Sunday, February 26, 2017

earth note 454


land fingers
rise from phuket
rooted deeply
in dark quiet coral
pointing outward
past the bays & sunsets
into the span
of the andaman sea

long shafts of fishing boats
groan until dusk

--- e b bortz

Saturday, February 18, 2017

before the fever breaks

delirium and a good sweat will find a place
the osprey finds courage
in its wingspan
sailing past old glory
where there are no empty nests
to sulk in

when my father joined
the international brigades
in spain in 1937
his truck carried
communications gear
to help the republic
coordinate their defenses
against the relentless bombing raids
of the nazi luftwaffe

the frontlines grew into thousands of dead and maimed
the brunete counterattack
the jarama valley
my father's truck dodging the bombs
in the dark
with no headlights

there was justice
but no glory
in any of this
below his breastbone
was the memory of the gentleness
of his mother's hand
a courageous woman
dying at a young age
after giving birth
to ten children

when my father reached the age
of ninety-two
he had already surpassed
the fascist franco-hitler-mussolini-senator joseph mccarthy

my father would often say
a jew is obligated
to stand with the oppressed
but don't ask me for a biblical reference
or a politician's self-serving approval

--- e b bortz

Thursday, February 16, 2017

earth note 453

big torch key

the road makes
another right angle
north this time
and then a right angle left
west this time
a strange rodent with long legs
runs in parallel

there's nothing confusing
about any of this
as long as your compass
is the sun

a couple more houses
have moved in
grabbing onto the grid
the guy who's off the grid
in his trailer
still looks out the window
as you pass
he prides himself
on being the last human
at the end of the key

the jersey barriers
meet the end of the asphalt
you can hoof it from here

the mangroves put their feet
deep into the salt
and freshwater
the muck is dense and dark
wherever there's a shoreline

(we still remember sinking to our shins
off no-name key
before the tourists got up
& took over every put-in)

do you really care about any of this
on the rise toward high tide again
a watery burial is just a low-lying landfill
there is no covering your ass
in bureaucratic dossiers
a file of unintelligible gibberish
leaving the next generation with no life raft
     might just be a counterfeit treasury bond
and all that that represents
the core wet & rotting
an endless full moon

this isn't the sound of hyperbole
maybe just
beached pilot whales
who've gone silent

--- e b bortz

Monday, February 13, 2017

until these walls come down

just remember these border doors
swing both ways
insults have value
find your happy vitriol
and then stand by it
until you fall on your face
preach to the choir
and don't forget to say grace

--- e b bortz

Sunday, February 12, 2017

earth note 452

suddenly the wind rose
like it had somewhere to go
the canal shimmered
gnats dispersed
a noisy boat trailer
rattled toward the launch
scared the songbird
with a splotch of red
on its head
from the top of the utility pole

walkins still welcome
no appointment necessary
no talking during the show

--- e b bortz

Friday, February 10, 2017

earth note 451

tune it out
when nothing else works
for highway one stress
and a big honking
white pickup truck
coming attcha
flared fenders
chrome up the yazoo
ripping outta big pine
winn-dixie shopping center
leading the charge to key west
where the barroom floors
haven't been mopped up yet
& the kids working the season
in the tee-shirt stores
are still in bed

so slow down
& watch out
for bicycles
roosters & pelicans

--- e b bortz

Thursday, February 09, 2017

how would a pacifist survive in syria today

probably wouldn't
nonviolent civil resistance
brings you to saydnaya prison
where you'll be tortured
then hung by the neck
until dead
with the many thousands
who once held protest signs
and now share a mass grave

if you somehow avoid being picked up
by the executioners
you might try escaping
but to where and how

overland to the sea
and then a raft

getting to the closest embassy
to only find locked doors
executive orders
and the closing down of visas

there is no civilization left
for the peaceful
for the defeated
for the solitary voice of sympathy
for the soft hands that refuse the fist
that refuse the rationales of power
that refuse participating other than by dying
on the sword of injustice
on the plain of lost souls

--- e b bortz

Monday, February 06, 2017

holocaust remembrance

my people came out
of the shtetls and ghettos of eastern europe
where we made boots and sheet metal patterns
and socialists and anarchists

and numbering in the millions
we made music and poems
and curiosity
before all of europe
and the united states
turned on us
and then turned us in

in order to cover their own
intellectual malevolence
they stole our zeitgeist
(maybe even the word)
take it from the yids they would say
before we cleanse them from the university
before we turn them to ash

so don't tell me how you forgot
to use the word jew
it's a simple yet complex word
it's been buried inside of you
since at least the 1492 inquisition

bring yourself and your ancestors
to your impeachment hearing
the truth might set you free

--- e b bortz

Sunday, February 05, 2017


even a deep blue sky
seems lost & forgotten
on superbowl sunday

it's impossible to speak
above the noise
of a five million dollar commercial

every cloud has left the scene
leaving only pizza vendors
hurling anchovies

at the masses

--- e b bortz

earth note 450

osprey speaks
from the nest
language need not
be written
every sunrise
finds a voice

--- e b bortz

Saturday, February 04, 2017

earth note 449

first light
reaches the cove
before pelicans
start fishing
i never tire
talking about mangroves
they keep you rooted in the real
green reflection
on the water
with a silence
no less a statement
in itself
not happenstance

--- e b bortz

Thursday, February 02, 2017

earth note 448

key west

along the atlantic
crusty kayaks sit still
on car & live-in econoline roofs
waiting for high tide
we're all transients

ohio wisconsin pennsylvania michigan
no this isn't a kayak electoral college
beaten like a dead metaphor
of the republic

the scantily clad
and the overdressed french speakers
grab for the bottle
of sun block 50

it's finally getting hot
the streets are filling
with aggressive car rentals
and no-defense bicycles

there's always a tipping point
but often people sleep thru it
the arc of the sun
leaves a trail unnoticed

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

earth note 447

some days i imagine
warm waves cresting together
from the florida straits
to the gulf of thailand

bound by water
the opposite sides of the planet
are connected
tuned into their respective

heartbeats and rhythms

--- e b bortz