I Learned


I learned
from my children
to run outside on a winter day
in my pajamas and boots
to capture
a picture of a drop of frozen water on a leaf
across my icy pond
a jewel that sparkles
but only until the sun warms the air

I learned
from my children
to make brightly colored frosting
for sugar cookie adorning
to create
a spectacle of baked imagination
on glass cookie trays
but only until their bellies rumble

I learned
from my children
to paint with all ten fingers
on poster board canvas
to explore
fine art with reckless abandon
in bright, rainbow colors
but only until the filled paper tears

I learned
from my children
to throw out the rule book
with paper and pen
to define
our own invented games
through echoing giggles
but only until bedtime reckons

I learned
from my children
to pause once every night
with whispers and open arms
to embrace
each with all my heart
with loving reminders
but only until forever ends


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Camp Holdouts Arrested

Our Indigenous brothers and sisters deserve better than this. Let the rich run pipelines through their own properties and see how many are built.


ap-standing-rock Law enforcement vehicles arrive at the closed Dakota Access pipeline protest camp near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Feb. 23, 2017. (James MacPherson / AP)

Red Power Media | Feb 23, 2017

CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP)– Police in full riot gear began arresting Dakota Access pipeline opponents who remained in a protest camp in North Dakota on Thursday in defiance of orders to leave.

Most protesters left peacefully Wednesday, when authorities closed the camp on Army Corps of Engineers land in advance of spring flooding, but some refused to go.

Eighteen National Guardsmen and dozens of law officers entered the camp from two directions shortly before midday Thursday, along with several law enforcement and military vehicles. A helicopter and airplane flew overhead.

Officers checked structures and began arresting people, putting them in vans to take to jail. The number of arrests wasn’t immediately known.

U.S. National Guard and police sweep the Dakota Access pipeline protest camp on Feb. 23, 2017. (source: livestream.com / Unicorn Riot) U.S. National Guard and police sweep the…

View original post 477 more words


glass shattered
on the stone floor
held the dregs of red wine
devoid of fluidity
stuck to the shards
like scabs
unable to splatter
beyond the broken vessel’s fragments
to unwary feet
left bare
stumbling in the early morning dark
in dry-mouthed thirst
the sound of breaking glass
from last night’s drunk
empty cup slipped from weary fingers
left for morning sweeping
misty recollection
in the mind’s hungover fog
cold floor
sends shudder
through the nerves of the toes
to the spine
jolting the tired brain awake
with neon flashes
“step over”
feet comply
avoiding the scattered remains
the kitchen tap
now flowing


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.


The St. Louis

On May 13, 1939, the ocean liner, St. Louis, sailed from Hamburg, Germany, for Havana, Cuba. The Third Reich allowed more than 900 Jews aboard. We are counting now. When souls become quotas, numbers matter. The number was 937, most of them were German Jews. They carried what they thought were valid permits that guaranteed them temporary stay in the United States until proper visas could be granted.

The quotas…
The quotas!
The United States quotas were full.
The souls aboard the St. Louis had no clue.

The German-Austrian immigration quota for the United States allowed only 27,370 souls annually. The wait list for entry stretched for years, pages filled with longing names numbered. When souls become numbers filling quotas, what has humanity left to do but count? So we counted them. Number one got in. Number 27,371 did not. She received a free train ride out of Germany to a place called Auschwitz that reeked of smoke and shit and death, where she was given a new number. She died in a gas chamber and was burned to ash. We are counting now. She took her place among six million dead.

That was Europe, the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The St. Louis safely reached Cuba, where 29 Jews were allowed to disembark. Cuba had immigration quotas too. We are counting now. 29 souls found a refuge. The ship was ordered out of the harbor in Havana. To be sure that number 30 didn’t sneak in, Cuban police boats followed the St. Louis. Several passengers attempted to commit suicide.

For three days, the St. Louis drifted off the coast of Miami, close enough to see that city’s sparkling lights. Pleas went out via cables from the ship. President Franklin D. Roosevelt never responded. The White House never responded. The State Department finally sent a telegram to the ship explaining plainly that the United States had immigration quotas in place and that the souls on board would have to apply for the proper visas and take their turn on the waiting list.

The quotas…
The quotas!
The United States quotas were full.
The souls aboard the St. Louis now understood.

How did we explain to men, women and children that they were nothing more than numbers in a quota-filling game? What words of comfort did we give? Were we present when many of them were torn from their families and piled like cattle into cargo holds after their bitter return to Europe? Did we travel with them sharing their terror as they were sent to concentration camps? Did we hold their trembling hands as their flesh rotted away from starvation? Did we hear their screams? Did we see them die? They each were given a number. We are counting now. They took their place among six million dead.

We laud a statue that reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Were these not tempest-tossed? The lamp went dark, blown out by xenophobic winds.

We have recycled those winds today in the forms of quotas, restrictions, deportations, bans and walls. We fear.

Souls become numbers, leaving humanity with nothing left to do but count.


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories. Bookmark the permalink.


through glass and water passes
its frequency constant
through trial
rays set on fixed destination
its lengths adaptable
along the journey
waves flexing toward focused end
it must be refitted
would water and glass make


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.



eagle claws
like matches in a tinderbox
struck pyrite
and swallowed it whole
washed it down a long hose
like a gizzard
to endlessly hungry industrial chicks
with gaping mouths
a regurgitated meal
snatched out of the earth
by metal talons
that sparked wild fires from cracked stone
and burned the Native forest down


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetryfree verse & #noDAPL. Bookmark the permalink.

Two Lumps of a Haiku

sugar in your tea ~

refined by African slaves ~

once a luxury


world craves that cheap sweet ~

farmed by those impoverished ~

diabetic high


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in haiku & poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

%d bloggers like this: