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From the heart of the Pagan Lounge we bring you the poetry and prose of the fabulous Ann Veronica Simon, a.k.a. Veronica Hedgehog, a literary Proper Modern Pagan of the highest degree. Ann passed away this year, 2003, and her presence, warmth, brilliance and style will never be forgotten. We miss you, Miss Hedgehog.


Selected Works:  
1. SPARK AND BACKBONE  
2. OPAQUE  
3. FATALISM  
4. LOVE FRAGMENT FOR LAST YEAR  
5. THOUGHTS BEFORE SLEEP  
6. THIRTEEN WAYS OF BUMPING INTO A FOGHORN  
7. TITLES FOR MY NEXT TEN BOOKS  
 

 
Links to other works by Ann Veronica Simon  

 
   
SPARK AND BACKBONE
 
 
A spark from a lamp post burns through my wrist.
 
My spine's tight and quiet like frozen chocolate.
 
 
Sparks fray like the lines on my palm.
 
My spine is a long road out of town.
 
 
There's a man who loosens the meat from my spine.
 
I want silver needle sparks with glitter inside.
 
 
Clogs on shag rug made the best sparks I've known.
 
My back was a sack for the chips of my spine.
 
 
I bend my back toward earth so toads can hop onto it.
 
Grapes conduct electricity better than you'd think.
 
 
My back shifts like an overstuffed bag.
 
I want gold sparks tipped with red.
 
 
A static halo fringes my thumb.
 
My back's a long irradiated slug.
 
 

(This poem was originally published in Mirage #4/Period(ical) #65.)

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OPAQUE
 
 
A lean shifting through the trees a second time. A clot of sun, left behind, dissolves like sugar.
 
 
Each spark is its own chaser.
 
 
Math's affectation blots through, prompts confusion but stands firm. Knots in a puddle don't untangle best.
 
 
Mortification provides end points.
 
 
Fleeting omniscience slips back down a glass. Situational flux outsmarts not by posing and then freezing, but by blowing by.
 
 
Drab elation doubles back.
 
 

(This poem was originally published in Mirage #4/Period(ical) #65.)

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FATALISM
 
 
Half horny, half car sick, I lurch all day like a baby pulled in a red wagon.
 
 
Again you've earmarked my belly's asymptotic approach to truth.
 
 
Magnetic reefs suck ambition from the fish.
 
   
I mouth the interest I'd feel if my head weren't buzzing.  
   
Two weeks vacation was not enough for my back to disperse like a flock of birds.  
   
A fat child doesn't complain yet that air always tastes the same.  
   
Sex prolongs the moment when I rescue sinew from the side of a jar with tweezers.  

 

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LOVE FRAGMENT FOR LAST YEAR  
   
Your footsteps upstairs like a match being struck while I wait in the basement. Knot of muscle covered by soft sweater. Things you told me in a crowded room. I saw myself in the extremes of your emotion.
 
   
Not a layer of silence around your flesh but the hush in my own throat when near you. Park nearby for over a week, sit outside every evening of firefly season and brush my hair. Snuff out patches of my insomnia as if dabbing at fire with cheesecloth.
 
   

Left behind like a sliver of diamond under a seat in an airport lobby. Player piano in the driveway like a gutted turkey. I tripped over snow drifts til I got frustrated.

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THOUGHTS BEFORE SLEEP  
   
On a visit to the underwater carousel brake testing factory I forget the grocery list, how to fly, or that daffodils don't grow well atop sand dunes.
 
   
Cough up those assembly line eyes, beware the housebroken promise of an overstuffed novel, functional as a phone book, aimed at the Chicago suburbs in their time of learned but hicuppy recovery.
 
   
Use a dictionary to squash mice who sashay through swinging doors, press them there like leaves and only find them again when you're packing to move to a larger house.
 
   
I'm squinting hard and trying to remember not to tie the wolfhounds even momentarily to a photocopier while bartering with the clerk or running open-armed down to the ocean where bulldozers move through water like giant horse drawn carriages, scooping whole waves.
 
   
Not much fascination with the mother lode of dwarf stars, sister, just the flatbed nursery school in the hills where children play pretzel vendor and line up by height to rehearse forgetting the multiplication tables.
 
   
Hey! Use that banana to radio headquarters, pass peas over and under your tongue throughout the rehearsed sales schtick. If caught dead urging irritability without representation, tell 'em I sent you, rough and ready, the people's curmudgeon.
 
   
No residual fondness for bird dogs truly undermines the catch-22 of an after lunch polygraph. Rescue's the wrong sort of opening salvo--we'd end up jammed together against the garage, saviors for future use.
 
   
These days, Jake, we're all just a few petunias short of a true bargain.
 
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THIRTEEN WAYS OF BUMPING INTO A FOGHORN  
   
1.  
God Myrna don't leave me alone  
With your half sister and the unrepentant foghorn.  
   
2.  
Without signal or reservation  
Or plans for epiphany,  
Sack racers at the foghorn picnic  
Overshot their mark with gusto.  
   
3.  
To make a valentine  
I cut words from magazines  
And glued them to a box of tiny foghorns.  
   
4.  
How many horns does a fog have?  
   
5.  
"All morning the  
Morning has been blackening,  
A foghorn left out."  
---Sylvia Plath  
   
6.  
My unspoken wish:  
That you lay me on the pavement,  
With all due tenderness,  
And slap me with the larger of the two foghorns.  
   
7.  
A child strokes the foghorn's belly,  
Shoves the cooing shoebox under bed.  
This is the day's final private moment,  
Before the oppressive tucking in.  
   
8.  
"Next I pull the dream off  
and slam into the cement wall  
of the clumsy calendar  
I live in,  
my life,  
and its hauled up  
foghorns"  
---Anne Sexton  
   
9.  
My umbrella wouldn't close  
So I missed the elevator.  
   
If I sat down, I'd sleep  
So I kept on walking.  
   
I stood on the bus in a huge down coat  
Itching, and determined not to drop the foghorn.  
   
10.  
We sang rounds through the traffic jam.  
You kept time from the back seat  
On your rosary of foghorns.  
   
11.  
Sign on the highway:  
Please kiss your own foghorn.  
   
12.  
Rules to live by:  
Don't drift off to sleep with an uncapped foghorn.  
An extra dictionary is more important than an extra foghorn.  
Better to burn your candle at both ends than curse the foghorn.  
A chicken in every pot, no garden without a foghorn.  
   
13.  
Notes on the fridge:  
defrost foghorn for ten minutes at 350.  
hey! your turn to walk the foghorn.  

 

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TITLES FOR MY NEXT TEN BOOKS  
   
1. My Life as a Mouth Breather  
   
2. Photosynthesis on the Night Shift  
   
3. The Hedgehog-Stegosaurus Continuum  
   
4. I: The Larva, The Pupa, and the Santa Maria  
   
5. II: The Nina, The Pinta, and the Anna Maria Alberghetti  
   
6. III: The Larva the Pupa, the Harder They Fall  
   
7. Personalities Swell in a Dream  
   
8. Fish Tropes  
   
9. Yardsale at the Beehive  
   
10. New Genres for Living  

 

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SCENES FROM THE LIVES OF GREAT POETS  
   
DENISE LEVERTOV  
b. 1923  
Her mother was descended from a Welsh tailor and mystic, Agnes Jones of Mold (a town in Wales).  
   
ROBERT BLY  
b. 1926  
Poems that appear modestly inconclusive are, if read the way he intends, arrogantly conclusive, because details which may seem trivially phenomenal are untrivially noumenal.  
   
LANGSTON HUGHES  
1902-1967  
In 1919 a sudden telegram from his father enjoined him to be ready the next day to travel to Mexico for the summer.  
   
JUDITH WRIGHT  
b. 1915  
Living far from the nearest school, she was educated until the age of twelve by a correspondence course organized by the Department of Education for children of isolated families.  
   
GALWAY KINNELL  
b. 1927  
He has taught at more than twenty colleges and universities, and remains a pioneer and iconoclast.  
   
HART CRANE  
b. 1899-1933  
He was the son of a candy manufacturer, a stormy, affectionate man who felt insufficiently loved by his wife and stirred up quarrel after quarrel.  
   
JAMES DICKEY  
b. 1923  
But he has not scorned machines, included them rather as part of the nature with which he wishes to be on terms of extravagant intimacy.  
   
EDITH SITWELL  
1887-1964  
She and her two brothers, Osbert and Sacheverall, were inseparable as children and remained so later.  
   
MARIANNE MOORE  
1887-1972  
Unlike Lawrence, she offers no depth psychology of the jerboa or the fish, and makes no attempt to share its fundamental drives.  
   
HILAIRE BELLOC  
1870-1953  
His mother was a descendant of Joseph Priestley, the discoverer of oxygen.  
   
CHARLES TOMLINSON  
b. 1927  
Tomlinson's relationship with the objects and atmospheres he writes about is urgent and submissive.  
   
CRAIG RAINE  
b. 1944  
In 1986 he wrote the libretto for an opera, The Electrification of the Soviet Union, based on a story by Boris Pasternak, to whose niece he is married.  
   
TED HUGHES  
b. 1930  
That Hughes himself does not often represent ordinary feelings in his verse does not mean that he does not have them.  

 

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Links to other works by Ann Veronica Simon:
 
"Note on the Refrigerator" and "Aphorisms on Either Side of Sleep" appear in the first on-line issue of Idiom (www.idiomart.com)
 

"A Dozen Excerpts from an (Unauthorized) Glossary of My Goddaughter's Vocabulary" is on-line in issue number 8 of CyberCorpse. (www.corpse.org)

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