words

PANDORA’S MORE FORTUNATE DAUGHTER

Working

Mothering

All the usuals

Happiness

Sadness

All the emotions

The real me

Kept boxed up

Until one day

Retirement

What to do?

Collection of boxes

Containing nothing but

Sparkly dust

Poured a bit into my palm

A sonnet appeared

Oh, sure, not Shakespeare-worthy

But each day it grew

Until there were twenty-two

One for each symbol

Of the Major Arcana

Then there were twelve

Terza Rima

For each Zodiac sign

And each box

Had its own lines

Until there was a

Rima Royale

Of birds

And a tiny box of Haiku

Slightly larger box of Tanka

But in a special box

Of the loveliest cloisonne

Shone silver Moon dust

Mixed with golden Sunlight

And Stars of blue and every hue

They whirled above me

Then gently drizzled down

Covering my head, lips, shoulders

And as I grew older

I became bolder

Free

Free at last

Poetry that had no use for rhyme

Stream-of-consciousness

Confessional

Memoirs

Gutter talk

A touch of erotica

Words made up

Words spilling from a box

Filling ten books

Of words hidden inside

For decades

The real me

Then one day

Those magical boxes

Were empty

I’d open the lids

In the three A.M. shadows

Whispering, “Where’d you go?”

So, I bought more boxes

My collection growing

And one cloudy morning

Something sang out

From a new box

And there

As I hastily opened the lock

Was a different dust

Sparkling? Not quite

Sparking!

Like electricity

And poetry melded

With musical chords

And songs were born

Euterpe with her magic flute

Pushed open the lids

Danced with her sister

Terpsichore

And I wrote

And strummed

And sang

And hummed

But I see

The magical dust

In my box collection

Is once again disappearing

And so I say

Today is the day

I shop for a new box

And begin an unknown

Collection…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Some of my magic boxes
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“HOW MANY TIMES…?”

 

Oh, the outcry

About Dylan’s lack of

Poetic language

Since when

Has HOW something is said

Become more important

Than WHAT is being said?

Beautifully-crafted words

Versus

The convocation

Leading to freedom

Perhaps a national trait

At least, since 1776

What good are Wordsworth’s words

About Daffodils

If they are poisoned by

Monsanto?

For biblical fans

You’ll understand

There is a time for beauty

But also

A time for action…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Troubadour (thuleanperspective.com)

OCD-ING FROM A THOUGHTLESS SENTENCE

 

In the space between the moment you say,

“You probably won’t like this but…”

And the actual telling of what I won’t like

A blink of the second hand:

I am crawling through honey

Tiptoeing past the angry bees

Avoiding the hell-bent-on-death lightning

Headlight-struck like a deer crossing a new highway

Paralyzed from a dirt-encrusted boulder tumbling

Down the crest of a craggy hill

Mushroom cloud sucking the oxygen

From all surrounding life

As I mentally stumble from the

Potential catastrophes

Your sentence awakens

In my imagination

I hear you, from an indiscernible distance say,

“I have too much to do

And can’t go with you

To the supermarket”

Does he do this purposely?

I ask my mirror image

Suddenly noticing the additional gray hairs

And rutted crow’s feet

Etching my aging skin

Signs that weren’t there

A minute ago…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

 

 

 

THE FAULT IN THE GRAMMAR

 

(scroll down for YouTube video)

 

I’m devoted to manipulating

Or at least changing

Ridiculous parts of

The English language

Traumatized when barely 10 years old

Not even 5 feet

Petite

Asking my teacher

“Can I help with…?”

She

Towering over me

Valkyrie metal breastplate

Surely hidden beneath her

Teacherly folds of pre-60s

Color and fabric

“CAN YOU? CAN YOU? CAN YOU?”

She growing in stature

Me shrinking into chalky

Classroom floorboards

Classmates snickering

As I desperately tried

Deciphering why

She sneered

Me struggling with first generation English

With autism, before it was labeled

At home, asked Dad

He knew 5 languages

Could do the NY Times Crossword

Without a dictionary

Emigrated to the US at age 10

Quitting school at 17 to fight in WWII

He clueless, too

Mom, born 1929

Proudly saying she was depressed

Because born in the year of the Great Depression

She wrote little poems suitable for greeting cards

But never tried to publish them

No clue

But In her way, accusing

“What did you do???” she demanded

“Mrs. Donahue was my teacher too.

A good teacher!”

All of us clueless re cryptic

“CAN YOU? CAN YOU? CAN YOU?”

Next day a classmate took pity on me

I hate pity but grateful, this once

“May I?  is what you say,” said he

“Not CAN I.”

What? How’d I miss that?

On the day teachers said

“Today’s lesson is Grammar”

Did I think they meant “Hammer”

And chose to compose poems in my mind

Instead of listening to a lecture on tools?

It was finally nice to grow up

Into a fu*k you hippie

It was finally nice to major in English

And know the rules, but ignore them

I therefore NEVER say “MAY I?”

Only “CAN I?”

Traumatized by a word?

Perhaps

It shows in my poetry

That I call “not-poetry”

And oh, best of all,

I wear my own breastplate now…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Valkyrie by the bastardson, deviantart

 

YouTube video: Richard Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries https://youtu.be/P73Z6291Pt8

MEMOIR: WHEN MY SONS DISCOVERED POE

 

(part of a personal history for my granddaughter)

 

Many years ago

My DNA finally kicked in

I’ll tell you about it:

Separated, living in an

Affordable apartment complex

Unknown to me

A drug street

This was a time

When my aura was white

Encompassing me

After being scrubbed in the

Painted Desert and

Petrified Forest

Pure and still I was

Moved in, owning only

Card table and chairs

Cot and a Salvation Army

Chest of drawers

That I painted blue

Fridge from the years

Before the birth of my boys

Knock on the door

Five tall men—neighbors

All walked in, inhaling weed

One said,

“Damn! You poorer than we are!”

Missing my true wealth scattered through the rooms:

Jars of herbs and brass dishes of crystals

They nodded and left

But my aura affected them

They became my guardian angels

Worked two jobs: 9 to 5 at the university

Entering strings of T’s and other letters

Into a MAC for a cancer researcher

6 to 10 at a real estate

Typing long contracts using

An old Brother typewriter

Inevitably making a typo in the last few words

Had to redo so I did

On the Elevated each night

Then a bus

There were my five angels

Smoking weed on my steps

Nodding good night, they left

 

So Poe, what’s with the title of the poem

If it doesn’t include the tortured genius?

The apartments were 4 to a building

Lining both sides of a city street

One day everyone moved out

Except me

Rats!

I mean, that’s not an expletive

Like the “Peanuts” characters say

Rats for real

They never came in my space, though

That white aura protecting me

My sons, living with me some days

Or several blocks away with their father on others

Squatted in an apartment above mine

One night, climbed the stairs

They were cross-legged on their sleeping bags

Surrounded by candles

Fourteen-year-old autistic son

Eleven-year-old younger one

Sweet voices, trying to growl and sound scary

Taking turns reading from my old book

Together, in unison:

“Quoth the raven, nevermore…”

My heart, a shooting star of pride

Watching from the shadows

The joy on their faces from century-old words

Making the best of their poorness

Perhaps not realizing the true horror

Surrounding them

As they reveled in the beauty

Blossoming from rampant imagination

Thanks, Poe, you kept us all sane…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: with my sons, about 1991

 

LUMJA (UNIVERSE)

 

One space-dark noon

Lumja said adieu

But okay

Because who knew

Whom he was really speaking to

Brilliant words

Tossed out

Then reeling in

The first to bite

By understanding

What he imparted

Even though the hints

Were there for anyone who cared

 

A few words matching up to the poetry

Of me

And anyone else

Since we

As the poets of Earth

Are limited in scope

While Lumja

Has limitless words

From uncountable galaxies

To choose from

 

We wannabee bards down here

Rooted to our egos

Cannot rise as high as Lumja

All we can think is

Let it be

That Lumja chose me

That’s not sarcasm

I agree

No one can write like he

But the ego of the Universe

Is a bit much for me

And many others, as I can see

I’m just glad to have the letter “e” to use as a rhyme

See, I’m not really in his class, poetically

 

Yet, words are not the end-all

It’s not dumbing down to write in

Average vocabulary

Makes poetry more accessible

For those who always misunderstood

Subject, reader-compassion, and dare I say

Love of others

Is important too

 

But back to you, Lumja

Although you threatened

To no longer expand

As any good universe is expected to do

You will return

For your name contains

Many synonyms

Many disguises

“I know the truth” and understand

I do

When Marina Tsvetaeva wrote those words

Mother Russia punished her

Failing words

The poet answered with a strong noose

Around the neck

Self-silencing, forever more

But I will say it about you

Lumja

“I know the truth”

And it is all right…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IIMAGE: Nicholas Isabella, Jersey Shore, Milky Way Rising Above Clouds