My annual Independence Day poem:


Growing up in Philadelphia

Home of the Declaration of Independence

And that wildly independent founding father Franklin

I pondered the meaning of Independence

At a very young age

Countries become independent from their oppressors

But people can become independent too

And that was what I tried to do

I became self-sufficient

Didn’t hurt to read Thoreau at age sixteen

Yet, of all the words he produced for us eager hippies

I fastened on what may be his saddest quote:

“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude”

Countries really cannot live in solitude

As we see by the history of United States wars

So much for the Monroe Doctrine


Well, here I am, meandering between

The idea of an independent country

And an independent person

Does anyone dread

What’s waiting ahead?

Our presidential election

Lying and promises

Slur-slinging and anger

Tossed between the candidates

And we, the voters, surrounded by

The circle of hate

Like children in a game of dodge ball

Will we unfriend our friends on social media sites?

Click out of their opposing posts of rhetoric?


I was taught to not talk about

Politics, religion or money

With any but family and close friends

Being an independent woman, however,

I couldn’t stay away from activism:

Feminism, racism

All in the name of peace and love

“In order to form a more perfect Union”

As the Preamble to the Constitution states and,

“Dedicated to the Proposition that

All men (and women!) are created equal”

Thanks to Lincoln

While I asked what I could do for my country

In answer to JFK’s challenge



So important

Yet, so easy to independent ourselves

Out of friendship and love…


© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)


IMAGE: View of the head of the Statue of Liberty, designed by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, on display on the Champ de Mars, Paris, France, 1878. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)