folklore

SOJMO (HAWK)

ANNUAL REPOST FOR FATHER’S DAY: My father loved telling stories, so although this starts out as a poem about him, it turns into one about me.  No doubt though, it was his predilection for oral history that influenced my love of writing (especially loooooooong poems).

 

Dad was a great story teller

A bard who hoarded words

And plots, heard in the kitchen

Where he slept on the ledge of a stove

In old Romani slave quarters

Surrounded by the rich earth

Of what is now Moldova

Somewhat drunk by the wine

The children consumed

Because the water was poisonous

And it was thirsty work to be

Stomping grapes for the winery

Where he was born

Grandson of a slave

Free yet not

***

His favorite story

Was about the Sojmo

The Hawk

Also called Turul

A Hungarian word

Learned from his cousins

Who migrated to Roumania

Turul, the shamanic hawk

Perched on the Tree of Life

That strongly-rooted tree

Connecting Earth with the skies

And the Netherworld

Turul, who saved the Hungarians

From Attila the Hun

And other conquerors

Making them a powerful people

My dad liked the name Hun because

His name was Huna

His mother said he

Approached life like a savage

Like a conqueror

And Huna felt proud

***

Sojmo has been a part of my life

For many decades

I never saw one while living in Philly

But once I moved to Florida

Nature claimed me as a personal fan

And I observed birds and trees

Plants and clouds

Lightning and rainbows

So lonely, though, for a friend

Although I worked daily and met

Good people

So lonely for a man

One day, sitting by a lake

I cried out to the universe

A hawk flew at me

Sitting frozen, mesmerized

At the last second it swooped up

But we had read the eyes of the other

And I knew all would be well

A few months later I met a man named

Hawk

***

Years passed

First good

Then very bad

Then better

Then simply years

No expectations

Simply years

***

Life’s happiness

Feeding and watching

Backyard cardinals,

Woodpeckers, blue jays

Mourning doves and finches

Feeding and watching the antics

Of my dogs, sitting by the graves

Of older dogs who

Crossed the Rainbow Bridge

Then the crows came

Korako

And ate the fledglings and eggs

While I shouted, while the dogs barked

And one day they disappeared

Never returning

Occasionally circling the yard to remind me

So I imagined

That they have the power to return

And destroy the backyard birds

***

Envision my surprise

When instead of korako

I heard a whistle and saw

Five hawks

Sojmo

Repeating the savagery

That korako displayed

Last summer

Half-heartedly I shouted

Banged the metal trashcan lid

With a Live Oak branch

Fallen on the ground

From the wind and rain

The previous evening

The dogs half-heartedly barked

The man named Hawk

Refused to chase them

Siding with Sojmo

Because, I guess,

They are his totem, after all

***

Ah, do I make anything out of this?

Just birds of prey following their instinct

Looking to feast upon birds well fed

From my feeder?

Or is the appearance of Sojmo

The other bookend

The other end of the promise

And now the taking

None of the five hawks

Flew toward my face

To look me in the eye

What do I make of this

Mind-tableau

Sojmo sitting on a Live Oak

That could be the Tree of Life

Reminding me of the connection

Of the Earth and Sky

With the Netherworld

***

Sojmo

Ending another chapter

Of a life…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

 

NOT FOR ARACHNOPHOBES (revised)

(some of my wonderful friends are worried that I was bitten by another Recluse Spider.  This is my poem from 2014–not my best–but want you to know, no worries)

 

What is the message of the spider?

Open invitation from the resident

Into a pesticide-free home

Spaces in floorboards

Irresistible to the neighboring swamp

Despite the equalizer AKA feather duster

The spiders come in the night

They always nip me equally

One on each arm

Unless it’s a Recluse

She gets me in a circle of eight

The secret antidote is plantain

Or even aloe for the minor stings

I’ve been injected with venom so many times

That one day I expect to point my wrists at a wall

While cobwebs shoot out

Enabling me to scale the side of the tallest building in Florida

But I know there is a message

I used to fancy that I was SpiderWoman of folklore

Weaving my tales

My fantasies

My fantasies came true for others, not for me

What was the message there?

Observer and recorder of life

But never a recipient of those richly imagined dreams

We Romani are always looking at portents

The Sinte word for the spider storyteller is

“Shpina Paramichari”

She is telling me that the one nip on each arm

Represents balance

Be consistent in life

Be moderate while living

No important revelation

But a painful one

Just weave your life symmetrically

In order to function in harmony

I tend to forget every few years

Guess I need a reminder…

(c) 2014, 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Recluse Spider Web, creative commons

BABA JAGA BLUES

 

Missing a lot of Aries women who were important in my life and have passed on…

 

Burning sun makes for a Baba Jaga noon

Shining across the Carpathians and into Eastern Europe

Warming the people who invented me

I am the Grandmother of Fire

Face covered in red and orange ashes

My house on two chicken legs

Scratching in the dirt

As a wide band of water rushes between them

Gently tipping the mortar that serves

As a flying vehicle

The pestle is my rudder and

Tracks etched in the sky

Are swept away with a white birch broom

I, Fire Woman, toss out water-cleansed herbs

And the people see earth sailing through the air.

 

No, I do not eat children

That is another fairy tale

From another country

I do have companions:

White horse rider named Day

Black horse rider named Night

Red horse rider named Noon-Time Sun

They decorate the ceiling of my chicken-legged home

Cavorting around the painted firmament

So I do not feel closed in when forced to stay.

 

Like smoke from fire, though

I can sinuously escape through the chimney

Into the real sky

Absorbing more heat and light by day

More stars and coolness by night

Able to traverse the path

Sidewinding around the Galaxy

By map and compass embedded in my brain.

 

What is my purpose here?

Yes, you may ask

Fiery wise woman am I

Guidance is all I offer but

I prefer that you ask no questions

I age for each one asked

Only blue rose tea will reverse my reluctance

To answer, when you truly need help

Purity of spirit, and most of all, politeness count

But you must overcome your fear

To ask and then hear

Solutions to feed your burning need to know.

 

So many false tales about me

I am guilty merely because my preference is

To live alone

In order to think

And be myself

I do not like the image I see

Reflected through others

It is warped and thus murky

Not a true mirror

But no one cares to look deeply into

The mystery of Baba Jaga

Fire Woman, Wise Woman

Who was never a witch or even a clown

Just an old soul trying to translate the Earth

To others…

 

(c) 2014 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), Poetry of Memory

IMAGE: Baba Jaga, Russie Virtuel

A JOSEPH CAMPBELL DAY

 

Waving a burning bundle of sage

Sweetening the mysterious corners

Of a lonely room

(Like a priest swinging an incense censer)

 

Humming along with Indigenous drumming

Interspersed with Om Mani Padme Hum mantras

Blasting from the MP3 headphones

(Like a monk’s voice lifting up to the heavens in a Gregorian chant)

 

Sipping wine and delicately crunching crackers

At an evening art opening, smiling

As the mind screams, “Shut up! Shut up!

You’re superficial and snobby!”

(Like a penitent accepting the blood and the body)

 

Religious Rituals

Nature Rituals

Social Rituals

 

Keeping those invasive mind demons away

Trying to get through another day…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Imagesource:http://www.abstractdigitalartgallery.com/artist_gallery_onebadpenny_abstract_digital_art_fractal.htm

CORNUCOPIA

 

Smoked round reed for spokes and braiders

Soak them into flexibility

Cross, pinch, entwine and weave

Humming hymns of tranquility

 

Zeus breaking off the horn of his nurse

Heracles wrestling a river god of fables

Either led to an abundance myth

Winding up on Thanksgiving tables

 

Growing gourds, red and green Earth treats

Nuts and flowers complete the increase

Profusion of life’s requirements

Create a still life centerpiece

 

Magnetic pull of voices from the past

Call and text loved ones far away

Laughter, tears, music of the spheres

The beauty of a traditional holiday

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Peter Paul Rubens, Abundantia

 

 

AUTOHARP

i.

Today

An early Winter Solstice present

Appeared in the mail

Autoharp

Allowing me to pretentiously play

Like I’m Janis Joplin

Talented and fey

Happily harping to my known ukulele chords

Singing into the perfect Florida morning

ii.

Neighbor’s rooster began crowing along

Smiling, I knew he enjoyed my song

Came down off my music high

Finally noticing that he never stopped

That rooster crowed from six to four

Silent by dawn, heard not anymore

iii.

Like some old Volva

Spouting dire predictions

In the Norse Edda

Perhaps tossing runic bones

I shivered in the pre-dawn light

Wondering what would occur by tonight

iv.

Remembering that Egdir plays the harp

While red Fjalar the rooster

Crows

Heralding Ragnarok

Events presaging

The fiery destruction

Yet bountiful rebirth

Of our troubled Earth

v.

Sometimes hard to be born a mystic

Symbols and sounds, so holistic

Today I play with heavy heart

Not sure what came first:

The rooster or the harp

Or were they merely

Synergistically

Reacting together…?

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Volva and Egdir from the Edda

AN ARM AND A LEG

 

**scroll down for YouTube video**

 

Separated only by a belt

Japanese legendary war

Between the Taira family

As red as Betelgeuse

And the Minamoto family

As {blue-tinged} white as Rigel

Stars still battling

Orion’s belt

No-man’s land

A war

A constellation

A leg and an arm

Emblems of a mythos

Red and white

Like the Japanese flag

Symbolizing

Duty, sacrifice and loyalty

The Hunter a mighty sum

Of his parts

In the eternal aethers…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Earth-Sky.com

 

YouTube: Orion by Metallica https://youtu.be/mmNpYwMpeJE

P’HABENGI RAT, CHERNOBYL STYLE (folksong work-in-progress)

 

Moonlit walk along the swamp

Dark pre-dawn

Dogs surrounding

A lone man

Silvery hair like mine

Tight black jeans

Hand stretched

Doggie demented howling ceased

Trotting away

Leaving me, unconcerned

Leaving me alone

With this handsome dream man

 

Says he:

I was born in the woods by Chernobyl

A healthy Canis lupus lupus

One day…so terrible…I wanted to pray

Sick for weeks

My family dead

I lived, though

And when the moon is full

I become a man

Pain-free radiation mutation

I am immortal

I lust for blood

But I lust for love, too

 

Found money and flew

To your safer country

Where the kind of food I crave

Is readily available

And no innocent is harmed

 

Tonight, I walk upright

In the comforting swamp

And here you are once again

After watching you for months

Day and night

Observing your kindness, beauty

And sadness

I want to make you happy

Will you be my eternal comrade?

 

Says I:

For a few days you are a man

But what of those phases

When the moon waxes and wanes

Who do you become?

No longer a maid

I have acquired wisdom

Leaping into lust

Maybe love

Is never what it seems

 

Says he:

I will join your pack

A silvery wolf I’ll be

Content and tame

Able to understand

Who I sometimes am

Yet by virtue of form

Unable to do what a man does

Until the orb waxes full

 

Think I:

This, after a lifetime

Devoid of love

Here I stand

Under a Hunter’s Moon

Silver wolf proposing to me

Alone and half dead anyway

Trust is impossible but

Come what may

I’ll live then die

No trace of me

 

Says I:

In honesty, I do not know you

Do not know if I will love you

But I am willing to try

Is there a way for me

To gain immortality?

 

Says he (as the moon moves closer to Earth):

Yes…

 

Says I (as the moon and stars shower flowers of sparks):

Yes…

 

TO BE CONTINUED, PERHAPS

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Chernobyl Wildlife Returns (no identification)

TWO POEMS (Happy Horror Week Scare: I’ll take ghosts, vampires, zombies anytime. Aging is my personal nightmare…)

 

CASH-POOR/CAN’T AFFORD YOUTH CULTURE ANYMORE

 

Nightmares about Soylent Green

Hungry? Worried about aging?

Thankfully, no Charlton Heston in the dream

 

Shopped at Walmart yesterday

Tomatoes spilled from inferior plastic tray

Some hit the floor but I’d already paid

 

Nothing grew in my back yard

Lost the planting will, everything’s hard

Sandy soil, anyway, is much too scarred

 

Food and water no longer seem healing

Garden medicine chest no longer appealing

Glancing in reflective glass, aged face has me reeling

 

Food, water, shelter and power

Supposed to create a protective tower

Framework for the body and soul bower

 

Poisoned is the water and food

Houses unaffordable yet devalued

Utilities effectuate disquietude

 

Ah, to be young and strong and ready to fight

To feel the blood pump while mood takes flight

But my side-effect of aging is terrible fright

 

Today is the future…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Ebay Gothic Skeleton Wall Mirror

 

 

tale-of-the-wife-of-bath-burne-jones

 

“WHAT DO WOMEN WANT?”

 

What do women want

According to medieval storytellers

“Sovereynte”

The ability to make her own decisions

I disagree

Women want beauty

The magic ticket to

Receive it all

When older,

Women want youth

AKA beauty

Let me prove

This to you

Disputing Chaucer and

His Wife of Bath Tale

Or, later, Sir Thomas Malory

And although Dame Ragnelle

Is given the honor of

“Knowing” what women want

The tale would be different

If an actual woman

Wrote the story:

 

So, you may remember that

King Arthur is chasing

(Poaching?)

A deer in haunted Inglewood Forest

Owned by the otherworldly

Sir Gromer Somer Joure

Who in anger, demands an answer

Within one year

(Or he will behead the king)

To the question:

What do women most desire?

 

Despairing, Arthur confides

In his nephew Sir Gawain

So the upbeat knight

Organizes a ride

Through the country

Asking women the question

But all the answers are different

(Okay, no women-change-their-minds-too-much jokes)

Desperate, Arthur returns to the forest

And meets a “loathly” lady

An ugly, old crone

Promising the answer

If he arranges for Gawain to wed her

Gawain agrees, to save his uncle

And Arthur finds Sir Gromer

Who is waiting with his sister

Lady Ragnelle, who happens to be

The “loathly” lady

She has quietly told him the answer is

“Sovereynte”

 

In bed, after wed

Gawain good-naturedly decides

To treat Ragnelle like a beautiful woman

Turning around

He sees she has transformed into a young

Stunning one

“You broke the spell

Cursed, to be old and ugly

Until a handsome young knight

Agreed to marry me”

But her looks will only be restored half the day

She gives him the choice:

Shall she be beautiful at night

When they are together

Or during the day

When they are with others?

Instead, Gawain gives her the sovereynté to make the choice herself

His answer lifts the curse for good

And Ragnelle’s beauty returns permanently

 

Beauty

Youth

Magical words

Why are there no real stories

About ugly, old men

Marrying beautiful, young women?

 

Well, ok, didn’t prove anything

Just another rant by an aging woman

Who happened to take a selfie

Facing the sun…

Um, hey, no knights

In my past or present

Can you lift the spell anyway?

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Burne-Jones, Tale of the Wife of Bath, Victorian Web

 

 

HARMONY

 

Cobwebs and ukuleles

Battling for dominance

On the wall

Feng shui

Wind-water

Confused

Brings boons

Shadows wishes

Why not use the broom

Wipe the webs away

But for many a day

Spider woman is me

Weaving the tales

For others

Impossible to chase her

Yin and yang

Musical euphoria

Cleansing the air

While dark woman

Sits at the loom

Spinning, shaping

Truly wishing for good

But there are unseen forces

Tearing the fabric of fairytales

Stretching the strings of sound

Best to accept the dark and light

Sun by day, moon by night

Not all fine, not all bad

But a sense of balance

Between happy and sad…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Gossamer