DOGS

SLEEPS WITH DOGS

M, B & Toto (wp, dogs)

Certainly not as romantic

As dances with wolves

But I imagine

Being canines

They also have fleas

Drool

Lick their, um, you know

And sniff each other’s hindquarters

But,

The other side of the ledger

Reflects coin of the emotional realm

I’ve had dogs who

Gently place their head on my shoulder

When I cry

Dogs attempting to speak English

Dogs who sleep in the crook of my legs

As I lie

In a cramped fetal position

During the deepest dark dreaming

I’ve had dogs who make me laugh

Who adore my awful strumming and singing

Who love me unconditionally

Well, okay, food is involved in that bargain

But that’s fair

Most of all, I’ve had dogs

Who daily mourn when

I grab my backpack

Signaling

I’m heading out the door alone

So yeah

I sleep with dogs

No matter how they smell

And each one, in my heart

Forever will dwell…

Cosmic Steppenwolf (wp, dogs)

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Some of my dogs through the decades

Janis Joplin (JJ) (wp, dogs)

Max (wp, dogs)

Kali holding her treat (wp, dogs)

RockStar (wp, dogs)

bandit (wp, dogs)

TIME LAPSE

 

Air potatoes in indistinct moonlight

Like modern Winchcombe Grotesques

Fortifying the overgrowth of summer vines

Chills in the heat, dancing along my spine

Monstrous night

Dogs plastered to the fence

Growling at an undone rope

A rope unwound

Hanging on a spindly tree

Gulf Coast wind winding up to

A shrieking Banshee force

Is it the 3 a.m. heart attack

Or a dream

Can’t recall rolling out of bed

Sliding through the glass door

Suddenly soaking suede cloth boots

I think, Well, that feels real

Surreal similarity of when I was four

High on my uncle’s shoulders

Defying the Atlantic Ocean

Then slapped by a wave

Drowning

But still breathing

Under the sea

Thinking

Well, this is it

Then feeling him find me

Scoop me up

Carry me back to Atlantic City sounds

Of ice cream men walking the beach

Of children shouting, alive and laughing

All a blank after that, like now

And I fall on sleeping red-ant villages

On the beach of my back yard

Mosquitoes glued to skin welting up

My smallest dog jumps onto my back

As if we’re in bed

And suddenly my head

Clears in the darkness

Despite humidity and drizzle

It’s real, I rise

Clap my hands demanding the dogs to follow

Maybe they, as nocturnals, belong here

But no place for me

At three

In the unearthly morning

Of moon madness

Brought on, I surmise

From OD-ing on chamomile tea

And vomit-smelling valerian drops

All in the name of at least

A good two hours sleep

But back in the cool air conditioned bed

Insomniac thoughts reverberate in my head

How’d I get there without remembering

And, most importantly

Who hung that freaking rope

Who hung on it…

 

swamprope1

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGES: Rope in my swamp, medieval Winchcombe Grotesque

winchcombe grotesques

 

CANIS MAJOR & MINOR (THE NIGHT OF THE DOGS)

Tonight

Appearing in the

Northern Hemisphere

Canis Major

Greater Dog

Known as Sirius

The brightest star

Named for the Egyptian god Osiris

Ruler of life, death, fertility and plant rebirth

Also visible is

Canis Minor

Lesser Dog

Known as Procyon

Both stars

Halfway between Orion

And Earth

So wanting to be with

Us aching humans

Helplessly watching our dogs

Over the years

Trek to the skies

As we bid goodbye

It is not such a huge leap of imagination

To think that our best friends

Have come to reassure us

Sniffing, smiling

As only their species can do

A joyously unique

Modus vivendi

Telling us yes,

We are happy in a new life

As we light the way

For those who are

Lost

Lonely

Herding them back

Before they go astray

So let us remember our dogs

Today…

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Image: Earth Sky

IN MEMORY OF KALI 7/26/12 – 11/29/16

 

Old Yeller, Hooch, iconic dogs die

At least Sparky is resurrected by Michael

Would have given anything to be

A guardian angel for my Kali

That’s the human’s job, right?

Failed what should have been so easy

 

Why’d the Rat Terrier DNA kick in

When you were so laid back

Wanting to eat and play

Absorbing heat in your spotted skin

And loving it every day

 

Down the rabbit hole

Never to return

What called you away

What did you need to learn

 

Can hardly bear it

You left our pack forever

The dogs and I cry

You turned your back on the sun

Lost forever in shadows

 

Kali, my once Sacred Clown of comic relief

How do I manage overpowering grief

 

maxkali-cattywampus

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

 

3dogs1

 

EVACUATION

 

**scroll down for a YouTube video**

 

What price happiness

When a hurricane claims dominance

Over small pleasures

But the things I love

Are now liabilities

Like huge Live Oak trees

Swaying

Precursor to toppling

On a mortgage-free

Tin trailer

Sitting innocuously

By a swamp

Soon to flood

Possibly

Shelter from a storm

Impossible

With four dogs

I thought portability

Was a safe way to live

But no room at the inn

Or hurricane shelter

For dogs

The simple life comes

With great cost

No sense to rave

But through it all

I wonder which

Ukulele I should save…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

YouTube video, Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter https://youtu.be/RbmS3tQJ7Os

IMAGE: 2004 Hurricane Jeanne tree missing my trailer, just…

 

So my friends, once again I’ll be off-line.  The hurricane will be worse on the Atlantic side but because the winds are so powerful, the powers that be are evacuating trailer trash like me.  Thanks, as always for all your likes and comments.  Hope to be back soon.  Stay safe if you’re in the path!  Clarissa

MAX’S BIRTHDAY CAST OF CHARACTERS (8-11-2006) (Happy Birthday to the Big Guy)

3dogs1

RockStar–the Pit Chi–a pirate

Secret stash of stolen pens and rawhides

Leaving no map to confiscate property

But I find them

Can almost hear him growl:  Arrrr, human scalawags!

Digging up my pens

Tasting better than Jolly Roger’s bleached bones

He glares at me with those green eyes

But I avoid walking the plank

When he finds a sardine

In his kibble bowl

Better than coin of the realm

 

Bandit a Toy Fox Terrier growler

I try not to baby him

As all five pounds strut around

Strong and muscular and adrenalized

Although clueless about building a stash

He’s able to defend the one in his jaws

Loves to play-fight

Must have been a

Soldier of Fortune

Unmerciful Mercenary

In a previous life

 

Kali, Rat Terrier-cum-Dragon Lady

Piling bones, balls and rawhides

In a comfy dog bed

Then flinging herself

On top of the treasure

Seemingly sleeping away the day

But like a cartoon basilisk

One eye remains open

In case she needs to breathe out defense fire

 

Max, Rottie mix, larger than life

Plays a cameo role in his

Birthday poem

Well, might makes right, right?

Who’s going to argue with a

One hundred and ten pounder

Even when he’s ten years old today

Not me…

Muddy Max

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KALI (REVISED FOR HER 4TH BIRTHDAY, JULY 26)

 

Aisles of tables crammed high

Smell of bacon mingling with musky perfume

Morning coughing from the smokers as they

Sneak their fifth one of the day, hunched outside the doors

Coffee scent, the morning sustenance, dominates

The aisle of dollar breakfast booths.

Slinky long dresses promise me admiration

As they shimmy off the hangers to the floor

Colorful pottery chipped by careless buyers

Glitters in the morning sun, begging to host a plant

Tattoo parlors and gun shops, coin and pawn booths

Harley boots and leather vests alongside polished crystals

Nestling in sachets of smudging sage

Layers of masks litter the bargain table

But who cares what they are concealing?

I have an objective in this endless flea market

Crowded with shoppers who walk the aisles disguising

Hopes and dreams and the need to spend money

To make the pain go away.

There she is, waiting for me, I just know she knows

I saw her sitting there last week looking tired and discouraged

Her sister was taken away and she was in mourning

Three months old in a cage quickly becoming too small

I didn’t rescue her last week because I could hear the refrain

“Boycott puppy mills”

But where do these puppies go if we do not rescue them?

Testing labs? Euthanasia-oven-ashes-in-the-trash?

Her eyes haunted me all week and here I am

She is on sale today. When I ask to hold her she gives me her best

Face licking, smiling, staring into my eyes: Take me, please!

And I do.

What a healthy, happy girl she is

Type B, not really interested in living up to her breed

Or her name: Kali the Rat Terrier, the Warrior Goddess?

No. But definitely a sacred clown

Knowing the right laugh buttons to push

Born under the sign of Leo, yes, she is a classic Leo

The biggest surprise was when

Her Mom DNA kicked in

Rescued two puppies last year

And she mothered them as if her own

Happy Fantastic Fourth birthday, dearest dog Kali

I cannot imagine life without you.

 

© 2014. 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), Poetry of Memory: Six Decades From the Space-Time Continuum

IMAGE: Kali & ginger plant

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

Midnight

Back yard

Dogs gleefully hunting

Digging for tree frogs

From the swamp

Suddenly

High pitched screaming

Unidentifiable animal

Expecting the dogs to bark

I see that they silently

Look through

Wire fence spaces

Something is being killed

I want to stop it

I want to save it

But the dogs

Respectfully honor

Both predator and prey

Understanding the circle of life

The food chain

I go into the house without them

Soothing myself with the ukulele

Air conditioner thankfully covering up

The discordant music of death…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: FLORIDA BLACK VULTURE OVER MY SWAMP

NEW ORLEANS JAZZ FEST — NOT!

 

Another year passed

Still not invited to the

New Orleans Jazz Fest

So I did my own

With sparkling performances

Of new material

Never before sung

YouTube-free

My incredible

“Five Planets and a Full-Hunger Moon”

Strumming plaintive chords

On the concert ukulele

Singing between mezzo soprano

And a forced contralto

Doesn’t get any better than this

In between my own work

I sang all our old favorites:

“Jet Plane,”  “Blowing in the Wind”

“John Riley,”  “The Boxer”

Well, ok, folky but kinda

Jazzy Folk

And then a Talking Blues

My own “Engine Block Hotdogs”

“Joe Hill,”  “Rebel Girl”

“City of New Orleans” brought down the house

Thanks, Arlo, for a great song

They begged me for an encore

So I did “Channeling”

The very first song I wrote

Yeah, had my own Jazz Fest

In an air conditioned Florida trailer

Then ate and slept with the audience

My ever-polite dogs

Who says I don’t know how to have fun?

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: My Peace Ukulele