They Swim

They swim
poor little fish
straight through the safety nets
that would hold them
in fresh water’s flow
they are too young to vote
or weave social change
into protective boundaries

They swim
through gaping holes of greed
lacking resource and means
to bind the shredded holes of ignorance

They swim
swept downstream
to river’s brackish estuary
where
the salt
through osmosis
dehydrates cells

They swim
assimilating the filth
prostitution
drug abuse
theft
abuse
bulging, murderous eyes
desperate

They swim
until
defeated
oxygen depleted
poor little fish
belly up

They float

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

What?

what does a ban say
on a sunny Easter Day

THAT

starving children,
the moaning human refuse
collected
for posterity
in refugee wastelands
must starve
WHILE
sheltered youth,
plump and spoiled
dressed in pressed watercolors
not junk yard soiled
are allowed free run
on a White House lawn
to hunt for candy-filled eggs

what does a ban say
on a sunny Easter Day

THAT

this year
the Easter Bunny voted
rolled his eggs for Trump

WHILE

children, impoverished,
hunted meals
from the dump

what does a ban say
on a sunny Easter Day

WHAT?

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

If

If
If it
If it were
If it were your
If it were your children’s bellies grumbling
of course you would feed them
knead stone into bread
until your fingers bled trying
can you squeeze water from clay?
filter impurities away?
with your skin?
steal shelter from garbage bins?
build scrap-tin walls with a cardboard roof
until it rains
filling puddles with the rust
of poverty’s chains
to what land would you flee?
if bombs showered your home?
all order violently destabilized
carry your children on your back
so you might keep their dead bodies from dying
for another day or two
how much time can you purchase?
when you can’t even buy food?
If it were your children’s bellies grumbling
If it were your
If it were
If it
If

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

A Trashed Haiku

black garbage bag tote ~

carries all life’s possessions ~

piled on refuse child

~

(Selection taken from A Haiku for Ricky Baker, on sale now. All proceeds go to fund art and writing programs for children in juvenile detention centers.)

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in haiku & poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

Fitting

plastic feet formed to fit polymer heels
lofty heights
false ideals
dance in girls’ minds
to fairy-tale tunes
flawlessly complected marketing tools
young thoughts make creative formations
of too tiny waists
and bone-thin limbs
manifested years later
in anorexic meals
and bulimic fits
to fit
lovely lies
melted years earlier in colorful molds
hardened in impressionable minds
for uniform standards
unreal

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

Violating Haiku

an oily gold rush ~

flows out from the frack-raped earth ~

Mother’s black-inked tears

~

boys rush the Bakken ~

covet all precious treasure ~

shatter the girls’ gems

~

when Females are raped ~

shouldn’t all be shocked and wonder ~

what through pipeline flows?

~

#noDAPL

(Rape and sexual assault against women and girls have skyrocketed in the communities surrounding the Bakken Oil Fields since fracking began, increasing by some estimates more than 160%. These crimes have disproportionately impacted Indigenous females who live on the area’s reservation.)

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in haiku & poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

On Sale Now

roots of child neglect ~

contort Ricky Baker’s feet ~

strong hands cut safe paths.

(selection from A Haiku for Ricky Baker)

~

A Haiku for Ricky Baker, a book of poetry inspired by the 2016 Taika Waititi film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and my experience of the positive influence of selections of my work on the life of one girl transitioning out of detention and into foster care is now available in eBook. ALL PROCEEDS, including 70% of each eBook sale, go to fund art projects for children in juvenile detention centers. Please consider purchasing the book and reviewing it on Amazon. Every sale of A Haiku for Ricky Baker helps to put paintbrushes and pens into the hands of at-risk youth in the hope that they will find creative paths for healing and growth. For more information or to sign up for newsletter updates, visit my page at Haiku for Ricky.

Words and photography©2017 Tanya Cliff

Posted in haiku & poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

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 Ricky Bakers keep from stumbling over the roots of child neglect? They are the refuse of an adult world that fails them frequently. Juggled around foster care, their only possessions fitting in the bags they carry, these children often end up in juvenile detention centers or worse. The problem impacts minority children disproportionately.

How do Ricky Bakers find safe paths to travel in this life? 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.

If you haven’t seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople, DO! I rarely shout. Take it to heart.

How do Ricky Bakers find strong hands to secure their futures?  In 2016, my writing was selected to be given to children in a juvenile detention center to foster creative expression and encourage them to develop their unique talents. One girl found so much inspiration in that work 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. We can reach them by taking an interest in their lives one child at a time.

So the real question:

What are we each willing to do to help the Ricky Bakers of this world walk straight and fruitful paths?

 

 

ALL PROCEEDS GO TO FUND ART PROGRAMS FOR AT-RISK YOUTH

 

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

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