Month: May 2022



(poems written about me going from a Stoic to a Drama Queen, thus Chicken Little or Henny Penny)

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Walking through my next-door swamp

One cloudy noon

A small structure never seen

Appears in the gloom

Wood, blending in with the Live Oaks

But there’s a door

And a hose-like shower

A ‘Bania’? Bathhouse?

The Slavic DNA in me


And I remember Gran’s stories

About meeting fairies and yes,

Demons to beware

In the Bathhouse at Midnight

So no, not adventurous enough

To do a midnight romp

But now the gloom gives way

And it is midday

Twelve hours before magical time

Looking at the sky

Sun bright and high

Twelve post meridiem

No shadows to see

Why engage in word play

It’s my eclectic bent

New magical way

What will happen, I wonder

If I enter this bathhouse at


This is the threshold

To the other world

I recall

Moving toward the hose

I trip and fall

And my eyes close for a moment

Suddenly a little old man appears

The ‘Bannik’

I greet him respectfully

Give him a gift of coins dowsed

With the almost-finest vodka

And ask him to help me with

Continued health

“Do you need protection from the


Herod’s Daughters number twelve

Each fever demon is

Responsible for a different illness

Is it measles? Small pox?”

More like Covid19 says I

And he, a quasi-divinity

Peers at me from another


People then fought diseases now under control

“Do you have the faceless dolls of

Herod’s Daughters?

If not, bake 12 pies and leave them at the



Shouts he

And I open my eyes

Blinking at the empty ‘Bania’

Standing up shakily

And, I confess, getting the hell out of there

Back to my safe haven

Of dogs and plastic flamingos

Resin statues and even Roomie

Cutting the grass

While the cardinals call each other

And sanity

Such as it is



© 2022 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Herod’s Daughters, St. Petersburg Ethnographic Museum


There is peppery cayenne

Rich, red, and stinging

Think of all the dusty protection it’s bringing

Keeping my beloved dogs from

Crawling under the porch mat

Keeping sharp-toothed possums

From establishing habitats

Then there is Sangre de Drago dust

Magical healer when a paste

Healing skin sun-debased

But when a fiery, resinous smoke so dense

Lit, as if, an aromatic incense

No demons dare cross our threshold

Russian folktales have us enter

The mysterious bathhouse at midnight

To meet the magical water sprite

Sprinkling powdered flower dust

To ease us through the fear and mistrust



A phenomenon to displease

We sure do tend to sneeze and wheeze

It brings unease yet to clean it is a breeze

When we show our expertise

With dust that will appease

Our daily needs…


© 2022 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Magic Healing Dust


I want to find a



And strap my hands

‘Cross his engines

Because baby I’m old but

Still dying to run

O, so old now

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But nothing’s changed

‘Cept a lot more aches and pains

Ready for the next trip

But not Charon’s ferry

To the underworld


Ready for what?

Can’t explain the compulsion

To run

In the direction of the

Setting sun

April-born should love the East

Where sun signals beginnings

But hey, I’m not the black sheep

I’m the ram of Aries

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Virginia Woolfe wrote

If Shakespeare had a sister

She could not

As did he

Run away  to write

Play after play

She’d have to worry about

Rape and pregnancy

Women are not free

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So I’ll speed away

In my mind only

And I’ll bet you’ll see

That longing in our

Species’ eye

To solve the mystery

Before we die…

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© 2022 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Baba Jaga flying away


Reading tarot cards

For a friend

Rare, nowadays

But the question was

“I fantasize using

A celebrity

But eventually

Believe it and

Expect it to be real

It’s devastating

Because I fear

It will never be

And how can I live

Without him being

A flesh and blood

Part of me?”

I lay out the cards

And I see

A chaos of symbols


In my experience

We must consider


And I say,

“Think of him as your


Who looks like the

Famous star   

Who acts like the

Famous star

But you can mold him

Exactly as you want

In your fantasies”

She gives me this look

And I know

All along she believed

I’d predict what she wanted


But I could not say

He will be yours any day

It just wasn’t in the cards…

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© 2022 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  fantasy tarot reading