Friday, December 31, 2010

have i finally crawled out or in?

for Aung San Suu Kyi

from every identifiable place
darkness lifts or not
or scarring
every marking has a point

where the colors
have collapsed
a common blend
becomes a stain

have ended
most without

there are no final judgments
in fact judgments are not germane
a mouth is a circle
is a chant
is a spirit
all its own

--- e b bortz

Friday, December 17, 2010


plays a rhythmic washboard
before every honest voice dies
     let the drumbeat lead
inhale the fire of the earth
& use the word culture
as it was intended
to open every pore
release the heat
begin again

--- e b bortz

Thursday, December 16, 2010

earth note 146

rivers have a way
of getting even
with those who would
harness bleed heat
their very being

an icy smile gets smacked down
wiped off the face
of the 40th street trestle

--- e b bortz

Thursday, December 09, 2010

lowell george little feat & dawn

dusty tucumcari
makes the sun work that much harder
and every speck
needs a place to rest
even before
giving thanks
the chicano chef
slices the turkey
and pumpkin pie
so we're tempted to ask
the waitress whether
was in the radio queue
because we were thinking
of dawn and how she passed
from our grasp
as the dusk
came up fast
and it would have been
to have another slice
of her voice
gravelly thru mesa redonda
the empty backroads
leave her messages
in dry canyons
& the old towns
turn their backs
on the interstates
just to survive

we put her faint smile
in our pockets
roll the road
that comes
when the signs
are taken down
& the taste of honey
awakens our lips

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

earth note 145

only the dark surf
raging on myrtle beach south carolina
seems real
against the empty streets of ocean boulevard
ripley's is haunted all to themselves
a plastic kingdom
decidedly more irrelevant
than even what passes
for the daily news

a black dog finds
a dead jellyfish
the sky misleads
in its brightness
if there was ever a season
to consider what's coming
you'd have only to look around
at the thousands of empty motel rooms
each one of them with a pastel story
but certainly no answers
for deadpan poets
plowing deeper
than beach sand compactors
fixated metal detectors
stop & frisk agents
.....generation paranoia

--- e b bortz

Thursday, November 18, 2010

earth note 144

elephant butte, hot springs, new mexico

the dark rock foreground
with the lighter sandy background
gives the elephant
(or elephants from my angle)
the whole plain
a range that includes
a cold water lake reservoir
and no predators
'cept humans

hot springs sounds
so much more inviting
truth or consequences
like who the hell would want
to be named after
a silly defunct tv game show?
name aside
the town includes many
who have broken down
(vehicles and human alike)
deciding that
this would be home from now on
and i fully understand
the spontaneity of all of that
and kinda envy those free souls

if you're looking for good thrift stores
warm dry climate
enough water if you're very frugal
and your social security
or scarce income potential
can get you through
check out
hot springs / truth or consequences
maybe that second name
should become our nation's
new mantra
(after so much war and deceit)
'cause the sun is usually shining
almost everyone is poor & struggling
and isn't it better to be
in a place
where the pretentious
turn up their noses
in their hundred-dollar sun glasses
and the freeways leave you
as an exit sign
in the desert
of life?

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

for every former or present radical catholic i may have known or read about

when he died
jc (juan chacon) may have been the last desolation angel
silver city new mexico
heroic zinc miners strike of the early 1950s
the movie salt of the earth still an image in my fifteen-year-old mind
it was a bit unsettling to walk the streets of silver city
though i found a bookstore that knew the story of the women
and men who put down their tools and picked up their pens
to tell the truth (not truth or consequences)
about brown and red (in all senses) and black and white
workers facing down the vengeance
racism and wrath of big money
the old mine mill & smelter workers union

(later swallowed by the usw)
still stood today in the art galleries and natural healing boutiques
though healing isn't always the best medicine

sh checked on a used bookstore in silver city
for a copy of desolation angels
(lost years ago)
but there wasn't one
i believe kerouac knew about the zinc miners strike
even if he had other plans
and every word he wrote from every lookout mountain
in the great northwest
told stories of anti-heroes only a radical could love
which isn't much different from the story of the miners strike
or other gospels still unspoken
and i so love sh for thinking about that and looking through
the shelves for the word

father jack would tell albert elena and the rest of us
that the grape boycott would win
if we kept the picket lines going
and so the kroger store on the northside (long gone)
would need to feel the heat
until they removed the nonunion grapes from their shelves
and they did

it's been a decade since we uttered the name of ll
of quebec (as we spotted quebec texas on the map)
sh said she wouldn't be there waiting for me
and of course that's true
but if there's a root there's a flower or a thorn or a cactus
that's ready to bring you back
to those cold quebec winter trips
onto her hot gentle round hips
a mind that refuses to accept the inevitable
is one worth feeling

it was getting dark as we came out
of the mogollon & black range mountains
gila national forest
steep cliffs and a stray black angus bull
cold winds
but enough sun to reflect off the light brown rocks
orange and blue shadows in the distance

at 5am this morning
a car horn signal
brought together a few men
gathering themselves together
to go to work
no questions asked
solidarity in the eyes
jc would have done the same

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 15, 2010

earth note 143

big bend national park, texas

fierce free wind above the rio grande
a circular voice
echoes off the chisos mountains
sierra del carmen

the river struggles through rock & sand
a steady flow
unexpected hissing rapids
hot springs sometimes heal

one two
many coyotes howling
break the night
half moon rising

the peaks speak
with a brown desert stare
leave as you came
breathe touch taste

remember the pitted rocks

standing straight up
morning homage
shouts & whispers

--- e b bortz

Saturday, November 13, 2010

earth note 142

angelina national forest, texas

great blue heron
just past
my desire for a long long
line of sight
a point where
i could be sure
it was like the great ones
of spider lake minnesota
six months earlier

the reservoir water
seems low
like there's
an expropriation in progress
from the water line
it looks like five-six feet
have been stolen
so much for sharing
what little we have

hornets swarm
if you have a sweet tooth
crows dodge
caw past
fifty foot pines standing still
making an easy leap
for scrawny
almost frail
local squirrels

blue heron
returns with two others
for one last dive
just before sunset
by 6pm
all is dark
hours have passed
perfect moon shadows

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

finding malaise

at every plateau
like the color gray
is a process
impossible to describe

are we climbing up & out
is there light over the hill
or just another dark bare orchard?

stand outside the circle
see the empty euphoria
for what it isn't
release the decades past

is a prerequisite
to status quo

comfort-strength a calm ocean
makes immediate pain a little less

til the next storm
til the next dream deferred

--- e b bortz

Friday, August 20, 2010

the abyss

is not at the edge
or further down the road
but among us
when we look
where the fire escape last stood
(sold for scrap years ago)
or a fast car
or a fix
or a stickup gun & ski mask
running across the high desert
billboard landscape
a broken down caustic runway
poisons my boots

it wasn't always that way
even from the bleak
war table debates between
round and square
there were words inside
to send on
to the next
an ear of plenty
even in a wasteland

when the minds were blown
sometimes there came
only to be exposed later
as idol worship
or bottomless dreamscapes
'course nothing mattered then

but now the blown minds
are by design
just enough manipulation
to be convincing
your shoes can be cleaned
you need not remember your past
and you can view the morning after
from a better vantage point
.....embracing the abyss

--- e b bortz

Sunday, August 08, 2010

earth note 141

cicada trees
answering each other
along the ridge
each in unison
as if to tell us
sing it out if you mean it

one cicada stands alone at the backdoor
leaves a message

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

death of a key west poem

even in the early sun
when the water wakes
a new surf starts up
the earth stays dark

i look back years
to find the perfect truth
dharma image

accepts every character
having synched
the past with the present

each year
the light fades
a little more

so i go back to the lovers
on si surat stupa
to liven my legs
for the climb

listening for the voice
of every pelican
still flying

--- e b bortz

Monday, June 07, 2010

save me from your messiah

and messiah complexes
poetics and poets who
insult the trees from whence
the pages come
and always with the word
me me me
sandwiched between
a luddite east cleveland levy
and a hyper-text delusional stream
of ego

those oil-suffocating sea birds
in the gulf of mexico
are now the quintessential images of
america the corporate
sucking on carbon assholes
until it kills us
forget the poets who can't
reach beyond
their own pricks
and gated habitats

words will not make us clean
though maybe
that's all we have

--- e b bortz

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Great Awakening

The Great Awakening

by e b bortz

We need to really think outside the bounds of mainstream U.S. culture and media to find the great awakening...which is most definitely in progress.

By the time you read this, Antanas Mockus, Green Party candidate for President of Colombia will be heading into the runoff round. And no, the specific issues of the Mockus campaign is not really the issue...ideological dogmatists: heads up! What is important to see is that the Green Party program and constituency represents a historic and fundamental surge towards grassroots democracy, against repression, an end to corruption, the beginning steps for economic justice, peace, and ecological wisdom...yes, the beginning of a new Colombia. Antanas Mockus and the Green Party have put together a coalition capable of electing the planet's first Green Party head of state. What is most significant about this is not the "how and when", but in the fact that millions of voters believe in the possibility.

After years of Green Party representation in every major European parliament, a breakthrough was finally realized in the United Kingdom. A rising environmental consciousness and a well organized grassroots new politics propelled the charismatic Caroline Lucas to victory as the first Green MP in the UK Parliament. Something is indeed afoot.

A collapsing economy in Greece, and previously in Iceland, might in fact be a harbinger of the future. How and to what extent the Greens and their allies prepare programmatically for these kinds of crises (more national collapses are possible), could very well determine how successful they'll be in future elections. Millions of people losing their jobs or having their wages and benefits slashed, will have little patience for political leaders "going slow" or treading about with 'solutions' that don't address their immediate and long-term pain and sacrifices. A creative and sustainable green economics, uncoupled from the dictates and volatility of global financial markets, is no longer a futuristic pipedream...the future may be upon us sooner than we think.

At this time, the British Petroleum oil gusher is still spreading it's poison in the Gulf of Mexico. Added to this has been a U.S. government sanctioned reckless deployment of chemical dispersing toxins against the encroaching oil mass. This ecological catastrophe is the direct result of decades of corporate political rule in Washington and in state capitals across the country. By buying their favorite Democrat and/or Republican legislators and the deregulation terms of their endearment, corporations via their de facto representatives have bought the elections by dominating the media, the agenda, and in many cases directly limiting the voter's choices. Today, we are all paying the price for corporate politics. Recent mainstream polls have indicated that only 30% of the U.S. electorate are in support of political incumbents...the voters are obviously fed-up and may be open to new ideas...let this be the beginning of our own awakening.

The wars of empire grind on...the loss in human lives and maimed lives is morally indefensible. Yet, it might be a faltering (bankrupt) economy and an outraged public that actually brings millions back into the streets. Continuing the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq will never bring us closer to a secure or sustainable future...only more pain and financial ruin. We leave behind a battlefield of unexploded cluster bombs and other munitions along with depleted uranium contamination. This will guarantee more generations of resentment both at home and throughout the world. A Green foreign policy based on nonviolent constructive engagement with the rest of the world is a positive new way forward. It's time to put away all of our weapons of mass destruction and extend the hand of true friendship to all who will take it.

The tide of rising expectations might just be the catalyst for real change in the United States, even within the seemingly all-powerful corporate political state. It wouldn't be the first time outdated political parties were shattered under the weight of their own irrelevance and replaced with new political forces: younger, bolder, visionary yet practical. Our watchword should be: stay active...the manifestations of "a change is gonna come" have yet to be written, much less realized.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

no explanation needed

a poet's tools can't be sharpened
unless the skin is in decay

even a gasp
can mark a turning point

direction zero
is the best roadmap

when you lift
bend your knees

wear your pen
like a revolver

listen for the agony
& leave clarity for mathematicians

travel light
on multiple planes

don't worry if you're wrong
you'll have the last word

--- e b bortz

Thursday, May 06, 2010

earth note 139

a couple of alberta spruce
giving a hand on the hillside
are joined today
by two hetzi column junipers
dark green & dense
looking toward eighteen feet
standing against the slide
civil disobedience of a sort

when the cones fall
they'll be painted
in the tradition
of a famous painter
arranged around a circle
a circle we have yet to understand
celebrate nonetheless
& carry on

--- e b bortz

(published in Three Rivers Bioneers, Oct 2010)

Friday, April 30, 2010


rolled down the ramp
from the commuter speedboat
in na thon thailand
bicycle wheels following my instinct
island ring road south
still a few hours daylight
big orange hangs
like droopy eyelids
the heat is unique
approaching sunset
the air dries a bit
before the evening mist
makes landfall
off the ocean

a few farmers were picking bananas
on the interior hills
i could see them under big hats
carts filling along palm-lined pathways
their work a tender touch
fused with small yellow skins

lamai beach
coral jagging up
a mix of sharp black rock
rough shore
piercing for the unfamiliar
i spilled my blood
on occasion
knowing the pain was warranted

descriptions come up short
on the last hill
above chaweng beach
drawn like a long necklace
free from the body
it sways with each wave
then releases you
anonymously to karma
runaway doubts
having been liberated
by the weight
of another

--- e b bortz
january 1989

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

earth note 138

forty years of earth days
& a slow waltz

if we were dreaming
there'd be an excuse

corporate smiley face
drools a nasty overbite

someone's awake

most every politician
auctions green credit cards

fracking rigs & access roads
where do we make our stand?

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

finding nirvana

at the end of my index fingers
as they rest over my ear openings
a solid pressure to quiet the pounding the page
& make space for longer days
yet wail the days past
every pulse a new angle of detail
long forgotten landscapes
smell sweet
a liquid green road
comes home
each night
in time for curry

and we always spoke
only in the present
tasted the spice
each moment drawn
out toward the sea
and the mermaid
of songkhla
motionless but watching
for the misstep
& excuses
for choosing the rational
the ego of self-destruction
we knew to be hollow

but now we're past the boundaries
long abandoned
.....the eardrum sings back
.....calling out a last blue streak
.....of day
--- e b bortz

Sunday, April 04, 2010

earth note 137

diesel locomotives
coal cars & squealing brakes
wrap thunder around a steel bridge
primed black
and if the earth answers
it might be an echo
or a shaking
like fire & brimstone
roaring itself up woods run hollow
with a murky river vantage point
the clapboard houses & prison walls
search for a steady current
for a flushing
of the old ways

--- e b bortz

Thursday, March 04, 2010

we are the perennials

the overlooked ones
a natural tongue
& a ram's horn
become the witnesses
every ear becomes a speaker
every tear an eye of reason

--- e b bortz

(published in Three Rivers Bioneers, Oct 2010)

second sun in the last seventy-two days

finally broke thru
almost unexpected
like a veil lifted
an orange cat in heat
came to the door
shared the leftovers
with the other stray cats
of the back porch

it seems just when things
seem the most down
(o.k. it's a personal view)
nature curves the cosmos
works its way
bold bursts
thru barren limbs
a thawing within

--- e b bortz

Thursday, February 25, 2010

earth note 136

ice-out this spring
will be unusual
white hills melting
a volume
hard to contain

we're cautious
too early
there'll be a blast
of heat & debris first

wait for the river otters
tune into their creeping
below the watchtowers
& bridge abutments
watch the flood line turn down

love is a smooth take-out

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

earth note 135

stirring across the ridge
out back
my boots break a trail
a minor snow crevice
uncovers a few seedlings
not enough to eat
the deer have moved on
leaving the old trees creaking
for sunset
dogs in the valley bark
as a long-legged one
steps up to a branch
his ears popped up
nose twitching
seems the imported coyote piss
saved a few white pines hand crow clapping

--- e b bortz

a sense of satisfaction

bicycling in southern Thailand...early 1989...published in BikeReport, 1992:

Thursday, February 18, 2010


convert the trillions
of wall street bailout
into one dollar bills

distribute the weight
equally to every yes vote
in the house & senate

include the executive branch
designers & hucksters
throw in their media mouthpieces

if it's too heavy
ask china to carry
some of the load

double the weight portion
for arms manufacturer c-e-o-s
& the joint chiefs

for bank & insurance
also provide ankle bracelets

as they all work off their burden
at minimum wage
redistribute the wealth

--- e b bortz

(published in, Mar 14, 2011)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

earth note 134

daydream big snow 2010

a winter move
salt lake city to northern minnesota
started christmas day 1983 or four

wyoming a foot of ice
on the interstate
a rental truck towing a pickup
an Ltd station wagon following
close behind
dad you always pick
the craziest times to move
the boys kept mocking
dreams get lost all the time
was what i thought
but couldn't say
let their dreams stay young

it was cold enough for ice fog
when the right front wheel
started shaking
our lucky day
to be near
a snow-drifted rest stop
& desperate exit

lucky again to have a lug wrench
tighten a loose wheel
& keep on rolling
there wasn't much choice
every motel filled
every dollar allocated
every gallon of gas planned

every darkness brought
a magic sky
milky way & northern lights
nebraska open arms
western swing on the radio
the snow held off
til we hit the minnesota border

tamaracks poplar white birch
frozen bogs
wild swamp grass stalks
milky way brighter
whispers secret messages
to the fishing shacks
frozen lakes vast & free
defy all categories

the homestead wasn't much changed
from when we left five years earlier
there was dry wood
in the cellar
we all pitched in
with our first fire
of a long winter

--- e b bortz

Sunday, January 31, 2010

graveyard crows

read the headstones
smelling each inhabitant
before eating
here lies a slumlord
cluster bomb ceo
hedge fund trickster
.....can't be too cautious

--- e b bortz

Monday, January 25, 2010

without water

blue rigidity
is a hard pill to swallow
i must look elsewhere

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

earth note 133

brown leaves from last fall
make a winter thaw debut
the green of last year's grass
new crops
worms on a mid-january trip
they're flipping off the latitudes
with obscene gestures

--- e b bortz

Monday, January 04, 2010

avatar & connecting the dots in the oligarchy

it couldn't be more plain
conquer the aboriginals
scorch the earth
with the heaviest of heavy
fire breathing steel
let mother nature sort it all out

oh...and that precious mineral
will justify an empire's lust
for external & internal death
mandates approved by legislative

dots can stir undetected for only so long
before the quiet void
bends the light
toward cognition
the core of each free body
interlocked symmetry = liberation

--- e b bortz