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POETRY Daisy Chain I pretend I’m a stranger to loneliness, use lame excuses to hold back a deathly silence pushing down like symbolic grapes in the Grapes of Wrath. My wrath hides and consumes, forces me to seek and seek and seek knowledge that is no knowledge at all. I didn’t know when I wandered through two-story rooms with arched ceilings and spackled beige walls who should be my God, but on the day that 1 looked down at the blurred gray pavement rushing by at forty-five miles per hour, I decided. And even though my mother said reading must be the culprit, the reason I nearly fell out of the car, I believe inertia was always my driving force, grabbing the door handle, instinct. My real calling was right there, right then, facing one particular destiny, then choosing again. And I don’t know if I decided after not knowing that rather than be called stupid, I would need All the answers. But then reading encyclopedias was more entertaining than watching Grandpa Martin glare at the newspapers with a magnifying glass while we listened to the humming refrigerator by his side. Even then, as I looked at the faces of other imaginary seekers, I may be mistaken, but they looked blank, with the standard two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two ears, hair on topusually. Now I want to hide myself from the simple truths and I’m committed to chaos and lethargy. This is my personal merry-go-round, the ultimate direction of transformed precursors. I find I write to discover and expunge like being a mechanic creating a process where an idea is taken apart, the engine of the word debunked, the interminable Sprockets on the wheel of each letter examined closely, then made to sing rather than die. I discover once again that being human is shared by everyone so maybe the pretense of loneliness Is made up, a precarious invention and my story, my history so to speak, like a chain of flowers waiting to be picked out of imaginary air, just needs an opening, someone to say go onyou can say that, that’s a good idea. In this ideal world, a holistic sun will beam on a floral Intensity. Seeds will begin their rich and sparkling growth. As usual, I will watch everything wading through a dark house looking for a door. My two sons walk in and out in their own way; they’re up, they’re down. Sometimes I hear a voice speaking to them like a truculent fish wife, sometimes a priestess. Is that me, I say? Or a facade I’ve constructed? Pain and Suffering No, this is not a legal argument. And thank God for small favors, the kind that start the day in fragmented 4:00 am thinking. And is it a favor to be afraid to express a fear of authority, paperwork, government offices, and bureaucrats? The dry-mouthed, sleep-induced prattle of the fearful masses doesn’t seem effective at first, but look at the results. Canned beets, frozen pizza, ginger root, And garlic also late at night may cause bad dreams, but how do they affect pain & suffering? Right now, I am concerned about the night time world, but tomorrow, it may be why they keep cutting down all the trees. Then the world of insanity creeps in and I am off and running about how my thoughts compare with other insanities I observe every day. But all the merry-go-rounds In the world still don’t compare with the reality Of one human being saying “I don’t have Anywhere to go, I don’t know what to do.” This woman wears a ballcap and a grey and black cotton sweatsuit, eyes downcast, filled with shame with a face marked by the beauty of surrender. She gives herself to us in the meeting with that naked glance up, the open and desperate look that cannot be hidden. And I surrender myself to her like all the other people listening. We envelope Her, ourselves, in that moment. Sheila E. Black C heila E. Black lives and teaches in Tulsa, a Oklahoma, although she is a transplanted Texan from San Angelo. She published poems and articles in The Midland Review and the O’Collegian at Oklahoma State University while attending graduate school. Naomi Shihab Nye 12/6/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21