Sunday, December 30, 2012

earth note 221

as quick as the heat came
it left
twenty-five mile gusts
from the east
sail off the gulf
as if the whitecaps
could whip up a storm
all on their own
my wheels spinning true
     growing legs of their own
a constant tailwind surges to my lower back
guessing i'm peaking near thirty miles an hour
flat out
head down
     leaving the dogs
     no time to bark

this sixty degree wakeup
     this morning
     this clarity
     this misplaced midwest autumn morning
          this reprieve
          from the tropics

--- e b bortz

(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

earth note 220

it felt odd
a dog day afternoon
coming up on a florida keys
     new year
the osprey seems content
high in the nest
     not moving
one pelican
     with not much ambition
     skimming across the water

small puddles near the canal
     like as if they formed overnight
     motionless in the heat

i share a moist sweet mangrove
     organic decay
     thicket of silence

--- e b bortz

Friday, December 28, 2012

glasses of beer

spilling on the sidewalk
running over the sticky stuff
near sloppy joe's
key west if you want it
     there's your metaphor
every blind spot
     comes out of the closet eventually
     messy nonetheless
as sunset celebration misses again
     mountains of empty clothing
piling up at big pine flea market
     thrift stores under their bulges
call it excess
like yachts gathering moss
     in a wall street kind of funk
everybody (knows)        then squirms
inside their earphones
duval street is a makeover
     just sayin
     it might be
     last go-a-round
--- e b bortz

(published in, Dec 31, 2012)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

earth note 219

the darkness of the canal
sobering if nothing else
not the waterway
     of glossy colorful brochures
not exactly the best neighbor
though functional
     as our kayaks are functional
as artificial
     it is

on occasion
     an oil slick fouls it
between judgmental stares
     and outboard motors
it's clear
     we're only passing through

--- e b bortz

Saturday, December 22, 2012

earth note 218

sunlight flickers through palm leaves
with a strong wind
it seems like
flashing eyelids
     a lover's dream

--- e b bortz

(published by Green Panda Press, January 2013)
(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

from the cruise ship

spills a thousand pieces of silver
     gold tarnished by a broken sunset
every earth-toned song from shore by mustafa
bounces off white
     sanitarium walls of the ship
     a distorted high-energy intruder
     surveys the landscape
     shadowing the manicure
     of perfectly placed palms
     stark crisp uniforms
     shifting around the deck

another attempt to drown
every creation of original dirt
     sweating armpits
     artist hands homeless
     whitewashed dreams
     stalking mallory square key west
          failing ultimately
          by next high tide

--- e b bortz

(published in, Dec 20, 2012)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Occupy Nonviolence

The massacre in Newtown, Connecticut has exposed the essential political failure of the so-called political leadership in our country.

Democrats and Republicans alike have failed miserably in leading our society toward a more nonviolent future. In times of crisis, such as now, the political class nibbles around the corners of the problem, but lacks the vision and capacity to really tackle the culture of violence at its roots. After all, there's an entire military-industrial-financial-media-educational-prison complex that relies on establishment conventional 'wisdom' for so-called solutions.

Independent of this abyss, stands one political party practicing a fundamentally different kind of politics founded on nonviolence, grassroots democracy, ecology, social and economic justice. This is the Green Party.

The fact that the Democrats and Republicans will ultimately wither on the vine, a kind of obsolescence based on a natural historical process, is no comfort for communities and families in the painful here and now. Only a new grassroots political engagement that boldly builds a culture of nonviolence throughout society, can offer any meaningful solace to the grieving.

--- e b bortz

(published in, Dec 17, 2012)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

earth note 217

the road to
no name key
has power lines now
     slicing the wind across the water
     still choppy
     boldly unpredictable
half a dozen key deer
grazing in reach of a woman
tending her small cottage front yard
     sheltering near shadowy mangroves
     filling in like a forest
     when left alone

the thicket
covers my bicycle
at the endangered key deer posting
     without authorization
     i guess i'm supposed to piss myself
          i break the rules and join the other
     animal intruders
     long live those anarchist
     pelicans      ospreys      turkey buzzards

meeting up later
with highway one
     the mad and only highway to key west
what's left for the hair on my legs
just about
gets a shave
     crazy-driven (textin?) camaro
          keeping that pearl color body
               like a true party animal

--- e b bortz 

(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)        

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

morning news

the newspaper listed him
as a "52-year-old transient"
who died on the north side
near the railroad tracks
     near the place the openings
     in the railroad trestle
     got cemented up      closed up recently
     to keep "transients" out
          pittsburgh city fathers
          following their political noses
          right thru election day
          throwing their weight around
          detached in their warm homes
          glutting unabashedly
          holding hands
          around the holiday table

--- e b bortz

(published in, Dec 14, 2012)

Monday, December 10, 2012

earth note 216

yesterday i heard a fisher say
this december was more like summer
the heat and humidity unusual
puddles that don't evaporate easily
overnight condensation leaving
beads of sweat on the kayaks
     like droplets gathering
     then running down
just before the sun
finds and pokes a hole
thru the clouds

lizard blends in
under the kitchen table
     confused perhaps

--- e b bortz

photo by sandy hazley

Friday, December 07, 2012

earth note 215

fragile as the key deer
the slight body of land
looks southwest with disbelief
that the present circumstances
will protect the endangered
animals     coral     mangroves
air and water
there's always another cruise ship
with its target
on key west
duval street prepares for another onslaught
     how many silly tee shirts does it take
     to screw in the christmas lights

still wandering and nostalgic
past the old houses
with roosters and caribbean music
now upstaged by pastels
nonetheless stale
     a housing complex thrown together
     without a sunset

--- e b bortz

(published in, Dec 7, 2012)
(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

Monday, December 03, 2012

earth note 214

dark water shimmers
with the canal
foam near the mouth
washes ashore
hit hard
by what's blowing off the gulf
whitecaps distract my eyes
launch bottom murky
small fish scramble
     kayak venture
     waits another day

--- e b bortz

Friday, November 30, 2012

in detroit

mustang sally waits
under the marquee
at the fox theatre
     inside leonard cohen
     kneels once more
     for her
     from an ornate stage
     projecting and lifting
     a deep sexual voice
     for all the outstretched
     idled hands
     lovers' hearts
     gone cold

 --- e b bortz

Monday, November 19, 2012

blue moon narrative

i remember seeing the marcels bass man
in the bluebell diner on brighton place
just after getting off my pinsetter shift
at the bowling alley down the street

as i think back now
he looked kinda lost
from the breakup of the group
     that was about 1962

everything around was being uprooted
so-called urban renewal was coming on
     no regard to where anyone would end up
you just drifted until you hit something to stop you

northside pittsburgh was a new neighborhood for me
my dad & i landed on buena vista street
as the mills were still smoking
& streetcars rolled up & down mountains easily

the neighborhood was beginning to mix
like a jumble of stew
black & white folks learning to pull together
     most everyone pissed

     by the so-called pittsburgh renaissance

the presbyterian church on brighton road was in for
a real awakening as reverend bob went door-to-door
welcoming in black people
     putting together a softball team

     & friday night flicks as he called it

jfk rolled thru in '62 sitting on the back

     of a convertible
we all lined brighton road like a swarm of bees
getting a glimpse on his fixed smile
wrinkles on his forehead beginning to show
     maybe even eye contact

     or maybe i'm reading too much into it

nearby columbia place was more than an alley
     more like a village
maybe twenty houses strung together
     hours on the stoops
     made learning the words
     or making up new ones
          the only harmony that mattered

--- e b bortz

(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

it never comes easy

death that is
or at least it shouldn't
where tunnels & bomb shelters
open their
parched empty doors
to a universe of
holding cells
reportedly steeped
in the magna carta
     and every fearful sigh
leaving your body
     just another step
     negating the last one

it never comes easy
love that is

--- e b bortz

(published in, Nov 19, 2012)

Friday, November 16, 2012

death & taxes

the president awakens early
to initial u.s.a.
     on the turrets of the israeli tanks
     amassed on the gaza border
     the big guns blasting into gaza
     from ships in the mediterranean
     the drones taking off
     jets dropping bombs
     communications equipment
          screaming thru the night
the newscasts from the felted echo chambers
the oil tankers refueling the death machines
     ignoring the bankruptcy receipts

     phony credit instruments

all the soil
is poisoned
in dollars

--- e b bortz

(published in, Nov 16, 2012)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

out thru the upper midwest & then further northwest

from the abundance
of lakes and forests
into the vast expanse
     where the common ground
     becomes a drought cracked earth
spreading past abandoned
     dry washes
falling down farm houses
cattle and buffalo shuffling
in search of shade
and then abruptly
thru western north dakota
the pillage of fracking
     chemical pestilence
carving out the soul
of lost prairies
     broken treaties

--- e b bortz

(published in, Nov 12, 2012)
(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

now that it's over...billions later...this rant's free

& the president is reelected
     forgive my preachy
a few simple questions
for my friends & former friends
who felt compelled
to awaken/browbeat me
     (unsuccessfully...jill stein still got my vote)
with lesser evil (nonetheless evil)
calculations      rationalizations dreamed up
in a night sweat
(someone's been watching too much television)
to the questions:

can you be counted on now
to insist on
from here on
from this president

do fracking ponds scare you
enough to act
like your last well
of unpolluted water
is being hijacked
at the pennsylvania/ohio border
is that street theatre
or just another superbowl party
     to go with
     more war
     more drones
     more fear mongering

is the climate emergency
immediate enough
for yah

is a president who only promises
to tweak
at college tuition INCREASES
just after slightly reducing
medicare premium INCREASES
really on the side of "the middle class"

are you swallowing
the "grand bargain"
with congress
     have you bought
     the poison pill
     and called it a discount

are happy days here again

--- e b bortz

(published in, Nov 7, 2012)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

we interrupt this regular program

'police of the world'
at all u.s. military installations worldwide
for this important announcement and action:
please revise daily schedules
& edit all operational manuals
replacing all references to
(further identification & clarification in the coming days)

with the words

pack all personal and operational
gear & equipment
     including shovels
for the

--- e b bortz

(published in, Oct 31, 2012)

Monday, October 29, 2012

earth note 213

dog leads me out back
with his lump ridden body
a cold gale-like rain
from the east
reaches out
dragging each of us
     our marrow
     our memories deeply frozen
other than tonight
     these last days
          have been warm
          like the freedom
          of a fallen leaf
the vet has described the inevitable

we turn into the wind
and it beats us again
     this night
     leaves no message
          but dreams

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 25, 2012

quality over quantity

the burning bush
in the backyard
makes up for its
lack of mass
with its intensity
of red

--- e b bortz

Friday, October 19, 2012

four years

to make the president accountable
     and that failed
(you'll have another chance)
maybe too many hiding beneath
nonprofit grants
     more like tombs
or refusal to make way in the personal
     ego-driven organizational turf
          being on the outs of the ivory tower
          is a worth in itself
     the well connected are usually only talkers
          believe it or not
the end product
     nothing more than

--- e b bortz

(published in, Oct 20, 2012)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

tonight's the night

they'll be 'debating'
foreign policy
and that scares the hell out of me

who will strike first
faux pas blood lust
cannon fodder locked & loaded

enemies grow ripe
on the vine
they'll raise their glasses
     merlot on the house

--- e b bortz

(published in, Oct 16, 2012)
(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

Monday, October 15, 2012

earth note 212

itasca county, minnesota

when swamp grass
and a wetland begin to freeze
the small brown mounds
poking upward
will keep you aloft

if you're careful where you step
     like walking on clouds
     surely as close as you'll get
staying dry     inhaling the coming winter
a refuge found in northern lights

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

earth note 211

arizona 1979

the snow from
the white mountains
drew us outward
beyond the roads
& noisy sliding hill
pulling across
a vast plateau
i broke new trail
ski tracks formed firmly
with apache land and sky
gray blue clouds jockeying
toward the east
our seven-year-old
gliding close by
doggedly planting
his new poles
     to his own rhythm

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 06, 2012

earth note 210

a cardinal
waves the red orange rust
in the foreground
on a wire
blending with
the changing leaves
across the avenue
     a perfect anonymity

--- e b bortz

(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

Friday, October 05, 2012

they ran for the exits...found the doors wouldn't open

what a nightmare
this lackluster debate performance
brought about
     none too few
     hearing the drivel
went looking for something else
when will the real world
find its way into presidential politics

but they couldn't leave
the system had jammed
the door latch
in such a way
that frustration
became the common denominator
     99% of the people
being overwhelmed
     by 99% media noise

guess you could say
the two empty suits did us a favor
     next time we'll carry our tools

--- e b bortz

(published in, Oct 6, 2012)

Monday, October 01, 2012

accountability, part two

the ever changing
kill list applications data
is embedded in the
auto-pilot controls
of a stealth drone
sanitized with a minimum
of human contact
at least until
missiles touch down
in a remote middle east village
in a square
where the celebration or wedding
is taking place
after the remote controllers
give it that final satellite view
and go ahead and green light
as casual as a slow motion replay
unleashing death
without so much
as a whimper

let your children know

--- e b bortz

(published in, Oct 2, 2012)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

earth note 209

if the early morning fog
had lasted a few more hours
maybe the confused
would have looked
more seriously at the distance
between their preconceived notions
and what's really on the ground
the most modern of machine prints
     nothing more than tracks
          to our forearms

--- e b bortz

(published in, Sept 29, 2012)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

earth note 208

in the valleys and plains
below the tetons
the early morning has a special chill
even in july

at first light
the old dog
gets me up
like a puppy

ready to find
the universe
his black paw lifts
towards elk     sometimes bison

jumping out of the tent
as the zipper opens
his head eyes nose
become one with the land

our only constant
are the smooth stones
scattering in the ever changing
gros ventre riverbed

--- e b bortz

(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

earth note 207

there's a young maple
out back
that may not survive
another year
though it's had
a good/bad
bumpy few years

the deer have browsed
nipping off some
of the sweetest new branches
and more recently
scraped their antlers
repeatedly up and down
a small mostly vertical trunk
naked now
maybe bleeding
even at such a young age

but the maple has plodded along
and reached eight feet
tall enough to dress
a good cluster of perfect leaves
and the actual beginnings
of a color burst
not to be ignored

clapping my hands
at the deer
scares them away for now
serves as an applause for the maple
     vents me as powerless

--- e b bortz

(published in, Sept 26, 2012)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

siphon this

after years of misinformation
among so-called
strategic voters
     so-called liberals & progressives who believe
     that staying in the coveted loop of pseudo influence
     somehow creates change
     or rectifies the historical record
          even while arguing for manifest destiny
          of all things
          an exceptional ism part
          of 'historical development'
          and seeing exploitation as
               so twentieth century
          or the raping of the earth
          as balanced accommodation
          to the corporate state

the ojibwe still bleed from the bounty hunters

i find myself uneasy but still resolute
     reaching out
     with my one inalienable vote
     not obliging
     power brokers
          and empty suits

--- e b bortz

(published in, Sept 23, 2012)  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

september is renewal

not an oxymoron
the rivers come to life again
leaving the dog days of august
an empty heat-sink

new color drips into the hillsides
biasing my eyes
     for new directions
     are inevitable

winter stores
are being rebuilt
from the carelessness
of summer

there is motion
in my feet
     i know not
     from / to

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

earth note 206

autumn rhythm
arrived today
on the back of white cloud clusters
background in committed blue
cold air filling
     every formation / movement
     everybody transient
          northwest to southeast

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

earth note 205

those three wild turkeys
out behind the house
sitting on a low hanging tree branch
overlooking the ridge
their heads darting
left and right
     where are the rest
     having seen a group of six before
consider them the sentry
tuned in to gun shots
in the neighborhood
     (it happens often)
wondering where & when they'll get
turkey t-shirts
     don't shoot.....nonviolent
     love a my wings

--- e b bortz

Thursday, September 13, 2012

earth note 204

i never felt the summer heat
of montreal
only the quiet snow banks
     a peace to itself
shoulders of frozen rivers
stoic evergreens
     i am

--- e b bortz

(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)

Monday, September 10, 2012

i know i've sacrificed subtlety

at times
mixing the metaphors
lazy and/or impatient      no doubt
& i don't make excuses
'cept to say
frustration is as much a verb
as a noun
now you see it
relying on the dictionary again
     to fill the empty lines

--- e b bortz

Sunday, September 09, 2012

recovering notes from the deep, part 4

the anxiety
of riding into late evening
with the next installment of my column
     bicycling notes
tucked under my windbreaker
     and nothing but
the forecast of another twenty-five dollar check
from a struggling rural newspaper
after detailing the facts of the
last county commissioners meeting
and the citizens who might speak up
     for transparency
     the most radical of ideas
from the great north woods of minnesota

and yet
the anxiety of not writing at all
     was greater
than any other scenario
making the early blast
     of spring
an arousing wakeup
leaving no doubt
that a new road was consciously
being taken
and wherever it would lead
would by necessity
     not be
where i was
right then

my hands had bore
many thousands of days
     of grit
     never to be hidden
     a part of any reality to come
          a confessional of sorts
          as uncomfortable as the word might be
and there wasn't an illusion being fed
     that i       would admit to
     since the way those spring clouds converged
     was clear evidence
that the returning canada geese
     came just in time

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 08, 2012

earth note 203

what hangs in the balance
can't be measured
by gurus or pundits
     a cold rain dulls the green
     leaving the tree tops waving goodbye
     just before the crash and downpour
     so unexpected the results can be
and i know you've thrown in your lot
with the visible
forgetting what drives
the cosmos
but that's

--- e b bortz

(published in, Sept 10, 2012)

Sunday, September 02, 2012

no winners


i'd be happy
to let go
     my straw men
     all high minded
     pillars of the community
when & if something new
the perpetual road
isn't just a continuation
of old clich├ęs
empty atm machines
     living under a bridge
world war 3 survivalists
     likely only cockroaches

force fed progress
     grand finale fireworks
          raised to spectacle


even a short time before my father died
it was apparent that he would never accept
a world of broken dreams
a be all end all
for a revolutionary
envisioning the possibilities
regardless of the immediate conditions

and i knew all this from the last twinkles
in his last good eye
me trying to sing goody goody
in the same spirit as he sang it
in the pain of his immediacy
     his soul
     still on the battlefields
     of the spanish people
     1937 and 38


there's not much point
in drawing conclusions
facing what is here
is enough
if there's an inner candle
sing with it
while it's still hot

--- e b bortz

(published in, Sept 4, 2012)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

hurricane isaac wins republican & democratic presidential nominations by default

so finally the fossil hogs
have lost one
at least in the surreal sense
     fixating instead on an antidote for trichinosis
a desperate lot of characters
aimless convention minions
lining up legions
comatose or apologizing for
     and via surveillance incorporated
coal mountain-top removal pillagers
gas fracking water poisoning land men
on & offshore oil barons baronesses & bankers
all feigning competition with
     the uncontainable
     metastasized nuclear hucksters
and of course
you already know
about climate-change-denying
locked & loaded
fog-of-war storm troopers
coming home to roost
hiding temporarily underground
dodging drought starved wildfires
     offering spit
     looking to buy the next election
          or coup de tat
          on lay-a-way

--- e b bortz

(published in, Aug 31, 2012)

Monday, August 27, 2012

earth note 202

are we still curious enough
to be looking
for a unified field theory
for life on this fragile planet
that connects every being
plant and animal
with one another
regardless of station
language or no language
conscious or unconscious
     an unbreakable bond
that's not negotiable
     doesn't require believing
     is omnipresent
          and as simple or complex
as one cell
     in the sea?

--- e b bortz

(published in, Sept 8, 2012)
(published in earth notes and other poems, Least Bittern Books, 2015)