Congratulations to Bob Dylan for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature! I remember saying in an English class (1980s) that Bob Dylan was the greatest poet of our time. Not only the class, but also the instructor, laughed at me. I’ve never changed my opinion. He set my life path when I was 15 years old and I’ve never regretted it!

Many of his songs seem to have arisen from literature.  I noticed that A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall is a lot like the old Irish The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel.  There is the repetition of “what did you see” and other elements of heroic folklore and folk music.

Literature comes in many forms and nothing is greater than the traveling bard singing the poem…

(c) 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)



(Your terrorizing didn’t work, Mom, but thanks for trying )


**Scroll Down For YouTube Video**


Sweet Sixteen visit to an off-campus frat party

At the local Ivy League University

The time is before designer drugs

Hit the street

A time when date rape was mistaken

For love and lust instead of

An act of violence

And the worst thing we have to worry about

Is the dreaded

Yet oh-so-longed-for

“Spanish Fly”

A mystical

Maybe mythical


That makes nubile


Female teens

Panting for the


Male teens

With no blame

If she “does it”

Because who could resist

This secret recipe

Slipped into…where?

One’s drink

Or throbbing parts

Nice girls are not allowed to know about

Any excuse

To strip off one’s clothes

And finally feel

What the characters of Harold Robbins,

Henry Miller, Grace Metalious

And all those others do

In books stolen

From parents’ bedrooms

To be hidden under the lining of

The bedside chair

Reserved for reading by moonlight

On lonely, virginal nights…
© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  Blurry Me At Sixteen

YOUTUBE VIDEO: Ringo, You’re 16 https://youtu.be/4x19vy_9aFc


Sea of cars

Like a humpback whale convention

Row after row

Speakers dangling off windows

Rolled up, fighting the city mosquitoes

Flinging their bodies against the glass

Humidity glazing the outside windshield

Passion steaming the insides of those big-fin cars

Monsters larger than life stomping across the screen

In black and white

Teen girls

Soon to be called women

When the feminist movement

Roars through the states

Pick their way

To the bathrooms

Why is there always a line for females

But never for males

Are they using the bushes

Behind the stands

“Go on out to the lobby”

Sing the dancing refreshments

Time to wade through mass mayhem

To buy salty, oily popcorn

And sugary colas

Rumored to make girls sexy

If taken with aspirin

The boys stuff dollars

Into the hands of the girls

Who are willing to stand in line

For this treat divine

No escape from the pandemonium

Pushing, laughing

And talk-talk-talking

Most of all

Now back to the car

When the movie continues

What a wondrous place for teens

What a wondrous place for

Pajama-clad babies

Those babies conceived in liberty

At the drive-in movie

So long ago…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Solano drive-in


gs pin

Clap if you believe in peace…

Like clapping for light and love

Flowers wilting in my gray hair

Discordant voice hoarsely flying through the air

Eyes closed against the news, I see me

Flag bearer in green uniform

Girl Scout 1950s Memorial Day parade

Dad earlier pointing out the remnants

Of Spanish American War survivors

There goes Mr. Gerwitz,

Smelly old man in Edwardian suit and tie

Now wearing a moth-eaten uniform

For a moment, I see him at eighteen

Striding along in the tropical heat

Determined to beat

The enemy

And end all war

Within six years

I will march again

Despite loved ones dying in Vietnam

I will scream against the war

My screams will join others

And we will save the world

I so believe

I clap because I believe in peace

And flying fairies

And Giant Killers

Who slayed the ogres

Ring Wraiths

Bad guys

To begin our Utopia

Clap if you, too, believe in peace

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

SACRED SIXTIES SONG: Phil Ochs’ “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”

(Another poem in celebration of Phil Ochs’ 75th birthday)

phil ochs i aint marching anymore

Phil’s voice echoing in my mind

As I learn to play

My new ukulele

Here are the chords

No riff, but couldn’t do justice

To the memorable, musical phrase

That always gave me chills when a teen

Listening to him on late-night weekend FM

No commercials in the sixties

Bought the album

Saw him countless times at folk festivals

And Philly coffee houses

Spoke to him twice

Well, in my ultra-shy way

Went through a period of

Perverting his song

As I tired from marching

Although it was to prevent the type of marching

Phil Ochs meant

Anti-war but also voting rights, Women’s Lib

War just kept coming

Voters got rights but stopped voting

Women didn’t want equality if it meant

Sharing a bathroom with men

In frustration I invoked the words of

Phil Ochs

Silently shouting:

“I Ain’t Marching Anymore”!

But got through that phase

An activist works for the common good

Not for the individuals who may pervert the act

So here I am

Almost a quarter of the way into

The twenty-first century

Voice scratchy

The pressing of frets slow

Giggling attitude toward my ineptitude

But playing and singing

Phil Ochs’ call to war

Against war

So here I am

Daring to replicate the sacred chords

Of I Ain’t Marching Anymore

What a high…

© Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Here’s a Youtube link to the song:  https://youtu.be/gv1KEF8Uw2k


60's Peace Jewelry 3

Gypsies, Jews, Africans too

Vietnamese, Philippine, and Protestant (a few)

Catholics and even a Muslim or two

Hispanics and Atheists add to the brew

Also Gays and Lesbians of every hue

I feel so proud that my 60’s dream came true

This is my family as the genes pass through

New blood that brings to life a modern view

Tolerance in families is not new

A practice our whirling planet must pursue

It is something we all can do

Spreading DNA from me to you

Eventually, the world will be a stew

Realizing this is déjà vu

Unhealthy war, we can start anew

My flower power wish, love is the glue…


© 2015 ViataMaja

(Image: Some of my 60’s peace jewelry)


Need to bleach my blue collar

Accept the mighty dollar

Settle into being a scholar

And stop with the union view.


Should turn in my flower

It never wielded much power

Hatred and no peace words of the hour

No one cares anymore, it’s true.


Nothing to overcome

Play all day and bang the drum

Give in, give over, succumb

Glass ceilings never broken through.


Decades of marches for change

Now it all seems so strange

Just a blip on the stock exchange

To historians it’s déjà vu.


The spirit of the times withdrew

Apathy continues to accrue

Protest music a hullabaloo

Mix up a new evolutionary brew.


PJ PARTY MEMOIR (Dedicated to Lynn Sher)

Sixteen will never return

But memories are lasered

Throughout the brain’s cortex

Faces, songs, snippets of conversations


Big PJ party in NJ

After living in PA

Until age 15

Now starting new friendships

What better way than to unite

My old and new friends?


Lynn is my new best New Jersey friend

She wants to be an actress

See her here? Long hair, tall, beautiful

And she actually likes me! Me, so boring

So serious

Writing “God is Dead” in my diary

Copying the Existential JP Sartre

Whose name is unpronounceable

Like is it Sart or Sartray or Sarter?

Yet, I should be writing about boys

I have a crush on. But no, cannot do that

Always have to challenge myself, be different

But my Philly friend Arlene, one of the popular girls,

Is impressed with my words (thanks, Arlene!)

And my Philly friend Wilma is used to my nuttiness

(Thanks, Wilma!) We’re singing partners on long summer porch nights

And Madi, my cousin’s cuz, you may have been there too

Laughing along with me. We both loved to laugh (thanks, Madi!)


Lynn organizes us

She says, “Let’s put on the ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ album

And do the parts! I’ll be Ann Margaret!”

So here are a bunch of sixteen year olds

All kinds of sizes, all kinds of faces

Lined up on the Broadway stage of my parents’ new home

Singing, “Did you hear about Hugo and Kim? Did she really get pinned?

Did she kiss him and sigh? Did he pin the pin on? Or was he too shy?”

Oh, how I secretly craved to have a boyfriend like Hugo who loved me!

Oh, how I now realize we ALL secretly craved to have a boyfriend like Hugo who loved us!


We danced the next hour, singing and laughing

My poor parents had to work the next day

But they battened down the hatches in the bedroom

And let us let loose


After pizza and soda

(No one knew or cared about cholesterol back then)

It was “West Side Story”

I wanted to be Anita

Sultry Rita Moreno

I knew all the words and it was my party

So I was Anita and Lynn was Maria

Then we became the Jets

Shining as we did “Cool”:

“Boy, boy, crazy boy, stay loose boy!”

Broadway, watch out for us!


In order to wind down we did

The “She looks like she’s asleep thing”

One person stretched out on the floor

The rest of us circled the “body”

Dark room, quiet

Each of us repeating from the previous:

“She looks like she’s asleep”

“She may be asleep”

“Do you think she’s asleep”

Finally ending with


Sliding two fingers from each hand

Under the “body” and lifting her up into the air!

Far out! What a magical group we were!

Levitators extraordinaire!


Eventually, most were stretched out on the floor

Gently snoring, eyes dancing in REM mode

I rarely slept and Lynn was the same

We went into my room, sat on the floor

Me smoking, she not

And talked about our futures

I would be a best-selling author, of course

And Lynn would be an Oscar-winning actress


The following week she called me from the hospital

Saying her mouth was bleeding and she had dark bruises

On her thin arms and legs

I went to the hospital next day

And we talked and laughed

Although her eyes were like full moons

Sailing through a purple-bruised sky


The next day another NJ friend called me

To say Lynn was dead from Leukemia

How to bear never to be able to laugh and talk to Lynn?

It will get easier, I was told

But this happened exactly 50 years ago

Why are tears trailing down my cheeks

As if it was yesterday?


© 2014 ViataMaja, Laminas (Poetic Memoirs)