2018 – My Hope

2017
birthed
a colicky infant
who, although spoiled and overfed,
produced a continuous line
of
mostly incoherent
squawks
from his high nest

by spring
he had grown into the playground bully
amassing toys,
hoarding even,
to make his sandbox castle great
AGAIN

by summer,
or buy,
his overgrown form
preached from a pulpit like a profit-god
A MASS
that sounded
oddly
like his former spoiled, soiled
colicky
chirps

by autumn…
I don’t know what he said.
I bought earplugs
to relieve my throbbing
MAGAraine
suffering
head

2018
I HOPE
has birthed infants everywhere
who will cry from the collective pools
of
starvation
poverty
and
neglect
AND
that the children of spring
will remove the genetically-modified cotton
stuffed in our privileged ears,

so that we who have will

listen

&

share

~

Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

The Barbarian’s Fiddle

I sat in a room
with a noisy crowd
who hated all things “Asian”
haunted, they were
by world war ghosts
and
communist libations
they speared the Barbarian-Yellow Goldfish
in their community pond
and
siphoned the living waters
leaving sandy bottoms –
the dried grains of bigotry
kicked and whipped
into a blinding storm

Their Dust Bowl creation
ever threatens to choke the next generations

I made two strings sing
in
melancholic
tragic
vibrato
that mimicked the human voice
Persecuted

The room fell momentarily silent

I played on

Suffering
is
an
endless
tune

until, interrupted by an old man
coughing up affected phlegm
that he spat into the Dust Bowl
slightly settled through his falling tears

I paused

He inquired as to what beautiful instrument
had seduced his soul to
blissful
despair
An erhu, I sighed
It is Asian –
otherwise called the “Barbarian’s Fiddle”
Its two, long strings carry the vibrations
of generations of tears splashed down onto the collective pool
by those you persecute by referring to them as
“slanted-eyed Chinks”

He snorted and laughed
He kicked some dirt in my face

I played on

Suffering

an endless tune carried in the vibrato of two Asian strings

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

 

With Reservation – Revisited

 

“Words do not pay for my dead people.”

Shall we talk
about
it
awhile while we travel the miles
of
defiled
land
slaughtered
animals
murdered
people
that
lead
to a
place
you will be
graciously confined
called
a
reservation
but
you
don’t
need
an
application
just
lose
your
apprehension
and
stay
put
here
awhile while we hand out the piles
of
stingy
food
rationed
goods
white man’s
ways
that
you
are
being
graciously supplied
without
hesitation.

“Good words will not give me back my children.”

Yes, but you fled
showing great
premonition
against our
demands,

AND

we require
your
supplication
without
RESERVATION.

“Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law.”

Sure, just submit
to our
imposed
economic
spiritual
cultural
bounded
limitations

until we discover the next resource we want.

“Give them all an even chance to live and grow.”

You ARE free to live
and grow –
within the
restriction
called
a
RESERVATION
and
all
its
white man’s
imposed
economic
spiritual
cultural
bounded
rules!

“Let man be a free man – free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself – and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.”

Sigh.

We’ve talked
about
it
awhile
while you traveled the miles
to
bitter
tears
stolen
lives
broken
hearts
that
you
have now
been
forever (until we discover the next valuable resource we want need)
graciously subjected to
called
a
reservation
but…

“You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.”

but…

“I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises.”

but…

“All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers…”

but…

“Words do not pay for my dead people.”

~

All the words in quotes above were taken from a speech given by In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (Thunder traveling over the Mountains), more commonly known as Chief Joseph. He was chief of a tribe of the Nez Perces (Wal-lam-wat-kin band of the Chute-pa-lu), a group of people who had maintained peace with white people since they had first met and helped Lewis and Clark in 1805. It was always his goal to live peacefully with the white people. After a few young Nez Perces men took revenge on a white settler group who had killed their own fathers and brothers, Chief Joseph’s tribe became the target of military action and revenge, in spite of his appeals.

~

I am revisiting “With Reservation”, first published last year, in recognition of Native American Heritage Month and the continuing battle in my state (Line 5) and others to recognize treaty rights and improve the living conditions of and opportunities available to Indigenous groups. We have a long way to go.

The United States celebrates something we call “Thanksgiving” this week. In schools, students are taught the story of Native Americans who helped Pilgrims during a difficult season and the meal they shared to celebrate the harvest. In truth, colonialism resulted in the decimation of hundreds of nations and millions of human lives. Those who didn’t perish faced the loss of culture, dignity and ancestral lands. The destruction to natural resources that Europeans wrought on the so-called “New World” has included everything from buffalo to water. The persecutions and resource grabs continue to this day.

~

The complete original post can be read here.

~

Words and Photography ©2016 & 2017Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetrynoDAPL & human rights. Bookmark the permalink.

“The Fairy-Tale Delusion”

the prince lost his leather boot
the beanstalk rotted
Papa Bear ate Goldilocks for dinner
and
Rapunzel rappelled down the side of the tower

Snow White never tasted the poisoned apple
she was too busy
cooking
mending
and
cleaning
for seven needy dwarfs
to stop for a snack

in her spare time
she penned a best-selling novel
“The Fairy-Tale Delusion”

GOOD THING

it was rumored that
Prince Charming swam off with a mermaid
on his Caribbean vacation
and
drowned

what line did Snow White write to end her children’s classic?

“She fought.
She survived.
She shared.
She thrived.”

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

The Wind’s Mock

naked
stripped bare by a gust of mocking wind
tree branches tremble
in complaint

Nature
responds
to creak-cracking pleas
fills her storehouse clouds
with
empathetic
frigid
tears

She
beckons the wind
with
thick
smoke
signals

wind
sighs
puffs
whispers
dies
then, observing
those pathetic, quaking, naked limbs shaking
blows
a sympathetic gale

snow
falls
covers limbs with frosty blankets
and
blankets roots under thick cover

until

wind,
tired of stillness,
decides to stir Nature’s pot
with
a
hot
air
whirling
melting
mock

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink,

 

The Hour Passed

the hour passed
the flowers –
some we dried
hung upside down
life evaporated
taking
scent
and
hue
leaving crinkled paper petals
fragile shell reminders
of the bloom the hour spent
some we pressed
trapped between the pages
smothered
removed
stiff
and
dry
coated in artificial fragrance
sprayed from a non-aerosol can
added to the bowl of potpourri

but

whether
dried
or
pressed
the flowers
remind us
of the
hour
before
it
passed

~

for my friend, Terry, whose light lives on in the words he left behind on his blog:   https://spearfruit.com/

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

Human Dreamer

I
am
human…
born of earth
and water
into air
to breathe
and form thoughts that reach
to clouds
floating
free of walls

collecting
into raindrop tears
that fall
into
closely gathered pools

pains
mingled

where
collected fluid
overflows
and
penetrates the soil
pleading with the ground
to swallow whole
the barrier
that restrains
paths
imagined
by
my
human
Dreamer

~

#DefendDACA

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

Where Breath Failed

where breath failed
and tongues were tied
in ropes of persecution
dark words
caught on the lips
moistened by endless tears
rolled off the chin
filling ink-well pools

empty pens
in dehydrated hands
dipped to quench the thirst
of parched minds’ papers
leaving fluid trails
that dried
tattooed
on the skin
of humanity’s
beaten
drums

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

 

An Evening Storm

forecast stated storm warning
I opened the windows wide
felt the air’s restless churning

Hot & Humid
vs
Cold Reprieve

they argued
forcing wind through my screen
where insects clung by the dozens,
helpless

I crawled in bed
windows open
and listened

Nature interrupted
her children’s dispute
with
driving tears
angry spanks of lightening
and
a booming voice of thunder

her reprimand was frightening

Hot & Humid
lost some steam

Cold Reprieve
warmed

they shook hands and agreed to sleep on it
through the night

I woke up
to sunshine streaming
through
windows opened wide

met the calm breeze
and flying insects
as Mother’s weathered children
danced together
in her morning arms

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

Little Red Riding, Not

Little Red Riding Hood
forgot to mount her horse
left him behind
chomping grass in the field

she,
being too foolish or too lazy
to take the time to
catch
brush
saddle
and
bridle
her willing pet
and too grossed out
to pick his hooves,
filled her basket with wine and cake
and set off down the trail
ON FOOT
to feed her sick granny

her mother warned her strictly
to stay on the trail

she should have told the girl
to use her brains
and ride her pony

I would tell you more,
but there is no more to tell

The Little Red Riding Hood girl,
Not Riding
was too slow
to outrun
the Big Bad Wolf

he
ate
her

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.