Friday, September 24, 2021

earth note 824

the pueblo rise
in the body of the ponderosa
straight without faltering
the runners will make a trail
before the next sunrise
these are new times
taken from the old
the sky has opened
but it may not last

you've been given a turn at the water
speak of it as a prayer
and then pass it on

--- e b bortz 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

earth note 823

slapping a notepad
into the palm of my hand
brings the dog running
his eyes saying what's up
got something to say

no just thinking what
the two austrian pines next door
growing up together
had in mind forming
a heart at their upper reaches

wondering what congress
has in mind scuttling the real news
forest fires not giving up
where there's smoke
there's chemical poison & cover-up

and the flooding is never over
except of course
where the water is needed
still remember what lake powell
looked like before the drought

the virus finds new accomplices
medical staff soldiers on to capacity
teachers teach on
the apocalypse list
grows in the dark

the dog kicks up dust
barking at the gecko
rain coming over the mountain
looks like a race to the rio
thousands of hands reach for the overpass

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 18, 2021

earth note 822

for every stone pony
there's a petrified stump
up against a cyclone fence
stamped out before
the humming birds
started hovering
vultures bringing home the leftovers
everywhere there's chaos
serving up the politicos
meat & potatoes
we've all seen this show before

i'll raise my pen
for the vanquished
in hopes that the forests
in tomorrow's millennia
will have a place
to leave their souls

--- e b bortz

Thursday, September 16, 2021

earth note 821

i will bring my atonement
to the mountains
where it will never
be believed
the rock will never budge
the sun will beat
every new shadow
until i acknowledge it
there will be no witnesses
the wind will take my breath away

and i will wait for the winter rains

--- e b bortz

Sunday, September 12, 2021

earth note 820

the rio grande bicycle trail
has a vanishing point

the river might be murky here
but eventually the sun will show you grace

never quite sure when everything will change
and the thistle will make you bleed

the city encroaches
the rims are cloudy & coughing

freeways snarl through
concrete makes a hard heart

rest assured the wild
will have its own designs

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 11, 2021

earth note 819

the hollow spoke
in a broken voice
where maples creak
& the ridge has shifted
summer ends
check your shoes
all you have left is one foot
in front of the other
like the north wind
brings you home

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

smoke jumpers


fighting off another wind shift
another fire line
     in blood
coughing thru
the mountains west
gray haze running
toward the abyss
geese heading south
their wings
in rhythm


at the fire watch look-out
there was a fading notepad
of greasy thumb prints
words ringing out
through an hourglass
like every lonely day
of heat and the sacred
water hauling from the creek
there were humming birds
in early morning light
and coyote howls
by night


indelible branding left
on the ponderosa
the pinyon
and especially the aspen
a forest stripped back bare
a hundred years growth
     gone to carbon
just for the touch of a million dollar house

--- e b bortz

Sunday, September 05, 2021

loaves & fishes

a coffeehouse in the 60s
hidden away on bellefonte street pittsburgh
the room overflowing without notice
guitars picking through every polemic
a (pawn) chess piece sliding across the floor
a meeting of antiwar artwork without deferments
scattering in the night like four corners (plus one)
     of a pentagon
soldiers hanging on by sheer conscience
all leaves canceled at midnight
this outreach project years in the making
had john the baptist written all over it

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

so many experts so little expertise

another very long night
without sleep
shoved under the carpet
hidden in the window
of real pain
from the brown middle east
to brown southeast asia
a death spiral is not
a stairway to heaven
the summer of love
a long forgotten trail
never taken

of course the hippies were right

but the experts bullied their way in
with defecate diplomas
and jumped to the head of the line
with the largest megaphone
selling their expertise like carny hucksters
the best and the brightest
is still a madison avenue
ny times book list ploy
dripping in sour milk & honey     cool-aid     a commodity trader's illusion
no antidote
for wildfires     hurricanes     pandemics

--- e b bortz

Monday, August 23, 2021

earth note 818

pine green
sky blue
unusual light easterly
the valley is still quiet
the mountains hide
from the burning west

there's at least one dog bark
dedicated to each passerby
the mountain cur-retriever-?
darts back & forth
nose up in the air
the husky out of range

dark clouds moving in
the cicadas aren't calming
losing all their limbs
in wild sex
you should only believe the rain
if you can feel it

--- e b bortz 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

albuquerque-pittsburgh-blue moon segue

photo by Sandra L Hazley

shadows on the high desert
wrapped in nostalgia doo-wop
they were former oliver high school students
everyone wanted to know about
their fame and how they went far
from pittsburgh's northside
the blue moon is always full
and won't come back for a few years
the lanky guy with the big bass voice
reminds us that 
can just rise suddenly
even at the corner candy store
leaving fog hanging over
the streetcar turn-a-round
distorting your view
of the next blue moon
with holy roads and alleys
before you
empty stoops
parched rivers and lakes
vanishing without a coda

--- e b bortz

Thursday, August 19, 2021

stone & sand

scatter beyond
adobe walls
transcending the conquerors
a drumbeat stands alone
giving prayer a true meaning
flagstones offer crooked trails
off the mountain

but not without
official documents
& visas stamped in blood
past the checkpoints
where dying
becomes second nature
for a place in line

--- e b bortz

Saturday, August 14, 2021

earth note 817

the soil burns like a crematoria
cracked earth open wounds
will need more than three wise men
there are no best and brightest
each of us must crawl and leave our skin
as a marker

--- e b bortz

Thursday, August 12, 2021

the randomness in this grid eludes me

machines have intervened
steel pressed into form
the grid bears down
and leaves you
with empty chairs

your eye must suffice

--- e b bortz 

Friday, August 06, 2021

earth note 816

lost road to albuquerque

there's a deep blue
splashed against
the loneliest
a high desert altar
some scattered yucca     cactus     humans
left near the edge of a stone drop off
brown rock like skin
you look inward

--- e b bortz 

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

earth note 815

rio grande, albuquerque

the river is lazy right now
maybe the mourning doves & humming birds
will wake it up

from old town
there's a pueblo drum beat
perhaps that will wake us up

a park ranger rolls up
to the honor system
car parking cash box and finds it empty

i'm just one of many bicycles
listening for rain showers
rising with brown adobe daybreak

--- e b bortz 

Sunday, August 01, 2021

earth note 814

a dry 98 degree f
on the missouri kansas line
teenagers hanging out
at the sub shop
looking for jobs
a john deere cap speaks faintly
over a full throated gun slinger
the land is not forgiving
like dried out fields in transition
turning over the loam again
is nothing but a gamble
like dusty trucks
waiting for an empty
car wash bay

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 26, 2021

earth note 813

sand dunes colorado

there's a mexico wind
to explain a beige sunrise

mountains crack to feed
a trickle of a riverbed

deer head upstream
looking to the shelter of the pines

dry lightning tries to wake the world

sangre de christo

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


as things get desperate
i'd be willing to pull a
out of any orifice
i could lay my hands on

after all
my dad would say
he'd go as far as
joining the steamfitters
if that was the only union around

sometimes (maybe always)
you just have to
scramble down the highway
til that
hits you
     head on

the clouds are getting grayer
by the minute
pressure's building
there's a pile of boiler pipe
with nowhere to go
my dad would probably say
just keep looking

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

earth note 812

on the old barn road
you can count a hundred maples
looking for a second life
it can come in waves
almost migratory
even the stones pick up moss
deep into winter

i don't think my eyes are fooling me
i've seen the mountain grow

--- e b bortz

Thursday, July 15, 2021

earth note 811

i found an oak leaf
to cover my hand and fingers
it felt like a long lost caress
almost fitting
from a body long forgotten

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

red-blue-red, part 5

if only a community of lungs
could work together
rise together
stop listening to father death
learn how to make good
even from the bad
knowing still
there's a blood promise
to be resolved
and sometimes
gasping for air
is all we have left

if you get there in time
smathers beach will look as blue
as any andaman dream
float instead of swim
let the tides hide
your true intentions

from the inside of a mango
the sun fades red
even at midnight

--- e b bortz

Monday, July 12, 2021

earth note 810

clouds have stretched from west to east
in a fire season of prevailing winds

a venture capitalist is looking out his window
& planning his next private space trip

smiles are going all around even as death valley
contributes to the burn

it's all a las vegas crap shoot
that the dinosaurs tripped over

--- e b bortz

Sunday, July 11, 2021

earth note 809

the plains have a way of closing down your eyes
and placing them at the end of the earth
you're never sure how they get there
how or why it happens

dust comes & goes like a free appaloosa
a free soul without a trail to follow
you're still looking for a handful of black soil
it can take a lifetime

--- e b bortz 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

earth note 808

photo by Sandra L Hazley

i'm gonna save a poem
     even in a dry spell
for goodwell oklahoma
the flatlanders were paying attention
& left in a hurry
left me to dig up the red clay
like the wind blows
the miles off your feet
& you look southwest
like it's your destiny
--- e b bortz 

Thursday, July 08, 2021

earth note 807

there's still green luster
filling up the canopy
cool drizzle makes it to your ears
just before the blue jays wake you up

if the traffic means anything
you'd think the pandemic was over
the car washes have been busy
so have the undertakers

every drop of rain
rising from minnesota lakes & rivers
could renew us all
given half a chance

running out of time to choose between
poison of an oil pipeline
or the sanctuary
of the forest

--- e b bortz 

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

a & w took their crown

and thought they were building
     an empire
only to discover that
the pen is mightier than
     you know what
and that a footballer's foot
even on the pitch
is no guarantee
that you won't end up
in the null set

--- e b bortz 

Thursday, July 01, 2021

earth note 806

if you can believe a dream
a rainforest has spread its roots and thundered in
from the west
landing east of youngstown
just down the road from
the old lordstown chevy plant
south of the swarming carp
at pymatuning
it swelled the river ohio
originally o-hi-yo
sending all the river otters
(and a few raccoons
digging through the recycled trash pickup)
on to higher ground

breaking the heat in the garb of the dalai lama
if memory serves me
he often says no task is too small or great
if it serves the greater good
so i'll take this blessing and pass it on
rainwater can be life
a rainforest can grow
if we bring our hands together
embrace it
defend it
remember those who walked before us
the ponytails at the lordstown plant
could shut everything down
when it was warranted
a robot has no heart and never sweats
     a rainforest
so don't minimize a dream or a ripple in the pond
every leaf is a biosphere
every raindrop
a path you never expected

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

dog days of june

the sky broke loose a couple months early
to let in a heat bubble
for a slow bake
refusing to peter out
even when dark falls
you watch your fluids shrink
before they reach the skin

down at the giant eagle
a few cars are leaving oil slicks
before & after the check-out lines
like a shooting & car jacking
that made the morning news
the pavement and even the grass
is too hot for the canines

the backyard squirrels aren't moving
the last finch i saw left two days ago
the two mourning doves have gone
their separate ways
there aren't many more ways
to say the word

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 28, 2021

earth note 805

we left the oregon coast
for the interior
a hawk with a six-foot wingspan
sailed east

breaking out of the pines
the mosquitoes rose & coalesced
looking for a new direction
before sundown

the peaks on the three sisters
held out their hands
wind clapping rhythmically
their smile when you least expect it

--- e b bortz