The Sun Melts

The sun melts
Crimson pools spill across the horizon
staining clouds
oranges, pinks, purples
A beacon?
Welcome, Night
The moon
waxing, waning,
in a perpetual dance with an ever-jumping cow
A harbinger?
So long, Day
Sands
through the hourglass
falling, passing
“hush-a-bye baby on the treetop” time
A promise
Living art
rendered in warmest hues
broad strokes across the cool sky
Time
passes by

~

©2020 Tanya Cliff

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Writer’s Workshop

Exciting News!
I am going to be hosting a weekly Writer’s Workshop over at the Go Dog Go Café on Saturdays, beginning March 7th. Please join me there for a fun, challenging opportunity to stretch your writing skills in the Café’s warm, friendly environment. I love the group at GDG! I’m thrilled to be joining them, especially in a format that explores the power of language in storytelling.

The Writer’s Workshop will stick with a single prompt response each month, limited to 150-300 words, and involve several editing challenges to the same response designed to sharpen prose. The schedule is as follows:

Week 1: The Fastball
This week, I will introduce some element of good prose and/or share encouraging words from favorite authors. Then, I will pitch the Fastball prompt. Participants can link their responses in the comments section, and I will share them the following week.

Week 2: Batting Practice
This week, I will continue the discussion and share the responses from Week 1’s Fastball.
The challenge to participants this week will be to cut at least 10% of words from their response in week 1, tighten their prose. The 10% cut comes from Stephen King’s On Writing, one of several writing books that you will hear me refer to on occasion. The cut might seem arbitrary, but it forces concision and encourages the use of powerful language.

Week 3: Curveball Challenge
And just when you think you mastered it…
This week, I will throw a curveball, a specific challenge designed to improve prose, some element to be added to the response from the Batting Practice in Week 2. We will use this challenge to explore some of the grammatical tools that can be used to create tension and drama on the sentence level in our writing.
I will also show how I handled the 10% cut from Week 2 (including my word counts) and provide links to the Week 2 responses of participants.

Week 4: Players at the Plate
I will sum up the month’s activities, show how I handled Week 3’s Curveball Challenge, and link to all the other participants’ rewrites. Writing is hard work. You can expect a lot of encouragement and praise from me along the way.

I hope you will pull up a chair in the Go Dog Go Café and join me for the Writer’s Workshop. Visit the Go Dog Go Café to learn more.

Tanya

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A Warm Haiku

his strong, ursine hug
gives her dangerous thoughts, dreams
pulse quickens, cheeks blush

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©2020 Tanya Cliff

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My response to Stephen’s weekly Level UP Challenge at GoDogGo. Please visit the following creative souls for the promts:

Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge–February 18, 2020

Eugi's Weekly Prompt – Blush – February 17, 2020

https://lifeafter50forwomen.com/category/what-do-you-see/

Haiku: Angry North Winds

The complete challenge is available here:

Wednesday’s Level UP Challenge, 2/19/20 and Tuesday’ Writing Prompt Challenge Round UP

 

 

 

 

Cardinals

The sun travels along the arch of a low horizon—the short path
of a winter day
when cold air aches
pressing into our bones
Later, ice-glazed tree limbs crackle
in the midnight winds
heard outside our shut-tight glass
Snow falls, covering
paths, dead leaves, and seeds
In the frigid morning, the birds seek
a meal to sustain them
They gather on our deck
where the filled feeder hangs like a beacon
juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice
jostle with their larger brethren
the hairy woodpeckers with their zebra-striped backs
and the hungry cardinals,
their flaming feathers, a florescent highlighter against the snow,
marking the places where the seed falls
They write their stories in footprints as we watch them:
the male cardinals wait while their partners eat their fill,
then battle with each other for the choicest remains
Chivalrous? or cavalier?
Crimson heroes to their girls
Red villains to each other
Can a man be both things?
Do the history books tell?
For the cardinals, the chronicle of this winter journey
will melt, the empty seed shells scattered
will dissolve
into fresh earth and green grass
But we will remember both hero and villain,
their footprints transcribed in letters
of our poems and prose

~

©2020 Tanya Cliff

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Did I Say?

Did I say that I want you?

Alice enters the room and stares at Jimmy, waiting. How can he not remember? He yelled her name three times a few minutes ago. Her knees need replacing, and the hallway—stacked with bins of her half-finished crafts and quilts—requires negotiating. He had sounded afraid, almost panicked. She responded as fast as she could hobble, but, now, he looks up at her, baffled.

Alice’s children had warned her about getting involved with a man that late in life. Her daughter had complained, “He just wants someone to take care of him.” Her son had been less tactful, “He is broke. He needs your money.” What money? Her mortgage had been paid off a few months before her husband died (eleven years ago, but it feels like yesterday), and she is the sole the beneficiary of the modest life insurance policy he left behind. It covers the property tax and puts food on the table, not much more than that. She had heeded their warnings for two years, but Jimmy’s persistent pursuit had proven charming. Or maybe she had just grown weary of driving herself around town and pulling the garbage to the curb once a week.

Jimmy takes the garbage out now, at least if she reminds him; and he is a good driver, provided she pays attention and tells him where to go. When the kids ask her about Jimmy’s driving, she ignores them. (She doesn’t tell them about the woman he nearly hit in the parking lot of the grocery store last month or how she had to grab the steering wheel last week when turned the wrong way down Highway 35.) She hides the car keys from him, so he can only drive when she is with him.

Did I say that I need you?

He had told her that he was going to rake the leaves out back and then watch the golf tournament on tv. His shoes sit on the mat by the back door, clean, empty. He looks at Alice, vacant, the television remote upside down in his hands. The tv is off, the leaves, not raked. Jimmy turns away and stares at the blank tv screen.

Alice wants to yell at him, no, to scream, but Alice loves Jimmy too much to raise her voice. She walks over to him without saying a word and presses the power button on the remote control. He grins as “Wheel of Fortune” lights up the screen. As he fist pumps a correctly guessed letter, he shreds her dreams in a dignified air of victory.

~

©2020 Tanya Cliff

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This is my response to Stephen’s Level Up Challenge that combines several prompts. Thanks to all these talented humans for the prompts:

https://godoggocafe.com/2020/02/11/level-up-writing-challenge-2-11-moves-to-the-cafe/

https://godoggocafe.com/2020/02/11/tuesday-writing-prompt-challenge-tuesday-february-11-2020/

https://lifeafter50forwomen.com/2020/02/10/what-do-you-see-16-february-10-2020/

https://amanpan.com/2020/02/10/eugis-weekly-challenge-love-february-10-2020/

The Playlist

Back from the dead
The tomb did not consume
I am being dramatic
It was just an MRI
It felt like a tomb,
except for the meditation music
I could have selected Alternative Rock
Is there a Spotify playlist across the River Styx?
What tunes comfort that lonely sail?
I don’t know; it was just an MRI
You enter an MRI breast scan face-down,
midsection supported by a narrow bar, breasts—
one still bruised from biopsy—dangling,
Don’t move, for 45 minutes
It is uncomfortable
I am not being dramatic
Technicians cover your eyes with a warm cloth before you enter,
pipe music through headphones
to distract you
from the loud bangs, clicks, whirs
of the mechanical tomb
You choose the tune,
The playlist, so you don’t forget
This isn’t a tomb
Don’t move
It felt like a tomb—
cramped, ill-fitted, distressing, dark
I am back
I am not being dramatic
I am struck by the light at the end of the MRI tunnel
Comforted by the playlist

~

©2020 Tanya Cliff

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Cherita #17

the cat prowls the midnight garden

discovers scarlet rosebuds, sweet basil,
the flowers of chives, tempting catnip

as she explores
the moonlit Eden, grateful,
her senses come alive

kitten

~

©2020 Tanya Cliff

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Written in response to Stephen’s Level Up Writing Challenge, using prompts from the following awesome humans:

Beth – https://godoggocafe.com/2020/02/04/tuesday-writing-prompt-challenge-february-4-2020/

Eugi – https://amanpan.com/2020/02/03/eugis-weekly-prompt-alive-february-3-2020/

Sadje – https://lifeafter50forwomen.com/2020/02/03/what-do-you-see-15-february-3rd-2020/

Stephen – https://fullbeardlit.org/2020/02/06/level-up-writing-challenge-week-of-2-3/

Mushrooms, Sensible

mushrooms, sensible,
savor the cold air of fall
peak in November
after flowers have given up hogging attention,
the blush of their petals long browned
in September’s hard breezes
Who wants to compete with summer’s bloom?
Or be buried by winter’s snow?
Not mushrooms, shrewd
They have waited, a humble audience of spores,
captive in the moist soil of the forest theater,
while the warm season’s wildflowers danced on the stage
and the grasses grew tall
By late autumn, those players are reduced to chaff
Not mushrooms, judicious
Now, brilliant hues of capped fungus grow—fireworks
born of the detritus
erupted from the ground
The winds of November shiver mushrooms’ umbrellas
and send their spores cascading
for a moment to glimmer against the Harvest Moon
then settle in beds made by worms
with dead-leaf blankets
protected from winter’s crystal show
as snowflakes bloom and blow

~

©2020 Tanya Cliff

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Written in response to Stephen’s Level Up Challenge at Fullbeard Lit. (I missed Christine Ray’s prompt for Once, because I haven’t seen the movie.) If you don’t already, please consider giving a follow to the talented writers who provided the prompts:

https://braveandrecklessblog.com/
https://amanpan.com/
https://fullbeardlit.org/category/poetry/
https://midwestfantasy.wordpress.com/
https://marylandpoetblog.wordpress.com/

For more writing prompts and a friendly place to share your work and support other creatives, visit: https://godoggocafe.com/

~

Note to my WordPress friends:

In late summer of 2018, I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer. I underwent a Nipple-Sparing Double Mastectomy followed by two reconstructive surgeries, and months of painful rehab. I am healthy and getting back to my creative endeavors. I have missed you! Please watch my site in the coming weeks as I work back into weekly posts and announce exciting new endeavors.

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