Friday, January 29, 2016

that wind in your face

on a bicycle seat
is public defiance
or at least a self-serving illusion
     so i'll take the criticism
that the holier than thou dish out
and live with it
in my own mind's eye

the atlantic never
comes up to you
in a friendly way
nothing idyllic
the beach
being offered & sold
from some new internet portal
is a scam
to get you cornered
& stripped before
you cancel your credit card

if you're not careful
you'll find yourself
stuck watching
some bullshit political debate
carved out of stolen
coral & sand
& imprisoned mammals
     let the whales speak

there's more substance
than the dogma can identify
take what you need   
     leave me the wind

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


a crusty old sailor
told me he lived on a mooring
with a shabby boat
near no name key
almost as good as a mailbox
though he needed a kayak on board
to get back & forth to shore
especially when the storms came
and they always did
least expecting

toilet pumping out
was a steady expense
cooking on board
required a lot of creativity
living alone with an acoustic guitar
and a few soggy books
wasn't paradise
but surely better
than a homeless shelter
in some mega city
or suburban wasteland

he kept an old bicycle
hidden in the mangroves
for his overland transport
or trip to the bus stop
or public library internet

of course none of this
was set in stone
he had to be nimble
with no expectations
somewhat immune to bug bites
and jellyfish
content in losing himself
in the prism of a sunset
skedaddling when necessary
following the glide of a pelican
the eyes of an osprey
the scrappy mind
of a turkey buzzard

--- e b bortz

Monday, January 25, 2016

primary question

it's such a struggle
to suppress the base instincts
when thinking back
on the democratic party convention
police riot in chicago 1968
tear gas is indelible

like a billy club
the size of a baseball bat
ramming my skinny ribs
shoving us thousands
back up michigan avenue
bloody heads
made for hubert horatio humphrey's
law & disorder legions
mayor daley's thugs

a few eugene mccarthy delegates
would sometimes come out
and give the throng
soft drinks
even as we asked them
why aren't you with us
in the streets

it's still a fair question

the same old film footage
plays again on cnn tonight
i'll try again to purge
the poison
some of it my own
without making excuses
looking everyone in the eye
asking as honestly as possible
where do we go now

--- e b bortz

Friday, January 22, 2016

earth note 387

rolling waves on the gulf of thailand
pitching the travelers
to grab on to the rails
the ferry plows ahead doggedly
two and a half hours
to the port of na thon
on the island of koh samui

i do my best to ignore the commotion
rolling with my bicycle wheels
down the ramp
on to the island ring road
and then away from the town center

the sun and water are dominant
giving the coconut trees
the best chance to stand out
to ignore the buzz
of the tuk-tuk traffic

in a dream
the world can be clear
though fleeting
sometimes lives
in the smallest
of spaces

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

pend oreille river

idaho / washington

near july fourth
the river flow still
had a mind to rush
even as the dam choked it
& the mosquitoes gathered
'til sunset
hanging on the tent mesh
like a refuge
not discouraged
by the campfires above us
deep green forest moisture
creeping back into the river basin
the ranger clued us earlier
that this very spot
didn't get a lot of
the local kids stomping
across the wooden bridge
told us as much

we weren't sure
whether we slept
on the idaho or washington
side of the 'border'
to where the original people
lived     spoke     sang
fished     hunted
dreamed     loved     created         
cut wood     hollowed out canoes
sewed clothing     taught children
connected generations
buried ancestors     wept
danced     made community

--- e b bortz

Monday, January 18, 2016

earth note 386

a cold wind
subtly separates
verdana from tahoma
every once in a while
you wonder if that's
all there is to it
you're still looking out
for the joshua tree
but realize you're off by
a couple thousand miles
     the gulf won't take you there
     the sun will wane before your eyes
     the broken road still leaves
     a bad taste

so you'll wait for a better day
to open your hand
and release every gnawing question
even a fist can be clenched too long
fingers forget how to point
'til the soil with its own clock
and heartbeat
remembers forsythia
will break out in the spring
to be
     and if there's a renewal gifted
     the ground will shake
     and transform
     to a season unexpected

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

earth note 385

doves lined-up
single file
in the strip mall
on the pizza works roof
fifteen hundred miles
and forty years
from the time clock line
at the homestead works
     faces still gray

--- e b bortz

Monday, January 11, 2016

poetry raw

makes no excuses for itself
no anti-acids
to calm it down
it rips from within
'til it spills out
and if you think it will fit
the labels and keywords
maybe you're missing part of it

and/or repetition
plows up the row
most efficiently
tiptoeing      sleepwalking
past every new embryo

for the jargon
or genetically modified perfect constructs
there will always be a place
of servitude
elbow patched corduroy jackets
and at least another workshop

--- e b bortz

Saturday, January 09, 2016

dead zones

in the forecast
embed the soil and oceans
the great ice sheet in greenland
turns away
and shrinks
surgical masks have replaced lungs

bankers and their fossils
have generously
offered up the latest gizmo
for all of us to hang
don't take it

the cumulative wealth process
has concentrated carbon to diamonds
to gold
to money
to junk bonds
to social collapse

the declining labor participation rate
(for decades)
is the only good news
redistribute the wealth
(guarantee a livable annual income for everyone)
or put your head back in the sand

the tide will do the rest

--- e b bortz

Friday, January 08, 2016

earth note 384

the days are inching longer
a reflective sunrise off the canal
brings color

but there's no peace
in the shadows
behind the sand pile

even a clear morning
has confusion
the tides wash overland

someone mentioned
that the flea market
won't be deterred

osprey takes the highpoint

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

economic growth

is a cancer
projecting from
the mouth of
talking heads
     spoken in many languages
it matters not
what the trigger is
     war     climate catastrophe    
     ebola     rocketing healthcare costs
     oil speculators     rent gougers
if the prices go up
all is justified
all is short-term
all is forgotten by the next election or coup d'tat
poverty is a street
paved in spreadsheets

--- e b bortz

Monday, January 04, 2016


is a highway
of interrupted dreams
though you think they
can be cupped
in your hand
saved for another day
to a perfect midnight sky
each memory
still intact
or made whole
filling in each crack
is what you do
your work comes
then leaves
nothing is compromised
nor traded

--- e b bortz

Saturday, January 02, 2016

earth note 383

a couple hundred bodies
on a narrow strip of beach
brought a new year
into focus
where they all came from
isn't so important
as where they might all be going
young ones in floatation
old ones creaking on beach chairs

hurricane season may be hiding
but there's a tornado or three
in the midwest
our floods are coming home
to roost
every kayak a life boat

a mangrove becomes our nest
the sun squeezing in
equals a puddle rising up
an uneasy equilibrium
won't dry the clothes

a swarm of needle fish
dive below the pier
a fishing line and pelican
shake off entanglement
     there are no absolute destinations

--- e b bortz