Saturday, February 27, 2016

having no expectations

or mission statements
will shake you just as surely
as every grandiose moniker
stumbling on to enlightenment

the road isn't a carefree proposition
you'll need to tear a piece of your flesh
and leave it for the opossums

the lost are those
that still believe

--- e b bortz

Sunday, February 21, 2016

earth note 391

old frame houses in key west
almost seem to creak with a good wind
     especially when the porches are filled with people
and at night
away from the lights
walking the streets
when all else is quiet
you'll hear fronds sweeping
over the sidewalk
whispering voices
many languages
a lone guitar or mandolin
a taste of saltwater on your lips
     these streets have comforted
lonely planet searchers
     of beauty

--- e b bortz

Friday, February 19, 2016

earth note 390

a windy chop
is rough water
no matter how
it gets cut

pelicans eat
on the fly
ibis lollygag
in the weeds

--- e b bortz

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

my mother knew how to hide the red diapers

my brother and i
were born into
from the peeled paint
on moore street in toledo
the tracks were well covered
even if i still had my ear
up against the victrola
listening to sweet lorraine
     my step-dad's favorite song
paul robeson
the weavers
yiddish freiheit
songs of my father's lincoln brigade
my mother fully acknowledging
the justice and injustice around us
even if she said that
sonofabitch lawyer
who settled
my parents' divorce
wasn't a good representative
of the brotherhood
of man
of woman
of children

the roll-top desk
in the living room
was my place
to hide the dark
and bright drawings
of an eight-year-old
the desk coming to us
from the estate of a noble doctor
who had to go underground
to escape the mccarthy committee
this desk had the temperament
and perseverance
for life
from the margins
into our own self-acceptance

and of course
everyone knew better
than to ask us
the name
of the good doctor
     we never give up names

--- e b bortz

Monday, February 15, 2016

earth note 389

the mobile homes
on the canal
were placed
almost half a century ago
temporary has evolved
into permanent temp
like a seven dollar fifty cent
stuck in low tide
with no way out
to the bounty
of the trophy fishers
just beyond an arm's length
where your trusty reach
is a sign of manna
where only the sun
speaks your language
deep mangroves
your only peace

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

earth note 388

faint cloud streaks shoot across the sky
southwest to northeast

blue makes a pale excuse
for high noon

there's no space
for the outlier
lacking intensity

turkey vulture
bears down
in the bicycle lane

a parrot next door
repeatedly says hello
even if he doesn't mean it

--- e b bortz

Friday, February 05, 2016

geranium street, pittsburgh 1967-68

one gas space heater labored
to keep the second floor apartment
warm enough
aluminum siding
flapping in the wind
in this experimental living situation
sometimes we'd watch the blue flames
in a darkened room
like they were a fireplace
belonging to judy collins
or buffy sainte marie on cripple creek
speaking to us in notes and moments
in time being marked
and then consummated 
     spontaneity meant that
there would be no turning back
from the inevitable
bound to be lonely
every decision thereafter
feeling like worn through boots
for a wishful thought

from the surface of every unmarked road
there was incongruity
loss of wholeness
an empty treeless coal fog hollow
visualized angst
leaving only one way in and out
footsteps blindly retraced each day
past new experiences
missed in translation

by summer
bodies had replaced barricades
tie-dye mixed within the text
of a half-dozen slogans
from a mimeograph machine
rippled over every alleyway
a teeming heat wave
made of dreams
deep black ink
marking songs
to grow
beyond the hollows
to free the rivers
to square the city steps
to lift the stones of sisyphus
with love

--- e b bortz

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

the radio chirped away next door

about the traffic jam heading in
to key west
the bridge work again
getting to the hot & bothered
but at least it isn't raining
the high tide retreated
ibis to pick through what's
     left behind
florida's nonexistent groundhog day
passed without being noticed
though there were iguana
scooting across the road yesterday
     in full sun
with & without shadows
bright fluorescent iguana green
     giving everyone the middle finger

--- e b bortz