Intelligent Life

When I learn, I learn also that I know less—

Mountains rise only on ascent,
And the wake of every boat
Lifts minnows to floating white pelicans
Until none exist.

When I was 23, I thought I knew almost
Everything necessary. Geology, history,
Religion, a few foreign words, the lines
To The Portuguese Number 43—
Really. I thought that ample.

So today knocks me clean out of my
Dungarees.

First, I’ve forgotten the 31st President—
The Capitols of New Hampshire, Kentucky,
Indiana, Connecticut, North Dakota, and
Nebraska—
And how to solve the quadratic equation—
Did I really need to know that?

Secondly, no one writes in cursive any more—
Nor reads a dial clock—why
Would they, hey Dad?

Thirdly, at Disney’s California Adventure
One soars over the state seeing, hearing, and smelling
Oranges or redwoods. They need not really go there—why
Would they when they can fly?

And someone killed doctors who helped their people
And that’s what we know about war.

At this age, I understand less than I did when I was 23.
If I did not feel the world, I would be smarter.

Yes, that is it. Stop feeling and you’ll get in
To the college of your choice.

White Pelicans at Klamath Basin courtesy fws.gov
Mt. Theilsen, Oregon 2010
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