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

~

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

~

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

~

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

~

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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The Glen

Impenetrable
or so it seemed
‘till the creek
by persistent motion
carved a path through hard rock
Now, the waterfalls
pool far below the ridge
light pierces the narrow gap above
and dances
in reflected ribbons
mingling like threads
that weave hope in ripples
illuminating the cool, moss-filled shade
highlighting the brook
no longer trapped
as it flows gently
down the valley’s earthen bed
filling soft crevices
completely–
a thorough lover,
penetrating
in currents
deep in the glen

~

Words and Photography ©2019 Tanya Cliff

Posted in poetry & free verse.

Gossamer Threads

the gossamer threads unwound
like a bodice unlaced
or a shell cracked
or a brittle paper torn
skin so delicate
that the lightest touch
along the curvature of the neck
more whispered than felt
like a warm spring breeze
created such a tremor within
the old garment was undone
it couldn’t resist the fluttering
what chrysalis can?
the bondage fell away
in tatters, like late snow falling
melting into verdant ground
and new existence
in scales incandescent
a life with wings
resplendent
found

~

Words and Photography ©2019 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse.

Teach Me of Odysseus

teach me of Odysseus
in poetic words bled
ten years
churned in the waking wake
of departing the nightmare
what did Odysseus see in the rear-view mirror?
the sacking of Troy was no small thing
was Helen worth it?
how would Hector respond?
Achilles?
perhaps Patroclus or Paris might weigh in?
any insight?
I sigh
The Iliad has been repeated over and over and over again
Men, Nature’s most destructive force,
the innards of the Trojan Horse,
spill out and spoil every pristine thing they touch

but teach me of Odysseus
how does man leave the fatal shore?
what demons must he destroy?
what storms, prevail?
how red the wake?
before the safe harbors of home
he makes

~

Words and Photography ©2019 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse.

Fins and Feathers

shall we travel together?
not back, but ahead
yet, look back
regretting neither float nor flight
that led fin and feather
to this place
look back and consider
we collected nothing
but memory
for all things pass
except love
even the shells we collected on the beach
filling our mesh bags
cracked and crumbled
we shook and sprinkled the remnants
through the gaps
over the chicken feed
the hens laid prolifically
we ate all the eggs
collecting nothing
but memory
”How long does a kiss stick to a cheek?” he asked.
”Forever, silly,” I answered.
even the cheek will fade to dust
as will our fins and feathers
only love will linger
now, let’s swim and soar, crossing
rivers deep and canyons wide
sojourners
just passing
carrying memories in gossamer packages
spun by the living motions
of our fins and feathers
in float and flight
the love that lingers
bound forever to us, tight

~

Words and Photography ©2019 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse.

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Life Answered

Life answered in the simplest ways, abundant

the velvety richness of the chocolate bundt cake
garnished with hand-whipped cream
and raspberries
baked for a great aunt’s birthday
by a daughter
watching a daughter, she knows as mom,
care for her grandmother
who is fighting to be able
to eat chocolate bundt cake together next year
and the year after

Life answered…

in the soft petals of flowers
in the persistent rubs of a loving cat
in the weight of feet of snow removed
with the orange-scooped shovel
by the strapping son, too soon a man
in the margins edged with ink and lace
in the intoxicating rhythm of the hang drums
ringing from the mountainside
in songs shared, life’s playlist, revealing
inside, by the fire, glass of wine and book in hand
pleasures so simple
even Henry Miller could not complain
in NCAA basketball games won, or lost
it doesn’t matter to me
provided my youngest is cheering with me
in co-conspiratorial conversations
with the writer-son who love/hates writing
and gets it done
in the shared laughs over entirely inappropriate things
yes. please.
and the voice who says, “you’re not alone”

in the velvety richness of chocolate bundt cake shared

Life answered…

abundantly

~

Words and Photography ©2019 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse.

Journey (revision)

the world extends its frozen branches to you
adorned
with the decadence
of greedy, icy-jeweled, cruel hearts
your wandering self shivers

you hold out a lonely hand
to feel something
but the frigid limbs burn
branding exposed skin with red-marked scars
you’re numb with bitten touch

you open your hungry mouth
to taste
but the frozen berries stick
you strip them off your tongue
your words come out stained with blood

you brush against this plant, trying to flee
leaves crackle
in mocking laughter
but you, instead, remember love’s warm fires
you sigh homesick desires

you gaze in troubled wonder
to see anything
but the ice reflects the winter sun
blinding your eyes in dazzling sparkle
you squint and tears fall

you inhale, longing for life’s fragrance
and smell nothing
the flowers are all hiding in buds
leaving your nostrils dripping
you sneeze the cold of rejection

you turn and journey home
steps quicken
weary traveler, you know the way
come near, sparks awaken all your senses
at home’s hearth, rekindle your soul’s flame

~

You can read the original version of Journey here.

Words and Photography ©2017 & 2019 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse.