Monday, March 30, 2015

la vie

did picasso ever consider
withdrawing from the human race
     not death
but a new way of life

after all
the blue period
could as well been

a troubled
or maybe just an adventurous
young person
suddenly walks out
closing the schoolhouse door
in search of
what's down the highway

authority follows right behind
trying to sell
the package
one more time
no one's convinced

televisions blast the evening news
fear is a commodity
     many buying

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 27, 2015

earth note 323

at dusk
a lone deer
from the neighborhood herd
fur and whitetail alert
separates from a half-dozen others
decides to make a stand
right now
on the hillside
nosing around for five minutes
     close to the buzz
     going home traffic
     happy hour above the limit 
crossing the avenue
just in front
of the deer crossing sign

clickety-clack up the driveway
     a well-worn path

--- e b bortz

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

camus still a good neighbor

dead leaves pile up in his yard
from both next doors
welcomed like long lost sisters
the woodwork inside
still peering outward
for the wayward
a dose of patina
moves from roof to stone
might just be
an outstretched hand

from friendship avenue
to south millvale
across penn and down the slope
past the old office of the
pittsburgh committee
to end the war in vietnam
     just under fifty years ago
and then on to sonny's tavern
with an old hearing notice
stuck to the door
that undoubtedly
     did it in

at this point
might take a long drag
on his cigarette
look back at brown clumps
creeping up towards
broken sidewalks
poke the ground
prod the roots
     look deeply
for the green grass
yet to come

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 20, 2015

mount lebanon deer cull

death has always been a cul-de-sac
feeble excuse
for hedge-clipping
propertied classes
& their final solutions

oh yeah
and too fucking lazy
to be more creative

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 19, 2015

earth note 322

the hawk in my neighborhood
is airborne
following the contours
of the hills & rivers
dropping down from time to time
grabbing up prey
making a sweeping exit
returning daily
for more

today was different
as we exchanged
on the bare trees
across the avenue
     our hands are empty
     & our spirits

--- e b bortz

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

Sunday, March 15, 2015

earth note 321

there's a subtle comfort
from gray barren maple
an overcast without expectation
each dark line
overlaps freely
     in the interweave
     a message

--- e b bortz

Saturday, March 14, 2015

earth note 320

summersville, west virginia

a wet cold highway
meets every curve
& mountaintop
with a certain
break-down paranoia
in the form of
two guys at a motel
waiting for mom
to pick them up
after a crash
still shaking
in their florida bermudas
          in its own body
          is cruel

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 05, 2015

a short personal history of american exceptionalism, first draft

we ended up
in what the original people called
turtle island
by circumstance
or luck
or just plain running away
from what was
to what might be
such is the case with all migrations
voluntary isn't the first word that comes to mind
millions crawling forward
in the dark
of a thousand pogroms
or swimming in the wetback
of a hungry village
we had no right
or document
to flee
just an instinct

yet we weren't marked as slaves
no chattel chains
nor categorized with three-fifths personhood 
     set on the auction block & bled
     or lynched
     never the betrayal of
     forty acres & a mule
but herded into the cities
already stolen
& carved out
divorced from the indigenous
& all natural habitats
now home to our tenements
& industrial row houses
bodies stretched
across an open-hearth
a fiery sacrifice

the push west
wasn't made
of john wayne wagon trains
& staged sunsets

manifest destiny       the code word
before the word genocide
     wounded knee
     & trails of tears
marking every milepost
with a land imprisoned
to copper & gold & zinc
& oil & gas & uranium & coal
of eastern bankers
& misnaming it

so now you see
it all came
from the blood
of someone else
never a shining city
on a hill

leaving it up to each of us
dwelling in the voice
of the ancestors 
listening to every inflection
before saying it
     with metaphors
     of wolves & buffalo
that there's a haunting
we should welcome  
and from loneliness
     perhaps grace

--- e b bortz