women

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)

WAS SHE SHRIEKING?

 

Almost impossible to be creative

When happy (in love)

Why take time away

From obsessing over the beloved

Anyway?

The heat of lust

Flesh, fire-roasted

Concentration of flavor

Tasting the sweetness

Like Valentine candy hearts

(I heart U in pink dye)

But rage is hot, too

Yet scribbling, screaming

Hearts’ heat, when alone

Is different

So was it all the wasted passion

Wasted womanhood

That worked for women writers?

Is that how Austen, Dickinson

Resisted tearing out their hair

Tripping down Georgian/Victorian streets

Screaming, steaming, shouting:

Oh, for the touch of a man!

For the meeting of eyes

Concerns that arise

LUST + LIKE = LOVE

Did Emily Bronte’s rage write

One of the most sexually-soaked books

Of the nineteenth century?

And was her sister Anne

Lonely governess in Scarborough

Seeking solace from the

Passing of her clergryman

Pining? Resigned? Enraged?

What hidden facial expression

Passivity or aggression?

How did these women

Continue to live

Or

Conceivably

Is that why they died

So young?

 

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

Image: 1880 Victorian hair, unidentified, Pinterest

IRISH MYTHOLOGY WIP FRAGMENTS*

Women in woad

Shaking undressed breasts

Leading the warriors

Down Irish roads

Banshee-ing through the air

To cause enemies fear

O, to be with you

When war was for defense

Multi-married Maeve

“She Who Intoxicates”

Queen to Eochaid

Demanding a dowry paid

By a trinity of promises:

A husband who would be without

Fear, meanness and jealousy

Maeve, brave survivor of

Rape, war, and her own soul-sucking envy

Powerful woman or perhaps a goddess

Embodying the Sacred Marriage

Guaranteeing fertility

In a viridescent land

*Inspired by the work of Heather Awen

PLEASE SEE HER WORDPRESS SITE:

https://heatherawen.wordpress.com/pen-pals-political-pagan-lgbtq/

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Woad, ekmpowershop3

“DABBLER”

 

Oh Frida

Oh, oh Frida

“Dabbler”

Dismissed despite

An incredible oeuvre

That arose from

A palette of physical pain

Banishing mental anguish

Reading your writing

What an amazing brain

Frida, you are our heroine

Role model

Silently reaching out

To generations of women

Artists, poets, musicians, lap dancers

Or just those women gazing

At your messages in colorful oils

Oh Frida

We know

Who you are

You who will always resonate

A transcendence

Of patronizing voices

Laced with ignorance…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: News article 1933 Frida Kahlo posted on Brain Pickings

MAGDALENE FEAST DAY JULY 22ND

 

Mary Magdalene’s Feast day

Will skip the contentious theories

Wedding in Cana

Hers and The Preacher’s?

She the original Holy Grail

The Cup

The womb

Carrying the seed

If so, where are they?

Mary Magdalene

Mourning the Fisher King

Groin injury

No reproduction

Of future Sons

Land lying dying

Mary, they made you a whore

But DaVinci changed that

Visible when his painting cleaned

There you are

Not the table’s waitress

But a part of apostolic authors’ club

Mary, did you flee to the Camargue?

Are you real?

Did my Gypsy ancestor

Sara La Kali

Save your floundering boat?

Mary, why so many world-wide

Black Madonnas

In honor of your dusky, Mid East skin?

Myth

Folklore

All based in truth

Why through time

Are all intelligent women

Beaten, burned, diminished?

Mary, I seek your secrets

In the tarot

In the architecture

In the hidden scrolls

Where truth waits

To be uncovered…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens

IMAGE: Reni, Penitent Magdalene

CHIBALA (IMMODESTY)

 

Seems to me

That women

Sinuously

Moving through time

Burned, beheaded

Accused as witches

Or other crimes against society

Whether killing an abusive spouse

Or forgetting their place at work

Are no better or no worse

Than any of us

Maybe vexatious

Unfortunately, for them,

Displaying a bit more hubris

Ending in nemesis

As the gods that be

Jealously

Conspire to end their thoughts

And actions because

They just won’t obey…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Nemesis Planetary Symbol