Flanked by big, brash progeny

The plucky baritone ukulele

Holds her own

Amid clamorous sons

Sensing no time elapsed

Between early motherhood and retirement

Removing their eyeglasses

Myopically peering at each other

It is 1989

All is fine

As life-long love

Picks up at the point

It left off

Long ago and far away…


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGES: My baritone ukulele and their guitars/Halloween in the 1980s


(I’m back, WordPress!  Will check out your stuff this coming week)

B, C & M 80s Halloween cropped




So growing up with cartomancy

Consulting the cards

Or tasseomancy

Consulting the tea leaves

Or any of those other mancies

Ouija boarding the spirit world

Maybe even tipping the magic eight ball

For a quickie answer

Has now morphed

For me

Into querying

The O-Great-Google

For answers


I said to myself

Why are you asking this question?

But here it is:

Is it ok to prefer strumming

Over what I think is the

More-difficult fingerstyle

Or is that a cop out?

And lo!

I’m not the only one who needs to know!

Forums about it all over the net

And my favorite answer is:

The Beatles preferred it

When playing acoustic

And strumming songs of fame

Are associated with Bob Dylan’s early name

On Google

Most everyone said learn both

Most everyone said strumming’s

Not necessarily the easy way out

It’s ok!


But then…

I confess

I can guiltily see

A tempting retreat for lazy me

Hmmm, I wonder if I can ask Google

Who my Prince Charming, um,

Who my Ol’ King Charming

Will be…



© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Victorian Tasseomancy (NPR unattributed)

SONG OF THE SOLSTICE (for baritone ukulele)

FOR THE SUMMER SOLSTICE (Northern Hemisphere) and WINTER SOLSTICE (Southern Hemisphere) & Global MAKE MUSIC DAY (6-21-17)



C/ Today no peppermint Em/ tea

C/ No espresso Em/ coffee

G/ Best is the Em/ extraction

G/ Dripping from aromatic Em/ skin

A/ Xanthos-lemon Em/ juice

A/ Pressed between pomegranate Em/ lips


C/ Slipping through sultry G/ water

G/ Fresh from the Earth’s C/ sluice

C/ And I offer to G/ you

G/ This catholicon of C/ love


C/ Blind taste test Em/ seen through

C/ The sun above Em/ sparkling

G/ Lighting up the Em/ longest day

G/ While indelible Em/ music plays

A/ Fine-tuned strings Em/ echoing

A/ Through circle-of-life Em/ holes of sound


C/ And the day G/ Fades away

G/ Into tie-dyed black C/ denim

C/ The matching color of  G/ your eyes

G/Lemon and pomegranate C/ until sunrise


C/ Dew filtered through G/ you C/G


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), words & chords

IMAGE: My Baritone Ukulele, Roses & Lemons


These chords for baritone ukulele or guitar (DGBE)

Can substitute Am for Em for tenor, concert or soprano ukulele (GCEA)

Can substitute A with D for tenor, concert or soprano ukulele (GCEA)

Make Music Day June 21!…


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


chords notebook 3


What is the exact moment

I’d return to

If possible?

So many times

Need to be changed

Like not saying

“I do”

But now

In my oldness

The key to happiness

Lies in wood and strings

So if I could go back

To 8 months after

My sixteenth birthday

The day I said,

“I’m quitting guitar lessons”

I’d think

I’d persevere

I’d be a guitar player

In addition to hack writing

Beloved blogetry

I’d compose

I’d stop smoking and sing daily

I’d learn all those chords

I would

I would do

I would do what it takes

To get over that

Learning curve

Vision of me then

Long black hair

Freshly ironed straight

Almost to the waist

Yet not pretty enough to be

A performer

But smart enough to understand

Music tames the sadness

That savages the psyche

And who knows

Maybe I would have written

The Grammy song of the year

Deciphering musical notation

Acquiring the discipline

Dreams require

But it is today

And in celebration of

My newest

A baritone ukulele

D, G, B, E

Guitar chords!

I’ve written a


Whole new set of chords

Baritone ukulele

Bridge to a guitar…


baritone ukulele june 2017


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGES: My chord notebook & my new Baritone Ukulele



You ask the identity of my fantasy man

Hardly hesitating, I reply:

I am his canvas of fecund fields

Pierced by passionate suns

Van Gogh impressions of yellow and green

I am his guitar strings

Played by his tongue

Set on fire and worshiped

As only Hendrix’s music could careen

Along scales never before heard or seen

I am his epic poem of alliterative lines

That old Pagan Beowulf poet

Writer, reciter, loving me


These three

As one

Someday you will come…


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)




OK, OK, This is for fun.  My first video.  A silly video of me reciting my poem Unconsummated Guitar.  Hate my voice.  It’s a South Philly nasal whine (South Philadelphia, a neighborhood in Pennsylvania, USA).  Can’t believe I forgot to take off my glasses.  Never take pictures with my regular glasses.  Oh, well, it’s New Year’s Eve so this is for a laugh 🙂  Wishing us all fun and good health and happiness for 2017!




Too much

The world

When once

I refused to read

A newspaper

Watch the news

Now bombarded

By social media

Too much

Can I wish myself

Into a wisp of

Perfumed air

And disappear

Down the sound hole

Of a wood

Or even laminate

Ukulele, guitar

Stay far far away

From the world today

And think of ways

To habitate in my new

Fortress of Solitude

Hoping the strong wind

Will pluck the strings

In minor keys

To bring me peace

From the looming faces

And voices

Of the world

That are just too much for me

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Inside A Guitar, Classic FM


Broke up with the guitar
Yeah, consummated
As predicted in my previous poem
Unconsummated Guitar *
But he’s not my type
Begged ukulele to take me back
He did,  so I upgraded him today
Must admit I fell in love with a banjolele
Played it but hey, only temporary madness
Somehow couldn’t imagine playing, well, Lennon’s Imagine
On a banjolele
Okay, I do have four ukuleles hanging on my wall
But I dragged one on the train for two days
And gave it to my granddaughter
Hoping someday she will play
Hoping she’s not like her grandma: flirty, flighty
Hoping she falls in love with the ukulele and never leaves him
Me? I went through terrible withdrawal this week
After giving mine away I was unable to play
For three days
Just HAD to buy this one
But I promise I won’t stray
It’s a ukulele all the way
And I won’t buy anymore
I’m happy
Right ?



(c) 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: my new and improved ukulele



(scroll down for YouTube video)


Began my love affair with you

A twenty-five dollar acoustic guitar

Gifted for my sixteenth birthday

Six wild months of passion followed

As I learned all my favorites in a

Peter, Paul and Mary song book

But like many flighty teens

It was merely a flirtation

And I met a twenty-five cent kazoo

Who was not as high maintenance

As you

Requiring no lengthy practice time

Just blow and hum

Eventually, gave him up too

Stuck to the radio until MTV entered my life

But just didn’t get the videos

And the music, well,

No real Janis or Jimi-worthy singers

By the 90s

I was buying 60s and 70s CDs

Screw trying to stay current with music


Fifteen years into the new century

Began a new love affair

His name is ukulele

Oh, the excitement!

And after a full year

I’m still in love!

Playing every day

Writing silly songs

Singing off-key

My ukulele and me

We’re one

But no,

Under the sign of Virgo

I’ll be traveling 1000 miles

To see my sons

How will I part from my

Long-term lover ukulele?

He’s too much to drag

Along with a suitcase, back pack

Laptop, phone, kindle, and two

Pairs of black boots


Doesn’t my son own a guitar?

Tremblingly, I ask via phone

May I borrow it while you’re at work

The full week I’m alone in the home?

Yes, yes he says!

And this feeling

That I kept secret for a week

But am now confessing on social media

This shocking feeling is called LUST!

I’m LUSTING for my old lover

Willing to cheat on ukulele

Throwing it under the bus

To have one last dance with guitar

But I will pay for my sin

I’m a die-hard acoustic-lover

Once booed Dylan at a folk festival

When he hauled out his electric guitar

Oh, how can I play one?

But I will

I will play my son’s electric guitar

I will probably pretend to be Joan Jett

Singing, “I Love Rock N Roll…”

(Oh, wish I was skinny like her)

And I don’t care that I’m hurting ukulele

I don’t care that I’m selling out my principles

Trading wood for plastic

I can feel guitar

As we embrace

I can hear guitar as we duet

My heart is racing

Consummation at last…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  B.C. Rich Warlock Metal Master  Joan Jett, I Love Rock N Roll (YouTube video)