aging

TANKA (NEW YEAR’S DREAM FOR FRIENDS & FAMILY)

Two Tanka about what was important to me then and now. Wishing you all a happy, healthy & fun new year! Sastimos (good health)! ❤

My dreams then:

Wishing us true love
Money, careers and travel
Home and family
But midlife did unravel
Youth and strength fading too fast

❤     ❤     ❤     ❤

My dreams now:

Wishing us good health
So we can be wild and free
Posture confident
Striding around life’s runway
Facing future mystery…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: 2020 Norfolk Pine 1 year later 2019 Norfolk Pine newly planted

2019 new-year-planting-sm-px

Jen, here is the one I planted 12 years ago (Here are 2 pictures of the Norfolk Pine I planted 12 years ago from a tiny sprig that was stuck in a flower pot. The trunk is spindly but the leaves are lush! )  12-yr-old Norfolk Pine 1

12-yr-old Norfolk Pine 2

 

IN MEMORY OF KB

Just heard you died
Haven’t cried
Not going to
But all these memories
Glimmered through
Last moments of a sunset

In your way
You taught me how
To behave in the real world
How to disguise my autism
Although we didn’t know that word
But you certainly knew
I didn’t function quite right

Met in 3rd Grade
Both dressed the same
Mine orange, clashing with
Sallow skin
Sailor-suit themed
So proud until you walked in
Red, white and navy blue
Angelic blonde with eyes so
Caribbean ocean true
A fairy princess to my
Dark hair and eyes
An evil-looking Disney witch
At age seven
But we bonded

Mainly hung out at my apartment
Over the corner grocery store
Your mother with
A touch of violence
Similar to mine
But mine was working
So just us
Looking out on the vast expanse
Of Oregon Avenue
Never returned to your house
You’d shocked me when you stole
Money from your mom’s purse
Twenty-five cents
To buy us candy
But she caught you
So I got scared
And ran home

5th grade teacher
Shamed us every morning
If we had incomplete homework
You’d say to me
Before class started
“I have incomplete homework, do you?”
Lying unusual for most autistic children
And so I said “Yes”
And you said
“I don’t. So be sure to stand up
When teacher asks
Or I’ll tell on you”
This happened 3 times
And I finally got it
You challenged me
To learn not to trust
And how to read the clues
On a face: lie or truth
Impossible to know
When older I decided
The lies of a Gemini provided
A new perspective for me

When we were 13 I bought a cheap wig
Blonde
Hated my dark curls
You refused to walk to 7th Street
Where we shopped for
Lipstick at the Five & Dime
You said I looked awful
Must take off the wig
And should make the most of the natural curls
I didn’t make the most
But did take off the wig
To walk and talk with you
And in future, I knew
To really study the image
In my enemy the mirror

The thing I loved most
Was you coming to my home
After school
Especially in the winter
And we’d talk without a light
Sitting in the twilight
We were 15 and you taught me
To smoke
Kept the weight off, you said
And it did
Smoke, twilight
Your face would morph into
A soft, happy voice
As mine did too
And we were equals
In the gray light
No blonde, blue
No dark, bright
That year you told me you were
Once molested
By a family friend
And last week
You’d had sex with a man you met
At the coffeehouse we’d discovered
He taught you words like
“Pseudointellectual”
And I spiced up my sentences
Loving words so much
Not realizing
I was the pretentious
Pseudointellectual
Until you suggested it
But
You were also feeling depressed
You were also feeling hopeless
You were waiting for something
But what?
I sometimes felt the same
Hormones
If we’d been born Millennials
Instead of Baby Boomers
We could have googled
“Hormones in teenage girls”

At 16 I moved to New Jersey
And you didn’t want to visit
So it was two years before I saw you again
Although we’d talk on the phone
But not in smoke and twilight

Moving back to Philly
We picked up
Right where we left off
And at 19
You were at odds
I was dating a med student
You agreed to be fixed up
They picked us up
At my house
Saw your face
And both of them tripped over each other
Helping you into the car
While I stood by
In despair
Long black curls
Black eyes
Knowing I didn’t have a prayer
To feel good about myself that day
Because you were a gorgeous
Blue eyed blonde Disney princess
And I still the Disney witch

The following year I married
And never saw you again
Didn’t know anything about your life
Until told you died two years ago
And I thought how you were the one
Who always cared enough to tell me
How to act, fit in
Showed me your
Occasional inside ugliness
But also the inner beauty
Because you stuck by me
And all I could think about
Was how I never truly saw you
Was how I never truly cherished you
Wasting precious time because
I wished I was you…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Sleeping Beauty & Witch

GYROSCOPE (song-in-progress)

I’m a wild gyro
Tilting and spinning
Nothing, no one
To tether me
Maintaining orientation
And angular velocity
No problem though
Locating the horizon
When the mist comes
Surprising to see
I’m lost but then
By sheer will power
I right my brain
Like an airline control tower

You yank my string
Send me turning
Churning, burning
This aging heart…

Old bones can learn
To do new tricks
Like dogs biting
Entrenched swamp ticks
But here I go
Once again
Back in my ’07
Honda C-RV
Driving crazily
Through shadowy back roads
Six crates of my crap
All I own in complete defeat
Slipping off the back seat
To the World Music CD drumbeat

You yank my string
Send me turning
Churning, burning
This aging heart…

After days of driving
Back where I started
Land of swamps and palms
But I’m like a handful
Of July 4th cherry bombs
Short fuse, loud noise
Ready to blast
Whatever I worked for
And thought I owned
Gone in a gust
Of anger and mistrust
So the engine ticks
As I get out and stare
Ready for more psychological warfare

You yank my string
Send me turning
Churning, burning
This aging heart…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja
IMAGE: Gyroscope with Baritone Ukulele

SECRET OF LIFE

Sanguinaria canadensis
(Bloodroot)

I: LAMENT

Ways of the old
Are lonely roads
In modern days
Try the herbs
When the end is here
Yet no one believes
In the cure or fear
Go to the doctor
If you’re scared
But although I respect
Others’ choices of
Slash and burn
No one respects mine
Ah, if only I’d paid
More attention to
Gran’s ancient lore…

II: HISTORY

Many years ago
Used a salve
Instead of allowing
Burning and slashing
In my body
Painful in its own way
But within a year
It spewed the poison
And life was once again good

In the heat of the cure
I woke up in darkness
Hearing myself say
“So that is the secret of life”
But couldn’t remember the
Vital words preceding
The statement
So sure
So sure I knew
And instantly forgot
The secret of life

III: OLDER BUT NOT WISER

Now I have need
For the same cure
The same salve
To pull the poison
From my body
But
It is more serious now
Perhaps being thirteen years older
Has added to the stress
But I am looking for quality
Not quantity of life
So I try alternatives

IV: COSMIC JOKE?

Napping today
Trying to ignore
Scared looping
Thinking of the
Cosmic Joke of Life

Cosmic joke or each little psychic mote
Seemingly silly or useless
Meant as a part of the larger secret of life
Like being handed an A Minor or Fmaj7 note
What to do with it?
Put it all together
Work together
Make music

Think of Grim Reaper gift
Some have told me they know
Not only the date of their own death
But the date of others
What could possibly be the value
In a “gift” like that?
Or my “gift” of the Bird Psychopomps
Appearing before a family death
Tangled in my hair
Trees splitting
Faces superimposed on mine in the mirror
Book shelves falling apart
What is the value of that?
I cannot warn anyone because
I don’t know who it relates to
Until they die
Or think of a friend
Looking up at a boat hanging in a ship yard
Realizing it is going to fall
He runs and it falls
Wondering
Did he make it fall
Or did it warn him it would fall?
More questions than answers

V: EVEN MORE QUESTIONS

So do we, the people of the world
Each with a bit of psychism
Need to meet and talk
Were we all given a clue
To the secret of life
All with a piece of the puzzle
And until we talk to each other
Combine the clues
We will never understand the secret of life?

VI: CLUES

We’ve all been entrusted with a bit of it
This will take a lifetime or more
To solve…
Hints in symbols and codes
Tarots and alphabets
Equations and cells
Elemental tables and
Dowsing wells
All there
Waiting to be combined
Waiting for us all to share
Our talent
Our truth
A huge cauldron
Containing a big bang
For the next step in
Evolution

VII: LOST IN THE LABYRINTH

Or does Sanguinaria canadensis
Create a high?
Healing and pulling
Bodily poisons
Challenging the brain
To figure it all out
Unforgiving
And if so
I can only conclude
The secret of life
Is living..

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Secret of Life: Herbs

FERAL (on hemp oil)

Little bit of old age pain so taking a little bit of hemp oil. I’ve become a little bit
uninhibited (that’s a little bit good). Interesting thoughts while watching Joan Jett
eat…

*scroll down for a Joan Jett video

WTH?
Swear I’m swinging
On a fur-clad sling
Wearing fur?
Oh, no!
Hope the animal rights groups
Don’t splash me with blood or
Red paint
But never wore fur
Couldn’t afford it
And I’m vegetarian
Not the radical kind
Hey, eat whatever you want
Well, not me
But I look around
And honestly
The word “Scruff”
Echoes
I’m being carried by
The scruff of my neck
It’s a cat
A black feral cat
And wait!
Too much hemp oil?
I’m a kitten
A starving one
With a desire for milk
But aren’t I lactose-intolerant?
Hate milk
Suddenly
(That horror story word)
“Suddenly”
An orange male cat
(I know he’s male, can smell him)
Leaps at the female
Mom?
Carrying me
Didn’t I once feed a feral cat?
Didn’t want to do it
But her cry seduced me
Music like I’d never heard
Pathetic
Beautiful
Secretly named her
Joan Jett
Oh, no!
He’s trying to kill me
For food?
I know male bears do that
To their cubs
But do cats?
And while wondering
How I became a cat
My eyes close
All is dark
And I tumble down a tunnel
Toward light
So bright
It finds its way through my eyelids
And I wonder what
Life
Or is it
Death
Brings me next…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Joan Jett eating

*Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, I Love Rock & Roll

PETRIFIED!

Our lives are like a fossil record
The past built upon the corpses
Of who we were
Evolving in our lifetime
Age 10, age 20
Stages part of the record
Phases of impressions
Visible along the
Striations in different hues
Records of me and you
An old map relevance
Hope I remember
Life is merely a planned trip
Guiding me to me
Time synonymous with vertigo
Yesterday
Today
Tomorrow…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Fossils

ABANDONED!

When does immortality desert?
Listening to the wind and rain
In a rickety old Victorian
Off the Atlantic City
Boardwalk and ocean
Wanting so much to be swimming
In the flooded streets
Like the other children
Sailing through life without
Health-conscious adults
No, didn’t desert this little girl
Sneaking outside to ride the wind
Sure was immortal when
Hurricane Hazel hit
Brave and bragging
Like Beowulf in Hrothgar’s Court

Immortality didn’t desert
Around 1987 when she swayed
With her workplace
On the 13th floor
University spread out below
As West Philly fought the deluge
Standing by the window
Daring the winds
To crack open the glass
And carry her on an adventure
Work and motherhood and
Young woman power a
Powerful fuel
Indestructible as Beowulf
Ripping off Grendel’s arm…
Certainly didn’t desert her
When living in Florida
Watching the Roomie
Wind surf in the Gulf
Lifting ecstatic arms
Inviting the power to the Earth
Screeching with laughter
Crossing Dunedin Causeway
When the No-Name Storm
Tried to take away her life form
No, this almost-middle-age woman
Was still immortal
Enduring as Beowulf
Decapitating Grendel’s mother

Now, now mortality
Has wrapped her in its heavy folds
Not a warm and comforting blanket
Just freezing cold
Age-old
Fears
And she cowers
In a time-worn tower of years
As new imps introduce themselves
With names like
Fragility
Autoimmunity
Stupidity
Done in like Beowulf
By the dragon’s mighty fire
Cyclone: the mirror showing
Time ending onshore
Immortal no more…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGES: Hurricane Dorian 2019 / Cyclone 1

cyclone1 sm px

ESCAPE FROM PINK

Born in an April Pink Rose Moon
Lover of red and black
Roses and sun beams
Suddenly smack against the wall
Of no longer striving to be happy
Personable or at-least-cute
Swimming in worry
Unable to rise to the glass’s top
Like newly-poured sweet cream

Mapped my way from Earth to sky
Head tilted at a neck-aching angle
Eyes constantly on the night sky prize
Searching for an older body’s scheme
While gravity grounds me physically
But emotionally all over the top
Bouncing off walls
Like an astronaut in training
Living in extremes
Wanting to float
Like myriad space debris
As an ultimate dream
Untethered from the Earth

How I wonder if my books have worth
I think of Bukowski’s poetry
The Last Day of the Earth Poems
Aged and sad
Maybe planning his final leap
Grim and dark
Hardly a sunny gleam
But poets don’t lie
We wrap our truth in starry dreams
Oh, yes, the reality is there
As you strip away the pretty paper and ribbons
Uncovering silent lunar screams

Have I reached too far
Over-reacting to aging?
I should ground myself
Rejoin the flamingo flock
Stop the aging themes
Enjoy the earth, water, air and fire
The base of all our alchemical balance
The stuff that weaves together
Human dreams
Should…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Flamingos & star globes 4

HOW MANY YEARS…?

*Scroll down for YouTube videos

How many more years do I have
To dance around to Soul Sacrifice
Santana’s masterpiece at Woodstock
Michael Shrieve drumming his way
Into percussive history
How many more years can I play
My tambourine
Along with the recorded band
Will the body hold up?

Will I ever get over
Not being there
Married a few months
He laughing at my longing to go
Of all the things we argued about
It’s the one NO! I’ll never forgive
(Advice: Never marry someone
Who doesn’t like the
Same music as you
Who doesn’t like to
Sit by a sizzling campfire
Huddled under a shared bedroll
In the endless rain)

So year after year
Every hot and rainy August
I celebrate Woodstock
Alone
In my air conditioned room
Dancing, singing, pounding the tambourine
And here it is
Fifty years later
I’ve slowed down
Bones make strange tones
When hauling myself off the floor
So I ask rhetorically
How many years
Will I have left
To listen to Jimi, Janis,
Dead, Who, Airplane, CSNY
And to Joni, who also missed Woodstock,
Yet she conjured up the eponymous song by
Sheer imagination and talent
But I am left alone, wondering
How many years are left…

*YouTube video, Joni Mitchell, Woodstock https://youtu.be/cRjQCvfcXn0
*YouTube video, Soul Sacrifice, Santana https://youtu.be/xBG6IaSQCpU

bandit&rockstar woodstock2 sm px

(C) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGES: Woodstock poster/My dogs with tambourine

rockstar woodstock1 sm px