Thursday, June 30, 2005

earth note 13

itasca county, minnesota

blue herons know how to hide in the deep
ice blue canopy over spider lake
cloudless day lifts
works of art
off the water
whisking them past
unflinching black green tamarack
sharp stiff face to the sun
bursting whitecaps cloak a diving loon
crappie chasing frenzy
herons pay no attention
carry on incognito
searching the secret coves mystery schools
wind scattered lily pads floating placenta
borne of white birch
norway pine stewards
quiet mothers of the north

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

earth note 57

lake ontario bluffs, toronto

icy water mid july
wakes up
the most comatose among us
human beings weren't considered
in the geology of this land
bold and sharp
we are a part but not a process in itself
our mark must not be
a grease stain
to these cliffs
limestone bodies
aggregate sculptures
pale pristine
formed without our consent
herons blue
white and gray gulls
pick their sanctuary
check our presence

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 27, 2005

earth note 26

bahia honda beach, florida keys

pelicans glide just above the water
four beaks in a string
a silent nod in passing
cloudy filter sunrise
purple orange
a pair of turkey buzzards stand on the beach
not moving
deep green waves blend
with blue coral patchwork
infinite destinies
striking an arrow straight to shore
up the trunk of a split-open palm tree
flying ants dive for cover
the wind and highway speak foreign tongues
unable to communicate or answer each other's
a thousand grains of sand
blow across my paper

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

earth note 56

summer solstice, west park, northside pittsburgh

each blade of green
every carpenter ant
a universe
an injured brown squirrel
hind leg raw
three legs up a wide arm oak
in sight of allegheny general trauma center
a chopper sets down choking on ground level ozone
an air conditioned lexus gets hot under the collar
spits out a horn that leaves excrement
on the pavement

weather beaten faces down at the flea market
barter glances

what do yinz want for that desk lamp
my niece could use it in the fall
when she goes to night school

a tired old man sleeps under a backpack
near the seventh street bridge
the river whines with jet-skis
brown green water dodges
incoming concrete fragments

merchants talk of floods
next spring

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

earth note 9

pittsburgh 1996

allegheny flat water canoeing
down through aspinwall, sharpsburg
sheetmetal clad lawrenceville
under black steel railroad bridges
self-fulfilling prophecies roll
from broken corners of concrete
herr's island deep green awakening
drooping willow branches brush the sides
silence broken by a dark leafy channel
faint smells of pickles & ketchup
white ripples in the distance
a coal barge plowing towards us
we turn into the wake
cutting clean but rocky
we shift our weight
smooth with the roll
a buzz in the distance
jet-ski hotdog hammered-up hells angel
draws an S around the ninth street bridge
glass and steel reach out from all sides now
reflected clouds mirror buildings
bicycles and rollerblades shout from three rivers stadium
under the ramp at the science center submarine
a popcorn ball floats near shore
then sinks
down the ohio to the walls of the penitentiary
a gray face looks away
we turn upstream

--- e b bortz

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

Monday, June 13, 2005

earth note 58

i'm wondering
what it will take
to resuscitate a broken lung
flush fresh air
from california thru the rustbelt
up to the maritime provinces
across the appalachian hollows
open sewers of new jersey
ohio river boilers coughing soot and flyash
our breath smells
of NOx and SOx
particulates rub the last white enamel
from our teeth

collapsing on an ozone action day alert
the body bags wait

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 12, 2005

earth notes 32 & 2

fineview, pittsburgh

city steps climbing
through scruffy hillside ledges
a broken concrete slice
exposes pebbles
internal smoothness
wild shrubs mask a groundhog hole
hickory buds from a newspaper-draped compost heap
a beer can peeks out from a plastic bag
eyes closed stupor
imprint malaise

splintered green glass
scattered to the gutter
lost forever to the recycle bins
over washed down hillsides
displaced wholeness
without form

broken bits misplaced passion
and finding itself alone
on a slippery cobbled street
an ancient jagged bottle of tiger rose
not yet empty
keeps a watch

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 10, 2005

chongkasem, surat thani thailand

small fan blowing incense in
from a dead-quiet street
sweet grime thai night
paints a hot mist
our naked breasts
rich brown by birth
red brown by sun
a yellow moonlight breaks the shutters
golden quivering thighs
jeweled black hair loose & scattered
in the cream of white sheets and silence
with the mermaid at songkhla
black coral of lamai
green hills of khao sok
each lip touching
empty tomorrows

you ask me when i'll return and i answer
each heartbeat between us
asks again
what no words can say
we are a soul
ripped in two
in curry and ginger
sweat and frankincense
a tear rolls
between cheekbones
living our moment before dying

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 09, 2005

gulf of thailand

at the tip of green white surf
a splash of shoreline coral blackness

the dance begins near a campfire
first a smoky drumbeat & body

then the strings
chord & discord
deep rich melancholy minor

a crescendo of free people
a soprano rings out without an audience

full moon festival speaks
another world listens

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 06, 2005

there are only a few things that keep me feeling

wish there were more
sometimes a broken down car on the side of the road
gets me thinking
hood up...up on blocks...missing wheels
inside gutted
like the assault we all suffer
but don’t know it
people in streets
pushed broken
past dark alleys
sullen daylight
polluted concrete overpasses growing by night
this isn’t the america of the partridge family
this empire is a thousand years late
not that empires are ever legitimate
sojourner would never approve
every clearcut i see from the highway
(most clearcuts are well hidden)
is just another violation of the living

is there really a smooth politician
that can bring us out into the new?
will another hundred-year war do it?
the hundred thousand year pit
social conditioning
is sinking

i see the sun
i’m crawling out

--- e b bortz

pride and love

like the sun and rain
contending for a safe place
buried restless in empty canyons
or camouflaged deep green in the rubber forests
the road between disjointed
scattered by wind
tears of a river
deep beyond my limits of pretense
knows no safe landing

--- e b bortz

Saturday, June 04, 2005

earth note 89

pittsburgh, temperanceville, west end valley

those scraggly hillsides
traversed by coal miners a hundred years ago
the dust never settles
still hearing the old revolutionary songs
before john L put a lid on it all
and those fires beneath the surface
still warming up the roots
of the sycamores and hemlocks
while the women of the earth packed up
another lunch pail for the long winter strike
of desperation
whatever it should be called

wabash & neptune streets
is probably the spot where william Z
mounted a soapbox and asked the souls
still living to get off their knees and touch
the family tree of redemption

the narcotic of the mine owners that
poisoned the body
needed to be spit up
and out
bringing the boys home from that imperial war
‘to end all wars’
blood lining the pockets of bank foreclosures
the grimy row houses that stood on steuben avenue
full of empty coal cellars
with children gathering coal pieces
along the railroad tracks
coal pieces
their fathers died digging

--- e b bortz

(published in The New People, July/August 2005)

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

Thursday, June 02, 2005

earth note 53

juno beach, florida

shell textures like rainbows
purple rust
crevices cratered sandstone
brown gold
grainy smooth
round stone body
heartbeat surf
in white foam thundering chorus
to the sea urchins and seaweed
a last green requiem

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

earth note 74

take the politically incorrect
and use it correctly for a change
the fucker really has plundered
the earth
and most living things
just to get laid
how many women really own
those diamond mines in south africa
that's not to say there aren't a good number
that have bought the illusion

sorry for being crude
when do we wake
the little hellbenders that have survived
the chainsaw
dodging the plutocrats and
hiding behind the empty edifice
when will the confused refuse to fight & die?
is there only mill dust in our veins
or can we carry our mothers & fathers
to the river
carve out a new way
up in the hills
in the wild cluster of poplar
squeezing out the black cherry
on their knees
breathing in a new moon's night
for a full moon's

--- e b bortz