Month: July 2016



Growing and sharing my home

Pots of live

Jars of dried

Bottles of extracts

Brewed under New to Full moonlight

Each with their own personality

Hard not to grow a friendship

With such misunderstood healers

Angelica sinensis

Also known by her Chinese name

Dong Quai

A female ginseng

She had Oh Dee’d on her

Utah boy, Ephedra,

Thinking he looked so much like her

China boy, Ma Huang

But the good news

Ignoring the side effect

Of heart arrhythmia

Was that she dropped into a lower baggie size

Saw palmetto

Serenoa repens, in contrast

Is a Florida boy

Serious male prostate herb

He hungrily eyes Angelica S.

But unable to woo her

Until his nature kicks in

Herbs, so good, yet so slow

To heal

Patience required

Capsicum annum

He’s also known as

Cayenne, our favorite chili ingredient

By day

Plant tourniquet

By night

Magical blood hemostat

Saving me from an operation

When I flooded and drank a few teaspoons

Sanguinaria canadensis


Parts of it banned by the US FDA

All I can say

Is she saved me from a radical

Slash and burn “cure”

Took a while to work

Took a while to heal

But will always be grateful

For Mother Earth’s gifts

Lovingly sharing her friends

With me

And anyone else

Who can see…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: CS with herb table 1993 or so




(part of a personal history for my granddaughter)


Many years ago

My DNA finally kicked in

I’ll tell you about it:

Separated, living in an

Affordable apartment complex

Unknown to me

A drug street

This was a time

When my aura was white

Encompassing me

After being scrubbed in the

Painted Desert and

Petrified Forest

Pure and still I was

Moved in, owning only

Card table and chairs

Cot and a Salvation Army

Chest of drawers

That I painted blue

Fridge from the years

Before the birth of my boys

Knock on the door

Five tall men—neighbors

All walked in, inhaling weed

One said,

“Damn! You poorer than we are!”

Missing my true wealth scattered through the rooms:

Jars of herbs and brass dishes of crystals

They nodded and left

But my aura affected them

They became my guardian angels

Worked two jobs: 9 to 5 at the university

Entering strings of T’s and other letters

Into a MAC for a cancer researcher

6 to 10 at a real estate

Typing long contracts using

An old Brother typewriter

Inevitably making a typo in the last few words

Had to redo so I did

On the Elevated each night

Then a bus

There were my five angels

Smoking weed on my steps

Nodding good night, they left


So Poe, what’s with the title of the poem

If it doesn’t include the tortured genius?

The apartments were 4 to a building

Lining both sides of a city street

One day everyone moved out

Except me


I mean, that’s not an expletive

Like the “Peanuts” characters say

Rats for real

They never came in my space, though

That white aura protecting me

My sons, living with me some days

Or several blocks away with their father on others

Squatted in an apartment above mine

One night, climbed the stairs

They were cross-legged on their sleeping bags

Surrounded by candles

Fourteen-year-old autistic son

Eleven-year-old younger one

Sweet voices, trying to growl and sound scary

Taking turns reading from my old book

Together, in unison:

“Quoth the raven, nevermore…”

My heart, a shooting star of pride

Watching from the shadows

The joy on their faces from century-old words

Making the best of their poorness

Perhaps not realizing the true horror

Surrounding them

As they reveled in the beauty

Blossoming from rampant imagination

Thanks, Poe, you kept us all sane…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: with my sons, about 1991




Why does Fate

Force some of us to wait

When we wish for Fame?


Talent unrewarded

Makes the mind disordered

Future promise dies from shame


Finally, dear Pamela Colman Smith

Your artistry depicting magic and myth

Has been lovingly recognized


A commemorative tarot tin

Your name first for the deck within

Has given what we prized


Rider-Waite never felt right

As I gazed at your art late into the night

When I was a very young girl


Like Edgar Allan Poe

So very long ago

You and others stayed hidden like a pearl


But genius and ability

Will demand visibility

Although you may never know


So like decades before

I read your images interpreting lore

Honoring the gift you did bestow…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens, ViataMaja

IMAGE: My tin of Smith-Waite tarot cards






1.2 million galaxies mapped out

That’s a lot of suns both alive and dead

It’s made me feel completely overwhelmed

As possibilities scream through my head


The 3-D map may unlock the secrets

Of a mysterious dark energy

Relating to universe expansion

Buttressing theories of gravity


World-wide group of scientists met in peace

Mapping space billions of light years away

Measurements taken over a decade

Expanding our minds with this news today


Can you look at this map and still pretend

That all war and hatred is a godsend?


(c) 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: 3-D map of 1.2 million galaxies (IFLS article)





Wrote this in 1992–after a 3-year spiritual quest–about part of the “secret” name my Gran gave me (her secret name must have been The Jokester):  ViataMaja (Life’s Illusion)


Quatrain:  Rhyme Scheme ABBA “envelope” iambic trimeter


I’ve stripped away the veil


I fear what it may mean

But I’m on the right trail


It betokens lost hope

For future happiness

The thought does not depress

Most days I seem to cope


If all is illusion

And I finally see

Why do I want to flee

Back to the confusion


Nirvana is promised

When Maja is revealed

Truth is now unconcealed

I’ve become a realist


Perhaps that’s the reward

Seeing life cold and stark

Yet hearing in the dark

A sad but lovely chord


© 1992 & 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: My Number 10 Drom Ek Romani card: Strip Away the Maja



Sometimes she brought with her imaginary friend

As company during stressful situations

Straddling reality and fancy

A comfort for one always alone

He a rock star

She his rock

Functional method to counteract

The outside world’s overwhelming bombardment

As if Jackson Pollock floated in the sky

Employing his drip style technique

Splashing paint splotches on her

Pounding head and worried eyes

A soothing way to shop at Walmart

Or patiently wait in traffic while driving

They’d converse, in her mind

She wouldn’t gesture or move her lips

Always being aware

It was a comforting fantasy

Perhaps a replacement for cigarettes

Once gloriously inhaled


One twilight she won tickets to see the real rocker

She went alone, first row center

Fantasy man, holding her hand

Sitting in the imaginary seat between her

And the real stranger on the aisle

Suddenly, there he was

Flesh, blood, sweat and swinging long hair

And the world darkened

Suddenly flung her through a tunnel

Flashing stars seen at a great distance

Her head under attack

As if her mother’s purse

Of JFK half dollars

Was opened and the coins

Rained upon her

And the world crumpled

Forcing her imaginary friend to vanish

The doppelganger legend so true

He died when he saw his double

Although the real deal didn’t see him

And continued to rock on

And she didn’t know what to do…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, How They Met



(scroll down for YouTube video)


Began my love affair with you

A twenty-five dollar acoustic guitar

Gifted for my sixteenth birthday

Six wild months of passion followed

As I learned all my favorites in a

Peter, Paul and Mary song book

But like many flighty teens

It was merely a flirtation

And I met a twenty-five cent kazoo

Who was not as high maintenance

As you

Requiring no lengthy practice time

Just blow and hum

Eventually, gave him up too

Stuck to the radio until MTV entered my life

But just didn’t get the videos

And the music, well,

No real Janis or Jimi-worthy singers

By the 90s

I was buying 60s and 70s CDs

Screw trying to stay current with music


Fifteen years into the new century

Began a new love affair

His name is ukulele

Oh, the excitement!

And after a full year

I’m still in love!

Playing every day

Writing silly songs

Singing off-key

My ukulele and me

We’re one

But no,

Under the sign of Virgo

I’ll be traveling 1000 miles

To see my sons

How will I part from my

Long-term lover ukulele?

He’s too much to drag

Along with a suitcase, back pack

Laptop, phone, kindle, and two

Pairs of black boots


Doesn’t my son own a guitar?

Tremblingly, I ask via phone

May I borrow it while you’re at work

The full week I’m alone in the home?

Yes, yes he says!

And this feeling

That I kept secret for a week

But am now confessing on social media

This shocking feeling is called LUST!

I’m LUSTING for my old lover

Willing to cheat on ukulele

Throwing it under the bus

To have one last dance with guitar

But I will pay for my sin

I’m a die-hard acoustic-lover

Once booed Dylan at a folk festival

When he hauled out his electric guitar

Oh, how can I play one?

But I will

I will play my son’s electric guitar

I will probably pretend to be Joan Jett

Singing, “I Love Rock N Roll…”

(Oh, wish I was skinny like her)

And I don’t care that I’m hurting ukulele

I don’t care that I’m selling out my principles

Trading wood for plastic

I can feel guitar

As we embrace

I can hear guitar as we duet

My heart is racing

Consummation at last…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  B.C. Rich Warlock Metal Master

my related poems:  Joan Jett, I Love Rock N Roll (YouTube video)





The wind sings different songs to us

In our special pageants of power

I feel threatened by yours

You feel contempt for mine

Or is it merely a projection

Of the sheltering tree’s longing

To fly far away?

The soaring bird’s longing

For permanent roots?

The bird needs to rest in the

Arms of the tree

The tree needs to feel the

Caress of bird’s feathers

Can a tree be content

With only her leafy hair flying?

Can a bird be satisfied

Temporarily sojourning

In the roots of a tree?


© 1992 & 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: My Live Oak at sundown