(Scroll down for YouTube video)


Okay, I confess

I’m a lying, cheating bi**h

In my poems Unconsummated Guitar

And Take Me Back, Please?


I’d leave ukulele never more

But dang!

I love Janis Joplin

Will never have a voice like hers

But I’m haunted by her playing the


I wanna do it too!

I wanna look in my mirror and sing

Me and Bobby McGee

I do it with ukulele

But you know

Even though I’m old

(And maybe that’s the problem)

I can still have some dreams


So guess what I did?

Don’t guess

Went on Ebay


Well, no, so EXPENSIVE!

Went to Amazon

Same thing

Hmmm, maybe I should reconsider this move?

Nah!  Life is short

So it’s off to

Hoping that any day now

I’ll be looking in the mirror

And seeing not an ol’ silver-haired woman

But a rip-roaring Blues singer

Great writing, BTW, Kris Kristofferson

I could just hear me!

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge…”


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)


YouTube video:


Click here for Part 1 Unconsummated Guitar

Click here for Part 2 Take Me Back, Please?




(The USA should have a Boxing Day for all our laborers who had to work yesterday)


Like a troublesome jigsaw puzzle

Life may be similar

But too large to see

The big picture

So I just enjoy

Fitting together little pieces

And forget about life itself


Here’s a segment of history:

Joe Hill’s execution in 1915

Interested me

In 1965

And again in 2015

Decades of belting out

“I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill”

Now, able to magically play it

On my ukulele

(Only four chords, of course)

As the aging voice

Sings the song


So okay, history…

Thought he was


A union organizer

For the copper miners

Executed for a crime

He says he didn’t commit

I won’t belabor that

I wasn’t there

But we know

Thanks to History

How that goes for protestors

Who need to be “disappeared”


Anyway, bored one night

Followed his virtual path


He was a poet and songwriter

(Why didn’t I know that?)

So then I find the I.W.W Songs

You know, the Wobblies

The Little Red Book


And because of my Medicare woes,

Boringly detailed in a previous poem,

Because of that, I

Find myself emerging from the

Underground maze

A place I hid in for years

In silence

Smiling, nodding, tippity-tapping

In order to keep the jobs

Hiding the big secret

That I’ve always been angry

About the injustice of any government

Toward the working poor

Like me

Despite a college degree

In mid-life

Yet always a bottom feeder, salary-wise


So I pull myself out of the underground

Into the open, wild flower field of truth

And I find a song in the Little Red Book

Written by Joe Hill

“Rebel Girl”

Be still my heart

A song written for me

And you who are poor

Despite working more and more

And I know

I’ll always be a rebel girl

Above or underground


All right, I’m getting on with my “thesis”

How the synergy of one topic

One little puzzle piece


I call it


Music, Biography, History, Poetry, Politics

And full-circle to Music

Rebel Girl is back

It’s the 60s, at least in my inner life, again

And yes, for all you readers who

Hung in there with my tiradic poem

This personal dovetail is part of the big picture of

My life

But also yours…

(c) 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)




G           C             G (G7)

Yes, her hands may be hardened from labor,

C             Cm     G

And her dress may not be very fine;

G          C       G

But a heart in her bosom is beating

A7                       D (D7)

That is true to her class and her kind.







Once upon a time

There was a wannabe folksinger

With a high soprano voice

She struggled with guitar

But really, much too busy to practice

So she wrote tuneless songs

Calling them poems

And became a wannabe poet

Over the next few years

Soprano worked well for

Joan, Joni,

But what the wannabe folksinger

Morphed into

Was a wannabe blues singer

Like Nina

Or Janis

(Who is mezzo-soprano but

Rasps with the best of the contraltos)

Yeah, she wanted to sound raunchy

Not prissy

Although some soprano singers

Would take exception to that adjective

(Correctly, I’d have to admit)

Yeah, she wanted to wail

Because poetry is powerful

But music, to the wannabe,

Breathes life into the words

Especially when the voice

Is gritty, pained, down and dirty

That is life as she knows it

And soprano doesn’t do it

At least to her ears

And to her nerve endings

And to her heart…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)



screamin jay hawkins

Screamin’ Jay’s operatic sexuality

Nina’s deep contralto of pain

Fogerty’s spooky guitar vibrato

Repeatedly playing

How many versions owned?

In our minds an echo

As we cast a synchronous spell

And they collide

Then weave into a bow

So perfectly knotting us together

Into a welcome tether…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (Music & Lyrics: I Put A Spell On You)

3 of my favorite versions:


nowhere man sheet music in fog

A melancholy two ante meridiem


Waning Moon

Mercury magnetizing the universe

Spinning backwards in retrograde

No relief from

Reading, games, social media

Grab my ukulele and try playing

Nowhere Man for the first time

Lack of talent doesn’t discourage me

Because the top-of-the-head-blowing-off feeling


As the Beatles’

Long-ago words and melody

Tranquilize the jittery soul

Of this Somewhere Woman

I am…

And I rock…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Nowhere Man in the fog



Cried on the bathroom floor

With a puppy on my lap

Cried alone in my car

In a deserted supermarket lot

As lightning crashed not ten feet away

And empty shopping carts rolled untended

One hitting my door


Tears did not make anything better

Once I passed forty years

But no way to stop them

Occasional devastation

Calls for water

To quench the fiery anger

When faced with injustice

Listening to barbed wire words

That increase my fears


Laughter was once more steady

Now, it has a desperate sound

Phony, hollow, hysterical

And it sometimes ends in crying

Waxing or waning

The moon rules my inner ocean

Salinity dueling with sanity

I am no longer ready

To pretend strength and fight


Singing carries me through the night

Choosing a theme, like rain

Alphabetizing singers

Then singing each song in my head

While lying stiff and silent in bed

Yet the relief of rhythm and words

Is surely similar to a baby being

Sung to sleep

As I mother myself


Life is so sad sometimes…

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)


my concert ukulele #2

Over the years

Played several instruments:

Flute, harmonica, kazoo

Tambourine, bongos, keyboard

Never has anything felt so right

As the guitar from my youth

And the ukulele from my maturity

Vibrations of string

Pulling the heart strings

Brain strung out


Perhaps some of us

Are as sensitive as Pythagoras

And his Musica Universalis

Music of the Spheres

Movement of celestial bodies

(Sun, moon and planets)

Emit their own unique hum

Pythagoras, mathematical madman,

Claimed the pitch of a musical note is in proportion

To the length of the string that produces it

Ergo, quality of life on Earth reflects

The tenor of celestial sounds

Imperceptible to the human ear

Felt, though, in the body, mind and soul


The first known artist

Depicting an angel with a harp

Must have loved string music

Must have discerned the Musica Universalis

That’s also my idea of Heaven

Although more fun to strum strings on Earth

Because we get to wear cool clothes…


© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)



Oh, Orpheus, come to me

I am Eurydice

Needing a poem of such beauty

That Hades will set me free

Challenge of the poet:

Creating words that resonate nakedly

In a world where visuals and auditories

Instantly gratify by using

Music or illustration

What chance does the simple word have?

Ancient bards sang their work

Strong voices kept the listeners listening

A YouTube video is a modern substitute

Memorable lyrics used since language began

Poetry, word painting

Clearer with illustration

Older books included pictures

Today, we Photoshop a VanGogh

Enhancing the poetry experience

Nudging the imagination of the reader

Is it possible in modern times

To reach others merely with words?

Once, only a select few read

Now, everyone—almost—reads

How to write for each audience?

Orpheus, you led us to be free

But turned around to look at me

And once again I vanished by Hades’ decree

Was I not to be loved as much as your poetry?

© 2015 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)


SACRED SIXTIES SONG: Phil Ochs’ “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”

(Another poem in celebration of Phil Ochs’ 75th birthday)

phil ochs i aint marching anymore

Phil’s voice echoing in my mind

As I learn to play

My new ukulele

Here are the chords

No riff, but couldn’t do justice

To the memorable, musical phrase

That always gave me chills when a teen

Listening to him on late-night weekend FM

No commercials in the sixties

Bought the album

Saw him countless times at folk festivals

And Philly coffee houses

Spoke to him twice

Well, in my ultra-shy way

Went through a period of

Perverting his song

As I tired from marching

Although it was to prevent the type of marching

Phil Ochs meant

Anti-war but also voting rights, Women’s Lib

War just kept coming

Voters got rights but stopped voting

Women didn’t want equality if it meant

Sharing a bathroom with men

In frustration I invoked the words of

Phil Ochs

Silently shouting:

“I Ain’t Marching Anymore”!

But got through that phase

An activist works for the common good

Not for the individuals who may pervert the act

So here I am

Almost a quarter of the way into

The twenty-first century

Voice scratchy

The pressing of frets slow

Giggling attitude toward my ineptitude

But playing and singing

Phil Ochs’ call to war

Against war

So here I am

Daring to replicate the sacred chords

Of I Ain’t Marching Anymore

What a high…

© Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Here’s a Youtube link to the song: