroad workers
still hangs from 1882 in a local museum
their memories of survival
a wild creek coming off the ridge

--- e b bortz

(published in split w*sky, 2003)

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

earth note 33

market square, pittsburgh

homeless shopping bags dragged past
saxon jewelers
yin-yang tiles and boutiques turn their noses up
look away quick
eyes suffering street confusion
turmoil pissed stained gutters
wake up the unblemished

--- e b bortz

(published in Suburban Wasteland #4, 1997)

earth note 43

schenley park, pittsburgh

i spent the day walking schenley oval
it wasn't a waste of time
those shadows struck perfect images
on my left then my right
my body never looked so crisp
next to half-rotted acorns
their torsos half-way to death along side of mine
thrown down on a still grassy quilt of
brown red yellow maple red-oak hemlock
that will never be duplicated
not one cloud
only sun (no visible haze)
that exact light in the sky never duplicated
picks up the pattern of the cyclone fence and spatters
a perfect grid along the first base line
four squirrels scavenging
tail paws quick dark eyes
jumping at shadows
we walk

--- e b bortz

(published in ordinary shoes, #2, 1997)

earth note 67

what a contradiction
those lonesome western ohio country roads
how they broke my cycle depression
peaking just beyond
the four foot corn stalks
three thousand sisters and brothers
road crawling in bicycles
megawatts of solar power and head winds
unharnessed
sidney...brookville...hueston woods
oxford you feel like i've met you in vermont
or berkeley
your face is still painted in the sunset
a green orange mystic dance
with the hickory
i've taken in your breath to renew
an original mission
to wear aboriginal beads then return them
to their rightful stewards

--- e b bortz

(published in Cleveland Anthology of Poets, 2005)

earth note 78

stock island’s mouth to the atlantic
makes the whitecaps hiss and spit out
those oily-centered hulls
hunks beached in the shallows
like a witness to a tropical
sun storm blowing to the inlet
the brush green bottom
quivers with black manta ray
let’s heave the paddles upright
cut the wind
search and find forgotten rainbows

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

earth note 90

bold river
brown green spring rush
more initiative
than politicians
awash in glory

a single drummer beats
echo valleys
forests empty
chants on animal skins
deer of headlights village

sun spills blood in the desert
finds sanctuary
no one notices

--- e b bortz

the west view pennsylvania bandstand

and roller coaster are long gone
fast-forward k-mart bloated parking lot

leaving only the jive five

cry cry
their never ending love story
names changed to protect
you and i

adolescent roots
torn & stuck in dry broken clay
value judgments cotton candy
lost community
no hiding
shut-out living
flannel walls
wrapped & shredding
still gray

a rendezvous in black and white breaks for the highway
an escape
on a secret hazy layer of early summer
right after school let out
between camelot and the napalm fires
to come
lovers
too innocent for anything more
than a song

--- e b bortz

(published in Cleveland Anthology of Poets, 2005)

the senate was still debating

february 3, 1998

whether the airport in washington
should be renamed for ronald reagan
as karla faye tucker died in texas
a lethal injection
weeping christian soldier conscience
a coalition without the vision
to go all the way
to see the injustice
for the thousands
of death rows
the condemned by societies
bottom-line bureaucracies
prison growth fund annuities
another big uptick
wall street prophesy

--- e b bortz


(published in opednews.com, Jan 15, 2015)

words are not relevant here

razor wire wall a bomb at a bus stop
bulldozers over bodies burning olive groves

there was once a lake of pure water
seagulls that gleaned the sands of kinneret
before it was called kinneret
before jericho or
yerushaliyim
before mosesmohammedjesus
there were parched bodies of many species
survivors connected not by nation or ritual
but by the sustenance of the ground they touched
by the wind from a mountain before mesada
where the crust of the negev not named negev
marked calluses on feet of neither jew nor philistine
nor assyrian nor egyptian
but only on wanderers without title
or bible

before plastic bottles and oil slicks washed ashore
near the ruins of caesarea
there were king crabs and starfish
a connection with all the living oceans and currents
as far off as atlantis

before the checkpoints there were trails of rich pine forest
before messiahs there were just instincts and wit
to guide us

words are blood here
covenant history justice security
choose your word

--- e b bortz

(published in Jawbone 2002)

april 2003

limbless sanctioned shrapnel children
a confluence of loot and narrow streets
an ethos we will all wear
like an equestrian monument
heart & torso missing
head & tail in pieces
rugs draped over pushcarts rumble at the crossing
a steel-clad centurion
lights the water
euphrates tigris
burns

--- e b bortz

(published in The New People, June 2005)

desert dreams

hanging out of the third floor window
naked against a red sea sunrise
mouths noses ears
open alive
breasts wrestling wet kisses
squirming then baking dry
cheeks pink brown in the desert wind
sand willowing in to rest
rooting deeply in quiet waves
of thick dark hair bleaching lighter
inhibitions falling down to the dusty street
we talk in each other's
dreams

--- e b bortz

(published in Conflict of Interest #1, 1995)

you knew me yesterday

when we were beaten by the pigs on michigan avenue
the '68 chicago democratic party convention
our skins were soft but more bitter than
the rocks in the street
our handkerchiefs masking
teargas burn
we sat on the curb as you ripped away our shrouds
and kissed me like a lover facing the gallows
tongues on fire
glimmering bayonet columns
the crack of approaching billy clubs
but you kissed me
in the flash of floodlights and sirens
that the whole world was watching

you knew me yesterday
stoned and watching reefer madness
you breaded and fixed zucchini with hash
just before we crashed
just before dawn
just after you fucked me silly
giggling-silly
just before we cried
consumed in the perfect moment
the fluke connection
symmetry reason purpose
the pain of tomorrow

you knew me yesterday
hiking a dusty mesa near holbrook arizona
sun piercing a hard but less bitter skin
tentative cautious stepping
down to the banks of the little colorado
down on all fours grabbing clawing into its
cool damp underbelly
soothing our faces in the brown grainy mud of the anasazi
ancient scientists of the canyons
prophets of the river

you knew me yesterday
naked and lost in the boundary waters
canoe slipping up quiet on a bull moose
a grey wolf
a family of partridges
we were in love with partridges
and then you fucked me silly
giggling-silly
under mosquito netting
a yellow moon
a silhouette of black straight tamarack
the smell of pine sap and spring
the rush of snowmelt to the river

you knew me yesterday
but not today
as the door closes between us
and we weep in silence

---- e b bortz

(published in Conflict of Interest #1, 1995)

earth note 4

buena vista street, pittsburgh

red brick empty building
quietly aging in silence
once living cohabitant
alone
dust and gray mold replace
broken bits of spaghetti
between the sink and stove
small voices in bunk beds long gone
dandelions rise in place of cabbage and tomatoes
a coal cellar turned darkroom turned spider web
disconnected
stained glass sun lunges into a pale green alcove
desperate to be touched
a master bedroom creaks and hollers
to a banister polished in a thousand hands
a straight plastered wall balancing
a piece of parlor mirror
catches eyes in the alley
a silence broken

--- e b bortz


(published in tight, volume 7, #1, 1996)

earth note 17

lake erie northwest wind
flys from ontario
in a free form tide
beating a path to my feet
like kerouac and cassady loose
up and down the california coast
rolling about in some louisiana bayou
flea bag stable
water has no barriers
rain and tides find their home in every hidden
unsung billion grains of sand
a life circle released

--- e b bortz

(published in Mac’s Turns a New Trick, Green Panda Press, Nov 2003)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

kayaks

won't let you sleep through the surf
wet wake-up
you've broken all the rules
the kayak gods have designed
a little like the time you decided to quit
your job and move to utah
or israel
or move in with a woman in thailand
with her sisters and kids
your bicycle and backpack
the heat of the equator
the taste of mango

the swell came in out of nowhere
and threw me off course
but i didn't want to fight it
take the long way around
to that uninhabited island
where you step carefully
over the coral living shoreline
it may be the shortest distance
in your journey
years from now only a flick of memory
a taste of holy water

--- e b bortz

(published in split w*sky 6, 2001)

earth note 48

lower federal street, northside pittsburgh

in the shadows of three rivers stadium
bob slept on the sidewalk
under the railroad overpass just a few doors
from the post office
and most days he spent with a little sign
and the singular word
veteran
scatched with deep red crayola
and a usually empty coffee cup
and on sundays in october
the steeler fans would file by with their
flasks of jim beam hidden near their breasts
and bob would just look them in the eye
and never say a word and the people
would usually just look away quick
and talk loudly about their parking spaces
or the traffic jam from the suburbs or how much
the northside has changed from when
they were kids
and then one day after dropping my poems
down the deep black hole
postal submission
i walked past bob's spot and he was gone and
his name was written in black coal on the
stone overpass foundation and all it said was that
he was dead
had been robbed and shot
and that his friends were
taking up donations at a shelter
in his name
and now i hear that the neighborhood
is going to get another faceshift
we've been told that we need new stadiums

---- e b bortz

(published in 3 Tombs, 1998)

earth note 41

tall silage grass near phunphin thailand
yellow dry clumps pushing the edge
of an asphalt road
sticky tar and bicycle wheels
startled heads turn
a long scythe swishes
cresting wave collapses
dropping bundles in calloused handfuls
tin cauldron rice and curry
six women on their haunches
focus on wooden bowls
a perfect soprano yells kin khao
i blush as she looks at me
legs of another twenty feet
sing golden breathing earth

--- e b bortz

(published in 3 Tombs, 1998)

earth note 39

virginia beach

fire on the beach
salt spray spattering
the tips of razor yellow flame
a crab burrows down deep
tasting the cold wet asylum
a lone driftwood lost forest
is dragged to the crematoria

--- e b bortz

(published in ordinary shoes, #2, 1997)

earth note 35

bethel, vermont

fog halo granite mountain
the mist tilts east
white river rapids
wild irreverent backwoods chanting
white birch bark peeled away
a trunk of blemishes opened to light

--- e b bortz

(published in ptrint 3x5, January 2008)
(published in split w*sky, 2002)

zen hebrew agnostic apolitical blues

almost everyone except the poets and outcasts
seem to have their dogmas and slogans
down real tight
beliefs all stuck in a cyberbox or bible
misplaced on a pedestal or altar
served up on a platform
reborn revered regurgitated

dollar soaked media assault weapons
diatribes commercial infocides
exercise-equipped beer and pain reliever
enemas in your face
long live the mute button

ostentatious politicians stone smiling faces
fall apart when you look below the clay
not one live cell
there
their words refuse to even gurgle
going down the drain
long live the non-candidates ferlinghetti and ralph nader
i'm all ears

down by the river a maccabee rapper
stands knee-deep in an oil slick
ducks and pigeons halfway listening
swarming at the last bread pieces
boarded-up brick row houses
perched in the bleachers
the stadium erupts
when the word love is spoken

--- e b bortz

(published in The Exchange, #5, 1997)

earth note 28

a touch of oneness
a night connected by the deepest black
eyes at dawn looking down
diverging roads
dropping off the edge of yellow
a baggy silhouette kicks up dust clouds
distant jet stream melts into the blue

--- e b bortz

(published in ordinary shoes, #2, 1997)

road notes

1

the greyhound driver's 22 packets of sugar
in a 12 ounce coffee
in breezewood pennsylvania
told us it would be a strange ride

lane sway amphetamines 3 am
and then the guys behind us saying
all they wanted was "a crib and a bitch"
and one describes raping a woman
after she got pinned behind the wheel
of her car after a wreck on an empty
reservation road in arizona and all
they could do was motherfuck
their way thru life without a clue
hoping their violence doesn't chew a new hole
in the back of their heads dumping out
what's left
on the purple river sewer
desperation highway

2

waking up as we jerked to a stop in philadelphia
and i thought of marian
her halfway spirit to freedom
thirsty boots lost in the summer
between love and the rest of life
and her sister sandy
older street corner revolutionary
mother courage flower
you taught us well

3

the port authority at midtown manhattan is
cleaner than it used to be
the homeless are now hidden away in closets
next to the nike children workers
ravaged mothers and fathers
a handful of susan b anthony dollars
thrown at their bowels
a dead-cold open-hearth from homestead
is now lined with the words of poets
and the suits
well the suits they stay focused
on what's in front of them
wordless
no flinching

--- e b bortz

(published in Jawbone 1998)

earth note 61


my bucket of words are a pile
of dust
might as well fling them
to the clearcuts
clearfield pennsylvania
broken strip mine draglines
barren hills spread their legs
no seeds to receive

--- e b bortz

(published in Ornamental Iron, Green Panda Press, 2003)

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

earth note 8

the peaks of the san juans near ouray colorado
should be sharp enough

to poke a hole & drain a washington slushfund
the logic
of timber   gas   oil   mining dollars
ready to assault the land & water
a simple sacred sunset
is enough to make us shout
somewhat more important
than whether or not forrest gump
eats his chocolate
or whether the idols were bought or rented

these mountains connect millennia
generations of eagles
long-horned sheep
cliff dwellers
tribes communities
shadowed valleys awaiting sunrise
bones of sages unsettled
twisting in the riverbed
waiting for an awakening
are we up to it?
don't wait for lefty
there's no time
he's probably lost in
square times
deals are being done
ponderosa logs sailing from seattle
test wells then excavation then waste piles
it all started in a lie

i see another days of rage
john muir and gandhi living
university teach-ins congressional sit-ins
bodies in front of bulldozers
pass out poetry on wall street
a future with mountains
wild rivers
pine saplings
children with a chance
to carry on

--- e b bortz

(published in Split W*sky, May 2005)

earth note 16

elk county, pennsylvania

sugar maple, black cherry, yellow birch, yellow poplar
hemlock, beech, red oak, red pine
allegheny forest you live like us
bloody concrete corridor
up against superhighways and eighteen wheelers
suburban glut compulsive malls
chainsaws backhoes bulldozers
recklessness with blinders on
revenge seekers
speculators
hate mongers
abandoned cities awaiting rebirth
bring your desperate branches to the crossroads
we'll lock arms
no pasaran
they shall not pass

--- e b bortz

(published in Hellbender Journal, 1997)

More Questions than Answers

(published in The New People, January 2005)

More Questions than Answers

by e b bortz


For those changing or maintaining the status quo, expanding an empire
or defending their land, there is a basic human choice of violence or nonviolence to consider. This is not an argument of tactics or strategy, but more of a question of what kind of individuals we are, or choose to be. And there is no wiggle room...the issue of violence or nonviolence encompasses all varieties of apologists.

The goals sought through violence may be at complete opposites (empire and occupation vs. national sovereignty), but who can argue that the carnage is cleaner or more humane based on the goals? Is the violence of the freedom fighter less dehumanizing on the individual than that of the torturer? Of course none of these arguments are new, though they take on hideous new forms with the daily news from Fallujah and Palestine.

Governments throughout the world use violence or the threat of
violence to maintain order, expand their economic and political hegemony,
condition the population with fear and conformity. Nowhere is this more
sophisticated than in the present-day United States of America.

The great divide on the issue of “legitimizing” violence goes to the core of every religious and political institution and dogma. We need to look at the terms of rationalization: “Just War”, “Armageddon”, “War against the Infidels”, “War on Terror”, “Pre-emptive War”, “War of National Liberation”, “Revolutionary Violence” (an oxymoron). Maybe war and violence are not natural human traits? People don’t come naturally to killing other human beings, so societies must “teach” them, give them the language to make them believe that war and violence is “normal.”

Maybe it’s time to stop arguing over the historical “necessity” of certain
wars or previous revolutions. Surviving today means keeping our eyes and ears wide open to our inner-voices of nonviolent engagement and nonviolent struggle...without compromise. Global justice will not come out of the barrel of a gun. Pacification is not peace. George Bush, Osama bin Laden, and John Kerry are all selling snake oil. If you buy it, you’ve just sold a piece of yourself
.

Monday, May 02, 2005

earth note 15

flagstaff arizona

pieces of an empty reservoir
anasazi earth orange clay
black lines and characters
when you were whole
a thousand years hidden among the washes
what did you call this mountain now called humphrey
where did your family live
vessel where have you wandered
where are your pure waters now

--- e b bortz

(published in ordinary shoes, #2, 1997)

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

earth note 47

a warm afternoon sandwiched
between the snow
a little like an interval of infidels
hiding in a stony amphitheater
playing the part of the innocent
hanging on every word
just hot enough to poke holes
in their melted dreams

--- e b bortz

(published in ordinary shoes, #2, 1997)

earth note 82

bicycling ohio

let the elements beat you up
to the end
the road is a message for the
non-believer
where the crest ridge becomes
an endless stream of mounds
an aboriginal marker most holy rolling
mountains the work of glaciers
the broken patch of dried-out green
becomes the wrath of human hand
beating life without a vision
tarry road a reckoning headwind
you are no match for it

when the sun picks
a soft spot of earth
and shadows its underbelly
consider this grace

--- e b bortz

(published in Whiskey Island #45, 2002)

earth note 19

koh samui thailand

when a coral reef punctured my achilles heel
i knew the dream was over
thorny stone shooting deep and clean
broken calm like a fisher's knife
orange sun drooping on a mango grove
a water creased horizon nearly swallowed
yet still squirming restless impending blackness
i step on through the reef knowing well
the pain before me
waves of your brownness curved like the shore
golden eyes aligned by moon
look past me
through tomorrow

--- e b bortz

(published in ordinary shoes, #2, 1997)

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

earth note 46

a building with a spiked hat
haman's hat
a stiff grid of glass and steel
equilaterals and right triangles
though i can't help thinking of gray cell blocks
pressed to the valley wall
green
now gagged and bound
a soupy confluence stings
where it once healed

and the elders no longer sing to the rivers

--- e b bortz

(published in Hellbender Journal, 1997)

earth note 84

mist lifted sunrise culture
dissected by a yellow springs ohio bike path
and all those lost veterans
sitting squatting the main street
small cafes used bookstores
the sustenance of living in many worlds
a mixed bag of bluegrass reggae blues
quite a few flags also
but without the chest-pounding
revenge-seeking
small town impotence

when the freedom riders and organizers
of the sixties
needed solace
yellow springs was there
like african slaves running north
a hundred years earlier
draft resisters third world refugees
conscientious objectors
still today
when we look closely
there are distant smoke rings
ever present signals hiding in the canopies
but never fading

a recast of soldiered monuments
gray & lifeless
reinforced concrete/rebar at the base
will be ignored
with a cover of weeds
rain to cleanse us all

--- e b bortz

(published in Mac’s Turns a New Trick, Green Panda Press, 2003)

i keep hearing

people talk of stumbling in
     to armageddon
like it’s some predetermined stop over
along a coastal highway to salvation
even if it brings a billion deaths
and the sinners’ minds and hearts
are pitched upon a mountain
     grotesque
like a pile of shoes in the holocaust museum
     yet there will be those that say
     we deserve it

but the abyss might be a state of mind
     you need not be swallowed in
bury your swords and draw your blood

     for a line in this desert
     a blockade of yucca plants
     will grow and circle our tents

--- e b bortz

(published in The New People, March 2003)
(published in ArtCrimes #21, July 2006)

(published in opednews.com, April 19, 2013)

earth note 6

herr's island pittsburgh

ghosts of the packinghouse
slaughtered carcasses
hoofs tongues tails
three decades since the last killing
a march wind shrouds
a long empty moan
beginnings of daffodils spring from blood-steeped earth
austrian pine listens to the river
iced-out
whistling
the dark days gone

--- e b bortz

(published in Lilliput Review, #82, 1996)

earth note 44

the mist along the beaver river
leaves a crooked path
for those who follow in its
footsteps

an orange morning cloud is surrounded
by gray ones
may be the face of a seeker
a passion shiftless unfulfilled

in the northwest corner a yellow cumulus cluster
refuses to yield
an alter of its peers speak
from voi-dom
i do not listen

we live by the river and look past
the footprints of yesterday

--- e b bortz

(published in ordinary shoes, #2, 1997)

earth note 31

fineview pittsburgh

a few songbirds have saved the day
just when i thought a cold drizzle
had touched deep in the darkest
of marrow
a gray soup wrung from the hillsides
tension spitting upwind from the ohio
broken city steps become timeless corridors
green agendas
budding sycamore and maple seedlings
creep along the concrete
cardinals and finches shout their venues
of an awakening

--- e b bortz

(published in Hellbender Journal, Vol 7, #1, 2001)

earth note 29

sometimes the smallest things become the scalpel
a cutting edge without precision
a frenzied path past the main organs
left intact yet disconnected

an old brown towel wiped our bodies
bodies of a tribe in the desert
then swiped our bicycles down
leaving the sands of mesada
buried in thick stained cotton
incognito

until yesterday
grains of millennia marking faint white tracks
on my forearm
your signature was clear

--- e b bortz


(published in Tight, volume 8, #1, Summer 1997)
(published in ArtCrimes #20, 2002)

the 55th street marina in cleveland

has a breakwater
that points me northeast
quebec!
in the dark a soft ripple approaches
reaches out to touch my shoe
francophone downbeat cadence
voided by time
but nonetheless true
the glass i hold was never filled in these waters
i view that as a lighthouse always shaded
foot candles black and burned
at both ends
the opportunities are never recognized
in the heat of the flame
i need a glassy cold calm
to pitch a taste of bread to the seagulls
their flight suspended
but without end

--- e b bortz


(published in The Exchange, Oct 1998)
(published in Whiskey Island, 1999) 

earth note 45

something about autumn
that makes me feel so damn
alone
maybe its just the singularity of each tree
becoming leafless
or the japanese water coloring that whispers
quebecois
seeming to know where those
painted cotton clouds are going
and what they mean
i haven't decided
i'm still looking in airports and museums
at every face
for that unintentional gentle love rage
free of judgements
still connected to cave wall brush strokes
of basquiat
a gospel left unspoken
capturing my hollowness and booting it
i look at clouds and wonder if you
have found the answers

--- e b bortz

(published in The Exchange, #7, 1998)

earth note 59

provincetown, massachusetts

white underside of a humpback's tail
a series of creamy sand dunes
position themselves
between purple sundown ocean spray
and a nest of juniper pines
their rough green branches
needling our impatience
of living
between morning and evening stars
a cricket song from the hollow
is a million voices

--- e b bortz


(published in Lummox Journal, 2004)
(published in Animals Without Backbones,
Green Panda Press, August 2007)

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

Sunday, May 01, 2005

oil slick willy-saddam-george w-multinational-cartel-sortie

sand can burn and turn to glass
when ignited with phosphorus
the sandboxes of iraq are a sea of glass
and we ask what dylan asked

is your money that good
will it buy you forgiveness?

has your ego become so twisted
that you need a whipping boy to unravel
or has it simply been the black gold cock-of-dependence
you drink
we ask no questions
mega-mall drive-thru banks and drugstores
is that what this is all about?

fuck-off saudi-aramco-shell (royally) chevron-texaco
mobil-exxon
in their private boardrooms
of cigars and cocks
save your lies
your deeds are marked in the sandboxes of children
burning flesh in their agonies
the cradle of civilization (we're doing a lousy job)
in its
river of life

--- e b bortz

(published in Long March of Cleveland, Green Panda Press, 2002)

earth note 25

south beach, miami beach

rastafarian browns reds greens
pluck left handed strings
lonely island love songs
black beaked gulls listen
a jamaica wail in silence

across the avenue a crucifixion
of bob marley's waiting in vain
spits on shiny hoods
jaguars lamborghinis mercedes
valeted at the curb
starched waiters spinning
christian dior armani calvin klein stuffed
and smiling

rasta brother beats his guitar
like a drum
walks into the shadows
the gulls left listening

--- e b bortz

(published in The Exchange, #5, 1997)

does it really matter

that a thousand more people
are out on these broken streets
in this town
handpicked for deposit
into the post-industrial
work ethic reclaim pool
bloody misery not withstanding
does it really matter that a pompous few
have nailed our hands
to their stage of the absurd
and then vanished neath the screams
before the final act


--- e b bortz

(published in Long March of Cleveland, Green Panda Press, 2002)

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