aging

HALLWAY UKULELE (memoir)

Beloved but battered
Blah, blah, blah
Can’t say enough
Love it badly
Patiently waiting
In heat and humidity
For me to sling it over
My narrow shoulders
And make it sing
Remembering
New teenager me
Raging Chakiris* crush
As he sang
Roses and Lollipops
Lollipops and Roses
Oh, the garbage we moon over
When young
Believing in romance
And love
Old now, don’t like the lollipops
But still adore roses
Yet
Who knew I’d be banging away
On my hallway baritone
Singing songs about
Life’s disappointments
Yet
Yet
So much fun to strum
And on really bad days
Can raid my stash
In a clothes closet pocket
Peanut butter and chocolate
Almost as good as music
And truly superior
To two-timers I have known
In the realm of romance…

*Actor-singer-dancer George Chakiris (unable to find the video)

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Red roses & baritone ukulele

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ACHROMATIC BLACK

 

*Scroll down for a YouTube video*

A hueless color
Completely absorbing visible light
It’s why I wear only black
Born in the wrong century
Incorrect body size
It’s why, despite the breakdown
Of facial skin beginning to fossilize
I Amy-Winehouse my eyes
Disguise my hands with black lace
Goth Granny needing moonlight
Bathing me in a silvery beauty
Short and going dumpy
No longer a cutie
But hey, I’m alive
But hey, I’m self-propelling
But hey, I’m happy in my
Quirky feminist way
It’s a new day
And we Baby Boomers
Who cannot afford cosmetic surgery
Sneer at botox and chin lifts
Avoiding mirrors during the day
But hey, we’ve got the secret of youth:
Classic Rock
And like Jagger sang
I’ll paint it black
And like Amy sang
I go back to black
Now I’m off to sing and play
Songs about glorious black
Creating a memorable sound track
As another birthday approaches…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Amy Winehouse

 

 

 

RED SONG-IN-PROGRESS (memoir)

Red Rover Red Rover
For Red to come over
Childhood game
When our blood did flow
Scrapes and red-tinged bandaids
With young bodies
Pulsing like Native drums
At American pow-wows

Red
Blood
Life
Flood

The beat goes on
The heat pulsing the blood
And then one day
It changes…

Flirting and hurting
Judged, loved or hated
Trying to walk dignified
Through teen years as the
Moon monthly controls
Female tides
Red flow meaning
Safe another month
Slut-footing past the boys
Pulsing like Gypsy tambourines
At doo-wapping City corners

Red
Blood
Life
Flood

The beat goes on
The heat pulsing the blood
And then one day
It changes…

Sleep with legs straight
So blood will circulate
But I awake
In a tight fetal state
With that artery
Behind my left knee
Pulsing like Santana drums
At Woodstock

Red
Blood
Life
Flood

The beat goes on
The heat pulsing the blood
And then one day
It’s gone…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Red#1

#21 THE WORLD

The World is so much more
Than Earth and the visible
Night sky
Telescopes and space cameras
Transport us to galaxies unknown
When tarot cards were first shown
Although there were always a few souls
Who knew what was out there in the vastness
Of space

THE WORLD is the archaeology of our past
Moving us through the present
And showing us the future
Symbols on cards mimic
Symbols of everyday life
Like the day I found an engraved coin
With my name and home address
Of a place I lived before age seven
Lying in the mud near a shed of broken crates
My past zoomed in and saw myself
Winning tickets for Skee Ball
To use on the mechanical engraver
In an Atlantic City arcade
Before casinos wrecked the ambience
Of ocean and sand and fries in a paper cone
Of cinnamon donuts and black coffee at midnight
From Mammy’s with my Gran

I rediscovered the coin
After finding a feather
That pointed the way
Very small feather
From a Florida Black Vulture
Stripping the flesh
From a corpse so fresh
And so here is my future
I thought
Death

To live in the now
Would be best
So I hauled out my tenor guitar
Music,the most beautiful part of
Anyone’s present
Although old songs transport us back
To the past
The words are seared in memory
Never to go
Always with us in the current phase

This trio reminds me
Of a wedding superstition:
Something old (coin)
Something new (guitar)
Something borrowed (feather)
Uh, oh, I’m blue
Because I
Always have
Always do
Always will
Need to find images of life
And force them into
Patterns
Patterns that ease the chaos
Of my world

And like the moon
We go through the stages
Circularly
As past, present, and future
Twirls like the Earth
Orbits the sun of our existence
And tilts with the seasons
The World
The tiny world that is ours
Our personal world of elation and sadness
Of terrible regrets but moments of gladness
We dream of space and vastness
But we are the microcosm
Like symbols imitating life
We mimic the macrocosm
Because the World is us…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGES: Arcade good luck medal, feather & guitar: zoom in to see my full name
and address on the coin/Photo of the arcade mechanical engraver

arcade stamped good luck coins machine SM PX

STRENGTH #8

(another w-i-p for my upcoming book)

From where does your power emanate
Are you silent, thoughtful, or brash
What gives you the strength to continue
Love, anger, friendship, family
Yes, all of these bring power
But when we walk alone
Through sickness or anguish
Through grief or approaching death
Can you call upon your symbols
Mine are words and music
Plants and stone
These are tactile representations
Grounding me yet forming
A fortress of protection
No one can ever breach
A place to heal
So I can return
To those I treasure
In my quiet
But often solitary
Life…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Berry Winter Among the Gargoyles

 

UNRECOGNIZED/WINTER DISGUISED

Following middle of the night
Poetry ideas
Into oblivion
Darkness magics the words
So Stygian
Yet moonlight
Like blankets
Shields and comforts
Transforming a stressed face
Into a softened glow
As the mask melts
Lost in a
Mythology unrecognized
Although semiotically using
Correct signs, symbols and
Elemental scents
Winter disguised
It is the unrecorded that
Fascinates
Separating historically
Asking the clouds rhetorically
Who will I be this decade
Because I certainly don’t know
That other person from the last
And moving back in time
Across an invisible line
Is a very different
Woman
Young adult
Teenager
Child
And I think
To my great surprise
I like this old one best…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Winter Disguised

NATURE’S MUSIC

*scroll down for a YouTube video*

Magical Mulberry
Playing baritone ukulele
In stark sand instead of snow
Live Oaks sheltering
Woodpeckers and Crows
Do we get what we need?
The Stones’ Jagger thinks so

Years living in the city
Happiness was a vacation
Tent, fire and scenery so pretty
Mountains in the Poconos
Brandywine River nights
Drinking coffee and cocoa

Now I live in a tin camper
Surrounded by trees and swamp
Small, only two lots
Didn’t get what I wanted
(Victorian home with gingerbread
And secret passages to mysterious rooms)
But wouldn’t trade what I have today
24-7 camping life
What a way
To spend these holidays
On Nature’s 2-lot beauty
Rewarded in my old age…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Mullberry playing baritone ukulele

*YouTube video You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Rolling Stones

SINGLE-STORY TOWER

Entropic trailer
Humidity-swollen floorboards
Warring with Recluse spiders
Who pay their rent by
Trapping mosquitoes and flies
But don’t get them angry
Or you can die

Though the womb room is intact
Climate controlled by air con
High speed internet switched on
Futons piled with sleeping bags and quilts
Walls lined with musical strings
Feng shui excellent
Especially when you look out the glass doors
From shack to avian wilderness
Just slide the magical portal
Enter a mini terrarium
Micro-environment with
Bird feeders and Oaks
Palms and Aloes
Wild red and white Trumpets
Orange and pink Lantana
Potato Vines and Spanish Moss

Oh, yes, The Tower scares many
People hurtling off the parapet
Sky electricity crackling
Implosion!
But look at the lightning
Flashes of insight
Lighting the way
Easing life’s problems
If you are thoughtful and solemn
And safely surrounded
By swamp and woods
No neighbors to judge
No visitors to begrudge
Just me and the roomie
Dogs and wild birds
Feral cats and slinking possums

Entropic, inanimate wood and tin
Versus harmonic organisms
Music and compost and smelly well water
Yes, a lightning-struck tower
Crumbling
But fortunately
I am aging and
It will outlast me…

the-tower-smith-waite-tarot

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGES: Red Trumpets in the fog & The Tower (Smith-Waite deck) & The Crow Tarot
(Margaux Jones https://www.facebook.com/crowtarotdeck/ )

(c) Margaux Jones, Crow Tarot

MOMENT OF IMMINENT ACTION

O, that moment of imminent action
When a confluence of worlds intersect
All is possible
Like The Death of Socrates
as he reaches for his hemlock
Iconic cup of forced suicide
What will he do? Recant?
It would change history
But the speechifying continues
Outcome clear
“Don’t!” I shout to the painting
As if there is no known conclusion
Might as well scream at the hero of a horror flick
“Don’t go down the cellar/up the attic/outside to the shed”
And now, in modern times
I find myself screaming at the dumb teenager:
“Charge your phone!”

O that special moment
Time etched on canvas in paint
And the Universe holds its breath
As I hesitate
And then say, “Sure, we might as well get married”
Maybe not as important as Hector
About to be murdered by Achilles
Can he surrender and live to fight
Another day?
And why do I
Focus on marriage?
Surely I regret giving up
Guitar, writing, tarot
Perhaps it’s just feeling Blue
During this Red, Green and Gold holiday
But junctures appear, innocently beckoning
And I so wish there had been
A painting depicting that imminent action
Something I could have studied and thought about
Before opening my mouth
And just maybe
Unlike Socrates and Hector
That moment could have been deflected
A lone laser point harmlessly careening
Into endless space…

death of hector by Achilles Peter Paul Rubens

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGES: Jacques-Louis David, Death of Socrates (public domain)
Peter Paul Rubens, Death of Hector (public domain)

FLIGHT

Survival of the fittest
Political temperatures dictate
Fight, flight, freeze
Been frozen for a few years
Chronologically too old for fight
Adrenal glands choose flight
Travel with jars of natural
Peanut butter and jelly
Crackers withstanding staleness
Jugs of water
Rolls of toilet paper for trips
Behind hedges
Baby wipes hygiene
Oh, why did I
Get rid of the travel trailer
Can I live on 4 wheels with 3 dogs
And a driver?

Icy dawn heading north
Wind whipping long hair
Through minute window cracks
Canine scent-sense tells me
When we pass salty or loamy aromas
The truck a speeding bullet
Of movement
Until yawning stars give way
To a cloudy dawn
Where have I gone?
Flying away to safety
Bicameral brain
Merely a strain
Logic says no safety in denial
Creativity says
Draw, write, sing SAFETY
Until it is real

The sky is falling
How do I make it right…?

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: I VOTED