women

THE BLOGETRESSA

Who influenced me
To write?
Anne Frank
Her diary!
Begged for one
And then, on my tenth birthday
There it was
Waiting for me
To add to the history
Of young women writers
But somehow
In the post second world war atmosphere
And the beginnings of the madness
Called a police action
Soon to take place
In a place
Not yet in our history books
Vietnam
My diary fell short
Of Anne’s writing
So I switched to mystery novels
And wrote my first
At age ten
But then
Never got past descriptions of
The heroine’s food
And although I was in love with Sherlock
It came as a shock
How difficult to write a novel could be
So then the sixties
Writing poetry shadows of Ginsberg
And then Dylan-ish songs
Didn’t pick up my pen
For another two decades
But told I was too old to be published
By some, um, poetry journal “editor”
And now, thanks to social media sites
I’m a poet! Self-proclaimed, I know
And to some of you who sneer at me
The Blogetressa
Nonetheless a
Poet I be…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Tools of the trade

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ALLMAN BROTHERS OBVERSE

*scroll down for a YouTube video*

Darkness dangerous for women
For we who want to keep our souls
Out there alone
Nothing but our bodies
To pay for a room
And a few gallons of gas
To the next town
How to stay pure?
Starving always worked
As a money-saver for women

No, we’re no
Sexy Midnight Rider
No dangerous outlaw persona
A guise for men only

Stay safe, women
For us, our song is
Not gonna let them catch
The Evening Hider
Stay safe and hide
When the sun begins to glide
Below the perspective point
Of the far horizon

Always the same
Whether Maiden, Mother or Crone
Aging the day we’re born
Heading where?
Heaven, hell, oblivion?
Unknown to those
Who had faith shoved down the throat
Be a good girl and
You will be loved

Might as well be walking
Down a dark midnight alley
With no lantern
Waving bouquets of dollars
Teetering on designer knock-off stilettos
Skin hid in a bikini

Stay safe, women
Stay safe, all you women out there
Don’t walk the streets at night
Be true to your mind and body
And try to remember
Though it may not seem so now
And you’ll not believe how
There is always
SOMEONE
Someone who loves you, somewhere
Always…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Evening Hider

*YouTube video Allman Brothers Band, Midnight Rider

 

THANK YOU MAGGIE KUHN

“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes” –Maggie Kuhn, Founder of The Gray Panthers

At age 34
I sat in the Women’s Congress audience
Enthralled by this old lady
And everything she said
Seemed meant for me
An older student
At the university
I couldn’t even speak from my desk
Without shaking
So although her words performed no magic
At the time
I conjured them up
When I really needed them
Stars and sparkles wreathing my face
Sneezing a bit from the moon dust
And for the next few years
Speaking in auditoriums for my career
No trembling, shaking, or fear
Just Maggie Kuhn’s words
Transforming me two decades later
Now I am old enough
To be a Gray Panther
(Although I was completely gray
By age thirty-seven)
And when once I wanted to be
Abby Hoffman, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez
I now want to age gracefully
Be grateful for aging
Be like Maggie Kuhn
It is not her birthday
Or death day
I just want to say
Thank you, Ms. Kuhn
I hope I can live up to your words
Now that I am on the path you blazed…

“Old age is not a disease – it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses.” Maggie Kuhn, Founder of the Gray Panthers

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

WANTED: SERIOUS MUSE

 

Throw-away society

Planned obsolescence

Of material goods

Marriage and partnerships

Easy to toss, too

That includes

The all-important entity

Called Muse

Whose actions

Like the fabled soul mate

Are impossible to predict

Will he always be

Standing over my shoulder

While I type my poetry?

Keats, Byron

Even women like

Wheeler and Walker

Love, curse, cajole

But the Muse

Doesn’t always come through

And me, I’m modern

If he doesn’t work

Find one that will

So here’s my serious plea

If you’re looking for a new job

And you understand poetry

Send your application to me

I really can’t write without you…

(c) 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Photo: Nickolas Muray,  Frida Kahlo & her male muse

ANETHUM GRAVEOLENS

 

Ooooh that smell

Not really quoting Skynyrd

Smell of life

Merari, my Gran called it

Dill

Chicken vegetable soup

Fresh merari

Tossed on top of the pot

For the last five minutes of bubbling

Hot kitchen, cold winter

But now

Evening in Florida swamp

Smell it growing wild

Well, seed pods begging to be harvested

Must have blown out of my neglected pots

When I took time off from growing herbs

Planted themselves

And now

An aromatic memoir greets me

In the soft gray

End of day

Bringing the ghosts of Gran and Mom

Aunt Cee and Aunt Are

Bumping hips

While dancing around each other

In a small kitchen

With a huge pot

 

Forgetting I have no pockets

Because women’s clothing

Usually doesn’t include that all-important

Piece of fabric

(Can’t have it interfering with the hip line

Of a voluptuous woman)

But I reach for my pouch

So inconvenient to draw attention

While fumbling with the drawstring

Just to feel the reassurance of

My pocket deities:

Acorn, feather, sea shell and fiery bloodstone

Imbued with my essence

From touching them with

Invisible fingertip oil

Touching, touching

Wanting to keep the ghosts of family

Singing and laughing

Forever happy

Keep those ghosts forever

But soon they fade

And I vow

That tomorrow

I will search the sunlit swamp

For a sprig of dill

Add it to my female pocket

And one day call upon

The memory

Once again

From the scent of an earthen gift…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Dill, Wikipedia

 

ST. JAMES INFIRMARY GHOST

New baritone ukulele has guitar chords, so re-learning it.  Been living with the words all week. Arlo Guthrie’s version is the only one (I’ve ever heard)  with the verse about “7 girls going to the graveyard/only 6 of them coming back.” Made his “baby” so real to me then. Had to write a Point-Of-View from one who is Everywoman and will remain nameless although I’m partial to “Baby”

*scroll down for a YouTube video*

 

What the hell?

Where am I?

Is that Big Joe McKennedy?

Red eyes, pulled an all-nighter

Card and dice cheater

Last I remember

He was trying to take my ring

It’s just a cheap, cracker-jack one

But mine

From better times

When he was winning

Now he’s a losing gambler

Already lost my mama’s

Dipped-in-gold locket

My papa’s silver watch chain

No, refused him

Where’s he going?

Joe!

Last I remember

He shoved me into the wall

Hit my head

On the brass bed

Then pushed into

The porcelain wash stand

What a man

Been out til I woke up

On this cold, white table

Dead!

I’m dead!

I’m so young, so cold, so still

But there he goes

Singing about himself

It’s always about him

About his funeral

About his blues

About his cheating heart

With chorus girls

And look, my finger’s bare

He got my ring anyway!

Seven of us going to the cemetery

Only six will return

But one is my cousin

The one who talks to ghosts

She sees me!

She knows!

No funeral for you

Big Joe McKennedy

Just a hanging tree…

 

* https://youtu.be/JsPLpt9jVvs

Arlo Guthrie version (singing begins 2:28)

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: St. James Infirmary, Brew Lite Jazz Tales

BABA JAGA BLUES

 

Missing a lot of Aries women who were important in my life and have passed on…

 

Burning sun makes for a Baba Jaga noon

Shining across the Carpathians and into Eastern Europe

Warming the people who invented me

I am the Grandmother of Fire

Face covered in red and orange ashes

My house on two chicken legs

Scratching in the dirt

As a wide band of water rushes between them

Gently tipping the mortar that serves

As a flying vehicle

The pestle is my rudder and

Tracks etched in the sky

Are swept away with a white birch broom

I, Fire Woman, toss out water-cleansed herbs

And the people see earth sailing through the air.

 

No, I do not eat children

That is another fairy tale

From another country

I do have companions:

White horse rider named Day

Black horse rider named Night

Red horse rider named Noon-Time Sun

They decorate the ceiling of my chicken-legged home

Cavorting around the painted firmament

So I do not feel closed in when forced to stay.

 

Like smoke from fire, though

I can sinuously escape through the chimney

Into the real sky

Absorbing more heat and light by day

More stars and coolness by night

Able to traverse the path

Sidewinding around the Galaxy

By map and compass embedded in my brain.

 

What is my purpose here?

Yes, you may ask

Fiery wise woman am I

Guidance is all I offer but

I prefer that you ask no questions

I age for each one asked

Only blue rose tea will reverse my reluctance

To answer, when you truly need help

Purity of spirit, and most of all, politeness count

But you must overcome your fear

To ask and then hear

Solutions to feed your burning need to know.

 

So many false tales about me

I am guilty merely because my preference is

To live alone

In order to think

And be myself

I do not like the image I see

Reflected through others

It is warped and thus murky

Not a true mirror

But no one cares to look deeply into

The mystery of Baba Jaga

Fire Woman, Wise Woman

Who was never a witch or even a clown

Just an old soul trying to translate the Earth

To others…

 

(c) 2014 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), Poetry of Memory

IMAGE: Baba Jaga, Russie Virtuel

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

 

We borrow Earth Mother’s gifts to feed

Those we love and all in need

We borrow water from the well that glitters

Life blood of the planet and body transmitter

We borrow music and words swirling in the air

Soothing the mind, showing our care

We borrow the fire of sun-kissed kindness

Sharing with all a woman’s unsung largesse…

 

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  My Hibiscus

DEATH WAIL

I.

Women keening

Seemingly without meaning

Here I am at eleven

Beloved grandfather

Sleeping in satin

Soon to be under the earth

Family gathered

For a solemn funeral

II.

When suddenly

Two of my aunts

Dad’s oldest sisters

Begin an eerie lament

These unobtrusive women

Wailing into the darkened morning

Teetering dangerously

On the grave’s edge

Covering the noise

Of the hydraulic mortuary lift

Lowering the coffin

Like lowering a car at the mechanic’s

III.

Eleven year old me

Trying not to cry

As their voices tore

The fabric of the sky

Suddenly the aunts

Throw themselves atop the coffin

Screaming in their native tongue

Their husbands and brothers

My dad included

Pulling them away

And here is me

Suddenly

Beginning to giggle

A nervous hiccupping

Trying to stifle it

Before mom sees and slaps my face

She, however, face buried in lacy hanky

Shoulders shaking in grief-struck crying

Looks at me

And I saw her eyes

Through dark lenses

Eyes crinkled in her own nervous laughter

And we hold hands trying not to laugh

Trying not to cry

We are a disgrace

But nerves care not who has died

And the machinery and keening and prayers

Drown out our insane sadness

Because crying and laughter

Are twin emotions

IV.

Later, dad says

I hope you laugh at my funeral

Much better to laugh than cry

But I think he didn’t understand

Despite his kindness

That keening wasn’t only a shrieking

But an ancient emotion

Tangled in female DNA

Tears or snorting laughter

Hysteria, like the word

Hysterectomy

A double X chromosome

Related to reproduction

Love, birth and death

V.

And some years later

Listening to Janis Joplin

Wailing at Monterrey

My neck hair tingling electrically

As I recognized her keening

For lost love, a lost man

And decades later

As Brittany Howard

Let out her wail

Not wanting to fight no more

I recognize that chain

As I keen with my sisters

Crying

Laughing

Singing

To release the pain

Of female loss…

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)