As it appears in the 2012 American River Review
I don’t know the cost
of a ream of paper in China
or how much sunlight reaches
the north pole of the moon.
I don’t know why people in Louisiana
eat living crawfish
or what the long term effects
of using my cell phone will be.
I do know why flamingos are pink
and I wonder if I liked shrimp
and ate them every day,
if I could be pink too.
I have a sister that in another life,
would steal people’s cars
and the day someone stole hers
she felt bad, bad for the people
she had left helpless and confused,
wondering what they did to deserve this.
I remember sleeping in a car
in a church parking lot.
Rear window busted out
letting in the rain and cold.
My girlfriend and I were displaced,
we slept in that parking lot
and fucked in a Public Storage room.
I didn’t own a gun until I became a pacifist
which makes sense because I never saw the ocean
until I heard it inside of a giant shell.
I don’t know why I love grapes
but not raisins.
I still wonder why the two
Panda Bears on the news
captivated me as a small child.
I don’t know why their quest
to procreate became my quest
for them to procreate,
my mind juggling Saturday morning cartoons
and Panda sex.
I know I mailed my Grandma
a white baby seal figurine
when I was a little boy,
she still had it the day she died.
It sat on a shelf, yellow from decades passed.
Whenever I would visit her
she would talk about when she got it,
that plastic baby seal.
It’s gone now,
I don’t know where it went.
Maybe she took it with her.
I don’t know why the plains of North Africa
amaze me the way they do.
Perhaps it is survival, stripped
of artifice and illusion.
Life and death, struggle and safety.
An imported car
with an American flag sticker
means no more or less
than a bottle of Budweiser
at the local taqueria.
I watch whales in the water
and I imagine them traveling
to places I will never experience
and I envy them, their fins and blubber,
never knowing the sickening sweetness
of a Coca Cola Classic.
But we need Coke and McDonald’s,
Ford and Mickey Mouse.
I don’t know why thunder reminds me of
safety but lightning makes my body shiver.
I don’t know why a child clings
to the corpse of a mother, days dead.
I cannot fathom the little girl’s reasons
but I can empathize
with not wanting to let go.
I pick her up, offer her a Happy Meal
and a Disney movie.
I imagine she eats only shrimp
because she is so pink
and I tell her about Panda Bears
and whales and I show her
pictures of Africa and the moon.