Monday, October 26, 2020

snow rescue granby colorado

dousing the mountain fires
and underground aquifers
cooling the burn
a china buffet once thrived down the road
sulfur hot springs waiting for summer
with the original people
crafting silver from the earth
a crossroads gas station gallery
a reservoir of tears

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

recovering notes from the deep, part 25

repairing washing machines
dryers and refrigerators
my dad always seemed to have an old panel truck
as the family vehicle
until at least the early 60s when
something in the air or on the
burgeoning interstate highway system
brought us to a '55 ford v8 with a 39 dollar
earl scheib turquoise paint job
the rust got covered and the floorboards undercoated
from pittsburgh winter sleet & slush
and at 16 & a driver's license
unleashing everything else
from drive-in to drive-thru
everything seemed to fall in place
when i saw her standing there
waiting for me on her porch
to just drive up
and make a rescue
from her lily white boilermaker dad
brentwood to skibo hall at carnegie tech
felt like a million miles
for two 16-year-olds
melting ice
inside a steamy '55 ford

--- e b bortz 

Monday, October 19, 2020

enlightened self-interest is an oxymoron

a rouge of self-deception
in other words stop haranguing my vegetables
they'll grow and die in their own time
start listening to something other than
a closing bell on the stock market
it's a death knell
i know the smell
of my own compost
it was never
manna from heaven
but simply vegetables
for what they are
before they rot
before the elections
before the gardens
broke their promise
to be eden

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 18, 2020

november 4, 2020

of course there will be

wednesday morning quarterbacks & pundits
still incessantly chattering in the streets
& months before the old president
finds his way to a cold steel cell
or he finds a way of fleeing with his entourage
for another tax escape haven
but i'm pretty sure most people
will take a deep breath
     hopefully with their masks still on
looking for a way to carry on from here

maybe we're four years on the doomsday clock
or four minutes
unless something new really takes hold

glacial melts & forest fires
make for an apocalyptic soup
     too much salt or allspice on both sides of the equator

sorry i have but one tongue
for two cheeks
my pair of deuces are little more than a bluff

if you want to scream
maybe do it in the woods
before the trees go bare

if you don't like an echo
leave your phone behind

--- e b bortz 

Friday, October 16, 2020

earth note 762

cold rain and dead leaves
interrupted by a final rush
of gold and yellow
missing the rockies another year
aspen switchback down the mountain
looking for what's left
of the great colorado
     the original stories hidden safely
     beneath the riverbed
tributaries where the songs begin
though the peaks
have lost their voice

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

earth note 761

three red eyes

on the maple
the third one will lead you
maybe even clairvoyance
get a job as a pundit
take the kids to the seashore
     (next year)
under the boardwalk
asbury park new jersey
ought to be a safe state
practice practice those six strings
until you bleed
don't get stuck with a pennsylvania hollow
there's a mosh pit in your future
     don't believe me
check that maple again

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 28, 2020

recovering notes from the deep, part 24

november 22, 1963

it was all uphill on brighton road

coming out of my buena vista basement door
and columbia place alleyway
running to beat the homeroom bell

long strides until i hit
the stone monument showroom
and then a final sprint
past the graveyard
and in thru the steel doors
of not a mausoleum
but close to it
     oliver high school

there were always a couple of stragglers
still smoking in the 'tunnel'
but i kept my distance
unless it suddenly became
smoke rings of the mind
or a tambourine
     (in time)

from homeroom to social studies
and world history i could coast
coming of age in the way that i did

finally on to band class
my clarinet always needing a new reed
i listened closely to the sax and trombone
and baritone and trumpet soloing
before class began
     these guys were from manchester
     & really knew how to jam it

near the end of the class
the music teacher brought
all of us into a circle
and announced that the president
had been shot dead in dallas
and that our tribute to him
might be the instrument in our hands
     & music we create

--- e b bortz

Friday, September 25, 2020

recovering notes from the deep, part 23

and a transistor radio
from a third floor pittsburgh walk-up
the first sound of
     like a rolling stone
     in the summer of 1965
and then someone like a growling young-old carpenter
blurting out it's nothing but petty-bourgeois bullshit
which i strongly and loudly disagreed with
and by the smile in your eyes
evidently you disagreed with too

when your father said you left your heart
in san francisco but your belongings in pittsburgh
it seemed to fit well in the conversation
as we both chuckled
and the harmonica wailed

--- e b bortz

Thursday, September 24, 2020

earth note 760

subtlety doesn't come in fall colors
you're lucky if you remember the transition

from streetcar stone shelters 
along perrysville avenue to hybrid buses

the dogs still walk like there's no history
what's important to them & us is the now

if the now becomes the no more
all we have left is the bark

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

earth note 759

a rhythm between the leaves
a cluster finds sunrise
then hides in the shadows

when i get back out
to the trail 
i will look for acorns
the season is bountiful 

a hawk 
or i should say
the hawk 
circles again

the last of the warm air
wings aloft
a valley of rivers
may still move mountains

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 14, 2020

echo park winter 1966-67

i caught a drive-a-way car
from pittsburgh to los angeles
just after my temp job ended
and a bulletin board 
led me to share a drive/ride
out of the cold sleet
escaping 'cross the country
landing in almost endless sunshine
on the door step of a friend
i felt somewhat imposing on
but hey when you're young
you have no inhibitions 

m had an old mg with the top off
almost all the time and it
brought us to griffith park
many days like a grand prix circuit
the observatory day or night
seemed like one of those great wonders
you heard about 
but never experienced coming from

a car full one morning took us to delano 
to volunteer some hours 
with the farm workers union
we were warmly greeted by dolores huerta
and piles of flyers & envelopes for a mailing
back in l.a. there were picket lines to join 
at the safeway stores
for the grape boycott 
(or was it the gallo wine boycott at that time?)

if judy collins had ever knocked
on the door in echo park
she probably would have been greeted
by thirsty boots and other songs
from her fifth album

the mosaics of watts towers
took us to the beyond 
a place before the land 
was sacrificed

i think many of us 
still look to the beyond

let us all be whole
     once again     
with the land     forests     oceans
     our bodies
i thank all from whom i have learned
     we have but one language

--- e b bortz

Sunday, September 13, 2020


is like a passport
a means of going
and returning

sometimes it's a seamless transition
often it falls far short
fools you into believing

you have more to say
than what meets the eye
an eye for an i 

is not an eye opener
just an extension
of ego

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 12, 2020

earth note 758

the road dust of socorro county new mexico
has a grainy brown red hue to it
it'll layer your lips even
leave you unable to whistle
unlike the songbirds and pinyon pine 
pushing out against the wind 
the dust leaving a chalky aftertaste
even long after the white sands missile range road
goes quiet

--- e b bortz  

Friday, September 11, 2020

another september eleventh goes by

without acknowledging the open hand

turning backs are like shutting doors

sinking life rafts sending up flares

how can any of this be rational

every scream is indelible

marking every human survivor

what is not burning at this moment

is getting ready

there is always another way

a million footsteps

didn't just spring up out of nowhere

you can't plow fields with bayonets

     or drones

that outstretched arm

is our lifeline

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

earth note 757

to shelter in place
is that all we have left
at least here
in the alleghenies
where the last
of the green maples
are the shelter

from california to kansas
the forests are burning
thru the ambivalence
maybe that's not the right word
the lock on the mind
now free
waiting for a helicopter rescue

it was just a couple years ago
that we camped in the big pines
outside of durango
the gravel road leading in
was usually quiet
i wonder how it is today
do we run or shelter in place

cell towers to fracking pads
to manicured lawns
to window rocks
     a sunrise stolen

--- e b bortz

Monday, September 07, 2020

what if sisyphus had accomplices

would we still be where we're at
or would we have built
an equilateral rock garden by now
free and open on all sides
or would we have been stoned
by the authorities
reloading and riding their catapults
mandated by the imperial senate

no one can rewrite history
nor even fantasy
without understanding context
the stones you carry
may not be your own
there should be no stigma
in sharing the burden

--- e b bortz

Sunday, September 06, 2020

earth note 756

white pines
twenty feet up
by twenty feet wide
like a carpet spreading
needles long and lush
rolling with the wind
the heat has finally moved on
giving the young cardinals a reprieve
and what you might expect
as an end-of-summer quiet
is now a perfect song

--- e b bortz

Thursday, September 03, 2020

earth note 755

surat thani province thailand 1989

an ocean spray
on an open deck
i feel each drop
run down my face

two european women
throw their heads back
speaking fluent thai
laughing      animated

bicycle at rest
coming in from miles of smoky hills
equator sun bouncing wet
like the waves

na thon port koh samui
loud & packed
tuk-tuks shove
i head for the island ring road

--- e b bortz

Sunday, August 30, 2020

are they coming for us

or do they just wanna put faces
to those they consider the enemy

is there a new fashion trend
or is it just the fascism
of square shoulders and brown shirts

i keep looking for the common denominator
and all i've come up with is just a facsimile
of a hammer and virus rolled into
a labor participation rate
they want to club you with

i know i'm asking for it
but here's my simplistic answer
to all of the ideologues
dead & alive
just mix one part from each
& stir thoroughly

trump-putin-roy cohn-stalin-mao-andrew jackson-jefferson davis
might as well throw in lukashenko
all built on the foundations of franco-hitler-mussolini
don't worry about chronological order
in this new world disorder
and of course
add your many thousands
     their knees and heels
     on your neck

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

before the hurricane

blew it to bits
the island counter top
in the kitchen
let the poems & ants
mingle like a quiet
off-season mosquito coast
no parallels with hemingway
or humphrey bogart key largo
storms and words come & go
it's hard to find a beginning
if you dwell in the endings

plywood is at a premium
as the winds pick up from the south
every body of sweat like the surf
brings you to another precipice
before you drip in unison with the marsh
mangroves bend
trying to hold the roots
like anchors

vultures & turkey vultures
hide until it all blows over
iguana highway     the last resting place
for the stragglers
dead or alive

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 24, 2020

steam escapes a bathroom window

at sunrise
reminiscent of
2 hots & a cot
a few doors down
from the salvation army store
key west

there's red paint
like blood
to prove you were there
the poets left phrases
they no longer wanted
some of them wandering off
to look for the old used bookstore
along truman avenue

everything has changed
and maybe
nothing has really changed
put a mask on
you need to dodge
the border patrol
and the virus
as it burns through
every charlatan
& magic potion

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

school of the americas watch

photos by Sandra L Hazley

november 2006

i've seen poets leave their words
tucked in a cyclone fence
surrounding fort benning georgia
just down the road
from the sniper school

the military police
surge up to the fence line one more time
their eyes looking through you
with an awkward determination
& cold sweat

across the street
there's a neon sign
advertising payday loans
& storage lockers
when your time comes
it's best to travel light

the prisons will once again fill
with hearts & minds
handmade wooden crosses
to speak the names of the innocent

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 17, 2020

earth note 754

a murder of crows
an early gathering
on patched asphalt
before the road heats up
fast food ain't what it used to be
scattering like a smorgasbord
looking like they're about to leave
most of it for the raccoons
they were saying something like
hold the mayo til the weather cools off

--- e b bortz