A Growing Haiku

adventure awaits

step ahead and glance behind

know that I am there


Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in haiku & poetry.

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Note: Photo taken at Stonefield Village, part of the Wisconsin Historic Society

She Sings

why does she sing?

she turned 91, the old bird

her life’s mate was just caged in the nursing home
he can’t remember why
his once lengthy repertoire has been reduced to a few, sweet notes

her handicapped son still lives at home
needing her patient care
all he could ever do was chirp

the last of her friends died years ago
their songs now silent
she takes her coffee with younger generations
their noisy squawks sometimes give her a headache
but she never complains

she goes on singing, the old bird
and smiles and laughs
and shares a story
or ten

she sings
not because her life’s bird landed on a beautiful branch
in a flawless tree

she sings
as a bird in life’s tree
she can


for my Granny, who still tells the best stories and is an avid bird-watcher


Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse.

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The Paint Brush

paint brush
in growing hands
my dreaming progeny
experiments in bold color
unabashed, she crafts O’Keeffe in abstract
flower frolics across canvas
young fingers in the lead
such fortunate
paint brush


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in poetry & Rictameter Verse. Bookmark the permalink.



world extends frozen branches
with icy-jeweled, cruel hearts –
your wandering self shivers

hold out your hand
limbs burn
leaving red marks on exposed skin –
you’re numb with bitten touch

open your mouth
berries stick
peeling buds off tasting tongue –
you spit out bloodied words

brush to the side
leaves crackle
reminding ears of love’s warm fires –
you moan homesick desires

stare closely
ice reflects
blinding eyes with dazzling sparkle –
you squint, shed many tears

breathe in
scent disappoints
leaving nostrils cold and vacant –
you sneeze rejection’s virus

journey home
steps quicken
sparks awaken all your senses –
at hearth, rekindle your soul’s flame


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

(Inspired by my oldest son’s return for spring break. There’s no place like home.)

Should I Warn the Neighbors?

“Should I warn the neighbors?”

We are lighting a smoke bomb today. I’m good at this. If the wind is favorable, the smoke will travel to the top of the old, oak tree that towers over my driveway. No one called the fire department in a panic last time. The man across the street lingered in his own driveway sweeping leaves that didn’t exist just so he could watch, but we avoided the sirens and red and blue lights.

Still, it’s a dilemma. Do we alert people or not?

This time we are shooting a stop-motion video in Barbie-doll scale. The smoke bomb for this shoot is full, human-sized. I could engulf a pink, plastic convertible many times bigger than the one my Ken doll occupies. That is a lot of smoke. It should make for a good sequence of stop-motion pictures, unless I am engulfed in smoke too, in which case I will simply keep snapping and hope for the best.

We are using fake blood for this video as we did for the last, “The Fake Guy”. I know a recipe that looks convincing and has a great splatter property. It is made almost entirely of powdered sugar with just a bit of cocoa and a massive amount of red food coloring. Yes, it’s edible. Yes, it’s gross. What is the amount of blood needed for a Barbie-doll bombing accident? Last time, I mixed a cup. I needed a teaspoon. Those dolls were small. I am good at math, but I tend to overdo things.

Ken’s doll double required some post-apocalyptic mutilation. I didn’t want to damage him too much, so I used a small hammer and tapped. That was pointless. Who knew that plasti-Ken had #absofsteel? I grabbed my industrial goggles – no selfies here – and the big hammer and pounded away with all my might. An exhausted 30 minutes later, and Barbie’s beau has a few gaping wounds.

“Should I warn the neighbors?”

What would you say? “Hey, I’m shooting a stop-motion video with Barbie dolls in my driveway. I’m going to be spilling fake blood and lighting a large smoke bomb. Please don’t panic when you see the mini-mushroom cloud rising above my roof line.”

My children think I’m weird and funny. That’s a good thing. It keeps them interested, laughing and engaged. My antics also teach them to think outside of the proverbial, collective box and take creative risks. We will be all hands on the “deck” of my driveway. At least one of them will be standing by with buckets of water should anything go wrong. What could possibly go wrong?

My only real dilemma:

“Should I warn the neighbors?”


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories. Bookmark the permalink.


Said the Waves to the Moon

waning and waxing ~

inconsistently passing ~

dark, then light, my night ~

though I touch your face or not ~

my tides, you’re ever moving


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in tanka & poetry. Bookmark the permalink.


Dedicated to my dad, who holds the record for the worst Valentine’s Day present ever given to me – a stiff, ugly stuffed bear with blood-red, coarse hair – a gift that inexplicably made his little girl’s heart beat faster. I haven’t felt his arms around me or heard his voice since I was a teenager. I still have that bear hidden away in a box, and I still feel his love moving my tides, encouraging me daily to keep going.

A Ticking Haiku

minutes are passing ~

shattered the glass to buy more ~

purchased sandy floor


(Inspired by my son, who seems to have grown inches overnight and now towers over me. I remember when…)


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

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A Satisfying Tanka

children drop dry crumbs

clumsy with their forks and thumbs

bold house mice feast large

every dear life in my house

fills to the full its belly


We cannot expect children to thrive on empty stomachs. Please consider donating to your local food pantry and global hunger relief programs today.

Words and Photography ©2016 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in tanka & poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

A Warming Tanka

white blankets the earth

frigid air through forest blows

my child with bare legs

while plants sleep tucked under snow

your pants I warm by the fire


On the coldest days of the year, please remember that someone in your town is homeless.

Words and Photography ©2016 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in tanka & poetry. Bookmark the permalink.