Saturday, December 31, 2016

earth note 445

so i ask myself
have i gone off the deep end
or is this just reverie

you know the deep end
might just be the shallows
off snipe point

where the short-finned pilot whales beached
a couple years ago
and couldn't return to the sea

their bodies limp
the sunset reflecting
across their glassy eyes

every new year
the question comes to the surface
only to be ignored after the news hour

i hear the champagne plastic
clinking in starched bow ties
cruise ships disembarking

the waves refuse to crash
call it a requiem

--- e b bortz

Friday, December 30, 2016

no-name lagoon

nothing more than a big puddle
about a mile in
from the main road
on no-name key

the deer path has been
traveled hard
more beat-up
than a woody guthrie song
or kerouac ground level
lookout post

the gnats roost
on the water's edge
like the hens
on white street
in key west

the water's brown
with a faint smell
of sulfur
which i can't
for the life of me
really smell

but there's hard ocean rock
and coral
poking thru the soul
turkey vultures swarming
like hot air currents
above a songbird or two
deserted in their nests
a viewfinder
looks beyond

--- e b bortz

Monday, December 26, 2016

earth note 444

cortez, colorado

the ducks in the city park
had a small pond to swim in
near the library
always competing
for space
their voices never silenced
'cept by shouts
from children
with their summer games

at noon
the entire town management
comes walking down main street
maybe a half-dozen of them
the mayor is obvious in his bolo tie
at the head
of the entourage

the real worker though
might have been
the woman with the briefcase
and working lunch expression
on her face

the diner across the street
opened their doors
to the weathered look
of cowpokes
and dusty augusts

--- e b bortz

Thursday, December 22, 2016

earth note 443

from a distance
koh samui rose
from the ocean
the hills standing
against the sun
laying bare the idea
that you need
a certain status
from birth
to be rewarded
with wonder

long before the year
of the tsunami
and a hundred miles
thru the rainforest
i replaced my flip-flops
falling apart
in the marketplace
in phuket
next to the stall
with shiny red stones

my thai was so broken
but understood
as the woman vendor
explained that the stones
were smuggled from burma
in spite of the prisons
     the red color coming
     from the sunsets
and that it was necessary
to keep this secret
from the authorities

i still look into the horizon
for rubies

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

winter solstice minus one

the rain blasted for half an hour
giving up to late afternoon no-see-ums
bicycle tires getting washed off
though the road was left with deposits
of grit & small stones
a few handfuls of fronds
scattered like the crosswinds
of a little torch key winter

i don't think my eyes
deceived me
when a couple
of pet peacocks
crossed the road
slipping under their
do not trespass

the bay was calm after the rain
a lone boat moored
     water like glass
     mangroves dripping

--- e b bortz

the yucca will make you bleed

the dark blood
of land abusers
sent in to build
livestock pens
on buffalo plains
sucking rivers dry
hundred-ton trucks
of rock and coal
reshape every cloudless horizon
in dust storms
and asphalt scar tissue
carbon byproducts
trading in less-life
while carbon barons
make modern-day
robin hoods
for each generation

this land is not your land
it has no owners

--- e b bortz

Saturday, December 17, 2016

earth note 442

hot easterlies out of the caribbean
an osprey acknowledges
with feathers blown full
my left shoulder
warms to the idea
of qi gong
in the morning
while the ibis peck
after the tide recedes
every action
causes a response
it isn't just
simply physics
there is flesh
and thumping blood vessels
in the distance

--- e b bortz

Saturday, December 10, 2016

recovering notes from the deep, part 8

key west

a drifter's lament
might just be
what keeps you
going to the end
with the road
its own global positioning
without ones & zeros
the sun rises on the same
the census missed
if you're looking for
safety from the elements
keep your eyes wide
to scarcity
a plastic garbage bag
is a windbreaker

the new normal
doesn't bother
with excuses
your bootstraps
were never meant
for sharing
they say

and anyways
we need to be listening
to the tourists
who aren't motivated
by anything taking
more than a new york
or montreal minute
how fast can you say
instant hedonism

the hotels are busy
eating the beaches
is all that's left
this sand
can grow up & become
a barricade

there's no such thing
as culture shock
maybe only conscience shock
we all come out
of the same soup
there is no justice
or burial monument
deep or true enough
to comfort hundreds
of african bodies
in key west in 1860

every sunset celebration
needs a moral compass
let the cruise ships
drop anchor
on the potomac river
in time for the coronation

i plead guilty
to stretching these words out
no one ever asked me
for credentials
so i look to the road and gestures
     and try to listen closely
     to your language

--- e b bortz

Friday, December 09, 2016

earth note 441

fronds taking deep bows
to the winds

most of them
stood their ground
facing the nor'easter head-on

surge from the canal
no seawall will stop
sandbags petition congress

--- e b bortz

Monday, December 05, 2016

at an undisclosed location in the florida keys

empty trails weave
through the mangrove
within a couple hundred yards
you've escaped the landed gentry
with their power boats
& surveillance helicopters
covering your ears
to the incessant moaning
of perhaps
lost surplus value
or is it just
less complicated

take the quiet
when you can get it
leave your bare footprint
for the next traveler

--- e b bortz

Thursday, December 01, 2016

earth note 440

there's no need
for excuses
when the air turns hot
dripping in moisture
asking all
for a pound of sweat
a payment
to the false gods
of human dominance
their boats & trailers & shouts
negotiate the narrow canal
shifting quickly
to avoid collision
other life beings
trying to stay away
from contact

but there is music
from the sea birds
when you decide
to listen

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

earth note 439

turkey buzzards
touching down
a mile from last year's
gathering point
they seem to have lost
a little speed
or maybe just deflated enthusiasm
the mangroves
haven't changed too much
though the wind
keeps the ibis

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 21, 2016

this is a test

for the next week
i'm going to try
to not say
the following words
and see if my mind clears
or my attitude improves:
clinton (either one)
republican or republicrat
democrat or demopublican
cabinet appointments
traffic on I-95

--- e b bortz

Sunday, November 20, 2016

earth note 438

even without a photo
the sight of a solitary hawk
in a mangrove
as the kayak slips up
fifteen feet between our eyes
as they meet
her or his eyes
head & shoulders above
peering down
no image
no prey
i move on

ibis clustering
along the intercoastal
standing their ground
pecking forever pecking
where the grass
is always greener

osprey waits
on a barren branch
head jerking east then west
the most patient will prevail
     or to each
     according to their need

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 14, 2016

earth note 437

our kayaks
have always been

you learned how
to put your shoulders
arms and back
into the motion
without the help
of navigators

if the wave breaks against you
you learn to make corrections
before it swallows you

there's nothing like
the salt
of your brow
as it touches your lips

---e b bortz

Saturday, November 12, 2016

earth note 436

there's always one
drafting on the migratory flock
saving up for the headwinds
& storms
a long journey
sometimes has
no logical ending
though you know it
the moment you arrive
steady heartbeats
are not for storing
spend them as you go

--- e b bortz

Monday, November 07, 2016

earth note 435

not too often
that the sky moves to
a deep blue
on this side
of the continental divide

giving you angles of sunlight
deceptively cold & piercing thru the canopy
from the marshall trail
lies a forest of leaves
to lead you on

stone benches
pull your body heat
straight to ground
the angst of the season

--- e b bortz

Friday, November 04, 2016

my hypothetical friend in this election

spent not his youth
but his current teetering seniorhood
fake believer in what appears to be
an empty room for the lesser evil
star studded wallpaper as an option
(no thank you i'll keep my faux pas rather than)
essential incrementalism
too little too late
maybe rubbing shoulders
with talkers who go over my head
     as i try to throw up my verbal defenses
     usually failing
     borrowing from camus and simple rebellion
telling my friend the obvious
that this might be our last go around
     the imprint left on the trail outside
     is our only truth
     coming from our mostly honest bare feet
     making the journey to ashes or dust
     one for celebration

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

earth note 434

there's a toll road
to the whitehouse
that goes thru pennsylvania
broken upended sections of concrete
like a split in the ruling elites
(where the light slips in like leonard might say)
from the last hurricane
to the first standing rock
an fbi shuffle
is in the cards
satisfying bottomliners
both sides of a crooked aisle
keeping a lid on things
becomes an end in itself

a seed is found
& cast as a green vote
the ridge finds
a river moving

--- e b bortz

Sunday, October 30, 2016

earth note 433

one maple
can change the world
if we let it speak
for itself

high cirrus
find their own way
past the jets
& political hot air

a warm morning
is so out of place
leaves not knowing
which way to turn

there's peace
in the high grass
rolling in to clumps
of silence

--- e b bortz

Friday, October 21, 2016

earth note 432

fifty-five years ago
my dad would say
as we crawled & bumped along
     endless stop & go
in his appliance repair panel truck
his tools rattling inside
a wooden box used as my seat
antsy against the traffic on mcknight road
especially when it snowed
     feh he'd say
who'd want to live out here

today the dozers & backhoes
are tearing down a mall
in order to build a bigger one

looks like a lotta dust to me

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

stop denigrating poetry

like it's an appendage
on the academic lecture circuit
smoothing over the dissonance
like an obedient subject
providing milque-toast
to the toastmasters
rationales to the powerbrokers

poetry comes from the deepest
of the deep
the most subversive
where blood
is paid like duty
where chains are unlocked
only after death
where the voice
never signs-off

--- e b bortz

Thursday, October 13, 2016

the rubicon continues to fall into place

a few minutes to midnight

syria iraq yemen in flames
ukraine & the baltic states
like chess pieces
shoved down a fossil throat

cheap politicians
trade epitaphs
for their future grave markers
and currency

moguls find new clothing
change quickly
in the senate cloakroom
steal the latest itune

in this kind of world
encryption wraps king tut
like an adolescent's
wet dream

hate and/or neglect
speaks the language of the airwaves
levees break upstream
an outstretched arm pokes from a rooftop

elites gush
like they just found the secret code
browbeating & interrogation
morphs into guilt by association

a chameleon on every block
a snitch in every bedroom

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

earth note 431

a groundhog with a nasty road-rash
hobbles thru the backyard
deliberate but recovering
it seems
just in time for winter

cars shoot over the hill
rush down toward the river
work and work
is the four letter word
before this week's football game
or next week's so-called presidential

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

earth note 430

key west night
away from duval street
no shuffling crowds
just the heat and smell of mint tea
in old town
creaking porches
and loose coconuts
the street sweats in papaya
i'm still walking free
for the open mic

--- e b bortz

Saturday, October 01, 2016

earth note 429

the wet pavement
is a mirage
on the waving grasslands
of northeastern new mexico

late summer
everything is brown
the radio station carries
for a couple hundred miles

the country schools
are having a paper sale
still looking
for teachers

you don't need a weatherman
just look at the big sky
it takes a long view
before knowing the future

i'm told there's another crossroads
to contemplate
i'm not so sure
it didn't disappear

behind the dried up water tower

--- e b bortz

Friday, September 30, 2016

earth note 428

khao sok national park 1989

the gravel road
is a challenge
on skinny tires

the sun makes you
remember the first song
you sang out loud

hardwoods are a surprise
here on the edge
of a rain forest

the reservoir is quiet
almost motionless
rubber trees misplaced

heat will bring you
to a new plateau
your ankles will sweat

--- e b bortz

Saturday, September 24, 2016

class struggle


it was a sunday afternoon
at the bowling alley
brighton place & california avenue
in the hallway downstairs
that elmer fleishman
asked tiny (the biggest among us) & me
when we were going to go upstairs
and get ready to set up pins
for the steelworkers duck pin league

we both said in unison
we were on-strike today
for higher cents-per-line
and now a couple more pinsetters
chimed in and it looked like a full-fledged
worker action of 13-year-olds
and elmer was nearly in tears
as he whined about how bad
the business was
and then
even a couple of union steelworkers
started pleading with us that we should just
pin-set for them today and "negotiate" tomorrow
with elmer 'cause that's the way
their union would do it
but we remained "belligerent"
13-year-old "wildcatters"
trying to get more pinsetters to join us
and after about a half-hour
realizing we only had half the numbers we needed
to really shut it down
we joined the others in our holes at the end of the lanes
thinking about how to do it better next time
scarfing up the extra quarters coming down the lanes
for tips
& lessons
in half-ass solidarity

--- e b bortz