Month: October 2015

THE HOUSE OF POE (reblog Poe-m for the poe-try man)

poe1

For years I would go

To the House of Poe

In the city of Philadelphia

Locked up and dark

Near a formidable park

With never a way to enter

After a domestic fight

I ran from the light

To the dark house locked so tight

Walked through the city

The home didn’t look pretty

Heard the croak of a raven’s voice

My heart told the tale

As a black cat did sail

By the back door that opened for me

I entered alone

The door closed, I moaned

Peering into the dark of the room

Is that a coffin

Guarded by a raven

On a catafalque of seraphim?

Surrounding candles waver

I wish I was braver

But I’m frozen to the floorboards

I can see into another room

A pendulum swishing doom

As a wraith breaks through the wall

When suddenly a quiet man

Scratching paper with a quill pen

Looks up and nods to me

“My dear, come here

Please, do not fear

How nice to have a visitor”

The floorboards creak

As I try not to squeak

And I see it is Poe himself!

“Would you like a sip

Of Amontillado, just a nip

Or do you wish to meet my women?”

I follow his pointing finger

See what must be a dead ringer

For each of his finest ladies

There is Ligeia and Lenore

Annabelle, Madeline and more

All dressed in crumbling grave cloth

I turn my back

On the women in white and black

And seek out the man I desire

Normalcy seems to be

The best choice for me

So I say, “You’re my favorite poet!”

“Alas,” he replies

“No one else is so wise

I am not appreciated at all”

“But you are at this time

It is 1999

And see, here is a book honoring you”

“How odd!” is his cry

Why did they wait for me to die

Before I am accepted?”

Says I, “Fortune and fame

An impossible game

To succeed, even when planned

That’s why I write

With no hope in sight

But maybe someday I’ll have won.”

“I come here at night

Although I know I’m a wight

To write the perfect poem

So I’m wasting my time

Leaving Virginia behind

But I am famous already?”

Poe stood up to go

I begged him, “NO!

Please stay for a moment at least

What is it like in the afterlife

You actually are with your wife?”

He looked at me and said,

“Life is not always what we wish

It is suffering and anguish

And we think that death brings relief

But the lessons never cease

Alive, dead or somewhat at peace

We struggle night and day

The terror that we feel

In the life we think is real

Is merely a living fantasy”

“So let me get this straight

Nothing changes in our fate

Alive or dead, our path remains?”

“Until we get it right

There will be no rewrite

We wander through horror and joy.”

“And what must we learn?

Help me to discern

So life can be easier for me”

“I cannot help you through that door

We each fight our own war

I will return nevermore…”

And he was gone

Poe and all his spawn

And I stood alone in the House of Poe

© 2014 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

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PERFECT AUDIENCE

RockStar, Bandit & Kali hanging around the trash

Like a little girl playing for her dolls

Fantasy audience

I gently remove my ukulele

From its Sixties psychedelic gig bag

And the dolls come alive

No, no longer a little girl

Dolls are replaced by dogs

Another fantasy audience

Max the Rottie

And RockStar the Chi-Bull

Immediately lie down on the futon

Bandit the Toy Fox Terrier

Snuggles in his quilted crate

While Kali the Rattie

Always an opportunist

Always kissing up to the hand that feeds her

Sleeps between my feet under the computer table

On a Dollar Store padded dog bed

I play all their favorites

Apologizing to them when

My hand mis-frets

(Is that a word?)

Their eyes close in ecstacy

So I imagine

As I belt out folk songs

Beatles songs

And other easy-chords tunes

With lyrics that I know verbatim

When finished, they are asleep

And I feel like a little girl

Successfully lullabying her baby dolls

Into doggie dreamland

Where full-bellied canines

Wander around a world

Of endless soft sand

Of bones and bowls of beef and

Of music soothing the savage breast

Where hearts beat with love

For their human who knows what they need

What we all need

Each and every day…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

GREEN

Color_icon_green.svg

She looked at the car

For the billionth time

It was advertised as

Hunter Green

But there was an unmistakable

Tinge of chartreuse

(Reminiscent of diaper changes)

No doubt the paint chemist

Who may have been texting

His cheating wife

Or working through

A Sunday night drunk

Erred

And the color stood

Worth the price, though

Can claim the color is unique

Beggars can’t be choosers

Mom always said

So she took out her

Five hundred dollars in cash

Earned by standing on her feet

By the street

US 19 South

Waving a giant foam hand

For a pawn shop advertising gold

In the freaking Florida heat

Dancing and singing to tunes

On her MP3

Music saving the day

And so she bought the car

Whose paint job was the best of it

Because under the hood

Horrors lurked

For a poor mother of two

Proving

Mercury Retrograde

Was not the time to buy

Someone will have to be blamed

Might as well be ol’ Mercury

God of Communication

God of Travel

He just must have his revenge

Even on the innocent…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

DECK PRISM

deck prism

In years past

Before electricity

Crystals were faceted

And used below decks

In sailing ships

To lighten the darkness

***

Safer than candles

Or kerosene lamps

Solar power refracting

Dispersing

Natural sunlight

***

So despite keelhauling,

Brutality and impressing

Drunken men or young boys

Our sea-going ancestors

Knew the secret of the sun

Knew not to waste

Too many natural resources

***

Although the whales were sacrificed

For their ability to provide fat for tallow

There is always an oblation

A diminishment of a species

Offered to the jealous gods

Who are expected to return the favor

By keeping us safe

***

On those rare, but dark days,

Of my soul

I seek the deck prism

Feel its vibration

Huddle around its meager, but reliable, light

And allow the power to transform

Mind and mood

Into a bursting crystal of

Optimism

Because light will always reappear

If we force ourselves through the

Shadows of life

That come

But most importantly

Go…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

SELF-SABOTAGING SEVENTIES

methamphetamine steppingstonecenter.org

i.

Women & children & dogs waiting

Always waiting

For the man

What’s a woman to do…?

ii.

Today,

While cleaning spilled ground coffee

From the counter

With a knife edge,

Flashbacked to

The one time

A neighbor

Introduced me

To meth

Watched her

Draw straight lines

On a plexiglass cutting board

Using a razor blade

Her Borzoi hound also watched

As she fumbled around for a dollar bill

From a Gucci purse

Such a beautiful young woman

In a House-Beautiful apartment

How I wished I was her

And couldn’t understand

Why she wanted drugs

When her life was so much nicer

Than mine

She showed me how to snort the meth

Dollar bill conduit to paradise

iii.

Within minutes

I was yakking away

I get high from tylenol

So this was no surprise

We sat up the entire night

(Our men were, well, who knows where?)

Yakking away

Neither of us listened to the other

Until she said, “Let’s decorate your pad!”

Went to my apartment

Carrying rolls of psychedelic contact paper

That my neighbor placed on the walls

And then we hung

Indian spreads she no longer wanted

All over the ceiling creating

A bower for the bedding on the floor

(Who knew where he was anyway?)

iv.

Yakking away

Yakking away

Hoarse

And I kept thinking:

Someone please stop me

From talking

From walking

From wanting to scream and run

Hysterical laughter

Punctuating every comment

Yakking

Heart racing

Stop this feeling and I swear

I will never do drugs again

And I didn’t

Well, maybe an occasional toke or two of

Weed for medical reasons

Like my gran with her bottle of booze

For medical reasons, she said

But rare, so rare

The natural state is best for me

Contemplation, not yakking

One of the few smart decisions

I made in my life…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: www.steppingstonecenter.org

VOICE ENVY

vocal_range_notation_piano

Once upon a time

There was a wannabe folksinger

With a high soprano voice

She struggled with guitar

But really, much too busy to practice

So she wrote tuneless songs

Calling them poems

And became a wannabe poet

Over the next few years

Soprano worked well for

Joan, Joni,

But what the wannabe folksinger

Morphed into

Was a wannabe blues singer

Like Nina

Or Janis

(Who is mezzo-soprano but

Rasps with the best of the contraltos)

Yeah, she wanted to sound raunchy

Not prissy

Although some soprano singers

Would take exception to that adjective

(Correctly, I’d have to admit)

Yeah, she wanted to wail

Because poetry is powerful

But music, to the wannabe,

Breathes life into the words

Especially when the voice

Is gritty, pained, down and dirty

That is life as she knows it

And soprano doesn’t do it

At least to her ears

And to her nerve endings

And to her heart…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: music.beasily.com

WISH YOU WERE HERE

vangogh cafe terrace at night

When I think of you

I am on the cobbled terrace

Painted by Van Gogh

It is a starry night

And I sip the richest espresso

&&&

No matter that I am really

Sitting in Subway

Sipping diet cola

Cramming veggies and cheese

Back inside my dry-as-a-Painted Desert

White flour bun

&&&

Unable to finish

I throw it away

Walk outside

Find myself whispering to

The trash-picking crows

“Bring him to me!”

Might as well send out the

Flying Monkeys

For all the response

From the gathering of

The black-winged murders

&&&

Ah, Vincent

(If I may call you by your first name)

Here you were, on the Camargue

In Arles

Surrounded by beauty

That you faithfully interpreted

For generations of art appreciators

Yet your life was lonely, too

And no crows or fairy godmothers

Could bring your love to you

&&&

Painters and poets and players of instruments

Why isn’t nature’s beauty and

Relatively good physical health

Ever enough?

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)