Monday, March 08, 2021

following star wars...minnesota to high desert arizona

ron gave his review of star wars
to the crew of electricians
in the switchgear room
he was the first in hibbing minnesota
to see it the night it premiered
out of the frozen tundra and into the sun

it's all about the technology he said
there's beauty in it
even if we can't see it yet

it definitely seemed like a new worldview
though i would hesitate to call it that
but for us
it was wanderlust

it did seem to be a catalyst
within a year we were packing it up
sears & roebuck canoe and all
heading to the high desert of arizona
there was a job and power plant awaiting

but the canoe is really a story in itself
along its most circuitous route
pittsburgh to minnesota to lake mary south of flagstaff
and further on to the susquehanna in upstate new york
on to salt lake city and then back to minnesota (again)
on to southern california and yes back to minnesota (again)
even back to the allegheny its final portage point
forgive me for missing a few stops in between

you just never know where the landings are
until you land on one

when both of those suns rise out of a darkened sky
remember what you're here for
and why

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

from the peak of the roof

sun throws down the perfect shadow
a crisp parallel
not something i ever noticed before
not something you would see
an hour from now
when the shadows shift
we're all celestial bodies
we all pass through the hour glass

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

earth note 787

the ground has refrozen
there's a new layer of ice crystals
climbing the trunk
veins of the maple have stalled
the sap waits
an indigenous song will begin
when the time is ripe
     given half a chance

--- e b bortz

Monday, March 01, 2021

earth note 786

the earth can only take on so much
busting its bowels
head first down the hollow
coal ash doesn't give a shit
who's in the way
there were groans and fractures
     long ignored
the riverbanks & bankers went about their
     business as usual
mouthpieces chattering
blame it all on the nearest moloch

you cup your hands and raise them
to drink from a broken cistern
roof runoff making new tracks
from a crumbling old world
all forgotten like original sin
a string of flashy pickup trucks
beating their way to a
wrong-way hov entrance
a cloud of diesel spills
like rush-hour on a
throwaway strip-mall

this may not make a difference
but i will do my best
to not leave on a downer
rub your hands in the loam
with every touch
there will be sprouts
nurture them all
as your offspring
you've read the tea leaves before
a calm will grow
like sun and moon

--- e b bortz 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

earth note 785

today is a gray valley
rivers cling to riverbanks
every cloud is seamless
in a blanket overcast

a squirrel runs on the top rail
of a cyclone fence
listening for life
on the other end

--- e b bortz

Sunday, February 21, 2021

earth note 784

photo by Sandra L Hazley

rolling like the glow of an eastern colorado sunflower

down a flatland gravel road
pinging in the dust
a turnaround for the community park
passes a roomful of teenagers
in the rec building
tuning up a guitar or two
we stop at the outdoor privy
painted sunset earth brown & gold

--- e b bortz 

Monday, February 15, 2021

earth note 783

before they are gone forever
be sure and walk across
a cobblestone street
before the ice melts
that feeling that you don't
have control with what's
under your feet
one slip and the whole world
might slip away

a day past valentine's day
can bring crazy thought trains
daydreaming on a highway
random road signs
the trees are becoming ice sculptures
before turning to water
the hilltops might go first
if the sun can be coaxed
to see the light

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

black crow black dog white snow black coffee

could be the blues
or not
the contrast wakes you
from a sleep you should have had
a week ago
but couldn't pull it off
for a hundred reasons
having nothing to do
with the weather

the slush trucks are rolling
with the best of them
the snow is bringing out
the caffeine hoards
slogging thru
shovel in hand
i'm proud to be
with the addicted

--- e b bortz

Sunday, February 07, 2021

earth note 782

orange sometimes pink
street lights before dawn
climbing up and down hills
out of charles street valley
buena vista street
city steps & radio-tv towers
satellite dishes
talk amongst themselves
the snow leaves a new landscape
windows reflecting
the illusion of a desert town with castanets
somewhere in the distance
it's those lights again
city crews will be replacing the ones
who have died
with the ground common
always leaving you
with more dark
than light

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

earth note 781

low branches
laden in wake up snow
still powder light
diving down my neck
clouds from the east
wind from the west
the dog rolls like a puppy
nose & ears tuned
for the neighborhood coyote
sometimes found to be sprinting
along the fence line
across a busy city avenue
two hundred yards to the park canopy
& free

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

earth note 780

the gunnison

the river asks nothing
but the freedom to flow
it's written on the walls

pinyon growing
out of rock
takes courage

if you listen to the darkness
the rapids speak
in tongues

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

earth note 779

opens with the sun
and calls it

--- e b bortz 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

earth note 778

old seven-mile bridge, marathon florida

interdependence is no cliché
like thousands of interlocked moments
there's a vanishing point in everyone's eye

a school of manta ray
darken the water
hide near the pilings

pelicans fish 'til dark
then leave
before the tourists show

sometimes sunset will leave you empty
the red-yellow-orange
can be missed in the gray

--- e b bortz

Saturday, January 23, 2021

earth note 777

snake river, wyoming

summer rapids
rushing on through
pines breaking it down
to a whisper

--- e b bortz 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

loose change

the cash on the barrel head
paid the ultimate price
desperate for recognition
it set out to buy a new congress
with puts & calls
before liquidity
went under water
before the river turned to sludge

or caught fire

before the alchemists
picked thru their bitcoins betting on the future
tossing them against the wall
transforming themselves
into drug store cowboys
or soda jerk bow ties

then telling you to hurry up & choose a side

do you remember then
when wall street opened its mouth
& all your change
got swallowed
like a jukebox or pinball machine

but you never lost confidence
that every song & dance
would end by midnight
and sometimes
you got lucky
catching the last streetcar

--- e b bortz

Saturday, January 09, 2021

earth note 776

the ground is cold
frozen into an image
of promises deferred
hardwood still in its infancy
breathing sunlight
where it finds it
morning salutations
from the thicket
leaving one wondering
where the trail shifts
     becomes a switchback
for the living
for the dead

--- e b bortz

Friday, January 08, 2021

lost cause secessionists and the cult of the individual

january 6, 2021

capitol mob storm trooper practice
lily-white caucasian sheets for the emperor
twitter feed borne out of
529 years of blood and plunder
     and counting
the cross you bear 
made from child labor
walls cast in your image
     a mirror 
of self-deception

--- e b bortz 

Sunday, January 03, 2021

ida's birthday

sandy made kugel today
ida smiled-in the new year
her recipe etched in stone

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

camus came out of the forest

a cigarette dangling on his lips
his eyes open but squinting
documents in a rucksack
over his left shoulder
poems stuffed in his back pocket
the mountains to his back
gleaming an afternoon light
a long way from the dark back alleys
of his boyhood home in algeria
he of all people was a guide
     pacifist TB lungs and all
for the international anti-fascist volunteers
crossing over from france to spain
     this was 1936-37
and the battle for madrid was before them

there were writers & poets
and steelworkers
and cadre of the great san francisco general strike
but camus kept his eyes on the trail
     a third eye some might argue
that bourgeois boasters were incapable
     of seeing from their inflated perches and journals

camus learned the song lyrics the first time
in more than one language
long before hemingway drank
from the magic well of
one big resistance

so many years and polemics
have passed mostly without purpose
there's no need to explain or separate
allegory from historical record
let the spanish soil speak for itself
camus still stands
on the outer edge of puerta del sol
a third eye
a vision

--- e b bortz

Monday, December 28, 2020

earth note 775

there's a wild dark wind
& a couple of alberta spruce
joined at the hip
davening to an ancient rhythm
just before sunrise

the line of sight
meets a clearing
puddles and slush
snow melt taking off
down the avenue

dark grit
& manic strings of traffic
get left behind
trying to find their own way

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

earth note 774

this is all from memory
so blame me if you missed it
streaks across the sky
like a sunrise storm
barren trees standing out
to proclaim
a new day
is not so new

the camera lost
or still in hiding
but eventually
we will all taste
the peach & pear trees
after this misery year
after the ridge thaws
and decides
it's time to bear fruit

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

earth note 773

gray clouds churning up
more snow
the dog looks out the window
barks at the squirrels
day comes with borrowed light
winter solstice comes and goes
looking for deep celestial bodies
to align

--- e b bortz 

Friday, December 18, 2020


snow squalls across turtle island
from the ice shoulders
of the mississippi
the lakes and forests speak in many voices
thru the warm hearts of the elders & youth
water protectors all
with the free flow of the river
     the original people

--- e b bortz

Thursday, December 17, 2020

earth note 772

dark hills fade to white
snow pile slips off neighbor's roof
river & sky rise

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

nurka's corner minnesota itasca county route 7

cloverdale park circa 1976 and beyond

an outdoor ice rink 
flooded & frozen by late november
within sight of jack pine     tamarack
white birch bark
like a holy scroll
the snow can get crusty
against the sky
sharp deepest blue
mitten weather not gloves
the sound of puck and stick
a statement
not an echo

--- e b bortz

Friday, December 11, 2020

leon's house hazelwood pittsburgh

circa 1960

city steps endless climb and descend
coal dust on new fallen snow
from beginning and ending
of every horizon
gray shadows in the clusters
of frame houses
rising and falling
in history
& hot metal exhaust

jeans & boots

dry on the top
of the hot air heating duct

--- e b bortz 

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

the dogma of the dollar bill

it carries the smell
of sweat     ink and hands
the knees and lower back
know the feeling
sometimes the hands
go numb thinking that
there might be an equal
distribution down the road
skyscrapers are tilting like pisa
with their accumulation
the people sitting on the curb
gather up the loose change
of what some call surplus value
i'm not convinced that there is
any value surplus or otherwise
worth litigating
fighting or dying for

the dollars are counted and recounted
before every election
after all
return on investment
is the name of the game

wash your hands vigorously
after touching it
keep it away from private parts
and wear a mask

--- e b bortz

Monday, December 07, 2020

earth note 771

humans stood on this hilltop
in the middle of winter
with their brows frozen
but hands warm
back straight
knowing each and every dead leaf
by name
     having moved on

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

earth note 770

photos by Sandra L Hazley

wind snow
white pine stand out
shout a perfect balance

a creamy gray sky
is satisfied

light reigns in
to capture and save
the day

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 30, 2020

tears cross borders

without papers
the rainforest gives cover
without charge

a frozen lake
can hold the weight
of the world

there is no end
for the footsteps
no guide no map

your hold on the future
is only as good
as your grip today

--- e b bortz 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

earth note 769

where the gunnison
flows into the colorado
where the summer heat
evaporates the life
out of grassy river beds
where cattails sprout
reeds bend to find water
these can be mighty rivers
at this junction
though sometimes
losing their way

a lost horizon
may lead to shangri-la
namaste nepal
and the dry season
shall pass

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

earth note 768

last of the yellow leaves
sharp against gray overcast
clouds moving west to east
pushing beyond
beaten down hills
hurry past melancholy
round tops duck for cover
looking for an early winter

--- e b bortz 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

earth note 767

it started out as an early morning squawk
from a single crow
     not the usual here

gray chill covers the ridge
more crows coming
looking to find their bearings

the trees have been stripped
a bare branch becomes a brush
fallen leaves fill in the color

having lost their voices in the rain

--- e b bortz

Thursday, November 19, 2020

earth note 766


until the sun
broke over the eastern mountains
the valley remained quiet
a misty dark
adobe houses cold as clay
a couple of bicycles panting
up the hill to the university
the neighborhood dogs
throwing out a bark
here & there
the empty lots & spaces
dry grainy brown
rail yards pointing west
& empty

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

earth note 765

inflection point
on the arc of the moon
the darkness seeping in
you are the root
just before the turning away
there's an angle for every moment
before the fade
back to original thoughts
where time is just a cloud cover
a promise of first snow

--- e b bortz

Saturday, November 14, 2020

earth note 764

standing alone in the kansas wind
you don't need change in your pocket
roll with the wheat & sunflowers
the stark plains open
like a holy sea

--- e b bortz

Thursday, November 12, 2020

ohio river ridge post election blue

particulates leave a bad taste in the dog park

the dogs know it even if you can't see it
the chemistry doesn't lie

downstream upwind they're hauling ass

to get the cracker plant going
no one listens to the barking

--- e b bortz