From medieval times

Romani women

Peering at palms

Some silken soft

Fewer worn and callused

Mapping wet tea leaves

Extracting colorful dyes from

Precious saffron

Strong spices

Local flora, used to

Embellish wood chips

Painted arcane symbols

Touched by the questor’s hands

Anxiously listening to

Forthcoming flutterings

Struggling to earn a few coins

That will stay sewn

Into the hem of the skirt

Lined with tiny mirrors

Reflecting jakhalo

Whether the Evil Eye

Deliberate or accidental

Part of the colorful clothes

An Eastern European version

Of the sari once worn

Before driven from the homeland

Into a freezing diaspora

Scattering all over the world

Some unluckily becoming slaves

Feeding the maw of

Greedy jaws

Until desrobireja


In the 19th century

Freedom once again

To travel the muddy roads

Never escape, though,

From need and someone else’s greed

Saving those few coins of comfort

In a romanticized job

With longer hours

Than nine to five

I, no better than my ancestors

The working poor

Trying to stay alive…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  A Chance Meeting with a Fortune-Teller, Adrien Moreau 1834-1906







Here is the sun

To warm Mother Earth

A female celebration

Mixed into a cauldron

Of light and dark

One dipper of Seriousness

To care for the Earth

Plant the food needed

Harness the sun

For solar power

Heat our water

Run our modern machines

One dipper of Mischievousness

Turn over the cauldron

Spill out the fun

Onto our Mother’s flowing

Green dress




A life-affirming carnival

Because the darkness

Never lasts

Because the darkness

Eventually lightens for all

And it is up to us

To embrace it while we can…



© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), Parallel Universe Café and Other Poems




My annual poem:

(scroll down for YouTube videos of the celebration)


My heart will be in

Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer

Where my soul will dance

In Languedoc, Camargue

The South of France


Not only a refuge for the Knights Templar

And Mary La Magdalene

But also home to countless images

Of Black Virgins so serene

Reflecting peaceful love


Sara E Kali—Sara the Black—

Confluence of the Hindu Goddess Kali

Women warriors combatting political folly

Some sinners but certainly

The church-approved saints


One version of the story

Tells of Marie Jacobe and Marie Salome

Accompanying Mary Magdalene

When she fled the Holy Land

After attempting to make a stand


We Roma believe that

Sara, a Gypsy,

Saw their boat floundering and

Tossed her (head scarf) diklo

Upon the waters, when they could not row


This enabled the three Marys to

Walk or sail across the water to shore

Establishing a rapport

Between the women forever more

As they brought their message of peace


The Roma come to the town

These two dates in May

To celebrate Sara E Kali

Patron saint of Gypsies and Travellers

To show their love on a feast day


In an alcove stands the tall, lovely statue

Serenely gazing out of large, dark eyes

Covered in beautiful, filmy diklos

Presented by those who ask for help

Or have received help from one so wise


Saint Sara E Kali, carried into the sea

Violins and voices of praise

This sublime personification of a

Saint-Goddess-Woman surrounded by bouquets

Apocryphal representative of our bloodlines


© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), Parallel Universe Café and Other Poems

IMAGE: Personal statue of St. Sara E Kali in a Mulberry Bush  Les Saintes Maries-de-la-mer  Gipsy Kings background music Les Saintes Maries-de-la-mer






(scroll down for Motorhead Evil Eye video)


Red garb

Red ribbon

Shields against

The envious eye

Modern knowledge


Before giving in to

Ancient—but empirical—



What is the lunar cycle?

Waning moon

Causing low tidal ebbing

Also saps human energy

Affecting life’s outlook

Is it Mercury Retrograde?

Four times a year

Stuff happens

Titanic sunk

Loved ones succumb to illness

Computers and travel plans suffer

Numerology, specifically, what is your day of birth?

Certain numbers “demand” a more difficult life

Are you superstitious?

Know the facts

Do you worry about your nutrition?

Protein ingestion and blood sugar

Affect mental health


When all else fails, we seek an

Elemental curse banishment

(Based on an old Romani cure)


<sprinkle salt or grass or earth>


Smother in sand

Smother in rock

Bury that curse

Good luck unlock


<splash water from a cup>


Wash away

Wash away

Wash away

Water drown the curse today


<burn sage or spicy incense>


Blow wind

Scattering all without a trace

Carry the curse

To an airless space


< “capture” sun’s reflection in a mirror or burn white candle>


Burning in fire

I watch the death

Of a heartless curse

Gasp its last breath




When one feels anger with another:

Sing, dance, meditate, cook, garden, drum on your lap

After a while you will suddenly know how to handle

The person, the situation, or your own reaction,,,


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: #3 Some of my public amulets

YouTube video: Motorhead Evil Eye






(Mahaffey Theater 5-2-16)

*Scroll down for video*



In a perverse time and place

DNA sings to me

In crystal-breaking tones:

Find the forest

Where your people camped

Among the trees

Guitars and violins

And percussive seas

Remember the dance

Slow movement among embers

All to the backdrop of music

Inhaled, with the smoke,

Then released

With the vanishing of pain…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)





World Roma Day

April 8


“{International Romani Day} commemorates the day on which Romani people officially sealed their international cooperation and the Romani movement achieved an international sociopolitical dimension. On this day, those who annually celebrate it commemorate their common culture, language, origins, unity, work and primarily their “romipen” (“Romani-ness”).”  From


My Annual Sonnet:


Who says we cannot read? We read fringed lines

As they meander across your worn palm

We read the leaf clumps and delicate vines

Clinging to the empty teacup, now calm.


We read your story of pain and glory

On sketched chips of wood or bright vellum card

Brown, green, blue, gray reflections give away

Both truth and lies you desperately guard.


Asking us for help, we once again read

The page of your voices, anger, and fear

Despised, uneducated, we still bleed

In sympathy for your disguised veneer.


No country, no school, no planting of seed

And yet we have always known how to read.


© 2013 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

From Madame Sosostris Explains (a poetry patchwork)

IMAGE: Graphic RR Marki dr/eh, Zurich Switzerland





Flowers of jasmine

Floating among leaves

Fallen from the tin

Holding the horror or

Happiness in a message

Harbored within an


Erratic placement

Of emblems, symbols

Arranging themselves

Along the sides and bottom

Of an antique cup

That traveled in the wagon

Of a desperate woman


Hidden husband

Here lying like the dead

Heaps of vegetables his coffin

Freedom in other European towns

Finding war there too, and like me,

Finding no answer in the leaves of tea


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Tea Leaf Reading, Wikipedia




(March 19 / Scroll down for Vivaldi’s La Primavera on YouTube)


In subtropical states

Weather situations

Sometimes reverse

So Spring is deliriously welcomed

Above the Mason-Dixon Line

But to me in swampy Florida

It is the precursor

To hot and stormy weather

And a 6-month unbearable Summer

Dreaded is the yearly move

Into the first sign of the zodiac

Even though an April baby,

I’m an Autumn and Winter lover

If only the sun would agree

To be eclipsed daily

Between the hours of 12 and 4 post meridiem…


Granted, Tavasi Suvo

Does have its high points

A time when all the great

Mother Goddesses are celebrated

From Astarte to the Virgin Mary

Rebirth is the theme for cuisine

Eggs, the promise of more creatures

Encouraging animal husbandry

Seeds, the potential for more plants

Including magical herb gardens

For healing the body and soul

Space reflects the New Moon

And vibrant Northern Lights

Families come together

In houses of the holy

Or around the dining table

Ancient rituals enacted

Although the true meanings

Are often wrapped in

Vaporous forgotten lore


No matter one’s feelings

It is a constant on our planet

The day and night of equal length

The sense that something

Of beauty or joy

Is waiting for us aching humans

To finally stumble upon the arcana,

To solve the mystery

Of life, as it is meant to be:

A world of love and peace…


© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja) Parallel Universe Café and Other Poems

YouTube: La Primavera (Spring), Vivaldi


IMAGE: goddess&