Bob Schwartz

Category: Nature

Civilization

Inscribed on the winding sidewalk of the park:

The true test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude, 1870

Advertisements

Safely Listening to the Eclipse

 

Safely Listening to the Eclipse

How does the sun sound
Obscured by the moon
Invisible imperceptible waves
That permanently
Blind your mind

Note: Despite mind blindness, don’t be afraid to listen to the eclipse. Put on your earphones and listen to the only eclipse song that matters.

All that you touch
And all that you see
All that you taste
All you feel
And all that you love
And all that you hate
All you distrust
All you save
And all that you give
And all that you deal
And all that you buy
Beg, borrow or steal
And all you create
And all you destroy
And all that you do
And all that you say
And all that you eat
And everyone you meet
And all that you slight
And everyone you fight
And all that is now
And all that is gone
And all that’s to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon

Eclipse, Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd

 

My Birds

My Birds

I started the digital birds singing
Just as the real ones arrived out the window
Mine were louder
And under my control
The wild ones served no one
Least of all me
And would stop and go
At any time
Anyway I silenced mine
To be with
The real singers of spring

Three Orchids

Orchid

Three Orchids

Three orchids.
One blooming
One resting
One dying without hope.
I care for the two
But the the third,
Leaves still green
But curling,
What am I to do?

Note: As mentioned earlier, orchids have floated into my usually non-green world. I have begun learning how to reward the gift they give. They are, as experts say, and as is obvious, unusual plants. They rest for a while and, with proper care, will wake up more beautiful than ever.

But not always. And not forever.

Poem, Joke, Etc.: Confused Birds

Confused Birds

These birds are confused
Not angry
Wondering where
The cold winds are.
Exulting in
Extended summer.
What’s time to a bird
Or me?

The line “What’s time to a bird” is borrowed from a favorite joke with a surprisingly philosophical punch line. It goes something like this:

A guy is driving along a country road. He sees a farmer under an oak tree, holding up a pig so the pig can eat acorns. The guy stops. “You know,” the guy says, “it would be a lot easier and take a lot less time if you just shook the tree and let the acorns fall to the ground.” “Maybe,” says the farmer, “but what’s time to a pig?”

More about birds:

In the sky a bird was heard to cry.
Misty morning whisperings and gentle stirring sounds
Belied a deathly silence that lay all around.
Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dog fox gone to ground.
See the splashing of the kingfisher flashing to the water.
Grantchester Meadow, Pink Floyd

“Well, then, just what does it mean that everybody has the Buddha Mind?…in the course of listening to my talk, if a dog barks outside the temple, you recognize it as the voice of a dog; if a crow caws, you know it’s a crow…you didn’t come with any preconceived idea that if, while I was talking, there were sounds of dogs and birds, children or grown-ups somewhere outside, you were deliberately going to try to hear them. Yet here in the meeting you recognize the noises of dogs and crows outside and the sounds of people talking… the fact that you recognize these things you didn’t expect to see or hear shows you’re seeing and hearing with the Unborn Buddha Mind.”
From Bankei Zen: Translations from the Record of Bankei

Delayed Autumn

Dawn Trees - Bob Schwartz

Dawn Trees – Bob Schwartz

Delayed Autumn

Still green trees
Still a fresh memory of summer.
Am I fooled by the colors
Thinking red leaves are flowers?
They are only
Splendidly dying.

The trick is to be no more caught up in the autumn and winter of autumn and winter than in the spring and summer of spring and summer. Hard, hard.

Dragon Poems (About a Plant)

Madagascar Dragon

The Dragon at the Wall

The dragon guards the wall
I sit before.
A fine pair we are.
I breathe in the oxygen
He breathes out.
He asks for water and light
I ask to learn to sit
As naturally as he does.

The Dragon Awakes

The dragon wakes up
When I open the blinds
Long green scales
Gracefully still
In the morning light.

These poems are about a plant. A dracaena marginata, which means “Madagascar dragon.” Whether or not it is a real dragon is a question.

In his Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Shobo Genzo), Dogen Zenji also writes about a dragon and a plant. Actually, a tree. Fascicle 65, Dragon Song, includes the question “Is there a dragon singing in a withered tree?” Is there?

Touzi, Great Master Ciji of Shu Region, was once asked by a monk, “Is there a dragon singing in a withered tree?”

Touzi replied, “I say there is a lion roaring in a skull.”

Discussions about a withered tree and dead ash [composure in stillness] are originally teachings outside the way. But the withered tree spoken of by those outside the way and that spoken of by buddha ancestors are far apart. Those outside the way talk about a withered tree, but they don’t authentically know it; how can they hear the dragon singing? They think that a withered tree is a dead tree which does not grow leaves in spring.

The withered tree spoken of by buddha ancestors is the understanding of the ocean drying up. The ocean drying up is the tree withering. The tree withering encounters spring. The immovability of the tree is its witheredness. The mountain trees, ocean trees, and sky trees right now are all withered trees. That which sprouts buds is a dragon singing in a withered tree. Those who embrace it one hundredfold, one thousand-fold, and one myriadfold are descendants of the withered tree.

First Geese

First Geese

Easy to see
Against the light gray
A flying line of ten.
Before the look
A single honk.
Scan the sky.
Morning is the clock
Geese the calendar
Read standing
Neck bent up
As they disappear
Dragging the north wind
Behind them.

Petals

Fallen Petal

Fallen Petal

Petals

The petals have
Begun to fall
This one still
Moist and colorful
Soon dry and brown.
At first
Mindlessly discarded
Now retrieved.
The stems
Will be bare.
What then?

Music for the Last Gasp of Summer: September

Earth Wind & Fire - September

Depending on where you are, September may or may not be the last gasp of summer.

But it is the name of the greatest piece of September music ever recorded.

Play September by Earth Wind & Fire.

The bell was ringing
Our souls were singing
Do you remember
Never a cloudy day

If you’re not moving, check your pulse, or have someone else check it for you (that can be fun).

Me? I’m out front, dancing among the flower and vegetable beds, in front of God and everybody. Who cares how it looks? It’s September.