domestic violence


Amazing how an incident happening today (criticism by a stranger) could trigger a
looping of past trauma. Just a reminder that domestic abuse lasts a lifetime, even
when life is safe and happy. Fortunately, this world contains poetry, music, and some
supportive family and friends creating rainbows in the darkness…

Talking to you
Lights out
Fading lit blue
Changing the sketch
Of your face
Darkness is kind
And she always preferred it
Can you be ten years old
Sitting at a kitchen table
Behind the family grocery store
Not allowed to cry anymore
Smacked for doing
Just don’t know
So sure she was being good
Can you see yourself
Staring into a convex toaster
Face distorted
(That’s why I’m hated)
Epiphany herding her
Up winding steps
Built in 1904
Closing the bathroom door
Staring into the mirror
Yes, monster face
No wonder
(That’s why I’m hated)
So ugly
Who could love
That face?
Over the years
Smacks never end
Verbal ones just as harsh
Married to men
Trying to hold on to female friends
Always smacked
Verbal digs
Unrecognized abuse
Someone please remove
The kick-me sign
(My face is still ugly, that’s why I’m hated)
Can you see yourself
In the waning moon’s light
In brackish water?
Lubricous mess in city streets
But the grease reveals
A tiny rainbow
In the puddle’s ragged corner
Shades of oily color
Help her to endure
Despite the slaps
From hands, mouth, eyes
That she tries to melt
In order to love herself…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)


New baritone ukulele has guitar chords, so re-learning it.  Been living with the words all week. Arlo Guthrie’s version is the only one (I’ve ever heard)  with the verse about “7 girls going to the graveyard/only 6 of them coming back.” Made his “baby” so real to me then. Had to write a Point-Of-View from one who is Everywoman and will remain nameless although I’m partial to “Baby”

*scroll down for a YouTube video*


What the hell?

Where am I?

Is that Big Joe McKennedy?

Red eyes, pulled an all-nighter

Card and dice cheater

Last I remember

He was trying to take my ring

It’s just a cheap, cracker-jack one

But mine

From better times

When he was winning

Now he’s a losing gambler

Already lost my mama’s

Dipped-in-gold locket

My papa’s silver watch chain

No, refused him

Where’s he going?


Last I remember

He shoved me into the wall

Hit my head

On the brass bed

Then pushed into

The porcelain wash stand

What a man

Been out til I woke up

On this cold, white table


I’m dead!

I’m so young, so cold, so still

But there he goes

Singing about himself

It’s always about him

About his funeral

About his blues

About his cheating heart

With chorus girls

And look, my finger’s bare

He got my ring anyway!

Seven of us going to the cemetery

Only six will return

But one is my cousin

The one who talks to ghosts

She sees me!

She knows!

No funeral for you

Big Joe McKennedy

Just a hanging tree…



Arlo Guthrie version (singing begins 2:28)

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: St. James Infirmary, Brew Lite Jazz Tales



You won’t break me

I was raised on mother’s milk

A sour diet of insults, smacks

Daily digs large enough to bury my body

Learned not to cry

Wanted to die

But I didn’t

You won’t break me

Spent the next decade

Being forced to swallow

Acerbic semenic spurts

But the taste grew on me

Because dessert was freedom

While you shared the seed

Among others who had the need

And I went about my life

You won’t break me

Spent the next decade

Being whittled down

Stabbed with your words

Until today I keep only

One tiny mirror

Because although I sometimes believe

I’m uncomely as you perceive

You will never see me cry

Go ahead, fling my poems, songs

At my head

Laugh at me

I know the secret of life

My understanding of what drives

The meanness between

Friends, enemies, husbands and wives

Is full of compassion

I can still feel love for all so

My soul is happy and free

And you will never break me…


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)





Another piece of my heart

Was broken

The last tea set

I owned

Lovingly wrapped

Kept in a dollar store

Plastic box

In a dark corner

Where you’d never find it

But then I trusted you

Felt you were finally healed

Took it out to use

And “Whoops!”


“Your fault!”

You snarled

“Leaving it so close to the edge!”

That was then


I only own

Boots, tunics, leggings

Smart phone, PC, Kindle

Ukuleles and a 2007 car

Living in a naked present

My past is all broken

From your silent rages

Seems I am the only one

Still able to hear

The tinkling glass

Reverberating in my heart…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)






Seems to me

That women


Moving through time

Burned, beheaded

Accused as witches

Or other crimes against society

Whether killing an abusive spouse

Or forgetting their place at work

Are no better or no worse

Than any of us

Maybe vexatious

Unfortunately, for them,

Displaying a bit more hubris

Ending in nemesis

As the gods that be


Conspire to end their thoughts

And actions because

They just won’t obey…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Nemesis Planetary Symbol



(scroll down for Shania Twain’s YouTube Video)


He proposed marriage

After only a few weeks

She made one request

An insurance policy

Based on the past:

A Black-Eyes- Blue-Tears kit

Just a pouch to be hidden

With enough cash

To be used

Only in the case of


Enough cash to buy

A one-way airline ticket to


Enough cash to buy

A week at the Motel 6

Enough cash to dine for a week at

The local Chinese Take-out

Enough cash to pay for the

First month, last month and security deposit

On a modest studio apartment

So how much was the total?

Nowhere near the cost of a diamond ring

That she refused when offered

(He offered verbally

Never thinking that a ring

Wrapped in a velvet box

Placed on a dessert plate

To be found during a romantic dinner

Might be tempting)

Just a way to not have to stay if things became


He refused

On the grounds of


A self-fulfilling prophecy

So, then, did she…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Degas, L’Absinthe

Youtube video: Shania Twain, Black Eyes Blue Tears




Fantasies of the rich and famous

More, more, more?

How about the fantasies

Of the working poor?

Do abused victims


Begin with hope and love

Only to morph into another

Abusive scenario

Because that is all they know?

Is it possible to imagine

A happily-ever-after ending?

What is the dialog like?

Loving, positive

Or angry and demeaning?

Is there no relief for the

Physically or mentally abused

Even in the imagination

In an alternate reality

Or is there a place

A private world of escape

From what is and what can be?


A self-mythology

To brave each day

Or night…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)


(A Blaming the Victim Poem)



When he smiles

Celestial bodies whirl

Through personal space

As if I’m clad

In the finest of lace

Dancing to the

Music of the Spheres

But not five minutes later

I again realize all my fears

As the frown

Spreads outward from his face

A can of virtual mace

Sprayed, clogging, dripping

Choking me with my own tears

What occurred during

Those five minutes

Of marital ecstasy?

What sign did he see in me?

Daily he clenches fists

Not reassuring

As clouds cover the stars

Is it something I said?

If so, I wish I was dead

I can never get it right

Or figure out

The discordant song

Did I do something wrong?