Dallas, Texas

21 July 2007

Five Poems

Names for Rock Bands
A Necklace   
The Ladder
School Days

About Tim Cloward & Lisa Huffaker



Names for Rock Bands

Cold Water Enema
The Imperfect Familiars
Charles Hawtry & the Deaf-Aids
The Embarrassing Stains
Hot Sauce Popsicle
The Actual Actuals
The Various Tubers
The Implausibles
Phase One (In Which Doris Gets Her Oats)
Bra Size Nine
The Fractious Brats
The Bifurcating Thought Patterns
The Yawning Maws
The Sprinkler Heads
Worse Than Church



A Necklace

A necklace, like all things round,
has its circumference. Your neck,
like all matters of flesh, has its compass.
Count a finite number of beads.
Come full circle and count again:
what bleeds through the measured vessel
is measureless, and quivers
like the throbbing of a delicate vein.
A brain, like all things found in nature,
has its roundness, comes full circle,
its lace of capillaries from the neck flowering up
into the heavens, a passionate blooming;
but each thought recedes to flesh, pressed down
to the belly, then flowering again,
lotus from the navel, like all things round.
But back, I say, to flesh, and your necklace
of starry beads, ideas in the dreaming mind.
What breeds of all abstractions but lust,
the spreading of concentric rings,
any pebble a hungry epicenter in the stream…
Lust is unavoidable: the circles widen,
and if nothing can come from nothing, must then
a mind implode, must then the lace unravel?
A necklace: each morning put down around your head
as concussion rings, the singing silent signs of being,
any delicate bruise the mark of measureless cycle.
But back, I say, to things, the length of strings,
hat sizes, the width of thighs, a collar’s raise.
Back, I say, to flesh, the belly, the lotus of the navel,
the head, I say, the eyes, the surprise of waking.
All thought comes back to meet itself,
comes back to the ground, and even the dreaming
mind has its circumference, like all things round.




My brother was a barber for a while; he sculpted people.
He cut the President’s hair, before he was President.
He cut Miss America’s hair, after she was Miss America.
My brother, before I was born, wasn’t my brother.
He played outside in the yard, by himself, sculpting bushes
And George Bush gave him a big tip—he said.
And Miss America gave him a million dollar smile—he said
And public opinion shapes the course of events
By shearing off what it deems excessive
And if I were sculpting the Bushes, by George,
People would remember why a barber’s pole is striped with red
And there are no stars in the barbershop, my brother said.
Back in the day, barbers were also surgeons. They wound
The bloody rags around the pole to dry and the bushes
Would grow how they would grow but today we do our yards
Like we do our hair. Everybody’s a shorn sheep
And my brother’s only got one leg left, doesn’t cut hair no more.
He says he’ll miss America.



The Ladder

The book is inadequate for the task--
it lists the several steps, describes how
the next sentence becomes itself, asks
a reader to believe that by bruising a few leaves
a new freedom can be achieved, memory
wrung from rosemary, and sorrow from rue,
materials fit for sailing, puppetry or blues….
Is the binding of the page’s mind up to this?
The spine of logic flung out to sea
without an oar, a means to stand up
to the water, and the next wave becomes itself
becoming itself, asks itself: What’s lost?
Oh, what lust can’t touch, Oh….
for all its eager hands and mouths….
the book is inadequate to this task.
It can lure you to the water’s edge, but
the tides of the ledger crease inward instead
of lapping your feet; the pages float by like leaves
lead paragraph by paragraph to believe
in the fallacy of the ladder, an ordered climbing
to reach the theme, a clean image, a ripe find,
but there is no ladder, only swimming,
and the book is inadequate for that.



School Days

Abbie’s best friend ODed on X today--
She had been telling the truth.
Sara’s dad unloaded on her mom last night--
Sara had been watching.
Suzanne’s got some vaginal infection--
missed a week of class.
And still everybody figures the dress code helps.

Bud backed into a light pole,
Broke Damon Baxter’s nose--
Bud had not been watching.
Ariel’s tired of being called gay--
now he wants to fight.
He figures it would prove something.

Abbie’s not depressed, she says, doesn’t feel nothing.
Sara’s not depressed, she says, doesn’t feel nothing.
Angie’s thrown up twice today, but she’s gonna stay.
There are things you gotta do, she says.

They come here every day; some of them want to stay.
Some of them don’t want to go home.
They come here everyday; some way they get through.
And then, all of them, they do go home.



Tim Cloward & Lisa Huffaker created and orchestrates Dallas’s Dancing Tongue Literary Cabaret series.  The former board chair of WordSpace, he currently teaches history and is assistant principal at Yavneh Academy of Dallas.  He is the founder of the poetry/performance troupe Dancing Tongue and has worked with Poetry Circus and Question Authority, both acclaimed performance poetry ensembles. His work has been seen in a number of publications and he, along with Patty Turner and David Davis, published the influential chapbook Three Dallas Poets in 1986. Tim holds a PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas.

comes to poetic language through a background of classical singing.  In studying the world’s great art songs and opera libretti, she has delved into the work of great poets in their original languages, ranging from Rilke and Verlaine to Walt Whitman. Lisa’s poetry has been featured by Wordspace, The Dallas Poets’ Community, and Dancing Tongue, where her talents as a singer and a performance artist also come into play.  As a singer, Lisa performs regularly with The Dallas Opera, and can be heard this season in the dual roles of Suzy and Lolette in Puccini’s La rondine.  She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Boise State University and a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory.