Saturday, May 18, 2019

tethered in a catheter

the urinary tract ain't no trail in the woods
     but a trial
plastic tube restrictions
broken up by a bureaucracy
so-called health care providers
it's easy to get lost
in the three-hand-shuffle
three-card monte
so sitting at this screen
is the closest thing to escape
where all concentration can
now be centered
     on the pain
past present and future

fill the bag
empty the bag
keep the dog at bay
don't worry i'll wash my hands
but let's skip
     the coffee

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 13, 2019

woke up this morning with my mind set on peace

even as the aircraft carriers
stir towards confrontation
and think
who might be out there
who'll stand with their bodies
in the machinery if necessary
to stop the madness

i think of senator wayne morse
from oregon who confronted
the war makers during vietnam
who is the next wayne morse
where's the next teach-in

we camped a good number of times
in the oregon woods
taking in what's left
of an ancient rain forest
cold rocky coast
a beached dead seal
in cruel sacrifice
too late for godly intervention

the roar of the nascar channel
rips through the barroom clientele
just past noon
high noon like a gary cooper movie
in real life the good guy seldom wins
there's no wayne morse in the house
the mosquitoes are tasting blood
blood from oil
blood from silence

--- e b bortz

Saturday, May 11, 2019

earth note 681

ferns standing tall
sharp as the ridge
song from the river
answers the void

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

earth note 680

first sun thru the trees
coming up like an eye
starting to focus

the process seems deceptively simple
with only minor adjustments
but you've been fooled so many times

from the valleys and foothills
of hardwood pennsylvania

to rubber forests in thailand

cold straight tamarack
through the lake country
minnesota to the laurentides
of quebec

late risers from the san juan peaks
to the shadows of painted walls
on the gunnison

the high desert
is always lonely
just before daybreak

even the oceans
tremble in the moment

holding on
with ephemeral hand
i see in each fleeting instant
     a rising sun

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

earth note 679

morning traffic on the avenue
breaking up disparate bird songs
on the ridge
not sure if cacophony is the right word
     but i'll use it
blue jay-robin-cardinal-yellow finch-sparrow-chimney swift
     a lone woodpecker
     no crows this early
     keep cover     there's a hawk
the dog barks at something out-of-tune
     most everything

like a tractor-flatbed trailer
down-shift grind of steel
not quite meshing gears
rough-cut transmission out-of-warranty
hauling pipeline sections
bound & gagged
     once a route to wooded hills
     now clear-cut

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 06, 2019

earth note 678

lush maple meets early may
all in the last week
too soon you might think
their shade finally
taking you under
to the root
of your own existence
you've waited on the trail
for this time
when morning cardinals
leap from shadow
becoming red rich sunlight

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 02, 2019

empire & mixed metaphors

in multiple dimensions
of tired old men in suits & uniforms
a good helping of corruption helps
young whippersnappers
empty sloganeering
cash on the barrelhead
as long as it's middle east crude
if you can show there's a
for your fickle
start an exploratory committee
tweet every intonation out your butt
as if it's an original fart
     profound or visionary
     and be sure and copyright it
     before the debates begin

but an honest polemic doesn't end here
there was a different time and place
maybe there still is
     the iroquois confederation
never ran ads
or built golf courses
or sang god bless america
the land and rivers still speak a common language
humans crawl through millennia
before standing erect
learning the seasons
growing and harvesting
teaching the children
songs without borders
from every forest
to every leaf

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 28, 2019

earth note 677

wind stalled out
after the rain
leaving reflections in black & white
treetops in small pools
looking upward

the river is the only one moving

a railroad bridge
& penitentiary
have a secret meeting
loose spikes & stone walls
ante up in carbon notes

the river bends     looks the other way

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 27, 2019

authenticity is not a workshop subject

ain't a dialect
or something
to be taken
for granted
how many voices
in your inner ear
have deceived you

how many times
have you stepped
     in it
but refuse to show it
you carry the stink
like anybody
in spite of it

origins make the obvious
an easy blind spot
give it enough time
& the words have a way
of elevating themselves
above the repetitious

so it's probably better
to just keep walking
picking up those
not found yet participles
scattering off a volley
of buckshot angst
as it comes to you
eventually all the roads
become footpaths
where the feet become the imprint

touching the earth
never to be taken for granted

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


i never considered
stealing anything
after all the act
is really just an act
against oneself
you never know when it'll all
come back to bite you
even a friendly dog has limits

let me qualify this
the only thing i ever stole
was second
and once home
what a feeling
pony league was all about
playing by the rules
which meant stealing

so it was important
for at least one of my sons
to become a catcher
with a rifle arm
those who steal
need to fear
a hard peg to the base

'course you could say
this is all harmless baseball talk
or maybe you're missing
the one chance to be more bold
taking that extra step off the bag
upsetting the rhythm of the game
which might not be a game at all

there's a theft about to happen
it's the only one that counts
the crowd is stirring for an upset
the pitcher fidgets in the stretch
you wipe the dust and sweat off your hands
     crouch like a feral cat
ready to spring free
sliding head first
arm extended
the tag is late
because you stole
the only thing worth stealing
     that head start instant
     that extra step

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 20, 2019

forecast (+) or (-)

clouds moving so fast
they're leaving a trail behind
but a good center fielder
can probably catch it in the gap
before it all comes apart

if the trees don't calm down
     a bit     there could be a run
on the banks
the money line's not safe
but it might be a little less risky

'course that all depends on the center fielder

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 19, 2019

earth note 676

gray overcast
low light
the hawk banks a 90 degree turn
then dives low
talons into the brush
like there's no balance
between failure
and survival

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 18, 2019

earth note 675

marshall trail

green finally taking hold
wild ferns looking up and down
ready to spread their wings

a cardinal goes first
lifts the head
starts a new song

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

earth note 674

early autumn rio grande valley

the hot spring was well hidden
a warm inlet pool
in the dry air
in the heart of the big bend
if patience prevails
soothing powers
rest in the stone perimeter

we follow a native family
to the river
their heartbeat
the source

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 14, 2019

earth note 673

rocky mountain front range

the sun is patient
rises off the plain
leaving sunflowers
melting shadows

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 11, 2019

there's no comfort in my naivete

take my coffee black
with the clarity of a newly photographed
     black hole
     calculated and scribbled from einstein hands
even as the sweatshop jackboots go stomping
     across the planet
a planet on the verge of falling out of orbit
in flood or fire
already long past 1984 orwell
just consider all of this
     the re-elected of the corrupted
     the arrest of the whistleblower
     the children lost on phony borders
     the theft of the body
          but not the soul

--- e b bortz

Monday, April 08, 2019

the tired old men of the planet

have left you the meltdown
this wasn't in your plans after graduation
     floods and fires     that is

extinction might have been too casual a subject
in biology     or botany
not a frequented word in your vocabulary

i'm sorry we didn't put all this in perspective
     in time
again     there are no good rationalizations

of course this is all more than generational
there has always been a recycled shitload
of excuses & diversions & campaign cash
endless streams of swamped-out boats
passing each other but never making contact

it's a new year for blooming
forsythia and magnolia
     their colors bright yellow & pink
     steady     not running

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 06, 2019

earth note 672

each letter of the word
of each poem
reaches out
kneading the ground
like potters
molding clay
taking form
growing roots

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 05, 2019

earth note 671

warm rain slowing
to a trickle
finally in sync
with a heartbeat
like a dove starts cooing
before sunrise

from the hollow
the river pulls everything
towards it
rushing past the sumac
what's left of the maple
refusing to bend

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

earth note 670

many words have crossed my desk
only to be forgotten
when the dark fades out like a holy light
not light at the end of the tunnel
but light where you never expect it
past the dark canopy of spring buds
past the eventual sunrise always promised
long past childhood memories
leaving only prickly empty shells
     like walnuts after the winter

--- e b bortz

Monday, March 25, 2019

earth note 669

key west

circle k busy as usual at 7am
a hot one to look forward to
sandy concocts her own crazy mocha mix
too sweet for me
give it to me raw
but don't get rough
be like the ibis gleaning
picking around
the parking spaces

we pitch in a few bucks
for three young travelers & a dog
needing gas
trying to keep it low key
out of sight
from the police & managers

so far
the beaches are still something
of a free zone
mark your spot
put your line in the sand

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

recovering notes from the deep, part 20


when you're fifteen you remember
the feeling
not necessarily the substance
of a quarter-million people
     a rolling sea of justice
in the middle of the heat
of washington d c august 28 1963

in a crowd of black and white
showing the world
how to walk straight
interlock arms and shoulders
"woke up this morning with my mind
     set on freedom"

my dad and his comrade jim
vanguard proud
jim emoting spirit and voice
of paul robeson
lorraine hansberry
claudia jones
way way beyond
my adolescent consciousness

for me it was
just dylan and joan baez
dylan singing
only a pawn in their game
like seeing way into the future
where every voice
might move
a mountain

--- e b bortz

Sunday, March 17, 2019

earth note 668

inching toward spring
cold and dry
ferns beginning to poke up

they know when to open their eyes

the trail below the ridge top
worn by deer      wild turkeys
to trace every path

long before humans

the buds aren't quite ready
they line the river
quiet anticipation

the sky begins
to dodge thru shadows
where sparrows dance

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 14, 2019

apolitical is not the opposite of overtly political

but of course there are those that say
apolitical is a misnomer to begin with
since there is an objective reality

     (a place for us)

where everything
has a political connotation
     even (especially)
     a blank piece of paper
          a true manifesto without limits

nothing is broken
     but everything is broken

stop playing with yourself
     jingling bitcoins in your pocket
there's no such thing as apathy
put your money where your mouth is
     or at least
where the sun doesn't shine

--- e b bortz