Pedal On

We were supposed to turn our swords into plowshares
our spears into pruning hooks,
I thought, as the bombs fell,
as the city fell,
as the dream fell,
through miles of explosions, carnage, blood
This was the wrong stuff haunting my dreams
Pedal on
Pedal on, pedal on
Pedal on
for miles through the end of nightmare streams
flowing like toxic sludge,
clogging the living artery
where hope
in heart-attacked, arrhythmic disturbance
beats on
Don’t stop in this dystopian flow
I never want that again
Don’t end it here
Beat on
Dream on
Pedal on
a road less traveled, rarely journeyed on
few find it
Pedal on
Take up the garden hoe, put down the gun
LOVE your neighbor
LOVE mine
Pedal on
Pedal on, pedal on
Pedal on
to clearly streaming consciousness,
visions stellar
Take up the garden hoe
and plant
Pedal on
through miles of mountains, valleys, stream
This is the right stuff filling my dreams


My response to the prompts from the following wonderful bloggers, taken collectively in Stephen’s Level UP Challenge:

Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge: Tuesday, 25, 2020

Eugi's Weekly Prompt – Stellar – February 24, 2020

(New!) Wednesday’s Level UP Challenge, 2/26/20 and Tuesday’ Writing Prompt Challenge Round UP


It is also my cry out after yet another mass shooting, this time in Milwaukee, not far from my home.


©2020 Tanya Cliff






Beyond the Wall

scars untouched
like stars unseen
in the neglected wastelands
where no cultured eye sees
pain persists
beyond the wall

see no evil
hear no evil
speak no evil
touch no unclean thing
behind the wall

there thrive
off the fattened meats

while the wall is boarded

hunger exists
a chorus in the wilderness
of empty-belly pleas
that reverberate off a civilized wall

scars untouched
radiate pain
through the midnight wasteland
the loveliest stars
by industrial giants’


Words and Photography ©2019 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry,  free verse, & human rights.

100% Human

The body of the earth does not belong to me; my body belongs to it. The debate about Elizabeth Warren and her “native heritage” is a painful one, and it reminds me that the ethnic composition of a person’s DNA means little. What we do with our lives matters. I am 100% human. So what? If I spend my days lusting in the halls of materialism gone mad, than my “humanity” will amount to little but a drop in the cesspool of avarice that covers this earth I love like a mosquito-infested swamp and my 100% will choke off the fertile ground and pollute the clean waters that nurture all living things.

I thought about having my DNA tested. While I know that a large percentage of my ancestors came from Europe, most of them following the French-Indian fur trade down the Mississippi River from Canada, large gaps and lots of questions remain about my heritage. So what? Finding out that I had a percentage of Native American DNA or that I had an African Great Great Greatsomeone who was brought to this land in chains would not make me a res kid or child raised in the Chicago projects. It would not give me the right to claim a place at a table built on cultural identity and suffering where I have never eaten. I already care about my Native and African brothers and sisters with all 100% of my humanity. I want to see respect and reparation generously given to those on whose land and on whose backs this country has thrived, and I will continue to work toward that. We have a long, long way to go.

I want to see the land respected and repaired. I grew up wandering the woods around my home, a child of the wind who whispered his secrets in my ears, the trees who taught me to tap deeply into the ground and patiently stand tall, and the great rivers who taught me respect and awe. I didn’t grow up with material wealth, but I had the richest of playgrounds and a lavish education. Nature never asked about my DNA. She captured my attention and inspired my imagination without questioning what percentage of me was hers. I am 100% human. The body of the earth was not born of me; I was born of it.


Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories.

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imagine ~

if the obese worm
of bigotry
could be contained
in a chrysalis
forced to change
or starving die
might emerge


Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse

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cracked shell

                clam dies

cracked chrysalis

                insect flies

cracked skull

                head bleeds

cracked bell


cracked hull

                ship sinks

cracked egg

                sulfur stinks

cracked bat

                fly ball

cracked shale

                earth weeps

cracked earth

                land quakes

cracked book

                ideas make

cracked sac

                baby born

cracked bud

                flowers bloom

cracked window

                enter breeze

cracked wall

                humans freed

cracked smile

                contagious joy


Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

2018 – My Hope

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

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

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

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

has birthed infants everywhere
who will cry from the collective pools
that the children of spring
will remove the genetically-modified cotton
stuffed in our privileged ears,

so that we who have will





Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

Cherita #10

“butterfly” banned

winged insect breaks through chrysalis
and drips dry

its first flight, a girl points, delighted,
and says,
“Look, a flutterby”


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry cherita.

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