friendship

FLAMBEAU

I threw a party
No one came
Do not pity me
Alone, I watched the dolphins
Playfully following the tides
Out to sea

About to light the candles
On the birthday cake
For me and Gulf birds
Suddenly thought why
Would we blow out light
Was it fright that stole our words

Why blow out passion
Don’t let the fire blaze
Why blow out life
When we’re celebrating it
But symbols translate chaos
So I ignored the cake knife

Great Gran once said
Blowing out candles is good
The smoke carries prayers
Along with birthday wishes
To the heavens where listens
Our happiness angel who cares

But then I read that the Germans
In the eighteenth century
Celebrated birthday kinderfests
Candles symbolizing
The light of life
Yes, snuffing out life is what it suggests

So earthly life encourages
No passion, no joy, and often
No friends who wish us well
“Blow it out! Blow it out!”
They happily shout
“Be like us!” (Friendships can be hell)

(C) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Image: Birthday gear

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FIRST MEETING

 

Bestowing quirkiness
Should I show my best?
Try to impress?
Your face reveals
Flickers of annoyance
Boredom
Yet can’t stop
Self-putdowns
Weight, wrinkles
Evanescing clown
Embarrassed
Look at my lap
Hearing your sigh
I mustn’t cry
But then you say
Now that your self-negativity
Is swept away
We can be ourselves
I’m part of your tribe
Whatever the experts think
Caused our different social vibe
Let’s compare creative moments
Occurring every day
What thoughts you bring
To first light of morning
How to deal with chores
Interrupting the lures of fun
And I smile
Looking you full in the eyes
Knowing now you won’t spout lies
Or serve warmed-over pity
Just willingness to share
How witty
You can be
Expecting me
To respond in kind
Truly interested in my mind
No worry about words shallow
Like one so callow
Both our hearts aligned…

(c) 2017 Clarissa Simmens
IMAGE: flamingos in swamp palm tree

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

CORNUCOPIA

REPOST OF MY THANKSGIVING POEM WRITTEN 2016 TO ALL MY FAMILY,  FRIENDS, and FOLLOWERS  ❤

 

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

OBSESSING, NATURALLY…

(photo from FB Memory set me off about leaving on Thursday)

Morning

Exhausted

From little to no sleep

I’m a mass of

White-pink-gray-blue

Brains or intestines or

Pile of pythons

Primal soup solidified

Try to untangle

Thrown into the void

Falling

Dogs desert me

As I hurl myself to safety

Thoroughly awakening

To what type of day?

Oh, no, I’m going away

From the swamp

From the ginger

From the dogs

From the music…

 

What makes people

Want to travel?

Is it easier with

Sister or Brother

Friend or Lover?

I’m used to being alone

Will eventually feel okay

Do wish, though

There was someone to hold onto

While wading through strangeness

And strangers

Oh no, I’m going away

From the swamp

From the ginger

From the dogs

From the music…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Image: CS from FB Memory 2014 with ginger

 

“ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE”

 

*scroll down for a YouTube video*

Make sense, make sense of scariness by structure

Journalize the fear

So I mind-say Dear Diary:

 

We know each other

On the strength of our poetry

Generously offering me

A place to stay, words of comfort

On this horrible day

Invitations arrive from

Friends and family

In overwhelming kindness

Yet, I cannot see bringing

Three dogs with me

 

Hours before Irma comes ashore

Heading for the motel

Driving down deserted Main Street

Might be the coming of

The Zombie Apocalypse

But it is merely a Category 5 Hurricane

 

Settled in sanctuary

Dogs dreaming on strange beds

Tapping my tablet

Social media taking away

The dread of loneliness

People care, even if we never met

So as I sweat

In a hotel without electricity

I think about the positives

Of Facebook, WordPress and Twitter

 

Dogs need trees

To lift their legs

So in the dark we walk

Incessant rain jabs the skin

Like plucking a splinter

With a pin

And as the wind becomes wilder

A cold, preternatural sensation

Lifts my curly hair above the nape

 

Twenty-four hours after

Prime bands from Irma

Begin to dissipate

A half rainbow appears

Been too many years

Since I believed that

Rainbows are a sign of happiness

And love to come, staying forever

Whether we go over or under it

But I ask for health and strength anyway

Always wise

To compromise

Never burn your bridges

Believe until the end

For we never know

 

Trepidationally driving home

Wondering if a Live Oak fell

Onto my tin trailer roof

Or if a long-term power outage

Renders my water well pump fruitless

My air conditioner within silent reach

Streets blocked by fallen trees

Flooded with muddied water

No humans seen in this continuing cataclysm

 

Will all end in anarchy

Without electricity?

But oh, as I bump along my dirt road

Pull into the marshy drive

Delicate banana trees broken at the spine

I see a beautiful sight

On! On! The outside light!

 

So grateful because I know

Many people lost their lives

Lost their homes

Maybe even lost their faith

In the battering wind and rain

This time, I received a gift

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Hurricane Irma, Naples, FL (cnn.com)

 

*YouTube video: Scorpions, Rock You Like A Hurricane https://youtu.be/Ypq1FsSXdbE

 

 

FOREVER FRIENDS

 

Through two decades

A dead Live Oak

Stood upright

Perch for families

Of Florida Black Vultures

What sights I’ve seen

On that stage

Young buzzards courting

Males competing for

The belle of the bough

Married couple kissing

Passing food between beaks

Here they are with baby

Showing him how to perch

And search

For newly-made swamp corpses

Other days watching them

Wings outspread

Drying out stormy feathers

One day the mom and dad gone

Baby sat for three days

Finally the smaller one returned

Maybe dad creamed by a car

While cleaning up the road kill

In the middle of city streets

Then the other day

A muffled crash in the swamp

Perch finally fell

And here I go in pursuit of my “art”

Worrying about Water Moccasins

And other snakes

As I wade through the grass

Snap, snap

On smart phone

That does no justice

To the thumbnails of Nature

Suddenly recalling last week

Vulture in my yard

Broken wing

Hopping around

Looking for a way out

I opened the gate and tried shooing him

But he didn’t get it

He did find a pile of tables and plants

Climbed up over the fence

Relieved he escaped

Yet what are the chances

A bird will live safely

With a damaged wing

Birds

Trees

Life yet death symbols for me

And I recall sitting under

Another Live Oak

Many years ago

And it splitting

For no good reason

Phone ringing, me running

My mother’s voice funereal

My favorite uncle died

The trees never lie

But do I think a tree

Can actually be

A psychopomp?

Birds play that role for me

But would a bird

Lead a bird

To the afterlife

Or does the tree’s soul

Take control?

After all

They were friends for so many years…

FL Black Vulture on my swamp perch

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGES: Live Oak perch fallen in my swamp and FL Black Vulture on the perch in my swamp

 

IN THE CLOSET

 

Confessed autism

Honesty not always best

Some non-autistics scared

Think we violently meltdown

Read: murderous

(Witnesses doomed to burn)

At best we seem stiff

Read: weird

(Because we don’t like the touch of strangers)

At worst, we seem iffy

Read: untrustworthy

(Because we don’t march cadently)

How about that occasional

Inappropriate comment

Sorry, I thought it was funny

I see it’s not

Hey, where you going?

(Another friend lost)

So where are all those people

Who want to mainstream us

Struttin’ around

Writing books and speeches

Raising money

But will you be my friend?

Will you hang out with me?

“We’ll get together soon…”

Yeah, I heard that line

From a Harry Chapin song

Read: NO

So seems I was smart

Being in denial for years

No one ever knew

But then, I woke up

Thought I could be true

To me and you

But here’s my realistic view:

Sometimes it is better

Not to emerge from

The autism closet

Unless you have a superpower that others want

Read: fame, fortune

But some days you’ll know

Who the real friends are

And they will appear

Mysteriously

To brighten your days…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: CLOSET (Pinterest: no attribution)

 

 

ALMOST EIGHTEEN WITH HENDRIX & MANTRAS FROM THE BEAT POETS

(A Lengthy Memoir for Family and Interested Friends)

*Scroll down for YouTube Video

Well-meaning promises girlfriends make

When almost eighteen

Trip to Greenwich Village

Four dollars a night room

Oozing weed, house on fire

Herbs inspire

We vowed

To stay together

When meeting guys

If one doesn’t like hers

Move on to the next

Together…

 

Seemed like thousands of hippies

In search of the music

(and weed)

(and sex)

Took over the streets of

MacDougal and Bleecker

Almost eighteen

Lovely lasses, although

I wouldn’t realize that until

Reaching old age

Two guys hitting on us

Not sure if we used that expression

Back then

I liked mine, she didn’t, moved on

Another two guys

Same thing

 

 

She liked the third pair

But I didn’t

Sorry, says she, I want him

Hated his friend

I just wasn’t existential enough

To like someone who bluntly said,

“I want to f*ck you”

Come on man, I think

Lie a little

Reach into your bag of romantic words

Say you can really love me, or something

Because the truth is

I’m a virgin at almost eighteen

 

 

We’re now at the Café Wha

Begging her, saying, “You promised”

“Oh please,” says she, “I think he’s the one.

Go find another, the place is crawling with guys”

Walking around alone

Meeting interesting possibilities

Watching a band set up

Black man with electric guitar

Electric guitar?

Isn’t this a folk music club?

What?

Or should I say

Wha?

 

He twangs

We roll our eyes

Continue talking

Noise level bursting

My not-known-at-the-time

Autistic brain

But suddenly

The guitar

The voice

OMG, I mean, Groovy

Fog of silence muffles the audience

Only the voice

Only the guitar

“What’s his name?” I whisper

To the enthralled guy next to me

“Hendrix, the sign outside said,

Jimi Hendrix”

Heaven must have sent you from above

Jimi Hendrix…

 

So then the set is over

And I just want to be alone

With my thoughts

And the electric sound

That I swore I’d never listen to

Again

I leave the Café Wha

Never understanding left from right

Find myself on the edge of

The Bowery

An Edward Hopper Nighthawkish

Coffee shop

Not hip like a coffee house

Counter the only place to

Drink stale, black coffee

Wow, I think

Looking around

Everyone is male

Everyone is beaten down

Hazed in alcoholic poverty

Can’t even claim to hear

The Beatles singing

“All the lonely people”

Because they’re still singing

“Yeah, yeah, yeah songs”

That’s how long ago it was

 

 

Eyes drawn to the window

Neon-lit sign

Backwards, blinking

Holy sh*t! my mind exclaims

Bickford’s!

I’m sinking all night

In submarine light

At Bickford’s

Paraphrase of Ginsberg’s Howl

Is it my karma to relive

All the sad songs and poetry

Of the universe…?

 

 

Outside again, lost in the dark

But manage to find

Fourteenth Street & Seventh Avenue

Roaches on the walls

Lonely weed smoke in the halls

Shove my stuff into a duffle

Leave a note for the friend

Manage to find the subway

After a conversation with, I’m sure,

A serial killer who wants to take me home

Three in the morning

Subway roaring

Greyhound Terminal

(didn’t Ginsberg write a poem about that too?)

Two hours later

A new dawn in Philly

Just another day in the life of

A lonely teenager…

 

(for a continuation, see my poem Screw You Universe written previously)  https://poeturja.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/screw-you-universe-another-memoir-apology/

 

 

YouTube video (this song not recorded until 2 years after the action of the poem but I like the Hendrix-Dylan mix)  https://youtu.be/TLV4_xaYynY

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Café Wha 1966 NY Daily News