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.

A Candle Lit

a candle lit
they made too much of it
it was nothing
little flicker
casting wimpy shadows
in a dark room
filled with the hot air
that
critics
naysayers
and
waylaying souls
all
breathe
like
wing-clipped, impotent dragons
fresh from
fire gland removal surgery
nail clipping
fang filing
and
plugging their nostrils with lambs’ wool to protect against the stench
of the sulfuric lies they spew

little flicker
like stage blood
offends
in drops
the cultured, privileged eyes
now covered
but
provides
aesthetic gore
to those sheep led to the slaughtering fields of
deprivation
starvation
and
war
their sanguine fluids shed
they
can
relate

little flicker
they made too much of it
it was nothing
wait
until
they
see
the
flame
it
sparked

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

 

If Nature Erected Walls

if nature erected walls
to keep foreign plants off native soil
dug the foundation deeply
to make evil roots recoil
built the barriers high
and
higher
could she prevent alien seeds from crossing
in their clingy flight on winged things
would she try
or
would she,
the master artist,
paint the vivid colors of biodiversity
and be glad for her expanding pallet
then
I wonder
if nature erected walls
to protect her vulnerable places
would she build herself a chastity-belt fence
to halt earth-stripping exposure
from lusty, mechanical hands
and
stop
fracked-oil raping
that leave her lovely portraits
smothered in charcoal hues
rent
and
ruined
I wonder
if nature erected walls
what part would she ban

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

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My Striking Pen

Is my pen led astray?
Or just having its way?
two line strikes
and
those “rich green, carpet of flowing grasslands”
become
“verdant meadows”

Ideas morph in the margins
the chrysalis cracks
under the weight of my rolling, ballpoint pen
NOW
“the welcoming pale pink petals of my wax begonias that lure hummingbirds”
flutter away as
“blushing invitations to winged friends”

Arrows zing around my page
in colorful edits
this is war
in my mind
ten words drop in a single line:
“the furry, flop-eared bunny hopped, hid eggs and in the yard and, exhausted, dropped”
simply put:
“the rabbit died”

I’m not crying
rabbits
though cute
are ever multiplying
like words
before edits
they overrun the garden-page
NOW
weeded
hunted
tended
ideas flourish
under the cut of my striking pen
this is war

~

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.

Sentenced

asked I
to the pencil graphite tip
that fell under my desk
rolled off the top of my bare foot
and lodged its complaint in the plush carpet under my toes
as I plucked it out
between my thumb and pointed finger
just before I flicked it into my garbage bin
like a dry crumb
“Did I press too hard?”
“Did I poke through the page?”
I hear my English professor’s stale echo:
“Writer’s should show
finesse,
subtlety
and
grace,
each word carefully chosen.”
that poison-arrow dart
broken, but still sharp,
left me a tip
before its trash landing:
charcoal smudges on my hand fit for fingerprint blotting
“Guilty!” it said. “Sentenced to life!”
the witness has formally testified
for there on the pages before me
poured out from my beating heart
my written words
bled

~

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.

I Played #2

I played
acoustic strums
on vibrating strings
echoing
through a hollow sound chamber
carefully crafted
for harmonic reverberations
hand-drawn notes from calloused fingers
diverse sounds produced from skillful fretting

I played
on a concrete step
that led
to a House of White
deafened
where the ears were stopped
the chamber plugged with hand-picked cotton

leaving me but the snap of a dull string plucked
the insensitive quack of a nervous duck

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink,

My Intergalactic Trip

I tried to visit a planted called #MAGA
in a galaxy far, far away
applied for an intergalactic Visa
but I was rejected
on the grounds
of my planet’s
dark brown coffee beans

#MAGAns exclusively lap vanilla cream
from crystal bowls
on silver platters
they’ve placed an interstellar ban
on all forms of caffeine
and caffeinated beverages
like me

so I stole away aboard a pirate space ship –
“The Percolator” –
in hopes to steal of view
of a #MAGAn or two
while some dark roast was traded
on a black market
to #MAGAns grown weary
of vanilla cream

we sailed an orbit all around #MAGA
only to discover
an impenetrable, atmospheric barrier
erected
to keep our brew away

our captain, Java the Hutt,
laughed maliciously
as we flew through space
in search of a market –
a weary planet in need of a jolt

Captain Java bellowed,
“Foolish #MAGAns!
In fear of the indigestion they think caffeine will bring,
they have severed their sole supply of vanilla cream.
With milk delivery routes from the planet Magnesia
entirely stopped up
the entire #MAGAn civilization is doomed
to thirst, ache and explode.”

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

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The Lion Roared

the lion roared
he huffed and puffed and blew
the proverbial house down
not difficult
let’s face it
most houses are built by straw men –
scarecrows lacking brains
who trip down yellow roads made of brick
they should have built their houses out of

bacon is on the menu, boys
just ban the Muslim, Orthodox Jew or vegan
more for Maugrim and his pack to chew
while they patrol the White Witch’s frosty Narnia
here
free speech
will cost you more than a bite of Turkish Delight, Edmond
she’ll turn you into stone
at least the big, bad wolf can no longer blow you down

down…on your knee
the National Anthem is playing
down…in prayerful protest
down…in silence
down…we all fall down

freedom of speech includes the freedoms
to pray
to kneel
and
to be silent
down…to the back of the bus
make room for rest of us

down…like Aslan on the Stone Table –
a silent, sacrificial move to set dear Edmond free
caught in a symbolic theme –
the twisted rope of a children’s tale
Roar?
no more
until
quiet, gentle Aesop’s mouse
gnaws through that binding straw cord
in peaceful protest of biased persecutions
then,
once again,
set free
the lion roared

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.