Friday, May 31, 2013

earth note 248

razor wire
at the penitentiary
     a hedgerow facsimile
     meets pain
rehabilitation a propaganda phrase
the ohio river keeps its own compass
looks away like a distant green buffer
drowning the loneliness
this moment exhumes

voices are muffled
as homeland insecurity suv
circles the parking lot
     once again

coal barges
darkness is their still life
     a stillborn
     yet to come

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

earth note 247

there are no narratives to describe
what's really happening on a trail
inside a forest
taken for granted
blooming in spite
of an assault
by a sprawl
paying attention
to royalties
or not paying attention
at all

bones will remain
affirming that life
once existed
a canopy will fight on
against the elements
choked roots
poisoned water tables
tangled in a grid
of pipes
frack ponds
are not for swimming

trading our immunity and innocence
for thirty pieces of silver

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 26, 2013


darkness will be lifted
when a new form
takes up the space
     lets in the light
     it can begin right now

are there windows?

do you revere your own hands?

will each person speak?

will each person share?

do we know how to break the ego
     abandon every cult
     every fame?

can we translate the natural around us
and build a living model?

how do we begin?

it can begin right now

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 23, 2013

earth note 246

if i wake early enough
there's always that chance
of going back
(the mind has such power)
to another time
maybe that of the drifter
or the baseball coach
or just the searcher
     of wonder

memory is my window rock

--- e b bortz

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

earth note 245

a promised rain
won't wet anyone's appetite anymore
     parched that we all are
promises turn expectations round & round
making disappointment
just another business cycle

of course that's only my take on it

about the time the suits
suit up for another gala graduation
     celebratory speeches from the mouth
     of another three-mouth-monte
there'll be at least
a thousand more college students
in this town
kicked off the road
of so-called urban renaissance
leaving only
the borderlines of yet
another desolation highway
& the last of the survivors saying
     god and growth
     might just be dead

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 18, 2013

earth note 244

digging in
turning over some shovels
of top soil
upset the worms
     i swear i heard expletives
     as they scattered
          did my best to coax them
          into the new bed of phlox
but it got me thinking
     if the worms could vote
     now there's some power
there'd be a hell of lot less
asphalt & concrete
     definitely no
     keep your ear to the ground
     when nature
     takes its rights
     i'll trade my shovel for a jackhammer
     tear up those parking lots
          call it paradise

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 17, 2013

earth note 243

when i lived near the equator
there was always that cleansing
that poured out of your body
     got passed along
     between bodies
there was no such thing as
     don't sweat it
the magic oils that
consumer glutting advertises
were all in the air
in the steam of the rainforests
in the poverty streets
of loose fitting saris and flip-flops
in the orange of the monks
the heat could be counted on
     to blanket you
          in nightfall
          in silence

an invitation to pass through
and immerse
was never needed
simply absorb what's around you
in the rugged hills
detached from the cities
     where water buffalo work
     the valleys of ten-thousand-year soil
     on a border with dusk
     rubber trees     coconut     rambutan
          floods and fires
          to labor
          to survive

on the other side of the world
the bankers plan
a decimation of the teak
a dam binding a wild river
a market manipulation
that buys collateral

     but not

--- e b bortz

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

Thursday, May 16, 2013

earth note 242

what constitutes a good day
(70s and low humidity)

is there such a thing as being aware
(knowing what's real can get you down)

where does every road and trail lead
(that's infinite...there are no maps)

when will the river find its current
(where there's movement...there's hope)

who will take the first plunge
(it was already taken long ago)

what makes a good day?

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

earth note 241

the new pear
and apple trees
in the backyard
are going to need
a lot of care
preemptive action
halloween year 'round
louder wind chimes
coyote piss
a siberian husky could help
if there's any chance of surviving
the deer browsing

wild turkeys roam
the avenues & woods
of nor'side pittsburgheese
     seem to be 100% compatible
     with the deer
so can't count on them as a deterrent
guess i feel i need to ask them all
jeet? (did you eat?)

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

earth note 240

pittsburgh, north side

the new condos
down on federal street
don't have any institutional
memory of the days
of the apache lounge
or the slick-hair-guys
who loafed
on the steps
next to the garden theatre
     who might still be sitting there
if it weren't for the demise
of those secret phony handshakes
out of the masonic lodge
     gone forever

and just a couple more doors down
there was the window cleaning company
that i managed to work at
just out of high school
and had to learn how to get past
my fear of height
     which i did
in time
     a few years later
     carrying my electrician tools
out on the crane runways of neville island

it isn't likely
the new upward mobile urbanites
will ever hear a rowdy basketball game again
     down in west park
since the downtown bureaucrats
took all the hoops down
     and then left town
     like thieves
          but you can judge for yourself

but don't get me wrong
i like seeing a new coffeehouse
here and there
     a few more poets crawling out
     to find the sun
     maybe getting their hands dirty
     in an urban garden
planting some new trees and keeping
the chainsaw managers
(yes, the offspring of the hoop thieves)
          at bay

--- e b bortz

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

sometimes dangerous thoughts

from rusty shadowed alleyways
speak out of turn
long after being demolished
& sold for scrap

clandestine attempts to restart
the obsolete
     surplus value cycles
     embarrass even commodity futures

cries of loneliness
will be shared
finding comfort
in the margins

cable-networked jingles
deaden the mind
making strange answers

totally unexpected
     & real
like a prism of stained glass
     clashing visions

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

the signs of prague 1968

were all over the buildings
in the spring of '69


among the images i still see
they seem to have taken
an alternate deeper dimension
than the big headlines of
the crushed socialist experiment

not unlike the streetcars swaying
over cobblestone streets
     like those in my hometown

& the soviet tanks
of august 1968
coinciding with the chicago tanks & teargas
     of the democratic party convention
     (i can still taste it)

from the air
the farmland had a rich
     deep brown
     almost black color
land that had the look
of a thousand years
     of care
even through all the wars & invasions
& death
     there was that indomitable spirit
          to grow and nurture

even in the coffeehouses then
there was a brew
of revolutionary libertarian communes
(this is only an oxymoron to the stilted dogmatist)
     youth rebellion
     the world over
          looked unstoppable

and we each had our small part
in answering the call
     imperial war
     or principled resistance
     the prague generation
     our mentor

--- e b bortz

Sunday, May 05, 2013

earth note 239

how abrupt
a spring cool wind
can be
     it's there for a moment
     to awaken
enough to send
a phony fear
past every
lazy mindset bent
on predictability

direction is not as important
as velocity
     from a shaking forest
          a thousand seeds

--- e b bortz

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

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

earth note 238

dawn opens on a dark sky
every avenue car expressionless
songbirds begin their chants
marking every lost moment

a wild turkey
is separated from the group
scurries around       finds freedom
at the end of the fence line

sun finally visits
the complexity of the trees
     an old man on a bicycle
          takes notice

--- e b bortz