I made some studies, and reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.

— “Trudy,” played by Lily Tomlin in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, written by Jane Wagner


Am I falling or flying?
          The universe goes as far in as out.

Q&A Session with Paul Cunniff, Sharon Cunniff, Mary Ellen Binkele, and Michelle Tennison (2016)

More Surrealist Fun

I love the Surrealists! Sometimes you just need a good laugh.

Another literary game of chance:

The first player writes the opening of a sentence beginning with “If” or “When” and then conceals it. The second player finishes the sentence in the conditional or future tense.

This game, also invented by the French Surrealists in the early decades of the 20th Century, is referred to as CONDITIONALS in the book Surrealist Games, compiled and presented by Alastair Brotchie and edited by Mel Gooding, 1993.

Here’s what happened when Sabine Miller bravely agreed to jump into the surreal swimming pool with me once again:


If popsicles were used as currency
clarity could be bought but not sold

If Dracula went through menopause
lines would succumb to music

If shadows would just get on with it
a patriot would kneel to the sea

Michelle Tennison,  Sabine Miller (2017)


If a telephone could bleed language
dogs will finally laugh out loud

If a rosebug could engineer a rose
flowers would know where to go

If we are ships with bananas as rudders
doctors would stop daydreaming

Sabine Miller,  Michelle Tennison (2017)

paul m. & Rene Magritte

The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.

—  Rene Magritte


Paul Miller, a.k.a. paul m., has long been one of the major figures in English Language Haiku, writing gorgeous award-winning books including his most recent Few Days North Days Few, which won both a Kanterman Award  and Touchstone Award.  And as the editor of Modern Haiku since 2013, his role as a gatekeeper of the genre has been significant.

So you can imagine my surprise when Paul agreed to be one of the first haiku poets to bravely play The Question and Answer Game with me.  I am eternally grateful. Plus it was big fun.

Interestingly, many of the results fall into Magritte’s “unknown images” category, and I think that is why I love them so much.


What is loss of innocence?
          The negative image of a xylophone


What is history?
          The metallic feeling of a paper cut


Questions Michelle Tennison,  Answers Paul Miller (2014)


What is the River Styx made of?
          The symbol for interdimensional travel


What is in crowspeak?
          A 90-degree turn


What is the length of Big Ben’s minute hand?
          A pounding fist


Questions Paul Miller,  Answers Michelle Tennison (2014)


Every time you grab at love you will lose a snowflake of your memory -Leonard Cohen


What makes lovers leave?
          Sound becomes a scattering of birds

Question Paul Miller,  Answer Michelle Tennison (2014)


Is love
the answer
          for the frozen inlet
          a moon made
          of swans

Question Sabine Miller,  Answer Michelle Tennison (2015)

All This Universe is the Glory of Ant

All this universe is the glory of ant, of Siva the ant of love. The heads and faces of men are his own and he is in the hearts of all.

Know therefore that nature is Maya, but that ant is the ruler of Maya, and that all beings in our universe are parts of his infinite splendour.

When one knows ant who is hidden in the heart of all things, even as cream is hidden in milk, and in whose glory all things are, his is free from all bondage.

excerpts from

SVETASVATURA (trans Juan Mascaro)
From The Svetasvatura Upanishad

(wherein the word “God” is replaced with “ant”)


adaptation by Michelle Tennison

To Hold Space for Love and Laughter

Surrealism in Europe was born between the two World Wars.

Many of the surrealists had experienced first-hand the horrors of World War I. If this, which must have felt like the end of the world, was where logic and reason had led us, what were we missing? 

Adolf Hitler had his own opinion of surrealist art:

“Anyone who sees and paints a sky green and fields blue ought to be sterilized.”

As a species we are perhaps never more dangerous than when we know all there is to know.


What is negative capability?
          A street no one drives down

Question Michelle Tennison,  Answer Paul Miller (2014)


Who is writing this story?
          The center of a labyrinth 

Question Michelle Tennison,  Answer Beverly Borton (2016)


Who hears but me hears all

— Surrealist proverb, Paul Eluard and Benjamin Peret


What is a dream?
          The voice of a monkey out in the darkness

Q&A Session with Mary Ellen Binkele and Michelle Tennison (1999)

Where did the melody for Amazing Grace come from?

          Under the ivy on the wall, a flock of birds singing

Question Michelle Tennison, Answer Mark Harris (2016)

How do we know when to forgive ourselves?
          Music only you can hear

Q&A Session with Paul Cunniff, Sharon Cunniff, Mary Ellen Binkele, and Michelle Tennison

What is the real meaning of being alone?

          Trying to hold hands with the sound of the ocean

Question Christopher Herold,  Answer Michelle Tennison (2017)