aging

ISLAND IN A STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Haunted by youthful dreams
Too late to reinvent myself
Island metaphor strongest
Easier to be alone

There was Java
Circumscribing a mineral world
Of left-over lava
Decorating via fatal eruptions
Merapi volcano cosmology
Of fire-breathing dragons
Would I exist on a moon-like world

There was Fiji
Divided by time
Could stand there with one foot in today
And one in tomorrow
Or is it yesterday
Where the international dateline
Bisects the 180th meridian

Pieces of land
Floating in oceans
A fish net
A water purification kit
A lifetime supply of Vitamin C
It could have been easy
Sand or dirt a magic slate
Whatever written washed away
By tidal spray

There were other islands
Of song and book
But now that I look back
It is clear that the island experience
Was lived as I moved through droves of
Endless people
Smiled. laughed, talked
But they all must have been
Particles of colorful matter
Because I, the deportee
Now see
That the island is me…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: posted on YouTube by Placers, Merapi Volcano

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FLYING FINGERS IN A STORM

DEDICATED TO DENISE FLETCHER & JAMES CORBESIA

 

Resonator road
Tin shack swamped
Sinking beneath
Vines and moss
Dueling guitars
Electronic sizzling
Thrift store treasure
Shoulda stayed there
But it competes against
Lightning spears
Searching the ground
In a wet backyard
Here’s the star
My acoustic tenor guitar
Smug and safe
No connections with
The storm
Although thunder roars louder
Than metal strings
But electric unplugs
Acoustic wins the
Aging game
With a hot patch
On osteo knobs
And now the music
Under the aegis of
Modern medical heat
Allows delicate fingers and tendons
To play and sing
For at least an hour
Lost in the bower
Of the space time forgot…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Dueling guitars

 

 

CHROMA COURSE

My one hundred year plan
First quarter life in
Gray, cement city
Hot music spots
Gourmet eating from trendy pots
Life and noise
Adrenaline high
Suddenly an end

Second quarter life in
Green, overgrown swamp
Heat and dangling moss
Trees of invisible webs
Clinging to my face
Slowly feeling out of place
As I disconnect from people
And the working rat race

Third quarter life in
Brown, desert hills
Forest petrifying me
As I move among fossils
Dying to be free
Sun unbelievably
Morphing all into arid shells
Not much here, not even the sea

Fourth quarter life in
Voided, swirling, clouds
Darkness, vacuumed space
Leaving without a trace
Who can guess
Heaven, hell
Or maybe nothing
One big coalesce?

 

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Chroma Intensity

 

FOR GRATUITIES (SONG IN PROGRESS)

I KNOW, SAID I’D NEVER ATTEMPT MUSIC AGAIN BUT IT’S FUN! HERE’S ONE ABOUT BUSKIN’

(for baritone ukulele or guitar tuned DGBE)

A/ Busking in old D/ age
D/ Once fairly E/ successful
A/ Won an award or D/ two or G/ three
G/ Made some E/ money
C/ But now younger
C/ More F/ “relevant” acts
E/ Replaced me
A/ Find myself D/ wandering
D/ Into non-smoky E/ clubs
A/ Sad-sounding strings in G/ hand
A/ Hoping to G /land
D/ An invitation to E/ sit in
A/ With a more current G/ band
D/ Please recognize E/ me!
D/ Play? Oh, I  E/ couldn’t
A/ But the applause
D/ Polite, at least
G/ Encourages my walk
D/ To the stage
A/ All false modesty D/ forgotten
D/ And when finished
E/ I’m all the rage
C/ But no one F/ hiring
C/ More like F/ firing
D/ Most old guys like E/ me
A/ Now busk
D/ For a smile and a G/ clap
G/ Pathetic D/ sap?
C/ Nah, just miss it F/ so
D/ Retirement not in my E/ future
E/ But dare not D/ think
D/ What A/ is…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: sunflowers & baritone ukulele

 

skein

brain doing some interesting
slip-slide-glides anymore
not very sure
but may be related to aging
time-travel in my mind
and you are there
whether past, present or future
a quantum entanglement
yeah, i know
not meant to describe love
but it’s more a twinning
positive i’ve known you forever
and now
like einstein’s spooky action
i almost see you
because X marks the spot
oh, look, the shadow’s fading
forming a crystal-clear definition
and the cogwheels of my mind
creak to the music of time
while reaching out
across the light years of space
to see, and touch, your face…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: today’s skytrail over the swamp

 

THANK YOU MAGGIE KUHN

“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes” –Maggie Kuhn, Founder of The Gray Panthers

At age 34
I sat in the Women’s Congress audience
Enthralled by this old lady
And everything she said
Seemed meant for me
An older student
At the university
I couldn’t even speak from my desk
Without shaking
So although her words performed no magic
At the time
I conjured them up
When I really needed them
Stars and sparkles wreathing my face
Sneezing a bit from the moon dust
And for the next few years
Speaking in auditoriums for my career
No trembling, shaking, or fear
Just Maggie Kuhn’s words
Transforming me two decades later
Now I am old enough
To be a Gray Panther
(Although I was completely gray
By age thirty-seven)
And when once I wanted to be
Abby Hoffman, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez
I now want to age gracefully
Be grateful for aging
Be like Maggie Kuhn
It is not her birthday
Or death day
I just want to say
Thank you, Ms. Kuhn
I hope I can live up to your words
Now that I am on the path you blazed…

“Old age is not a disease – it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses.” Maggie Kuhn, Founder of the Gray Panthers

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

O HOLY MEMOIR

Why cry
When playing and singing
O Holy Night
I miss my high soprano
Soaring above the All City Choir
I cry for my youth
But hey
Think of that time
Tenth grade
I was being bullied in the girl’s bathroom
Bus tokens stolen
No boyfriend
Unknown autism making me
The school alien
Social Misfit of teenage hell
But that was then
And today, my voice
O Holy Voice
Gone
So I’m strumming the song
Didn’t know how to play
Ukulele in Tenth grade

But

And this is a positive
can play it now

Cracked singing
Like some boy entering puberty
High
Low
High-and-Low
Yet O Holy Night
Makes me cry
And I can’t see the chords
On the songbook by the time
I finish it
But WHY cry
Lost youth
Actually
My life is better than it was
In tenth grade
Yeah, I’m old
Yeah, really don’t do
Social niceties now or then
But a mere thousand miles away
Live my sons and granddaughter
Got enough money
To eat and dress and buy songbooks
So why
Why cry
For times past
When the truth is
Tenth grade sucked
Except for the voice
Soaring into the aethers
O Holy Memory…
(c) 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Baritone, songbook, sunflower (planted by birds)

MUSIC ROOM

 

When we met
Couple of decades ago
Heard you play guitar
At flea market bazaars
But you’d never buy one
You’d left your childhood
Garage band
Because your
Stairway to Heaven
Didn’t sound like
Zeppelin’s
Stairway to Heaven
And you never played again

Radio music interim
Interspersed with
MP3 tunes
Did their job
Kept me sane

Then two years ago
Thanks to internet window shopping
Bought a soprano ukulele
With a how-to book
For thirty dollars
And although I couldn’t decipher
Musical notes
Chords enabled this wannabe
To play amid laughter and joy

You listened for two years
And finally picked up the baritone
Tuned like guitar
Playing like a rock star

Love the ambience
Music frequently welcomes
Dawn
Often lullaby away those
Sleepless nights
Most of all
What fun to play together
Voices gritted with age
You picking with a hint of flamenco
Me strumming with a campfire aroma

And although we will never
Be what we were
To each other
All those years ago
It’s a functional way
To segue
Into old age
Making what we believe
Is beautiful music
Together…

(c) 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Guitar & Ukulele in the backyard

OVERDRAWN

 

Ways they may fail
Tomorrow’s borrowers
Via multi-withdrawals
Once again cruising through
The drive-through window
At the bank of time
Balance near depleted
Robotic voice
Vaguely sarcastic
Come again
Before the clock tower’s chime
Is no longer heard
By you…

(c) Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE Clock on Swamp Fence