history

FOURTH OF JULY

My annual Independence Day poem for new friends & followers:

Growing up in Philadelphia
Home of the Declaration of Independence
And that wildly independent founding father Franklin
I pondered the meaning of Independence
At a very young age
Countries become independent from their oppressors
But people can become independent too
And that was what I tried to do
I became self-sufficient
Didn’t hurt to read Thoreau at age sixteen
Yet, of all the words he produced for us eager hippies
I fastened on what may be his saddest quote:
“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude”
Countries really cannot live in solitude
As we see by the history of United States wars
So much for the Monroe Doctrine

***

Well, here I am, meandering between
The idea of an independent country
And an independent person
Does anyone dread
What’s waiting ahead?
Our presidential election
Lying and promises
Slur-slinging and anger
Tossed between the candidates
And we, the voters, surrounded by
The circle of hate
Like children in a game of dodge ball
Will we unfriend our friends on social media sites?
Click out of their opposing posts of rhetoric?

***

I was taught to not talk about
Politics, religion or money
With any but family and close friends
Being an independent woman, however,
I couldn’t stay away from activism:
Feminism, racism
All in the name of peace and love
“In order to form a more perfect Union”
As the Preamble to the Constitution states and,
“Dedicated to the Proposition that
All men (and women!) are created equal”
Thanks to Lincoln
While I asked what I could do for my country
In answer to JFK’s challenge

***

Independence
So important
Yet, so easy to independent ourselves
Out of friendship and love…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: View of the head of the Statue of Liberty, designed by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, on display on the Champ de Mars, Paris, France, 1878. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

WE SNEERED WHEN THEY ERASED HISTORY

mao statue torn down

This is not Hollywood or even the BBC…
Not Bollywood or Broadway or TV.
This is us fighting what we think is the enemy
Step off the precipice of emotion.
Move back carefully
And think through each step.

Family, friends, quite angry
Stereotyping race, religion
And government beliefs
But is all as it seems
Do you think someone’s political party
Determines their life
Can’t you imagine
A woman alone in a trailer
On the edge of forested infinity
One voting straight Democrat
Yet owning not one but two handguns
To protect her teen sons
Learning karate to give them a chance
To flee if need be
How many liberals do you think own guns
More than you know, my friends
But is it wrong to want
Saner controls on weapon armageddon?

Can’t you imagine
A white Conservative
Granddad to children
With African or Hispanic blood
Wanting to protect and defend
The rights of those children’s families
To work and live a better life
So all is not black and white
All the shades of humanity
Are now part of the modern psyche
How do you think they vote
In the privacy of the booth
So is it wrong to want
Freedom of emigration
For those seeking salvation?

Save your own slanted view
No matter which side
Or who
You are

Just remember how we sneered
At the countries toppling their statues
Of heroes now fallen in the dust
But we must
Remember
The historic truth
Must not be altered
We’re not in a Noir film
Not shooting slouching zombies

We build
We build on history
Change it through thought
Channel those emotions
Releasing them only
For sports events
For love and sex
For the beat of amazing music
But don’t topple history
Learn from it
Teach it
Step off the precipice
Of emotion
Into a balanced world where
We can think through
Make life better for me and you
Because
As evolutionists proclaim
We have the big brains
To so do…

© 2020 Clarissa Simmens, ViataMaja
IMAGES: Joining the ranks of history toppling

statue homocide

FIVE HUNDRED YEARS

*Scroll down for a Greensleeves video

All the same
Church still saving souls
Lovers drowning in heart holes
Soldiers marching through peaceful lives
Bankers stashing gold in secret hives

Look at the year 1520
With the exception of Magellan
Plowing through the Pacific Ocean
Our favorite online global encyclopedia
Lists events of the year
WAR WAR WAR
Religious upheaval
WAR WAR WAR
Denmark and Norway
Fighting Sweden
What would Beowulf say?
He gave his life fighting the dragon
And now the boys withdrew the
Welcome wagon
WAR WAR WAR

But okay
Obviously some historian
Shared his/her opinion
Of the most important 1520 events
Surely something more
Will be apparent on another site
So I research
Drinking my first black coffee of the day
Hoping to have something good to say
About how all has changed
How civilization has improved
How the population is no longer
Deranged
First event I see
The artist Raphael dies
On his 37th birthday
Come on researchers!
Historians!
Surely we can be
Positively
Upbeat?

Henry VIII was still toddling around
Maybe he composed Greensleeves?
No literature except religious
Art? Titian painted Venus
(Love Titian’s voluptuous, relatable women!)
Desperate conjecture from me
When all I see is
Nothing, nothing
The word of the year is fear

And remember
Not much fun in the Americas either
Wiki did a countdown of the
Worst years to be alive in history
Yep, 1520
Smallpox gifted to the
Aztec Empire
Thanks, guys

So I give up
Perhaps a search another day
After I’ve consumed mass quantities
Of coffee
Will reveal
A past of
PEACE PEACE PEACE
ART ART ART
MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC
POETRY POETRY POETRY

And why am I
Dousing us with this negativity?
Just a reminder
We are the caretakers of
Our universe
We can shape life
Toward happiness and light
Let’s make 2020
The best year to be alive in history…
(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Wiki Commons, Conquistadors bringing smallpox to the Aztec Empire
*YouTube Greensleeves Mozart/Henry VIII https://youtu.be/cfjN2fGHjUY

HALLOWED SWAMP

Ghost of a song
Echoing down dirt lanes
Ectoplasming past my tin home
Dead-ended in the swamp
Classical Spanish music
Evolving into Flamenco
Three in the morning
More dangerous than midnight
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Proclaims it the ruling of lungs
Emergency Medical Services
Named it the heart attack hour
Both are right

Call and response
Tenor guitar slung on my shoulder
Wisp of a ghost, maybe two
No fear from me
I strum with the shadows
Exercising my lungs
In the dark, I sing
That moment
That moment one’s percussive heart
Keeps time with the melody
Music taking wing
Jolted by the strings
Controlled by invisible fingers
Chords seducing their
Gaggles of ghosts
Who suddenly surge
Down the road, into the muck

Last Quarter Moon glimmers
Through a pellucid sky
Glitters on wet swamp earth revealing
A crucifix, dirty yet untarnished gold
Wipe it on my long black shirt
Treasure forced to the surface
From heavy rain
Overflowing swamp

And I see a long line led by
A history book explorer
Hernando DeSoto, I’m sure
Once memorized for a test
In a long-ago inner city school:
620 men from 9 ships
220 horses
Priests, farmers, soldiers
Up from Tampa Bay
Hiking through Safety Harbor’s burial mound*
To the Weeden Island Cultures’ mound**
A few miles from me
In New Port Richey
Mound to Mound

Looking down on the ground
Kicking with my black combats
Scattering pottery, human remains
Two skulls head to head
Holding hands
In moldy bed
Since 1539
Buried in a swamp of time
Forbidden love?
Oh, yes
In the shadows
An armored man
A doe-skinned woman
Holding hands
As a priestly spectre
Waving a crucifix
Shouts heathens must die
And they collapse
To the tune of soldiers’ muskets
Loudly exploding, drowning out the music
And the lovers become history
In a piece of Florida swamp
Encroaching on my future backyard
As earth is kicked over
Hiding the pair
Guitar notes evaporating

And the moon silently wanes
After a final wail
From wraiths
I pale
Among ancient bones and faded gold
Alone and not dreaming…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), Blogetressa: Shambolic Poetry
IMAGE: Hallowed Swamp and Tenor Guitar /DeSoto’s map 10-1-18

* http://seesafetyharbor.com/Philippe-Park/Indian-Mound/
** https://www.pascocountyfl.net/1193/Oelsner-Indian-Mound

Hallowed Swamp

Ghost of a song
Echoing down dirt lanes
Ectoplasming past my tin home
Dead-ended in the swamp
Classical Spanish music
Evolving into Flamenco
Three in the morning
More dangerous than midnight
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Proclaims it the ruling of lungs
Emergency Medical Services
Named it the heart attack hour
Both are right

Call and response
Tenor guitar slung on my shoulder
Wisp of a ghost, maybe two
No fear from me
I strum with the shadows
Exercising my lungs
In the dark, I sing
That moment
That moment one’s percussive heart
Keeps time with the melody
Music taking wing
Jolted by the strings
Controlled by invisible fingers
Chords seducing their
Gaggles of ghosts
Who suddenly surge
Down the road, into the muck

Last Quarter Moon glimmers
Through a pellucid sky
Glitters on wet swamp earth revealing
A crucifix, dirty yet untarnished gold
Wipe it on my long black shirt
Treasure forced to the surface
From heavy rain
Overflowing swamp

And I see a long line led by
A history book explorer
Hernando DeSoto, I’m sure
Once memorized for a test
In a long-ago inner city school:
620 men from 9 ships
220 horses
Priests, farmers, soldiers
Up from Tampa Bay
Hiking through Safety Harbor’s burial mound*
To the Weeden Island Cultures’ mound**
A few miles from me
In New Port Richey
Mound to Mound

Looking down on the ground
Kicking with my black combats
Scattering pottery, human remains
Two skulls head to head
Holding hands
In moldy bed
Since 1539
Buried in a swamp of time
Forbidden love?
Oh, yes
In the shadows
An armored man
A doe-skinned woman
Holding hands
As a priestly spectre
Waving a crucifix
Shouts heathens must die
And they collapse
To the tune of soldiers’ muskets
Loudly exploding, drowning out the music
And the lovers become history
In a piece of Florida swamp
Encroaching on my future backyard
As earth is kicked over
Hiding the pair
Guitar notes evaporating

And the moon silently wanes
After a final wail
From wraiths
I pale
Among ancient bones and faded gold
Alone and not dreaming…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Hallowed Swamp and Tenor Guitar

* http://seesafetyharbor.com/Philippe-Park/Indian-Mound/
** https://www.pascocountyfl.net/1193/Oelsner-Indian-Mound

de soto expedition map

A BRIEF HISTORY

Tripartite divisions
Time wounds all healing
Historic time unchanged
Lives still worth stealing

First tree struck by lightning
Branch fell on singed earth
Potential for weapons
Anger now gave birth

Wooden equalizer
Swing it through the air
Smash the enemy’s head
In war, all is fair

Stones are so much stronger
But they still can break
Blazing fires shape bronze
Blood lust now to slake

Iron changes the game
Scissors-paper-rock
Right through the techno age
Add lizards and Spock*

Childish games teach us well
So why work for peace
The world is so crowded
War aids that decrease

Songs of peace resounding
Through harsh centuries
Voices must continue
Profound harmonies

*The Big Bang Theory quantum addition to old game

(C) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: My peace ukulele

 

 

KEEP ON DANCING MEMOIR

 

*scroll down for a YouTube video*

 

Little sun-struck cloud

Floating on a tutu

Ballet shoes held on

By an elastic strap

She pirouettes

Dreaming of dancing as

The Nutcracker princess

Some day

Suddenly, “No money”

She is told

For lessons

 

Here are little girls

Strolling through school halls

Twisting, Cha-Cha-ing

Across a new decade’s

Boundary line

Ponying, monkeying, limbo-ing

Waiting for the boys to join in

Suddenly almost-teenagers

Arms wrapped around each other

Softly believing

“We could get married

Then we’d be happy”

Oh those boys of the beach

They knew the secret of life

 

Suddenly the dancing stops

As a new genre

From an older time

Takes hold acoustically

Words of protest

Arising from the smoke of weed

Shuttered eyelids

Heads nodding as

Young men and women agreed

 

And then incredible colors

Splash over us, waking us up

As Sgt. Pepper changes rock and roll

Changes us all

And suddenly the world alters

Letting in the Blues

Jazzing us up

Alcohol takes hold

And once again we dance

So close, not even a straw can pass between

And we move across another borderline

Pea coats, bell bottoms, boots

Replaced by Sci Fi platform shoes

Polyester clothes that

Researchers insist cause cancer

And we smoke

And we dance

And we drink

And we do whatever feels good

In this new decade of peace

 

And our faces become pierced

Bodies become a canvas for art

Good and bad

Clothing deliberately torn

Dancing is the banging of heads

Lots of lyrics involve the word “dead”

But we dance

 

Until suddenly, the dancing stops

The music stops

The rhythm stops

The melody stops

There is absolutely nothing

But a horrible chanting

An ending to the sounds we once knew

And loved

Little girl’s hair

Turns to gray

Wondering if

There is a way

To keep on dancing…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Degas, Dancer With a Bouquet of Flowers

 

The Gentrys, Keep On Dancing  https://youtu.be/HhqX_VdQT10 YouTube video

 

 

SIBYL OF THE RHINE

 

*scroll down for a YouTube video*

 

Nine hundred years before my birth

Hildegard von Bingen arrived on this Earth

Sent to a convent because of her religious visions

Eleventh Century upheavals:

Gypsies banished from India

Creating a European diaspora

Sharing their knowledge of divination,

Herbs, cures

By oral transmission

William the Conqueror

Banishing Anglo-Saxons

Creating new law codes and the early census

Known as the Domesday Book

While indigenous tribes unknowingly

Lived out their last moments of freedom

In the Americas

Yet keeping alive their own oral traditions

Of spirituality and cosmography

Momentous times for a Renaissance Woman

To appear in Germany

Rising to the position of Abbess

Writing a book about her visions

Composing music on her psaltery

Rivaling Gregorian chants

Writing the book Physica

A classic on health and healing

Writing the book Causae et Curae

A classic on herbs and cures

Leader, reader, writer,

Composer, musician, healer

History moves in spurts

As does knowledge

The dark ages may seem all-consuming

But they are not

Arcane knowledge

Always rises to the top

Like a granular convection

And once again

Buried dreams will be reality

Hold tight

Remember that night

Always fades in the dawn…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

 

https://youtu.be/LJEfyZSvg5c YouTube video Spiritus Sanctus, Hildegard von Bingen

 

IMAGE: Statue of Hildegard in Bingen’s Museum am Strom

 

poetry, sybil, healer, oracle, nun, abbess, herbs, cures, visions, politics, history, renaissance, repression, underground, dark ages, second inquisition, oral histories

HISTORIC WALLS OF RITTENHOUSE SQUARE

 

How can it be?

Generations of posteriors

Warming Rittenhouse Square’s walls

Feeling tall and superior

 

Now it’s a crime

To perch with friends

Glad to see it’s ignored

Youth refuses to descend

 

I played my kazoo

Sitting on those walls

While guitars and voices

Rose above traffic squalls

 

Listened to anti-war speeches

Drank my first beer at fifteen

Handed up by a bearded hippie

Tore my first bell-bottom jeans

 

All the years after

The Square played its part

An island in the midst of the city

Sitters the park’s heart

 

Take down those signs

Philly, it’s a mystery

Why you ignore the beauty

Of an unbroken line of history…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Yong Kim, Philadelphia Inquirer Daily News

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20170113_City_puts_up__no_sitting__signs_in_Rittenhouse_Square__targets_weed.html

 

 

FOURTH OF JULY

 

My annual Independence Day poem:

 

Growing up in Philadelphia

Home of the Declaration of Independence

And that wildly independent founding father Franklin

I pondered the meaning of Independence

At a very young age

Countries become independent from their oppressors

But people can become independent too

And that was what I tried to do

I became self-sufficient

Didn’t hurt to read Thoreau at age sixteen

Yet, of all the words he produced for us eager hippies

I fastened on what may be his saddest quote:

“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude”

Countries really cannot live in solitude

As we see by the history of United States wars

So much for the Monroe Doctrine

***

Well, here I am, meandering between

The idea of an independent country

And an independent person

Does anyone dread

What’s waiting ahead?

Our presidential election

Lying and promises

Slur-slinging and anger

Tossed between the candidates

And we, the voters, surrounded by

The circle of hate

Like children in a game of dodge ball

Will we unfriend our friends on social media sites?

Click out of their opposing posts of rhetoric?

***

I was taught to not talk about

Politics, religion or money

With any but family and close friends

Being an independent woman, however,

I couldn’t stay away from activism:

Feminism, racism

All in the name of peace and love

“In order to form a more perfect Union”

As the Preamble to the Constitution states and,

“Dedicated to the Proposition that

All men (and women!) are created equal”

Thanks to Lincoln

While I asked what I could do for my country

In answer to JFK’s challenge

***

Independence

So important

Yet, so easy to independent ourselves

Out of friendship and love…

 

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

 

IMAGE: View of the head of the Statue of Liberty, designed by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, on display on the Champ de Mars, Paris, France, 1878. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)