I’ve been homeless
And hungry
Merely a credit card away
From being a street person
Fortunate to have
Kind family and friends
Lucky to be
Drug and alcohol free
Favored to have volition
To retain ambition
And always remained sane
In my crazy, madcap way


But I know
The untethered feeling
Of being alone
Unable to cope
Unable to return home
It’s like I went day tripping
To the astral plane
And suddenly the slender, silver cord
Connecting my soul to the body below
Snapped in two, severed
As I trailed the useless, dangling connection
Wanting so badly to return
But unable to do so
My mind, emotions, anger
Refused to permit it


So I imagine
How scared the homeless may be
Like when I lived in Philly
The ones sleeping on steam grates
In twenty degree icy weather
My mom gently placing
Coats and socks
On the sleepers
While I do my part
When going to and from work
With piles of plastic sandwich bags
Filled with pennies
In the days when cash
Was the way
I would pay
And my pockets sagged from the change
One hundred pennies
Each bag
Giving to those still able to walk around
A woman wearing fake fur
Face crawling with lice
Blessed me and
I let her hug me
I don’t care what they spend it on
It’s for their comfort
Wish I could give more


But my heart hardened
Here in Florida
They camp in the woods
Behind my trailer
Owning bikes and designer clothes
They steal my copper pipes and
Whatever else brings money from recycling
And I feel hard
And angry
Angry with myself
For feeling cynical
About just how needy
Are these new homeless
And I think
How their living in my woods
Attracts rats
Because they shit and piss
On the loamy earth
Or toss garbage
And I say
I’m the working poor
I just want my little bit of life:
Internet, a few toys and books
And enough food and gas for the car
I never drive far
And who do they think they are????


So one day I’m strumming
Baritone ukulele
That sounds like a guitar
Strumming out my old folk songs
And wonder how my
Love of humanity
Wandered so far
From the days I believed
We could all live in love and peace
I feel afraid
Don’t want to leave this life
With hatred and suspicion
Enraged and spitting at others
Who are doing the best they can
To survive
What do I know of
The devastation in their lives
The people who hurt them
The cruelty of husbands and wives
Why am I judging them


So I pull on my Wellies
Walk through the eons of fallen leaves
Find their campfire
Now deserted
I place the large plastic crate
With clothes and socks
Sleeping bags and crocks
Of baby wipes, shampoo
Soap, towels, pads
All the niceties I’m sure they don’t have
Hoping when the shelters close
As the weather warms
They will return
And forgive me my thoughts
Hope I can forgive me my thoughts, too…


(c) 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Behind my yard


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ABOUT The BeZine


The Bards Against Hunger 5th Year Anniversary Book is now available through Amazon or the Bards Against Hunger organization.  The project has raised thousands of pounds of food over the last 5 years to help local charities and food shelters in many different states. You may help support them by buying a book or organizing an event in your state or country.

I am honored to have one of my poems included!  It is a true memoir written as a member of the working poor, who also go hungry, especially when money is needed for emergency situations.  One of our fellow-WordPress poets, Denise Fletcher, also has a poem included.  Check out her blog, especially what she calls “Mood Boards”:



Here are the links for the book:




MORNING VISIT TO WALMART (work in progress for protest song)


The sons of Sam

Also the daughters

Walton, that is

Not the serial killer who slaughtered


But what is the difference

How people are done in

Greed can murder

Creating a double sin


Huge super stores

Feng Shui all wrong

The body compass whacks out

While stumbling along


Fifty cash registers

In front of the door

But only three cashiers

Given hours to work the floor


Broken leg veins

Caused by standing all day

Money for the doctors

No longer worth the pay


Oh the workers got a raise

But their hours were cut

Working poor get screwed

While the corporations glut


Two hundred dollars

Above the poverty line

Curse you Walmart

And all your corporate kind


© Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Welcome to Walmart say the gulls



She looked at the car

For the billionth time

It was advertised as

Hunter Green

But there was an unmistakable

Tinge of chartreuse

(Reminiscent of diaper changes)

No doubt the paint chemist

Who may have been texting

His cheating wife

Or working through

A Sunday night drunk


And the color stood

Worth the price, though

Can claim the color is unique

Beggars can’t be choosers

Mom always said

So she took out her

Five hundred dollars in cash

Earned by standing on her feet

By the street

US 19 South

Waving a giant foam hand

For a pawn shop advertising gold

In the freaking Florida heat

Dancing and singing to tunes

On her MP3

Music saving the day

And so she bought the car

Whose paint job was the best of it

Because under the hood

Horrors lurked

For a poor mother of two


Mercury Retrograde

Was not the time to buy

Someone will have to be blamed

Might as well be ol’ Mercury

God of Communication

God of Travel

He just must have his revenge

Even on the innocent…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)


botannical garden wales 2

When I first saw Bob Dylan life changed

Wanted to help the poor and sing

Now I’m the poor but sure tried my best

Just raised my hand, volunteered for everything


As I wear my blue collar origins

Like a newly-inked tattoo

Silently screaming in pain

Failure from a world view


I see the absurd injustice

After years of employment

In working class poverty

With barely any enjoyment


Not sure about the road to happiness

Is it service or accumulated wealth?

How I envy those who can combine them

But can it guarantee mental health?


Yet I sit in my quiet chapel

Surrounded by herbs and birds

Surely luckier than many others

As I scribble thoughts into words


May I then state that life is not

Credit and debit accounting ledgers?

Whatever we do it ends the same

The lesson? Find and treasure the pleasures…


© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

(IMAGE: Thanks to Karen Bruton, photo from botanical garden In Wales)


{Recently went on vacation and lived on hard boiled eggs, veggie cheese and pita. Nothing really changes. On a good note, lost 2 pounds instead of gaining! Here’s a repost of a poem about moving to Florida with my sons}:

horizon engine block

Hard to glamourize being poor

Especially when shopping at the Scratch & Dent store

My hourly wage was four twenty five

Just barely enough to keep us alive

Two teenagers eat a lot…

We couldn’t afford the air conditioner

No help from the county commissioner

Didn’t know about free food and power

Just lived from second to minute to hour

But I was out of icy Philly and in Florida…

My sons wanted to see the beach

An hour’s drive, certainly in reach

But no money for charcoal and BBQ-ing

Wanted to impress them for family renewing

Why don’t they like peanut butter and jelly, my favorite…?

Bought cheap hot dogs and wrapped in buns and foil

Couldn’t afford ice and didn’t want them to spoil

Opened up the hood of my dusty old car

Saw the engine block and had an idea so bizarre

To us trailer trash, engines are for cooking…

Parked by the Gulf, sat on the seaweedy beach

That day my sons learned what I was trying to teach

As we munched on the lunch

I delivered my punch:

Stay in school and never, ever be poor…

© 2014 Clarissa Simmens, Poetry of Memory: Six Decades from the Space Time Continuum