The Writer’s Arrow 2

Little quill on an inkwell rests. The keyboard idles in its frame. Moguls in stretch limos arrive for Coronation Day, mere minions surfing the golden-crested wave of hair soon to fill the ever hollow crown. Silence echoes your nothings. A raccoon digs at the ice on your frozen koi pond with intensity that chips his claws. He needs to drink.

The poor thirst. Their bodies wither.

You sip a cool drink of Evian while you surf the net on your cell phone. You shake your head in dismay at the state of the world and such things.

No one sees you from your leather chair with the oversized ottoman where your feet rest crossed. Your finger slides on the screen of your phone and leaves a greasy streak behind. You wipe it with your sleeve. At least your sleeve has found a purpose. It polishes your screen so you can read the dismal headlines clearly. That picture of starving refugees from Sudan sparkles. You glide your finger across the screen, magically erasing it from view.

Don’t you see the problem?

Your fingers are uncommitted. They simply flip through the pages of life, smudging the screen with the oils of indifference. How can you sit there? Why are you stagnant? Your country is about to crown a Baron King in the oasis of the global desert.

Little quill on an inkwell rests.

Writer from passion rests.

World thirsts.


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories. Bookmark the permalink.


North Dakota Republicans Want to Protect Drivers Who Hit DAPL Protesters*

Weary of protest ~ impatient, itching fingers ~ pen bills dressed to kill~ (My Haiku of Utter Dismay) Hopefully, ND lawmakers have more sense than this…

Hwaairfan's Blog

North Dakota Republicans Want to Protect Drivers Who Hit DAPL Protesters*

Pro-pipeline state lawmakers are proposing a rash of bills that will criminalize protests and put protesters lives in danger.

Water protectors in North Dakota may need to be more careful when crossing the street if a proposed bill to exempt drivers who “unintentionally” hit or kill pedestrians who are blocking traffic is passed.

Republican state lawmaker Keith Kempenich introduced legislation to make an exemption for drivers who unintentionally injure or kill pedestrians who are obstructing traffic on public roads.

“It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman, told the Bismark Tribune.

Kempenich’s 72-year-old mother-in-law was blocked by a group of protests on a roadway and he admits the law specifically targets protesters.

It’s shocking to see legislation that allows for people to literally be killed for exercising their…

View original post 421 more words

A Conserving Tanka


fallen leaf debris ~

skin decays through worm-fed holes ~

veins crumble away ~

rich fodder for verdant growth ~

thriving craves release of ruins.


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in tanka & poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

The High Tower

“Let’s build the tower high again!” the newly crowned king shouted as he rode his tall steed through the kingdom’s cobblestone roads for his coronation parade.

The subjects cheered, “Rebuild the High Tower! Rebuild the High Tower!”

Stupidity echoes loudly off the walls of stopped ears.

The High Tower, symbol of the kingdom’s former glory, spiraled to a height never before achieved in any other nation. Chiseled stone on chiseled stone, long ago carried on the whipped backs of imported slaves, rose into the clouds. Along the lines of human chains each brick was painstakingly laid. The mortar mixed with blood displayed a uniquely rusty hue. The subjects of the kingdom exported the excess stones at great profit. That was long ago.

The High Tower was built among the Emerald Hills, a verdant, rolling paradise selected after the native population had been culled, its survivors driven off to desolate grounds on the outer edge of the world. Cleared of its original inhabitants, the garden variety slaves were free to dig, plant, weed and harvest an abundant and varied crop of produce, watering the ground with their sweat and tears as they toiled. The subjects of the kingdom grew fat with joy and exported the excess produce at great profit. That was long ago.

“The slaves won their freedom. The native inhabitants won the freedom to live on ‘their own lands’.” That’s what the history books read. (In truth, the slaves won the right to no longer be slaves, and the native inhabitants lost everything important to them; but, if you tell this to the now cheering subjects of the kingdom, it will fall on stopped ears, lost in the continuing reverberations of stupidity. I digress.)

The Emerald Hills rotted, first with overuse, then with neglect. Decaying foliage filled all its stagnant pools. The High Tower cracked and crumbled. The stone steps that spiraled to its peak, providing a view all the world’s kingdoms, was no longer safe to climb. The subjects were embarrassed but not enough to become stone workers or gardeners. They coveted their own sweat and blood, and labor in brick or dirt brings a meager pay. This is now.

“Let’s build the tower high again!” the newly crowned king shouted.

The subjects cheered, “Rebuild the High Tower!”

Stupidity echoes loudly.


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories & satire. Bookmark the permalink.


Reasons #2

asked seed
of still mind
“Why empty?
My fall has roused and promised.”



asked bud
of small thought
“Why halting?
My lift has swelled and stirred.”



asked plant
of languished idea
“Why stalling?
My vines have stretched and twisted.”



asked flower
then of me
“Why wilting?
My petals have touched and colored.”




Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in poetry & vers l’avant. Bookmark the permalink.


Note: My friend, Jonathan Noble has dubbed this poetry form “vers l’avant”, or forward verse. It is a free verse repeated progressively, or cyclically, through a series of stages. I love his label. My first experiment with the form was “One for the Tree: Seasons”.


Ricky Baker

roots of child neglect,

contort Ricky Baker’s feet,

strong hands cut safe paths.

(haiku inspired by Taika Waititi’s 2016 film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople)

How do the Ricky Bakers of the world keep from stumbling over the roots of child neglect? They are the refuse of an adult world that has failed them. Those young whose parents cannot care for them often end up juggled around the foster care system, their only possessions fitting in the bags they carry. Many of these children end up filling the cells in juvenile detention centers. Those who end up in child prison face suicide rates and rates of adult incarceration that dwarf those of their peers in the general population. The problem impacts minority children disproportionately. As a society, we allow them to trip over the tangled mess that grows from poverty, and then we lock them away when they fall.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, directed and adapted by Taika Waititi from the Barry Crump novel, Wild Pork and Watercress, explores the question with the perfect mix of quirky humor, adventure in the gorgeous New Zealand bush and pointed social commentary. The movie follows Hec (Sam Neill) and Ricky (Julian Dennison) into the wilderness to flee a child welfare officer (Rachel House) determined to place Ricky in juvenile detention through a police response that escalates out of control. This is a wonderful film that gives voice to the kind of love it takes to rescue a child and change a life. It also reflects the inept and often ridiculous response we as a human family make toward those children in desperate need of our understanding and help.

In 2016, a first edition of my novel, The Legend of the Lumenstones, was selected for children in a juvenile detention center to foster creative expression and encourage them to develop their unique gifts, a theme of the book. One girl found so much inspiration in the book that she took it with her when she successfully transitioned into foster care and used it for a school presentation for her new classmates. She continues to explore her gifts in art and writing. For me, that experience served as a catalyst to pursue a project geared toward raising money to fund art programs for children in her situation. I began with a few free verse poems telling their stories, then I watched Ricky Baker.

I love the diminutive haiku. In Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Ricky Baker forms them prolifically. His 5-7-5 beat dance of words and his determined spirit to survive inspired the theme that grew into A Haiku for Ricky Baker, a compilation of my poetry dedicated to the troubled youth of this world. All the proceeds from the sales of this book go to fund art programs for at-risk children. Please consider supporting this project today.




Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in haiku & filmBookmark the permalink.

The Writer’s Arrow

Little quill, on an inkwell, rests. The stationary lives up to its name. Ideas die in wait on a solid oak desk where an empty chair defies its game. Silence echoes your nothings. A woodpecker pecks on your window frame with intensity that rattles his brain. He needs to eat.

The poor starve. Their bellies ache.

“So it is with the world!” you shout into the pillow.

No one hears you from your bed where you scratch notes. The pencil line you draw with those words simply chases its tail around your margins. You break the lead. You crumple the paper and throw it across the room. At least the paper sees some action. It flies through the air and lands just short of your garbage bin. You leave it there with a few of its cousins. You pull up the covers and sleep among your eraser droppings.

Don’t you see the problem?

The pencil is uncommitted.
It changes its mind at every whim.
It cracks under pressure and requires constant sharpening.
Who has time for that?
Why are you in bed?
The alarms are all ringing.

Little quill, on an inkwell, rests.

Writer from passion rests.

World starves.


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories. Bookmark the permalink.