The abiding Buddha nature
of birds is demonstrated
by their calm ability to carry
on conversations in the presence
of interacting humans, who
are too often deaf to the sounds
in which nature immerses them.
But when we speak to the birds
in a crude facsimile of their
native chirp, caw and trill,
they pause to listen, strain
to understand us, wishing
only to let us know their thoughts,
their love of nature, and just
how shocked and disappointed
they are at our inability
to exercise our stewardship.
Religion, he said, is inherently illogical
and the older the religion, the more illogical
it becomes, accreting absurdity over time.
A corollary of this proposition is that
the more organized a religion claims to be,
the more its spirituality is buried under
rules and regulations which only illustrate
the principal proposition set forth above.
Humans create religion not to explain
the unexplainable but to justify ignorance
and their unwillingness to search and risk
finding answers that conflict with their
desired view of life and decomposition.
But, he concluded, do not for a second believe
that atheists have it right, for theirs
is a religion of utter illogic and rigidity
certain of the nonexistence of an idea that they
believe they can demonstrate, but have not,
and they will be damned if they will stop trying.
The birds look at us as though we had two heads. They cannot, they say, comprehend how we can stand to live in boxes, to travel in metal containers, to be stuck forever to the ground. They say that food should be picked then eaten instantly, not packaged and half thrown away. They say they cannot see how we are supposedly more evolved than they, for they have the sort of freedom about which we only talk endlessly. But most of all, and saddest of all, we know they pity us as we pity ourselves.
Nature has a way of applying
a perfect logic that eludes
its most complex creatures,
we claiming to be first among them.
Nature grants the housefly
a quite short life, but allows it
to see a thousand images at once,
a lifetime of vision in mere days.
The tortoise is consigned to crawl
along at a laggard’s pace, outrun
by other animals, who will be in
their graves in a tortoise’s middle age.
Birds must muck in the soil
for sustenance, or hunt small
creatures aground, but they have
the ample sky for a home.
Humans, well we have no such
luck, blind to all around us, rushing
always headlong into death, and only
dreaming of being free from earth’s grip.
We spend far too much time
clinging to what was
as the flames fade,
and far too little time
feeding the fire
what could be.
In the elemental scheme of things
we humans are, at best, middling.
We are minute in the scale of the universe,
our time not even a glimmer, and
as we age, time contracts, but only
in the shortening forward direction.
But pity the poor hydrogen-7 isotope
whose life is likely over
in 30 yactoseconds, absorbing
the laughter of helium-5 living
on average, 33 times longer, and both
jealously, if ever so quickly
regarding our seemingly infinite span.
But lest we get complacent, there is
always zirconium-96 for whom
our life is but the blink of an eye,
barely worth noting, a second at most
in a span that could reach
twenty quintillion years, so we
are nothing special, save in our own eyes.
So when Noah finally docks the ark
on Mt. Ararat, or wherever, how
does he decide which animals get off first?
And for that matter, the earth having
been flooded for weeks, just what
are they supposed to eat on new land?
For the vegetarians it must have been
very slim pickings, and who wants
a badly waterlogged salad anyway?
And with two of each only, what
did the carnivores actually eat?
If you stop and think about this
long enough you are left to wonder
just how many species were sacrificed
to God’s little tamper tantrum, and
let’s not mention how three sons
and mom and dad, the sole survivors
managed to repopulate the world.
The chill foretells winter
much as birth foretells death
but for humans
there is only the spring
I am not the least
bit certain why
the red-tailed hawk
chose that lamppost
that day and peered down
over the Expressway.
Nature has her own logic
and we question
it at our own risk.
Staring into his
flaming eyes, for one
small moment we both
saw the foolishness
rolling by below
and alongside us.
On the anniversary
of the start of a war
one feels almost compelled
to speak to its horrors,
its cause, its effect.
But we live in an age
where wars are plentiful,
when peace is the exception
and war seems to loom
around every corner.
So on this anniversary
I watch the snowy egret
stare into the pond
outside my window,
the great bird calmly
in her world,
all of the people
are merely fish.