Thursday, July 21, 2022

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

the digits on your hand become the letters of your poem

become the words
of a sometimes long lost cause
you've never shied away
from most of that
like your father
taking the medicine
because it's pointed deep at his underbelly
where the traffic is mostly chaos
& the courtrooms start out
being rigged
there are many ways
to break through the fog
and claim enlightenment
mostly though
it's self-pity
egocentric self-delusion
(am i being redundant?)
taking the lead
convincing yourself
that there will be no one else
in the trenches
when the shells hit

--- e b bortz

Thursday, July 07, 2022

earth note 862


there's a shepherd barking
every night
past the abyss
to the promised land
of orange sunsets
if you doubt that
for a moment
let the highway
take you through the back roads
til you reach the river
renewal just a stone's throw
the markings of the ancients
     your brother's keeper

--- e b bortz

Sunday, July 03, 2022

earth note 861

from the back porch
a clear day will focus
on the greentree water tower
two o'clock in my view
escaping to the south ridge
along the ohio river
many footpaths connected
the world can be surprisingly
from time to time

--- e b bortz

Thursday, June 23, 2022

uni-polar bi-polar multi-polar

these are just words
the real world is where it's at
orbiting and then splitting apart
a converted factory bomb shelter

bitcoin shitcoin petrodollar
fill your lawn mower again before
& after the ground hog scramble
that hole in the ground might just save you

follow the river 'til you get to the fork
then take it
then there will be a forest path and another fork
take that one too

you don't need a gps to find your way home
remember all the forks that got you here
uni-polar bi-polar multi-polar
     my ass

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 19, 2022

east fork san juan river morning

the river crackles gurgles
breath looks like steam
even in june
we will water up
in pagosa springs
watch the kids slip through the boulders
on inner tubes
there will be plenty of heat
by afternoon

the road to chimney rock
is not a straight line
but a sacred squash blossom
that may have touched you

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

earth note 860

you need to wait
for the perfect light
when it hits spider lake
it will be blue
a wall of white birch
standing reflecting
with scaly bark tamarack
homeland wetland
always calling

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 13, 2022

pre-inversion bicycling notes

(photo by Eric Bortz)

head of the ohio river trail
there's a clearing going north
some would call west
or even a twist south
as the crow flies
but if you stick to the river
you won't get lost
unless the daydreams
overwhelm what came before them

over the next month the droplets
will gather by the river edges
silt and sumac will become
the dominant shoulders
your eyebrows may drip a ring
around your neck
but the trail will go on
aboriginal mounds 

--- e b bortz

Sunday, June 12, 2022

earth note 859

chimney swifts make it to the end
of the overcast
just before the rains hit
fast and clever
for a sunday morning

blue jays have taken the flight home
robins still combing the grass for worms

humans have a big cleanup
dahn at the river
     concert's over

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 10, 2022

i always felt like we were about to go into hiding

even with a million peace marchers
in washington
     moratorium day 1969
just after

ten thousand in the streets of chicago
hot august 1968
scrambling our bodies in front of the police
and national guard
their columns     clubs     bayonets
forcing our retreat
     jimmy was wise beyond his years
into the darkness of grant park
tear gas sweat clinging
     dripping down through jesus sandals
     hearts and minds

--- e b bortz 

Monday, June 06, 2022

earth note 858

i'm not sure where bigfork northern minnesota
begins or ends 
maybe best to leave it as a mystery
after all it's just a typical dot on the map
penned by some land grabber
stolen from the original
as in the indigenous
people of bigfork
never consulted
but in fact 
should be revered
with full deed of ownership or stewardship
beginning with
water     naming      and rice rights
somewhere near the junction
of a scenic highway
& a thousand lakes
and don't forget that dot

of course you know
the whole country
flows out of bigfork

--- e b bortz

Friday, June 03, 2022

i hide in the river fog

for a sign
the trees stand motionless
against end of the week traffic
rushing on
there's a taste of spring rolls
that linger
i'll keep a watch
in a new day

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

earth note 857

mourning doves speak in alto
before exchanging space on the wires

sunlight breaks through the clouds
making big moves before the rain

everyone checks the sidewalk for cracks
& new editions

if there are shadows
the words may have slipped past an empty stanza

fine print is often
left behind

books are seldom read to the end
poems are never finished

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

earth note 856

the hawk comes again
this time in the northwest sky
the valley has no reason
but to stay asleep
wearing down the mountains
folding in the distance
carrying the thermals
to a new sanctuary

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 23, 2022

earth note 855

a diner on the southern belly of nebraska

and it looks like
a sea of sunflowers as far as you can see
when the server asks us
where we headed with those kayaks
and we just had to say
as far as the sunflowers will take us
or maybe we said glacier national park
up against the canada border
hoping the rain won't be too cold
but of course it turned out
cold enough
though the lakes were calm

--- e b bortz 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

i'll take a handful of wandering utopians any day

on any dusty high plains western new mexico road
     spontaneity makes the road
long before birkenstock     lands end     coffee klatch
came to twitter
forever diluting the obvious or oblivious
with a bunch of slogans & logos
here's the cruelty of raise the red lantern or manifest destiny
     this is no movie
the lakes and rivers are drying up
you'll see their ribs by high noon
we coulda listened to the ancients and sages
but that doesn't make you any money
money money
this american dream should have started
and ended with water and buffalo chips

--- e b bortz 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

i lived & worked in a company town

in fact more than one
but never lost sight of the
green hills and cold blue rivers
that could sweep through
coal hollows & iron rock piles
when least expected

sometimes the land
never came back to life
a slow death
minus the purgatory
and i may not be one for praying
though exceptions have their place

--- e b bortz 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

red-blue-red, part 6

a red sun can wake up a storm
follow the blue jays into hiding
the inside of a hawk's mouth
is red with prey
after all in a dog-eat-dog world
it's best to keep an eye out
for your neighbor
the canine barks like paul revere
but it doesn't mean you'll be woken

i've walked the streets of key west
long before the new crop of poets
decided to move on
and leave the dusty stacks
of bent ears and coffee stains
idling in red sweat along frances street
the cemetery is always shifting blue
but the sky forgot
where the blue coral streaks have gone

the beach is only a temporary landing
carry a navigational map
next to your heart
still beating smooth
like a manta ray shadow

--- e b bortz

Friday, May 06, 2022

earth note 854

the weight of the rain
like the weight of the world
is enough to pull the maples
all the way down
touching the ground
a couple of mourning doves coo & tilt their heads
right before taking a stiff drink
flying off to find shelter

if you break ground
on the ridge
you'll eventually find
handmade brick
from an ancient kiln
the markers have been left
for the history
to be found

bare footprints are a perfect census
a community gathers and then
grows a village
long before the long rifles
of twisted tongues
there were songs sung out
in love
and reverence

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

i don't need two u-hauls

rolling down the avenue
heading for the ohio river
or a backup horn on a backhoe
feeling its way below
the asphalt
for a runaway section
of clandestine pipe
a lone crow struts across a flat roof porch
and you wonder where the murder is
no one travels alone anymore

the maples are doing their best
to cover up the scars
the dog has his nose in the air
but hasn't made a sound yet
lots of school buses for waiting students
and refugees
but no drivers

are you ready for another election season

--- e b bortz

Friday, April 29, 2022

crisscrossing colorado wildfires

still looking for a cool dark crevasse
grit brown high desert
respite from the smoke
rolling over purple mountain breasts
sagebrush breaking loose
taking on cumulative new forms
     a banksy near granby
enough to think about
driving east
hot springs tainted sulfur footprints
a friendly rowdy crowd to share the springs with
there's a landscape hidden
inside silver & turquoise
changing hands
trading stories

--- e b bortz

Thursday, April 28, 2022

earth note 853


forest finally lights up
off the far reaches of the sun
the only true awakening
filling the hills like a heart strung
harmony and dissonance escape
but not the rhythm
of the river

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

earth note 852

i can't fathom
what a scorched earth
might look like
maybe not much different
from what exists
right now

the forests cough
like a constant covid
the riverbed becomes
a fire corridor
that's not water on the road
but only a mirage

there's a pile of twisted steel
for every broken body
on the field of battle
the trenches of mariupol
leave thousands
wandering before dying

some say there's a price to pay
before you leave this world
i'm not so sure you ever leave
maybe what becomes
your memory
is your penance

the ocean steams
like it's on its last horizon
we offer up our hands
before the great wave
what passes through
is what passes through

--- e b bortz 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

is there such a thing as alienation

or is it still
just an extension
of that loss
of surplus value some would say
i'm not sure about any of this
camus walks out of the desert
with his books
just before the bombs go off
first and foremost
he's still a teacher
there are lessons too brutal
to learn
but once

every mother will pack a lunch
with leftovers
our sustenance depends on it
the mothers of the world
the one and only lifelines
still visible
in a dust storm
of the epoch
throwing out all proportions
the road divides up ahead
before it chooses
for you

--- e b bortz 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

the road to phuket

came out of a rainforest
the sky heavy in monsoon
the rubber trees bending
like old bodies often do
there's a cart full of precious stones
where value is an illusion
that will find themselves
at the marketplace
in time for morning barter
every farang thinks the beach is calm
the tides know better
the equator does not negotiate
it will burn deep
below your breastbone

--- e b bortz 

Monday, April 18, 2022

peach tree rosea

halfway into spring
ukraine bleeds on and on

--- e b bortz

Saturday, April 16, 2022

earth note 851

a steady rain washes
covid mad river blues
into the storm sewers
ohio valley filling
to the brim
like a whiskey drinkin
bad habit
there's no reliable forecast
for when the storm might move on
open the windows
flush out the bad air once in awhile
your bronchial tubes need a rest
the hillsides are trying
to go green
but there's new cautionary yellow lines
painted on the avenue
no sidewalks or crosswalks
that go the distance

--- e b bortz 

Friday, April 08, 2022

darkness leaves a blind row

of forsythia
awaiting yellow sunrise
in your pocket
don't lose it

--- e b bortz 

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

earth note 850

we need to go back
to redwood national park
where the roots connect
the garden
the ocean drifts in
and leaves a message
a rocky coast of seals
with strong barking voices
where there's now a generation
of new tents
and songs

--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 03, 2022

woke up to the rain this morning

which got me thinking
about taking the next train
changing over to a bus going north
and then west again
past the sunflower fields
waiting for the hope of new seed
the land of the lakota
revered beyond any greasy thumb
of colonials

when the many stories are told
it will be clear
what the original protectors
had in mind
no one can deny which side
of a free river you belong on
the high grass knows how
to stand upright
leave enough for the generations
to come
learn how to walk before running
mingle with the elk & bison & mustangs
like an ancient herder
for all passed & living souls

the rain may stop
before tonight's resting place
when it comes down to finding shelter
look to the mountains
carry what you have learned
to the altar

--- e b bortz 

we got stopped in southern texas

near del rio and the mexico border
our shiny black dog growled
as the uniforms approached & spoke
     where you headed folks
     oh just camping near big bend
so now the flashlights start going through
the back seat and the kayaks on the roof
maybe looking for
maybe more people
the dog continues to growl
how about some i.d.
we take out drivers licenses
and pass them over to the uniforms
eyeballing our pictures for resemblance
the dog growls for being left out
more cars backing up
more uniforms gathering
don't pickup any hitchhikers
the uniform says
we make no comment
we look towards dusk
and the open prairie

--- e b bortz 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

when the rain ends the road will still lie ahead

iron mountain to iron river to ironwood
the frame of a moose comes in to view
will clear your head like a rare spring morning
even through the fog
keep your hip boots close by
like a good smelt fisher in the upper peninsula
the forest speaks like sacred pine
and over a hundred miles to go

--- e b bortz

Monday, March 28, 2022

earth note 849

wind blown colorado
the river and the land
poke through the sun like daybreak
grit off the mountain
sand unsettled
hoof     beats     for a message
mule deer run

--- e b bortz

Sunday, March 27, 2022

earth note 848

march snow sunday
covers the daffodils
before they even get started
morning light is a sudden gray turn
from the northeast
     no promises to keep

--- e b bortz

Friday, March 25, 2022

you playboys & playgirls ain't gonna run my world

but of course
we're too late
for that song
the tanks are already rolling
rationales & cognacs of oligarchs
& their gold
& their yachts
floating in blood
mariupol bleeds
like what you'd expect
from a child's hand
or a mass grave of trenches
carved out by a putin death smirk
fear alone 
by another diseased mind
the road to babi yar

--- e b bortz