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Adrienne Veronese

WORDS BY ADRIENNE

The Low Spark of Wise Men Origins

                                                                 

   Before there was a Christmas,  

before there was a star of Bethlehem  

or three wise men even 

there were winters 

cold and deep, 

and those who gathered round a warming fire  

where stories were told that some would swear  

were true, while others, knowing fact from fiction  

began to suspect the need for stories on nights so deep. 

 

For from the embers born of dwindling fires, 

metaphor appeared to those who lingered  

long after others had gone,  

and those inclined to prod embers  

for the mysteries they hold 

pondered the tendrils of ash & smoke  

curling skyward toward a star-filled night 

signaling mysteries embedded in the infinite 

where only those with eyes to see them  

dared ponder their meaning.  

 

Was this the origin of the wise men? 

Did they pick up sticks and stir those embers, 

letting loose a spark that gave life to metaphor, which,  

in its wisdom, wrapped itself around their curiosity  

and said  

 

here, a puzzle 

from me to you  

one never meant to solve  

but to embrace, as one embraces 

the unknown  

in the deepest cold of winter  

where stars give just enough light 

to guide us,  

to bring us all together  

around warming fires 

so we can hold hands,  

tell stories,  

and not feel so alone  

on this great big spinning rock. 

 

 

©Adrienne Veronese  

 

 

Rainier and His Chaos Demons

My brother and I agree

our father returned from

that frozen reservoir in Korea

with deities attached to him,

but not just any kind of deity.

What followed the lieutenant home

was the kind of deity that thrives on chaos,

on division and terror and bloodshed.

For lack of a better term for it, we agreed to call it

chaos demon, the demon of war.

 

Although in retrospect it seems

overkill that we would find ourselves

battling Korean war demons in childhood,

since similar demons had already

saturated the Pacific Northwest soil

with the spoils of the Puget Sound Wars

a century before either of us was born.

 

Chaos demons thrived where countless thousands

whose tribe had no word for war died at the hands of tools

programmed to serve the greedy colonists taking everything,

from the fertile land to the name of the mountain once called Tahoma,

renamed Rainier after the admiral and his chaos demons.

 

Which makes it hard to say whether

the demon in the wall who tried to

take my brother to that place of no return

was Korean, or native to the Enumclaw Plateau.

It would only matter if there’s a distinction between them

other than the obvious, which was that it thrived on chaos

and devouring the innocence of children.

 

It thrived on families torn apart,

on the perversions of faith that lead to

sexual abuse, indoctrination into

false narratives, and all things

that go unspoken but need

to be held up to the light and studied

for the kernel of truth they contain.

 

It is those truths the chaos demons

do not want us to discover, their

greatest fear being the formation

of a cohesive picture of the chaos

in which they thrive.

 

Cohesion is kryptonite to chaos.

 

Which is why there has never been

an explanation for why I never heard

the innocent laughter of my little brother

after the chaos demon of war promised

I would never hear it again.

 

Nor does it explain the manufacturing of demons

those resource capitalists are so fond of.

Manufacturing chaos demons in the Halls of Congress,

with the help of chaos demons in the Senate prayer breakfasts

with their chaos demons promoting war in the

badly translated new international versions of badly translated missives

from entities promoting the chaos of war in their name.

 

Crusades and Inquisitions One and Two Point Oh

Wars of Roses and wars of bread and circuses,

ratings wars, drug wars and culture wars

are all how we feed them

and yet knowing this has never helped me

bring my brother back from that place

the chaos demon took him

when we were too young

to know how to manage an evil

none of us have ever been taught

how to manage,

since the chaos demons

have made sure we never learn.

 

Because knowledge is power

and the chaos demons of war

don’t want us to have the power it takes

to use the kryptonite we are all born with

to smother them with cohesion.

 

For Gregor

 

© Adrienne Veronese

 

 

 

 

 

Giving in the Key of C-19

 

What if I were to say

I did nothing more

last Christmas

than pick tinsel

from my teeth, dismissing

the customary Christmas poem

as nothing more than a pathogen

of dubious origin?

 

(Would you point out

the obvious, that

most good poems are,

whether written for Christmas

or not?

           Or would you inspect

           every verse for evidence

           of poetic malfeasance

           hidden between the lines?)

 

What if we were to wrap

these gifts of pure intention

in nothing more

than naked metaphor

and let it seduce us

with its promises of warmth

on a mid-winter’s night?

 

If I found peace in my heart

and you found peace in yours

would it be the Christmas miracle

we have waited for,

measured in magnitudes of joy

so big it can’t possibly all fit in

a single heart?

 

Who is more surprised, then

when we open our eyes on

any given morning,

be it Christmas or not

to find it’s the gifts

we give ourselves

that matter most?

 

 

Adrienne Veronese

© Christmas 2021

 

Photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash

Weapons System

They accuse us of weaponizing our tears,

yet when those tears are spent 

and we have no choice but to 

wave the white flag 

and change the locks, the 

best we can do in the endless cold war

we’re left with 

is 

file the necessary forms 

in the bureaucracy they built 

on the proliferation of war.



A war that allows for

the weaponizing of our children 

so they might better deliver 

lethal payloads 

sent in retaliation 

every 

other 

Sunday, 

aimed directly at hearts 

already broken 



      ( leaving a scorched earth in which

       spirits die at the bottom of their bomb craters 

       where collateral damage is considered

       fair game, 

       and children with battle fatigue

       are left to dig their way out

       and struggle with the fog of war

       in which 

       all of it is the mother’s fault.)



So in learning how much there is to gain 

from endless war 

they doubled-down 

and weaponized our sons 

even further,

sending them to die thinking of their mothers

in their final embrace with that war machine 

that was built to last 

an 

eternity.



And because there were those 

who saw how little there was to gain 

from allowing us to connect 

on the deepest level, 

they weaponized intimacy 

and gave us 

shame 

placing emphasis on the construct that 

it’s woman who gave us original sin,

so man had no choice but to invent war 

and blame her 

for 

making him do it.

 

© Adrienne Veronese

International Women’s Day

       March 2021

 

 

Photo by Stewart MacLean on Unsplash

It's All of Us


 

To know this the way I know

we can make music together

when separate,


to know this palpable presence

in the emptiness of silent rooms

& then embrace it for what it is,


and to know it isn’t just the singular you

but the plural when I consider

your survival is ours,


is to know I have not arrived

on this great big spinning rock

alone


and neither have you.

 

©Adrienne Veronese

Photo by Marina Khrapova on Unsplash

With Gratitude

 

 With Gratitude

 

(a Thanksgiving Poem)

 

I will eat these late-season berries

blue

as the sky on better days.

 

I will roast this squash

with oils pressed

 from fruit of the the olive branch  

the one the dove carried in her heart

through a sky woven of prayers

for better days

 

days in which

gratitude was balanced

between thought and prayer

between branch

and wing,

between darkness

and blue that glistens

as these berries do,

and nothing

nothing

was taken for granted.

 

 

Photo by Daniils Petrovs on Unsplash

  

 

The Ceiling Stares Back (but never answers)

& so the question
comes down to
whether to
stay or go
after all.
although not even
the most prescient
among us thought to
ask the ceiling this:


          what cost does any kind
          of future come to?
          is this the day
          i grow the tiniest death
          within these walls
          hoping for a dirge
          to bring me out
          of this fatal ounce of living?


          how distanced must i become
          a poet growing smaller
          with each language forgotten
          - including the language of touch?


(i regret that i have
but one death
to choose)


& even though there is little chance
of remembering much more
than i could write
in any single space
i still distract myself
by calling memories
on
the        
phone
in the middle of the night


to remind me
of when i was never young
& so
naturally
less alone
than i am
now.


(there is never any answer)

©Adrienne Veronese

from Poems Behind the Mask: 40 Quarantine Poems From Humboldt County

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

 

MAN BUN DIARIES

He was woke.

He'd been on a pilgrimage to Maté Latte.

His man bun was untidy and his five-day growth perfectly trimmed.

His mother sent him skinny jeans and quinoa facial scrub for Samhain each year,

and his lover wore it natural downtown.

 

It was the best of times, it was the hipster of times

and none of us were sure we would survive reaping what the evangelicals liked to sow.

 

But he was doing his best to elevate his vibrational frequencies with crystals

and fresh cannabis leaf smoothies.

 

It was the most anyone could expect of a Prius owner.

 

© Adrienne Veronese

 

METAPHOR IN WINTER

 

                                                    

 

In dreams

the winter is deep

and children are taught the nature of cycles

as carefully as we teach the cycles of nature.

 

In dreams

symbols dance among the stars

where meaning is up to interpretation

and metaphor is the cornerstone of life.

 

In dreams

the matchstick girl does not freeze to death

because all people care for the weakest among us

and every child born is one of ours.

 

So in dreams

we celebrate every one of them

not just the birth of a single child

whose sigil we wear once a year

singing songs that never really change,

our loud sweaters draped in tinsel

and metaphor we pretend isn't metaphor,

insisting this one thing

this one literal story

devoid of any metaphor

must never change.

 

©2019 Adrienne Veronese

GHOST WORD

From the time when only men wrote about road trips

I squeezed myself into the narrative,

these winding roads my only companion

on this journey where mountains meet sea,

home neither ahead nor behind me

because it is a thing I carry with me at all times

& that is something which cannot change

any more than the migratory bird can change its flight path.

 

I revisit homesteads I passed through once

& in so doing pass by houses of the holy

lining rural routes on either side with their tidy facades

and biblical reasoning for paving over native lands,

promising sanctuary to anyone but women and children

because the order of the beast

is maintained only for the beastly rule that built it.

 

Ghosts of my future sneak up from behind,

the ghosts of my past still ahead

waiting as I travel down this lane

to a home that was never mine

not by title, not by birthright,

not even by DNA encoded in a golden band.

And yet these ghosts rattle their chains,

sandwich me between them

in a battle forcing me to see

they are little more than

digital apparitions

I cannot slay with my blade

or any other analogue device

proving once again no sword can vanquish

that which is little more than a projection of ourselves.

 

And the beastly rule

that renders the migratory bird flightless

brings charges against the displaced children passing through

when the only reason we stopped in the first place

was to defend them against the beasts in analogue armor,

protected in their pageantry as they try,

convict

& sentence us for indecency

because of the language we used

when all we were doing really

was speaking in tongues

the analogue of which

is a two-edged sword.

 

The spirit of a one-eyed man

watches from the kitchen he built by hand,

his eye taken by a storm as unpredictable

as the ocean with a wagon chain in its hand

leaving him to spin fables about unruly mares

and their well-placed kicks,

passing on a legacy of chains

as invisible as those ghosts rattling them

while waiting for me in the lane

waiting

waiting

to challenge me to a battle

no one else can see

a fight with swords and wagon chains

and raging oceans, with only

the order of the beast in

those tidy houses of the holy

sitting in gleeful judgment

having tamed the mare

but not the ocean

knowing full well,

all it takes to start the storm

is a single well-placed kick

and if it keeps on raining

the levee will break

eventually.

 

Leaving the art

of writing about leaving

up to the men in search of territory

not yet claimed by the beastly rule

while the women left behind

begin to suspect the best route

is that of the migratory bird,

claiming nothing while changing

the landscape with their very appearance

predictable to anyone paying attention

and terrifying to those ruled

by the order of the beast

because

as any ghost will tell you

appearance is everything

to those living

behind tidy facades

wearing analogue armor.

 

 

© Adrienne Veronese

Halloween 2019

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