Barbara Leonhard, author of the WordPress Blog

featuring her own powerful poems and those of others

has generously included two of my poems on her podcast

Along with some amazing poets that will be familiar to you

We have all written about Grief and Healing, a subject especially applicable to

the health crisis we are facing today

Please tune in to the podcast; Barbara has a calming and lyrical voice that

enhanced the words of my poetry!

Wishing us all good health and safety ❤



In a face filled with grief

Lives a man

Digging a front yard grave

Among vines of purple

Morning Glory

Stretching toward early sun

Lovingly placing his

Companion of fifteen years

Cat of black and white

Now out of pain and

Into peaceful relief


Watching a feat of prestidigitation

Withholding my tears

As man morphs into child

Burying Hampy the Hamster

So many solar years ago

Same lawn

Same grief

Same love from my eyes

Willing him to swiftly scab over

The anguish of loss…


© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Holland




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


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


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


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


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


A double X chromosome

Related to reproduction

Love, birth and death


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




To release the pain

Of female loss…

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IN MEMORY OF KALI 7/26/12 – 11/29/16


Old Yeller, Hooch, iconic dogs die

At least Sparky is resurrected by Michael

Would have given anything to be

A guardian angel for my Kali

That’s the human’s job, right?

Failed what should have been so easy


Why’d the Rat Terrier DNA kick in

When you were so laid back

Wanting to eat and play

Absorbing heat in your spotted skin

And loving it every day


Down the rabbit hole

Never to return

What called you away

What did you need to learn


Can hardly bear it

You left our pack forever

The dogs and I cry

You turned your back on the sun

Lost forever in shadows


Kali, my once Sacred Clown of comic relief

How do I manage overpowering grief



© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)






Everyone grieves differently

Some are able to immediately

Cry or write or talk about

Horrific happenings

I get quiet

Icy calm


In a month or so

In a year or so

In a decade or two or three

I allow the grief to surface

And find a way to express it

In poetry, song, conversation

Perhaps not the healthiest method

But my method

So please do not ask why

My keyboard is silent

My eyes are dry

My conversation is light

Grief is mine, not to be shared

At this particular intersection of

Space and Time…


© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)