Thursday, October 31, 2013

red-blue-red, part 3

poetry will come after you
even if you're in hiding
stalk you if necessary
until you pay attention
come to terms with it
your veins will ultimately
take the medicine
     bleeding is just the beginning

daylight left a blue hue
     far away
     gray mixed in
clouds skirting beyond the tree line
nothing is broken in the earth belly
nothing is left unnoticed
     or unsaid
     in the earth soul

every red maple
waves a thousand goodbyes

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

beechview, pittsburgh, july 31, 1950

the pittsburgh press said the house
where the reds lived
got stoned with bricks & vegetables
     broken glass for the reds

     the american reds
          a father mother two toddlers

the sergeant had been home
for a few years now
from the 'great war'
     handsome thick black wavy hair
     uncompromisingly young-looking
     as a refrigeration & washing machine mechanic
     developing his forearms into steel
     built for wrenches
built from the dark cio steelworker thirties
     & the anti-fascist trenches of the spanish civil war
built to withstand the sneers
     & silence & shouts
     of the company men
          their political henchmen
          & the racists who kept black kids
          out of the city swimming pools
built to withstand a certain
     matt cvetic
     the finger behind the assault
     on the red's house
          our house

moving on
became unplanned but not a retreat
     the journey far beyond shadycrest drive
     embodied the warmth
     of many outstretched hardened forearms
          clear eyes
          unbending postures
               shoes shared
                    walking straight ahead...not running

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 26, 2013

there is no 'two-party' system

free advice from the annals of facebook users

[actually i still view it as
several factions
of a one-party corporate clearinghouse
each subset with a logo & smiley face
but that's beside the point]

on the liberal dem side
there will always be
'take what we can get'
'capitulation forever'
'fracking is a bridge'
     (to the abyss)
'our corporations are progressive or health insurance related'
'sorry...we'll have to cut/gut the students & seniors
to satisfy the other side'
'drones = precision'
     (killing machines)
'a derivative of democracy is our name!'
'democracy is messy so let the president decide'

on the very pure left side
the bookshelves are perfectly labeled
every i must be dotted
in bold
left of center
the platform is made of concrete
     (some of it pre-cast)
if you can't fill both sides of your flyer with text
you're probably not analytical enough
if you have any doubts or fears
abstention is preferred
to messy
     (that word again)

in every tea party coffee klatch
the pot's filled with
     phony messiah complexes
     1950s john wayne machismo
     assault weapons
          (real & virtual)
     grey flannel retro republican
     illusions & delusions
          open the lid
          is better than intellectual deconstruction
          let them self-evaporate

leaving me
with the messy
& imaginative greens
roaring in from the margins
     singing within the noise
     tentatively stepping up
     just before sunrise
          beginnings are often
          or purposely ignored

--- e b bortz

(published in, Oct 26, 2013)
(published in, Oct 27, 2013)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

labor aristocracy

sometimes hearing
the worst ideas
are the best lesson
because you remember them
& so it was
when i was about nineteen
working as a laborer
on a parking garage construction site
     downtown pittsburgh
that one of the carpenters
told me
we need jobs
     don't care what we build
     don't care if we build concentration camps
we need jobs right now

i'm pretty sure it wasn't an original idea
this carpenter had
after all
it wasn't long before
(or maybe just after)
that spiro agnew's
so-called hardhats
     thugs by any other name
ripped thru our anti-war march
of dick gregory for president buttons
coming out of a misappropriated
(and misnamed) golden triangle
just past the swagger of the hilton hotel
& just about the same time
that george (segregation forever) wallace
dumped his bile on the stage at the civic arena
where several hundred of us protestors
found some very effective disruptive chants
to frustrate the racists & their drivel
til we were forcibly removed by the police
and my picture ended up on the front-page
of the local newspaper
& not to my surprise
confronted with that picture
on the construction site
by the foreman who fired me
& the carpenter
and his shit-eatin grin
to boot
looking on
like he had just won an election
or a war
or something

but i've got to say
it was all worth it
negatives become positives
when inverted
     for good reason

--- e b bortz

(published in, Oct 22, 2013)
(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

Monday, October 14, 2013

alienation redux

keeping a distance
separate from the noise
of the superstructure
& the whistling of worn-out bearings
leaky gaskets & caustic reservoirs
grease pits devour like quicksand
     from gears & broken sound barriers
     nothing survives

so you find thoughts beyond
though inadequate
that can burst on to flesh
make a body move
diving head-first
without the aid
of exotic serums
& phony potions

toward the outer most edges
where beginnings

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 12, 2013

road notes pittsburgh/new york city

being first in line for the megabus
can only get you so far
the road still waits
     we're a jumble waiting in darkness
the driver does a last walk thru
cold spit marks the sidewalk
beaming from the street light
dried-up pop      soda if you like
leaves tracks
     like a poor man's jet stream

rolling off the highway crest
a hundred pairs of eyes
cramming lines of traffic
coming at us
heading to the city
visions of johanna
couldn't have made it
more surreal

rhythm from the pavement
uncovers shadows
of the alleghenies
the stacks and cooling towers
of power plants
and poisons
that confuse by daylight
but visible
in the glare
of a half-moon

descending into hollidaysburg
the fog unravels
then suddenly
morning breaks
wind turbines perched
on the ridge
roll like a steady river

the bus makes a stop in state college
picks up a few students
waiting near the walmart parking lot
not a penn state football booster
or sexual predator apologist
among them

my eyes finally crash
for the interval between
the delaware and passaic rivers
missing most of new jersey
     thank you
but just in time for a breeze thru
the lincoln tunnel
the commotion of the garment district
the hipsters of chelsea
the exhibitionists of broadway & 46th
a thousand dialect soup
mixes in a few pinches of fame
the biggest concentration of ego
or at least
     a good show of lights

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

october spoke today like i hadn't really been paying attention

1.  in high school
that would have meant
that the hallways
still had that cleaned up
pine-sol smell
i would have already
dug-in with my teachers
     our uncompromising positions
for better or worse

the band room still had
a shiny floor
i swear it was hardwood
even though the rest
of oliver high remained
scuffed-up tiles and peeling paint
especially in the basement
where the dislocated students
from a burned-down
elementary school
shuffled through
their dark hallways

2.  i've never bought in
to the idea
of a mid-life crisis
october decided to deal
a hand one card short
of a straight flush
     hearts no less

i guess i did leave
a forwarding address
when i left tel-aviv
then ignoring a letter
received months later
     memory tells me it was typed
but i could be wrong on that

3.  the physical world
of october
is more than leaves
nothing accounts for
what you can't see
other than the stir
of those random
embers or chills
     yet beyond

--- e b bortz