Big city late night smogging
Human volcano awaiting
Final intolerance of life
Neighborhood via drugs degrading

Nominally safe inside row home
Dangling a keychain of pepperspray
Alone while sons at work today
Overactive imagination spirals away

Back home in humid Florida
Gators move prehistorically
Searching for mates in yards and swamps
Devoid of any sensuality

Here in my old hometown Philly
Human hoards do the same
Cruising in cars, buses and subways
Any-cost sex, biological imperative aim

Inside I strum guitar and read
While some sad soul screams outside
Teetering between two realities
Alone on a great divide

Where is the truth
Worthy to compare?
Or is beauty hidden

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: M.C. Escher, Still Life & Street


Written on the Airbus 5-22-19

*scroll down for a YouTube video

What is the color
Of turbulence?
Chakra madness
Takes root in the dirt

RED for danger
Oh, yeah
No protection
None at all
Except yawning, disturbing
Tympanic membranes
Blocking sound
Upchucking bag
Winks at me from the pouch
Of the forward seat
A cloud below
A pill swallowed
Just in case

ORANGE for emotions
WiFi in the sky
So I type my fears to
Friends via Messenger
Just want them to know
They’re on my mind

YELLOW for power
As we bump along I say,
“Be a warrior!”
Mantras 36,000 feet in the sky
What a way to say goodbye
But I do

GREEN for health
Oh, right, what kind
Am I thinking about?
Alive and well after landing
Would be better than diet and exercise
In this time and space

TURQUOISE for communication
“Ground Control To Major Tom”
You’re there, right?
Can you hear me…?

INDIGO for the third eye
Gosh and golly gee
I can see that
I am psychic
Because as I write
The pilot dings the warning
To sit and stay
Locked away
Under a flimsy seatbelt

VIOLET for spirituality
If we believe in heaven
We sure are near it now

My airsick pill takes effect
I yawn
Bouncing along
My pen feels heavy
I yawn
Turbulence fades away…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

*Space Oddity, David Bowie, YouTube



Road trip through the Route 66 of space
Wending my way among
Suns, Moons and Stars
A need to escape
My once-quiet swamp
Now juxtaposed with a mini-highway of
Muffler-less Harleys
Road rage screech of auto horns
Want to move
Maybe to the Multiverse
Sensory deprivation needed
At least two hours a day
Move somewhere
E=MC squared
Multiplied by good fortune
Poet Laureate of the Galaxy
Might as well throw in
Grammy winner
But I’ll take anything new
To escape the
Schrodinger’s Cat feeling
Of not knowing whether
I’m alive or dead
An atom
A photon
Existing in multiple states
So with pack on my back
Seeking the secret of being
A social maven
Needing a place
In way-out space
Perhaps on a planet where
Autism rules…


magical quantum equation amulet

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)



*scroll down for a YouTube video*



Whether talking



Suddenly feel

The wheels of a train

Rolling under me

Gentle whistle

Bed and pillow under my head

As I rock in rhythm

With the Industrial Age’s

Lines of Ley

Hammered into the earth


The continent

Wheels, always wheels

Wearing lines in the Earth


Wheels on Earth

In my DNA

Hearing my ancestors

In their rolling wagons

Encouraging the horses

To get to the nearest stream

And I a baby

Rock to the clopping

Rock in rhythm

Wheels, always wheels

Wearing lines in the Earth


Was a difficult baby

Per the lore of the past

Wrapped in a blanket

Midnight car rides

Through dimly-lit city streets

Trying to get me to sleep

Wheels, always wheels

Wearing lines in the Earth


But I now know

Rocking in rhythm

Is the only way

To get me to stay

Relaxed and asleep


No doubt, Earth-bound

No desire, alternatives


Planes have wheels

Brief Earth contact

Without wearing deep lines


We hope they don’t rock


Boats? They rock, but

No wheels

No Earth

Just lines

Wearing invisibly through water

Scary concept

To leave the Earth

Yet I wonder

Would it work…?


YouTube video Dionne Warwick, Trains and Boats and Planes


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Saint Laurent Stiletto Wheels




Riding backwards

Seeing what was

Appropriate for a memoir scribbler

So, have roadside trees

Changed instantly

Shedding leaves in Florida Autumn?

Clouds are following me

Heading North


Playing air ukulele for amusement

Since train WiFi silent

Refusing to share

The outside world

Just me

In a womb room

Now chugging through

A little-known station

In Denmark, South Carolina


Last year, first time in a train roomette

Was magical

Besotted with the tracks

Circuitously leading locomotives

Through the East Coast’s elevation*

True, I’d learned to play

“City of New Orleans”

On the ukulele

And oh, those chords

And words

Seduced me into forsaking airplanes

Now, it’s like footprinting through

Scattered stardust

Alone on a Magician’s stage

As if he’d hypnotized and then left me half alive


An abandoned

Dusty old platform

House lights on

Revealing faded curtains

Sprung springed seats



Looking through the large-view window

Recognizing the same-as-last-year flooded

Roadside thickets

Litter scattered among the deciduous trees

As we race between Rocky Mount, NC

And Petersburg, VA


Gazing at trucks piled with logs

Mongrel architecture of cottages

Half  Great Depression rural facades

Hiding a post-1960s add-on

When wardrobes grew

Requiring more closet space

Plural bathrooms needed

To accommodate the cult of the



Suddenly Washington, DC

Water marked overpass walls

Dripping with graffiti

Resembling a vellum book

With aging endpapers

Hidden shelf, second hand shop

Marbled designs disguise



Do I feel less enthusiastic

Because last year

The sun rose in Virgo,

This time in Libra?

Was it because last year

The virgin voyage was fresh,

This time it is post-honeymoon?

Was it because I was a year younger?

Wish it was like the inaugural trek

Year after year

In life

In love

In mystery…



© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  heritage railroad


*Compare to last year’s poem, same train trip


**American spelled backwards (term used in Sociology and Anthropology depicting specific behavior)



I’m pretending that I’m going to repack and leave some of my clothes home but I know I won’t.  I sure hope I don’t tip over:  huge wheeled suitcase (including 10 bras and panties…why???), backpacker’s pack with food (train only has a snack bar with salt & fat & sugar foods), and a regular backpack with my meds, vitamins & herbal first aid kit (OMG, do I take a lot!), change of clothes in case I get separated from my suitcase and the necessaries like phone, kindle and money.  I always identified with the Hobbits but man, I sure would have slowed them down for the ring quest…


(If there’s WIFI on the train, will keep in touch)


Here’s a haiku:


Call Overpackers’

Anonymous for me, please

Desperate for help!



Image: my stuff


(photo from FB Memory set me off about leaving on Thursday)



From little to no sleep

I’m a mass of


Brains or intestines or

Pile of pythons

Primal soup solidified

Try to untangle

Thrown into the void


Dogs desert me

As I hurl myself to safety

Thoroughly awakening

To what type of day?

Oh, no, I’m going away

From the swamp

From the ginger

From the dogs

From the music…


What makes people

Want to travel?

Is it easier with

Sister or Brother

Friend or Lover?

I’m used to being alone

Will eventually feel okay

Do wish, though

There was someone to hold onto

While wading through strangeness

And strangers

Oh no, I’m going away

From the swamp

From the ginger

From the dogs

From the music…


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Image: CS from FB Memory 2014 with ginger




*scroll down for  YouTube videos*


Not only is the City of New Orleans

Living and breathing on Amtrak

It also has a dining car

Unlike the Silver Star

My train next week

From Tampa to Philly

Maybe I can get Arlo

To write a song**

“Riding on the Silver Star to Philly…”


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  Akron Railroad Club, Amtrak Silver Star (Tampa to Philly & back again)

YOUTUBE VIDEO: City of New Orleans, Arlo Guthrie

**Uh, oh, never knew this:   Looks like the songwriter was actually Steve Goodman



 (scroll down for a YouTube video)


Bonnet, bag and blossoms

Hope to have them for Easter

But Spring Equinox beckoned

Dad woke us in amaranthine darkness

Loaded us into his brother’s borrowed car

Mom boiled eggs and sliced home-baked bread

Tantalizing thermos coffee jolted me awake

Off we took

Navigating strange streets in Pennsylvania

Before the building of obsolete expressways

Automobile slouches through Bethlehem*

Manual transmission grinding

But brakes holding

Me, eyes aglow

Yay!  Forget about Easter clothes

We’ll be baptized in the mist of

Niagara Falls

Between Canada and New York

How good to be me

Front teeth finally filled in the gaps

Able to sing without lisping

Along with Mom and Dad

How happy and young they are

As we sing “Ain’t Got A Barrel of Money”

And I no longer care

About my holey underwear

Although it will be another year


Bonnet, bag and blossoms…


*W.B. Yeats paraphrase


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)


YouTube video (ukulele, of course!)


Image: Double Rainbows, Horseshoe Falls @ Niagara Falls (streetsmash)



Swaying between two train cars

Waiting for the station stop

Waiting to jump to freedom

Although land legs shaky

From thirty hours of sitting

With time off in my roomette

Surreptiously, calisthenically moving

Now swaying, holding my music case

Fellow passenger standing first in line by the door

Also swaying as we make the final journey

Into Tampa


“Is that a violin?” he asks

I smile

“No, it’s a ukulele”

His face scrunches

His voice, heavily sarcastic, repeats


“Concert size,” says I pluckily

He turns his back to me

I so want to see

His face

If I start singing

Falsetto Tiny Tim’s

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Or a deep-voice Don Ho’s

Tiny Bubbles

But I’m too mature for that

Well, kinda

Why don’t others know

How lovely a ukulele can be

How perfect Scarborough Fair or

Into the Mystic can sound

So much like an acoustic guitar

Most of all

Why sneer?

Why not hear the Music of the Spheres

Contained in any instrument

Or voice or lyrical words

Why sneer?

Hugging my ukulele I whisper,

I love you…”


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)