Month: April 2015


trestles @ creek mineral bluff 2

A photo will not show

Vacation highlights because

How does a camera capture low humidity

A breathable phenomenon

For those who wade through weather

In, for example, the state of Florida?

How to take a picture of utter silence

Broken only by a dog’s bark

Or the crack of a rifle

(My fear I stifle)

Unaware family of deer moving across

The forest floor pocked with

The pecking of wild turkeys

We cautiously find our lost path

Forest giving way to civilization

Dogwoods shelter my dogs from the woods

As we tramp across a wooden bridge

Twenty feet–no handrails–above a frantic creek

Of rushing water like a loud bully

As it pushes over a collection of rocks

Here near Mineral Bluff (Georgia) Depot

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

But all we find are the remnants of

Rotting railroad trestles

Recycled as natural planters

Raging creek rapids a daily garden hose

At last, the cabin with an indoor

Scent like a forest of fresh wood

Though wet dog odor proves

Nature’s aroma is no match

This power spot is also situated in

Cherokee County, North Carolina

We drive through the American blandness of Murphy

With its identical fast food restaurants and stores

Only to find out that it was once the sorrowful

Start of the Trail of Tears

The site of the Cherokee Removal

When the tribes were forced to move

West of the Mississippi River

I shed tears for them and other forced marches

Even in my own ethnic nightmare of the Second World War

The breakaway state of Transnistria

A place where the Roma and Sinti

(Members of my family)

And Ukrainian and Roumanian Jews

Were deported to their death like the Native Americans

And so many countless groups on our beautiful Earth

But we are a luckier generation

We get into the car and drive to

Copper Hill, Tennessee to see a mine full of arsenic

Eating away at a town of unfriendly people

We thought we would move there, the reason for our trip

But no, too much heartbreak and suffering permeate the air

We stop to see the TVA dam that powers all but my WIFI and cell phone

Two useless-in-the-mountains pieces of technology

Teasing me, not allowing me to communicate

How spoiled I am! Not forced marched out of my homeland

Just forced to be without social media for a few days…

None of it matters, of course, because

The power of four seasons (instead of two)

In a three-state section of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Tempts me by awakening the desire to leave

The impossible temperatures of Florida

To begin a new life

Will I?

© 2015 ViataMaja


NPR free mulch pile

Shoveling chicken manure from coops

Bagging rabbit manure from cages

Pitchforking horse manure from riding stables

Picking up paddies from dairy farms

Lots of dung, excrement, guano, droppings

Whatever the euphemism, it’s quite a load

Anything, though, to alter the beach sand

Composting the backyard garden

Feeding the earth to do what it does best:

Producing, gifting us with food

But in time, despite the layers of grime

It reverts back to gritty grains

Perhaps the message from Earth is

Move on…

Image: New Port Richey Recycled Mulch Pile

REPOST: My Birthday Sonnet (The Sixties)

girl-before-a-mirror picasso lg px

I am a smooth-skinned, slender sylph of youth
I am only seventeen, you must know
Someone cursed the mirror (I speak the truth)
With a horrid image of an old crow!

Someone said my mind must be mildly cursed
If I cannot discern reality
But as an Aries I meet life head first
So numbers are a triviality.

The mind holds the past, a young effigy
Sixties is not an age, it’s a decade
Where I choose the date when aesthetically,
I roamed through those mists as a lovely maid…

Rock out with Jimi and Janis today!
The self-bestowed present for my birthday!

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens

(Image: Girl Before A Mirror, Picasso)


lemon eyes 2

Who is that lemon-eyed monster Staring at me?

Such an acidic look

Makes my face melt

You appear to be an orange

Yet you taste like a lemon

The only tree in the forest

Behind my fence

That offers what seems edible

At first glance

Yet makes the tongue contract and swell

A betrayal that only the camera can capture

As you snicker at the unsuspecting

Even the birds and bees are smart enough

To avoid you

My love for lemons

Cannot be consummated

Because of your cruelty

I spit you out

Watch you molder in your antagonism

Yet you manage to get in the last laugh

Life Stages According to the Manuals

(Dang, my birthday’s coming and I’m feeling cynical…)


We start with Dr. Spock or a child “expert”

We new mothers, scared, confused about

Developmental stages of our babies

Sleep through the night

Walk by age (fill in the blanks)

Potty trained no later than (fill in the blanks)

Playing well with others

In the supermarket

We buy our children their first manuals:

Teen magazines

Boys avidly reading body building ones

Girls poring over hairstyles and makeup

Boys to eat protein and develop strong bodies

Girls to eat lettuce and look like little boys

Here comes the bride is next

How to have the perfect wedding

When the cost of one day’s ritual

Would do better as a down payment

On a house

A dream house

In the right kind of neighborhood

So the next manual details

The perfect house

The perfect lawn

(Get rid of the unsightly dandelions

Despite their being an important

Immune system herb

That our parents and grandparents

Used to make healthy wine and salads

Before the invention of herbicides)

Career manuals are now available for

Both women and men

How to be successful

(i.e., earn lots of money)

Before the age of forty

Because one should have

A huge 401K by age 50

To shelter us from the storm

And so it goes

Until old age

Is there a manual for that?

What happens to those who skipped

A few of the important milestones?

For those of us who bought into the 60’s disdain for money?

No house in a good neighborhood

To sell for the retirement condo

No 401K, bottomless savings

Shares and stocks and bonds

In short, an unsuccessful life

According to the standards of today

Doesn’t matter if we tried to be kind

Or gave our last dollar away to the homeless

The measure of success shows

When we click into our online accounts

So for those of us floundering

Without the manual that makes sense

For the unsuccessful

We need to write our own

“How To Be Unsuccessful In Old Age”

“Do What You Love, The Money Will NOT Follow”

Success, can it be defined by:

How many strangers did you hurt while climbing?

How many strangers did you help while climbing?

My mantra for success will never change

Despite their being successful

The Beatles said it best:

“And in the end

The love you take

Is equal to the love you make”

How I hope that is true…

© 2015 ViataMaja



The old fire ring of stones

Contains charcoal chips of wood

Barely burning, just a few embers

All paper and kindling carbonized

Oh, how to keep it going when

The forest is bare of naked branches

How to fuel the fire

To heat up one’s life

Is there anything wrong

With wanting a little warmth?

So what if the fire leads nowhere?

Is it so different from reality

That sometimes halts abruptly

Due to whatever he may see and dislike

Whatever way she falls short of expectations?

To me, fantasy is easier to fuel…

© 2015 ViataMaja

Romani Oral Tradition (repost of my sonnet for International Roma Day)

Roma flag
Who says we cannot read? We read fringed lines
As they meander across your worn palm
We read the leaf clumps and delicate vines
Clinging to the empty teacup, now calm.
We read your story of pain and glory
On sketched chips of wood or bright vellum cards
Lines, clumps and vines are your inventory
Reflected from both eyes, your facial guards.

Asking us for help, we once again read
The page of your voices, anger, and fear
Despised, uneducated, we still bleed
In sympathy for your disguised veneer.
No country, no school, no planting of seed
And yet we have always known how to read.

(c) 2014 Clarissa Simmens from Madame Sosostris Explains, A Poetry Patchwork