Wednesday, January 25, 2006

afternoon in e minor


winter grey on the riviere des prairies
soupy fog hanging low
bending over and blanketing
the snowy sheet of river ice
staggering downstream
to the emptiness
of the north atlantic

lover and i warm our minds
join our hearts
as the bach lutenist
brings in the late afternoon

--- e b bortz

(published in Voices of a Wanderer, 1993)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

there were dreams in america

before corporations had
their faces plastered
on baseball stadiums
public school lunchrooms
an encoding of our dna for
private profit
public ‘input’ has become nothing more
than particulars
bought and sold on the world focus market
reported on the news hour

i used to dream most nights
(i dunno maybe it's me)
decades before fallujah was phosphorus bombed
by my american dreamkeepers
years before arnold pontius pilate schwarzenegger
put stanley tookie williams to death
where is the justice in death?

dreams in america
were built in communities
public forests
main streets where people actually
gathered spoke
acting out
social animals that we are
how did we let it slip away
into the grime of a strip mall
at a freeway exit?

reclaim the dream
(a mission if you choose to accept)
is a new group
in your town or hamlet
take it and don’t let it get bought
by phonies in deep pockets
sometimes the loudest scream
is that voice inside of you

--- e b bortz

(published in The New People, May 2006)

Monday, January 16, 2006

tapi river, surat thani thailand

thin golden hands
whip the clothes and rocks
pounding soil
back to the river bottom
she wheels around quick
to see the scraped knees
crawling crying sunbrown face
she's a rescuer
wet cool arms wrap
cradle rock
brown river water

an orange sun ducks
behind bright green rubber trees
fishing boats buzz away
fade out
downstream toward the gulf
rhythmic lapping laces
a silty riverbank
droopy and glassy-eyed
the crying stops

she slips the whimpering body
into her backpouch
and carries on

--- e b bortz

(published in Voices of a Wanderer, 1993)

Sunday, January 15, 2006


she drove away fast and direct
across the frozen river
as i squinted
into the winter sunrise
yearning half-expecting
the warmth to rescue me inside

it never did

--- e b bortz

(published in Voices of a Wanderer, 1993)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


red and green kites break free
above the yellow haze
watching the river han
labor toward kanghwado island
swirling gray seoul city sludge
convulsions heaving swallowing

the sun gasps and races to sanctuary behind a cloud

--- e b bortz

published in Voices of a Wanderer, 1993

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

earth note 14

continental divide northern minnesota

fifteen miles west of bear river
snow squall white-out
a beat up ski trail adds confusion
wind chill angst face
looking for direction
no rich orange signs on white birch
no guide through the valley of peat bog tamaracks
crusty frozen lakes
silent arms of a norway pine
jump out to touch our poles
with the message that we're lost
ducking beneath an outcrop boulder cluster
layered in green moss felt-like & frozen
looking for landmarks
there are none
snow-mask goddess gives up no clues

can't be still in the beauty of the moment
with zero degrees fahrenheit
sweat begins to chill
we replace body fluids with snow
deciding to backtrack
moving to stay warm
intense with every possible detail
a ribbon or paint spot
a piece of trail not yet covered
we stop at another downhill
staying along the ridge
breathe the vista
poplar magic
honor the goddess with silence
maybe coax the white-out into giving up

a peak late afternoon sunray
shoots arrows through storm clouds
our bearings
an unselfish eastward pointer
to the road

--- e b bortz

Monday, January 09, 2006

when the soil of kosovo and serbia is plowed

the new crop will be
bitter from refugees left behind
by the ottomans
the milosevics
a mother's anguish in korisa and belgrade
dying kosovar gunmen
cannon fodder serbian policemen
nato firebombers refueling
for the next millenium
the chemistry of imbalance that preys only
on the weak
power relationships that claim
the unique human quality
all to itself
no other specie
can claim hatred
it's ours

where is the living human shield
of conscience
in every desperate village shadow
where is the weapon of love?

assemble at the border!
[the pope, the dalai lama, grand ayatollas,
a wailing wall of talmud scholars, mystical healers,
rainbow and forest people
believers in the land we cohabitate
poets still lost in their own devices]

time to step
over the line

--- e b bortz