Adrienne Veronese

Poet, Novelist, Author, Essayist, Humorist


There Might be Dragons

as unlikely as it is

there would be a savior

whose birthday still confuses us

with respect to what gifts to bring                             


and as unlikely as it is

there would be a jolly man

whose pastime fills volumes

with images of elves and flying reindeer


we stand on the edge of Christmastime

peering into the abyss

asking ourselves who

it would be best to bestow with gifts

wrapped in best intentions and ribbon


and only the wise men among us

think to prepare a gift for the least likely

to be flying through winter's darkness

less likely still to be savior of anything

– including jolly tinsel dreams

unless they encompass all of what might be


and when doing just that, stand on the edge

of that abyss with gift in hand

for what remains unknown

because, as any wise man knows full well,

there just might be dragons

and they might be bringing gifts of their own.


              ©Adrienne Veronese

                 Christmas 2018


Dragon and Man Exchange Gifts by Edward Gorey


The Knave Before Christmas


'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

a rogue he was creeping, watchful for a spouse.

No husband to stop him from creeping and lurching,

no one to surprise him or stop him from searching.

Just that old rogue, once again sniffing

the delicates worn by ladies all drifting,

asleep unaware of this rogue's great weakness

which drives him their way in mid-winter's bleakness.


For this is the fate of knaves, thieves and rogues,

who live life in hiding and take the back roads.

Their weakness is women, plus mead, song and more.

And no one can bring it or land that great score

quite like the rogue archer, whose legend was lore.


As surely as archers pull back on their bowstring,

there will be mead and great songs to sing.

Songs of mischief and mayhem and thieving,

But none quite as wild as the night frost was heaving.

That night, some will say, 'twas the night of the Solstice,

and this rogue was down with a fever and poultice.

The herbs they were healing but not quickly enough

for the rogue accustomed to things that are rough.


For as he lay dreaming in fits and dark visions,

a thought came to him of a wonderful mission.

That mission, it seemed, could be done with great ease,

as it turned out to involve a flight on the breeze.

But that breeze, so he found, was colder than cold,

because the one breeze most needed blew from the North Pole.


Only it had the magic to lift him and carry

his rogue lusts into places most rogues wouldn't tarry.

But there's where he's likely to find what he seeks

those fine lacy things so perfumed they might reek

to any man but our rogue, whose nose was still clogged

from fever and cold air, so it had to be strong.


He had been to the North Pole on a time, maybe two,

but never quite saw the point of the crew

who planted the thing with its stripes and its spinning

in the middle of nowhere, probably grinning

as they left not a clue other than one:

A lacy thing designed for the delicate buns

of ladies most fancy and powdered and scented

the way some men love them, especially when rented.


And as luck would have it, most wives are alone,

for on such nights husbands are absent from home,

gone drinking and gambling on mid-winter's eves

down at the ale house where most knaves and thieves

will linger and wait for wits to be dulled

by too many mugs of wine that's been mulled.

When husbands aren't looking, those knaves they will grab

both wallets and watches and might take a stab

at gold-tipped walking canes, or fur-lined capes

whatever is easiest to snatch and escape.


But not our rogue archer, whose tastes have been shaped

by things that are harder to grab than a cape.

For once bitten by a flea on the ass of the North Pole

nothing mattered to this one but filling the role

most notably played by a man dressed in red

while ladies lay sleeping all snug in their bed.


So if you should hear on a late winter's eve

the cry of a woman float on the breeze

and it sounds like she's saying, “Who took my things”

just think of the rogue, then tie down your eaves.

For he'll study your lodgings, and then find a way

to paw through your drawers before flying away.


While the legend might live of a fat man in red

who brings gifts for children asleep in their bed

it is clearly a story designed as a ruse

so they won't suspect it's their mothers who use

the lace and the perfumes this one rogue most needs

which brings a man to their home at night on a breeze.


So if you should hear his nose as it whistles

late at night you should know 'tis our rogue with the sniffles.

Don't feed him, don't chase him, just let go your pride

and squeeze perfume onto something a bride

might remove for the first time on her wedding night.

A rogue will thank you as he swoons and then sighs

before mounting that breeze that carries him high

and draws back his bowstring as once more he cries,


“Merry winter to all, and to all some size fives.”



                             © Adrienne Veronese 2017


The Golden Ticket

They sleep on bus station floors
wrapped in each other
on well-bought sleeping bags,
their guitar the perfect piece
of accent furniture
for shelving shoes & other sundries.


By virtue of boarding pass, they
are not forced to sleep outside the margins.

In a world of golden tickets
and pockets making little more
than fashion statements
Herman Hess lingers by their side
despite being split in two
weathered and torn
reminding us of Siddhartha's
lost forgotten bedroom slippers.

& in a world of revisionist history where
he is slouching toward Satori
on a crowd sourced trajectory,
where just beyond city's financial
towers looming over lost horizons
we just as easily walk on gilded splinters
past tech industry's golden calf,
continue down Mission Street toward Market
to a place where golden tickets never go,
A place where piss soaked sleeping bags
are old and worn — if there at all
& there is little memory of anything

but lost dreams among the hopeful

of shoes left by a door that locks at night.


& finding yourself at this ridiculous task
of reconciling the balance of shiny things
look once again before averting your eyes
& tell yourself,
“So, it has all come to this."

For Lew Welch
San Francisco
Nov 29, 2017



Circular Ellipsis


at twenty I wrote a poem

that would be a song sung

by a woman in her twenties when I was sixty


at thirty I wrote a poem

that was a dream I had at twelve

of a woman who is eternal


at forty I found that place

between the biding time and fully awake

which activated at fifty

when someone showed up

and showed me that point in my dreaming

when they first arrived, and how it all looked

through their eyes


so that when I turned sixty a girl of twenty

would know there would be ears tuned

to the song she would sing

because it was their voice

who brought it to her

in the first place


and always will...


Photo by Da Kraplak


When Raised by Princes

This is what happens when royalty

which exists independent of the empire,

which springs from the loins of the tribe itself,

makes it past the checkpoints

& other measures meant to filter them out.


This is what happens when that royalty

follows the trail of impossible chords

& turns of phrase unearthed

by the simple human condition

shared through this common experience:

doves cry all along the watchtower

and we are destined to be left standing one day

beneath a collective purple raincloud.


& I wouldn't have it any other way.

That's how it is with families.

We do what we can to raise each other up

the best way we know how.



for our Prince

April 22, 2016




This was the scent that marked the end of summer

and the inevitable waltz into autumn's

colorful dance of crisp air and sweaters:

Cousin Tommy's delivery of

his annual bushel of gravensteins

from the tree at the end of his drive.


This was an afternoon of peeling and slicing -

always with the sharpest of paring knives -

never, ever with one of those newfangled things

made for the woman too helpless to handle a knife.


This was the trip downstairs to the big freezer

with trays of sliced apples to quick-freeze

while applesauce simmered upstairs

on the stove top and canning jars sterilized

in the hot water bath drawn for the occasion.


This was the cooking lesson given

at the kitchen counter

because every good woman must know

how to make a pie crust from scratch

and how to fill it with the perfect thin slices

tossed in sugar, a pinch of salt

and some lemon juice.


This is the scent that each year fills my kitchen

and for an evening transports me back

to that table where I watched the good woman

take that first satisfying bite and felt the season

wrap its arms around me and deliver on its warm

sweet promises once again.


For Betty

photo by Monika Grabkowska

Diogenes Shrugged

 “Fuck Atlas,” she sighed,

pouring another glass of wine

and adjusting her tiara.

“He doesn't interest me nearly as much

as that dude who wandered through the dark

looking for an honest corporation.”


I didn't have the heart to tell her

she had it wrong

or perhaps she didn't have the heart to tell me

she had it right.


The Barefoot Corporation is slouching toward Bethlehem

and we are freezing to death in the heat of global warming

that cannot be agreed upon. Pundits quote experts

that I have no lines for, as the Expert Poem

has already been written and discarded

as inadmissible evidence

of this endless effort

to divide us along lines

that keep us in




unable to draw a circle at least

a hundred feet round

and use what we find within

to think our way







For G



painted lady
i cannot take my eyes off
& by noon i am drunk
on her perfume
this wild bouquet
between my teeth
stumbling up
the aisle of spring
as if this all wasn't new
not at all concerned


Of Cabbages and Kings

December licks the winter garden with an icy tongue
and I am left to wonder if there will be too little green
to gift neighbors with on the eve of newborn Kings.

Despite tales of old and promises of eternity
I begin to suspect this is no longer the season of wonder
of miracle births and hope for resurrection.
The focus was long ago shifted to the gifts
that were brought to the manger
and now we must recreate that legend in order to stay asleep
in the dream that it was really all about the shiny things.

I do little more than celebrate the birth of a modern King
with cabbages I dig from this impossible soil
and see my worth defined by how much green I produce.
The King nods his head in approval
and defines the fallow gardens unwilling and therefore unworthy.
More cabbages are laid at his altar in support
of his exhortations as I eye the compost bin
and wonder how much of what he says will fit inside.

I contemplate the prospect of living on nothing but cabbages
for the rest of the winter and realize I would need
to wear loose fitting clothes and keep all the windows open
to accommodate the bloat and vent all the gas
that invariably builds up.

Christmas 2013

Mom's Angel Cake


Mom's Angel Cake

Sift one and a half
cups sugar. Measure
one cup cake flour
before sifting. Sift
three times with one
half cup sugar and a
half teaspoon salt. Whip
twelve egg whites until
foamy. Add one teaspoon
cream of tartar and beat
until soft peaks form.
Add one cup of sifted sugar
one tablespoon at a time and
continue to beat after each
addition until thoroughly
incorporated. Fold in
one half teaspoon each
vanilla and almond extract.
Sift in fourths the flour
mixture into the beaten egg
whites and gently fold in.
Pour into an un-greased tube
pan and bake at three hundred
fifty degrees about 45 minutes.
Invert on a bottle and allow
to cool completely before
attempting to remove from pan.

Every year on August 6
we have my mother's favorite cake
with strawberries and whipped cream
and we remember. Although some
may disagree with me,
I think the only complaint she
really had about this country was
that they bombed Japan on her
birthday. It became her preference
thereafter to spend that day
contemplating those who were
already in the arms
of the angels.

(with special thanks to Robbie XII)



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