herbs and plants

TANKA (Ananas comosus)

(Morning surprise in my compost pile)

 

Fresh pineapple stems
Tossed in fertile Florida
Treat for backyard birds
Silent, self-rooting surprise
Pineapple fields forever…

(c) 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: My pineapple “field”

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THE ROOT QUEEN

Re-post from 2 years ago (so we are in New Moon, not full as the poem states so the planting will take place around New Years).    Today’s pre-Christmas eve weather is 93% humidity and 79 degrees F. temperature.  Wishing you all healthy, happy, and fun holidays ❤

Embrace the heat

Of Winter Solstice

No white Christmas

Not even a cool, Florida day

But the prize is a full moon

Plant those roots:

Ginger, carrots, yams

Throw in some garlic and onions

What a goulash they will make

Hot, humid, but the Earth

Coating my hands as I dig

The sweet-smelling manure

That the dogs try to eat,

Makes up for the heat

Setting of the full moon

In the pink of dawn,

No longer high

Eyes of ginger

Gaze to the sky

Bulbs of garlic—

Vampires?

Prepare to die!

And soon there will be onions

Ready to fry!

 

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Flowering ginger from CS garden

SCHINUS TEREBINTHIFOLIUS

(Brazilian Pepper Tree/Florida Holly)

A HOLIDAY SONG FOR YOU
(to the tune of “Deck the Halls”)

Deck the trailer with Florida Holly
Fa la la la la la la la la
‘Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la la la la la la
Dress in sweaters oh, so tacky
Fa la la Fa la la la la la
Strum the strings, play something whacky
Fa la la la la la la la la…

(c) 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: My mandolin and baritone ukulele with Florida Holly

CALLICARPA AMERICANA (Florida Beautyberries)

Dripping down my fence

An iced cake of purple-pink

Raw for wild birds who come to drink

Crush those leaves, rub them on the skin

Mosquitoes and deer flies die

Berries, water, sugar, lemon juice, pectin

Recipe for ice cream sauce or jelly

Become a Venus rising by Botticelli

Will they make me beautiful?

Will they help me play the mandolin?

Not really, to my chagrin…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: my mandolin and Callicarpa americana

PASSIFLORA INCARNATA

 

Every year

I place your vines

In a different site

Along the fence

Waiting in suspense

To see if you will grow

No

You have chosen not to

Share your passion

The embodiment of my longing

But I am stubborn

Will not give up

Yet

One more time

I bid you climb

Calm my three-beat heart…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) for insomnia

 

TERRESTRIAL ZODIAC

 

The UK has Glastonbury Tor

The US has Mount Trashmore

I have been a Flatlander

Here in the Florida peninsula

But my backyard converts

To whatever I wish

And like conjurers of old

I see a Terrestrial Zodiac

On a two-lot land

An as below, so above plan

True, copying the stellar heavens

Is almost impossible to do

Yet I have special corridors of power

To do my bidding

Scaled down to twelve sections

 

Aries, my own, begins the wheel

Lies in the North

Red and green cayennes

Like the finest quartz Bloodstone

Soaking up the Sun

Clockwise to Taurus

Partially shaded by

Banana tree fronds

A solid, fighting weed

Inflorescence fruit womb

Gemini up against the back fence

Pure shade to hide the glow of

Duality and intelligence

Live Oaks dripping

Spanish Moss

With Air plants of Red Tillansia

Cancer conserving the foresty ponds of

Aquaplants like duckweed and algae

While Leo, basking in sunlight

Shows off the finest, most colorful

Swamp flowers

Haven for bees and hummingbirds

Now the serious vegetables take root

As Virgo’s analytical, critical

Earthy nature dominates under the palm tree

Libra has a patch of harmony

Growing this and that

But intense Scorpio

Hides the roots

Of onions, garlic and ginger

Under the water-based ground

And vibrant, reckless Sagittarius

Generously shines on Greens of every hue

As ambitious Capricorn

Close to the back of the house

Self-importantly impels the

Growing of corn and sunflowers

Sowed by birds and squirrels

Circle almost complete

As Aquarius

Not caring a bit

Who thinks what

Grows whatever blows its way

And inching closer to the beginning

Sensitive Pisces

Lets loose with exotic tropical flowers

Often not based in daily reality

But there, nevertheless

 

And so, I may never go

To see and feel the breathlessly beautiful

Tors and mounds sublime

But it is always

As above, so below

And I believe

In the great mystery

That if even one person

Out of one hundred

Lives life magically

It is a life worth living…

800px-Torre_de_Glastonbury

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGES: Night Sky (Sky & Telescope), Glastonbury Tor (Wikipedia) and Mt. Trashmore, Virginia Beach (The Daily Runner)

Mt_Trashmore, Virginia Beach, image by The Daily Runner

THE STOCKHOLM OCTAVO: A NOVEL

My Book Review (Amazon and Goodreads)

When I saw the illustrations for Karen Engelmann’s The Stockholm Octavo: A Novel, I tore open my bedside drawer.  Yes!  There was my obscure deck, bought from an online historical games site several years ago.  As a long time cartomancer, I thought this would be an interesting deck to use.  I must confess, however, that I did not have the imagination that the author has and tossed them out of my sight.  Descriptions of the plot and characters are available from the other reviews.  I will just say that the story is Magical and Wise: a cauldron of History, Culture and best of all, Sacred Geometry.  I quote from the book:  “The Octavo is the architecture of relationships that we build ourselves, and with which we build the world.”

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R17WMKSKX4QV6K/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B006SJCKVE

(Image: my personal copy of the 1588 deck by German Renaissance artist Jost Amman)

 

 

 

 

ANETHUM GRAVEOLENS

 

Ooooh that smell

Not really quoting Skynyrd

Smell of life

Merari, my Gran called it

Dill

Chicken vegetable soup

Fresh merari

Tossed on top of the pot

For the last five minutes of bubbling

Hot kitchen, cold winter

But now

Evening in Florida swamp

Smell it growing wild

Well, seed pods begging to be harvested

Must have blown out of my neglected pots

When I took time off from growing herbs

Planted themselves

And now

An aromatic memoir greets me

In the soft gray

End of day

Bringing the ghosts of Gran and Mom

Aunt Cee and Aunt Are

Bumping hips

While dancing around each other

In a small kitchen

With a huge pot

 

Forgetting I have no pockets

Because women’s clothing

Usually doesn’t include that all-important

Piece of fabric

(Can’t have it interfering with the hip line

Of a voluptuous woman)

But I reach for my pouch

So inconvenient to draw attention

While fumbling with the drawstring

Just to feel the reassurance of

My pocket deities:

Acorn, feather, sea shell and fiery bloodstone

Imbued with my essence

From touching them with

Invisible fingertip oil

Touching, touching

Wanting to keep the ghosts of family

Singing and laughing

Forever happy

Keep those ghosts forever

But soon they fade

And I vow

That tomorrow

I will search the sunlit swamp

For a sprig of dill

Add it to my female pocket

And one day call upon

The memory

Once again

From the scent of an earthen gift…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Dill, Wikipedia

 

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