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



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
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





*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





*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



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






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



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)








Can understand this

Always fascinated by

Those mighty faces

In South Dakota

Loved Hitchcock’s

“North By Northwest”

Cary Grant

Climbing the faces

Impeccably clothed

In suit and tie

But as a girl

Didn’t want to “look” like them

Made more sense to want to

“Be” like them

Of course, the argument is

There are two slave owners

Depicted on the mountain

Washington and Jefferson

And poor Lincoln has been trashed

As not really caring about slavery

That was just an “issue” tacked on

To secession

Teddy Roosevelt?  Well, he did

Form the National Park legacy

That is being dismantled now

And who was the controversial sculptor

Who actually carved out the mountain

What was his name?

Oh, thank the Cosmos for Wikipedia

It was Gutzon Borglum

A child of Mormon polygamy

And here’s something that

Makes no sense:

He was a Mason and a member of the

Ku Klux Klan

Talk about apples and oranges

But there is more controversy

Because the lands were stolen

From the Native Americans

(What a surprise)

And a memorial to Crazy Horse

Will be competing with the four


So what does this mean?

Be careful whom we idealize

Even the rich and famous

Have feet of clay

Or in this case

No feet at all…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Lynda Hill and Richard Hill: Sabian Symbols As An Oracle (360 Pisces 30)



A quote re Paleolithic paintings In Chauvet Cave

Southern France

Scientists learned their lesson

Opening up Lascaux Cave

In the name of sharing knowledge

Yet wall paintings there

Destroyed by bacteria and mold

Introduced by visiting tourists

So a vast replica was built

Just for tourists to view

Incredible animal paintings

Originating 35,000 years ago

Who were the artists sketching

With charcoal and red ochre

Etching the stones

Exploiting the relief of the rock

To create forms, shadows

Expressing the animals

Roaming beyond the entrance fire

Who were those talented, fur-clad artists

Ancestors of today’s painters,

Poets, musicians

Who must produce

No matter the cost

Did they feel alienated

Or were they prized by

The tribe

As holy illusionists

Revealing, interpreting

Life through their

Intuitive hearts…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)







A synonym for

Cracked vinyl

Missing zipper teeth


Some shininess

Like holiday eves

Love, though, a masquerade

Really only lust

A virgin’s veil

Hiding the truth

All against a sweeping

World affairs backdrop

To anchor memories


In contrast

Tabula Rasa relationships

Have their own amnesia

Fresh start on a clean slate

To sketch new memories

If there is still time

And great maturity



Or, we can pick up the charcoal

And let the ghosts control us

Midnight automatic writings



Infinite, identical



© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: etta de camp. Uncyclopedia.wiki