THE ANSWER

Final Words by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompt

For yesterday’s poetics prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub, Laura challenged us to think about last words and choose some famous last words to inspire our poem.

The Poem

The Answer

“Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”
~ Karl Marx

How cruel and yet delicious
all those smiling, resting faces
all those relaxed, unworried death masks
forever frozen as last seen
in loving minds

How cruel and yet delicious
to know the time of one’s passing
to gather everyone ever loved together
to impart an answer
a lifetime sought

How cruel and yet delicious
the final not knowing but feeling certain
it will be there in time
feeling tongue-tipped and out-reached
seat-edged in life-searched readiness

How cruel and yet delicious
hearing gulps of held back sobs
tasting one’s own saliva, one’s juices
for a final time, becoming thick
with enzymes preparing for decay
smelling each familiar perfume
not disguising each unique sweat
visually sucking and sucking every
detail as if it will be the forever
memory: that cute sneeze,
that child’s whine,
that cuticle bitten,
that hair swept from that eye,
one’s own slowing, rattling breath and

then it’s there
it comes
the answer
THE ANSWER
electric, eye-bulging epiphany of all epiphanies
the room leans in edged, sharp
and everyone hears AH-HA!
before eyes dim, chest stills
and nothing more.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Stories Anthology Review: L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future volume 38

CoverIn anticipation of the Writer’s Games kicking off this weekend, here are my thoughts on a book of short stories I recently enjoyed.

Why I picked it up:
I received a free e-book version of L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future volume 38 (amazon associate link) from the publisher through the Library Thing early reviewers program.

My Expectations:

Because this is a collection of stories by contest winners, and says it is “the best new SF & Fantasy of the year” right on the cover, I had high expectations: I expected some really great science fiction and fantasy stories.

What I liked:
There is so much to like about this book! It opens with a gallery of color illustrations by the winners of the illustration contest, one for each story, that piqued my interest and created anticipation. There is a nice range of stories exploring times from Earth’s history to planets in the far future with some time travel in there as well. I noticed a recurring theme of the power of knowledge and the dangers of memory manipulation which I find very interesting. Before each story and essay there is an extensive, informative bio for the author and illustrator which helps orient the reader for each new experience.

I especially enjoyed “The Single Most Important Piece of Advice” by Frank Herbert followed by one of his stories and then an essay by his son about teamwork and writing with others as he continues to create in his father’s world of Dune. Those three pieces in a row felt like a special moment.

The story by the editor David Farland that accompanies the cover illustration is also very special as it is the last story he wrote. He died only days after he finished editing this book.

What I didn’t like:

There were a couple of stories I didn’t like, and sadly, one of them was chosen as the opening story. This made it difficult for me to get into the book. But luckily, those intriguing, beautiful illustrations at the beginning and the craft essays throughout, pulled me further into the book. My personal preference would have been more science fiction and less fantasy.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦ 4 out of 5

Overall, I enjoyed the majority of the stories, the illustrations are beautiful, and I really liked the inclusion of craft essays and stories by Frank Herbert and other prominent authors and illustrators.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Motivation to Wade into Cold Water

Motivation 2 by Maria L. Berg 2022

Motivation

Today I’m re-visiting motivation. When I explored motivation in April, I talked about it as a force toward pleasure and away from pain. Motivation came up again when I explored need and talked about Maslow’s pyramid. Today I looked up some definitions and found that motivation is a force that imparts motion as if from a store. In other words, I’ve got a whole bunch of motion stored up somewhere and the force “motivation” will dole it out to me. But what is this force, and how do I trigger it at will? I think my definition still needs work.

The sun was out this morning, so I took my net-lights outside for the first time. I am definitely motivated by the surprise of trying something new.

Imparting Motion by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s poetics prompt, Merril invites us to think about summer with an ekphrastic prompt. I wrote to the image by Edward Henry Potthast, Summer Day, Brighton Beach which shows children wading into the ocean. I waded a bit into the lake this morning, wasn’t quite motivated to swim.

The Poem

Wading In

Hear them shrieking in the distance
oh, they must be having fun
the waves crashing against them splashing
oh, I can’t wait now let’s run

But it’s freezing, my feet are tingling
oh, this bite has just begun
up it’s reaching, and soon numbing
then forgotten in summer sun.

The Beauty of Dissonance

Beauty by Maria L. Berg 2022

Beauty

Today is the first time in this exciting study of abstract nouns that I’m revisiting a word to study it more deeply. When I first approached beauty on the second day of the A to Z Challenge in April, I found a thorough definition on dictionary.com. My Merriam Webster’s defines it only slightly differently (the quality or aggregate of qualities . . . gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit: Loveliness), so I still have the same questions about inherent beauty and perceived beauty. This morning I thought, if beauty is defined by culture and/or group-think of an era or time-period does it really exist at all?

To start to explore these questions, I turned to philosophy. In the book Does the Center Hold? by Donald Palmer I found an interesting passage about Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872)’s thoughts on beauty. He believed that a human being is fundamentally good and from the beginning of the species every human community has aspired, consciously or unconsciously, to achieving: love, truth, beauty, happiness, wisdom, purity, and strength. The book says “among others,” but sticks to that list. Guess which abstractions I’ll be focusing on further 😃. Next month?

This got me thinking about the famous ending from “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats :

 “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all

                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Does that narrow down Feurbach’s list–and my study–to only two abstract nouns? Or only one? And how would I choose? I would think that would include wisdom. If truth and beauty are indeed the same, if I focus all of my images on beauty, will I be making images of truth? Will I eventually look at my beautiful image and see truth equally in the image?

Looking at beauty physically, many people believe symmetry is beautiful, others like asymmetry. Some look at a mole on a face and see a blemish, others see a beauty mark. Looking at beauty mathematically, the artists of the Renaissance believed in the golden ratio. I think of this when I include the curve from my metal mirror in my photos like I did for Value.

Looking back at the images I created for beauty before, I can see what I was going for: the shapes, a geometric representation of flowers and leaves, shows the conflict of the wild beauty of nature and the human desire to tame it. I also see this dichotomy of beauty in the glowing primary colors: yellow (sun and flowers), red (flowers, some berries), blue (water and sky). And the green–a combination and a contrast–a union of blue and yellow contrasting with red, but also representing the leaves that surround the red flowers or berries, the grass that meets the water, the floor to the ceiling of sky.

When I look at those images, I see all of that, but I also don’t see beauty. I think the images may try to do too much. They feel busy. Though the colors and shapes give pleasure to my senses, the images don’t exalt.

How do I want to explore beauty today? This time around I want to look for beauty in simplicity. I think there’s graceful movement in beauty, or beauty in graceful movement.

Looking Forward, Looking Back by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft prompt, Björn invites us to explore dissonance in our poetry. I love dissonance, especially the discordant combinations I create in my songs. I guess I haven’t really thought about the poetic tools of linguistic dissonance before. Great prompt!

The Poem

An Unexpected Irritation that Lingers

There is a man in the bushes to my left
He crunches and snaps, rustles and breaks
His every movement is destruction–
I believe he thinks–in the name of clearing,
taming nature to his will

I cannot see him through the thick
rhododendron he stomps and the
Japanese camellia he mangles caught
under the cherry-plum, but I see
the hedge move with a crack and a snap
and I know he has crossed

under the cherry-plum into the
leaf-shadows of this rhododendron
shuffling and crackling the crisp, dry
leaves as irritating and attention hoarding
as a jay or a spotted towhee, but his caw
is much worse than the jay’s screech.

When he finally speaks
the only thing he says is
cut your trees, cut your trees
cut your trees!

In Awe of Water

In Awe of the Possibilities by Maria L. Berg 2022

June’s Abstractions

Here we are already starting June. As I mentioned yesterday, this month’s daily abstract nouns include a mix of new words and further study of previous words. And, as before, Sundays are homographs to guide visual poetry (vispo) from the images created through the week.

Awe

While defining “poetry” for my online poetry class, What Is Poetry? An Introduction to Literary Analysis, I found that dictionary.com provides circular definitions for everything, not only abstract nouns. I found a much better definition in my physical dictionary, so from now on, I’ll be mining for meaning in my Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Tenth Edition.

Awe is an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime. What an intense combination: to fear greatly, respect, and be excited with amazement and admiration all at the same time.

I am in awe of the flow of ideas and joy of process I’ve found in this study of abstract nouns. Awe describes

For today’s images, I put the two new reflective balls in the mirrorworld to see what they would do.

Awe by Maria L. Berg 2022

Today’s prompts

On Wednesdays, Robert Lee Brewer offers a poetry prompt on Writer’s Digest. Today’s prompt is to write a water poem.

The Poem

I Water as I Walk

The air is thick with it
the clouds fat with it
and yet they hoard their
precious cargo, leaving the
new seeds thirsty

It makes up seventy
percent of me, sloshing
about somewhere in there
as I tread–new sprinkler head in hand,
length of hose uncoiling,
dragging behind–

staring out at the lake as
I shower the crusted earth,
the irony is not lost on me
that there is water everywhere
but the land needs me
to drink

A Wealth of Options

A Wealth of Sunlight by Maria L. Berg 2022

Wealth

These last couple months studying abstract nouns have provided a wealth of discoveries, great quantities of new ideas, an abundance of new techniques, a profusion of thoughts, and a plentiful amount of new tools. I feel like these last two months have been a 101 course in abstractions–an overview–and now it’s time to take a more advanced look at the ideas I’ve only had a glimpse of so far. But there is still a wealth of abstract nouns to look at and explore. I’m having trouble deciding, so I think I’ll do both.

Continuing this study into June, I will choose some new abstract nouns and some that I want to revisit. I’ll post the new calendar tomorrow for those of you interested in looking ahead at what I’ll be exploring through the month.

Today’s weather was beautiful, and I’m hoping June will bring many more sunny days, so I can bring my new net-lights outside to play with the sun on the lake. And today I got two floating reflective balls that I’m excited to float on the lake. I’m already excited about their potential for bokeh shapes from a few pictures I took of them in the yard.

I hope you’re enjoying this wealth of content and that you are as inspired by the study of abstract nouns as I am. I’m really looking forward to revisiting some of the words I’ve already explored and diving deeper into sensory perception and imagery associated with those abstractions. If you have a suggestion for an abstract noun to revisit, or one I haven’t looked at please let me know in the comments.

Flower Thoughts by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s poetics prompt, Punam inspires with the work of Amrita Pritam. The challenge is to choose one of her lines from a list and use it to inspire our poem.

The Poem

In the Little Empty Space

“Look further on ahead, there between truth and falsehood, a little empty space.” ~Amrita Pritam

I believe I can squeeze through
the jagged rocks
and hard place threaten
but a slim, distant light
still begs me on.

If I suck it all in tight
and purse my lips
and set my jaw
and close my eyes
and never breathe again,
I might distract them

from the original question
concern them enough
to forget, and not suffer
while I emerge
on the other side

Enjoying My Solitude

Solitude by Maria L. Berg 2022

Solitude

This week is the first week of a three week course I’m taking on FutureLearn.com called How to Make a Poem offered through Manchester Metropolitan University. This week’s assigned poem is to collect language by observing an environment in the style of George Perec’s exercise in his essay. “the Street.” As someone who enjoys her solitude: seclusion; state of being and living alone in an area that is remote and unfrequented especially on rainy days, this is a bit of a challenge. The idea is to capture overheard language or signs, menus, etc. Solitude isn’t very conducive to this exercise as described, but the exercise also doesn’t exactly lead to found poetry in the way I understand it.

For today’s images I have two new tools to play with: net lights and printable transparency paper. I think I’ll hang the net lights in the mirrorworld since it’s supposed to rain for about a week. My original idea for the printable transparency paper was to print some of my black and white photos to use with blackout poetry, but I’m also curious how it might work for printing a filter. So many possibilities.

As you can see, I still haven’t been able to fix my printer, but in this case, I like the lines and color stripes.

To Take Dreams verse one by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

It’s Open Link Night at the pub, so I thought I would start try my printable transfer paper as a blackout to “find” poetry.

The Poem

To Take Dreams verse two by Maria L. Berg 2022

To take dreams

some mediate, contain
by providing that
highest provocation
and that dream
of mind from mystery
matter outdone
their equal
these two dreams
that wheel

by symbols at one
and world be else
said key to the dream self
dual one as thumb
as not fruit
converse of is beauty
the dream add
the little soul
the devil
how his counting
on no self objective
them also

found from Rose Windows by Painton Cowen ©1979




Being Sensitive to Sensitivities

Sensitivity by Maria L. Berg 2022

Sensitivity

To a vision scientist like me, sensitivity is only a semi-abstract noun. If you look at the state or quality of being endowed with sensation; having perception through the senses, that’s measurable through scientific experimentation. However, the state or quality of being readily or excessively affected by external agencies or influences and having acute mental or emotional sensibility; aware of and responsive to the feelings of others is not as measurable and easily pained, annoyed, etc. is probably measurable per person, but not as scientifically, since we’re getting into moods.

I’ve always been highly sensitive, both emotionally and perceptually. I was told by my advanced biology teacher in high school that I should never have children if I was so sensitive to the smell in the room that I needed to leave. He sent me to the library, and I never had children. He must have had an amazing sixth sense. Now approaching the mid-century of life, I still have perfect vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch: though my sensitivity to others and ideas of my sixth sense have diminished, for now, in exchange for contentment and sanity, I think. Which brings us to another definition of sensitivity: requiring tact or caution; delicate; touchy: a sensitive topic.

As for my images I like how my sensitivity made me think of anxiety and squiggly lines of too much, but when I looked at the images I saw another definition of sensitivity I enjoy which is: constructed to indicate, measure, or be affected by small amounts or changes~ as a balance or thermometer or microscope.

Overlapping yellow and pink triangles that have the texture of crinkled plastic and squiggly lines drawn with sharpie on that plastic.
Too Sensitive by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s poetics Ingrid brings corvids to spring. I am surrounded by raptors and corvids and find it fascinating that crows chase bald eagles around the sky. It’s the craziest bird behavior. One would think that eagles would just take out the crows, if they were a threat; the eagle could turn and destroy them: toss their nests, eat their eggs, or eat the crows. But from what I’ve seen, they don’t react much at all. However, this spring I’ve had two rather aggressive Blue Jays, and I am sensitive to their presence.

The Poem

Strike a Pose

So bold, look at you
in my morning window
blinds closed, I know you’re
there, when I let in the spring
sun your striking blue feathers
somehow bluer than the bluest
sky: not cerulean, not royal, but
playing in between, you contrast
with the giant pink blossoms of
the monster rhododendron
not a plant, not a flower, but
a life choice, and you have chosen
it, next to my bedroom window
with your deep, thoughtful,
striking pose, I can’t help
but admire your bold stare
and then you
SHRIEK
SCREAM
make unbird noises
not even the semi-annoying
CAW which is never at my window
but still loud from high above while
harassing an eagle and remind me
that you are the kind of bird
who raids other bird’s nests
and may decapitate other birds
Am I being sensitive to your
horrible sound, or would it
bother me so much if I didn’t
know you were a murderous
tyrant striking such a strong
contrast of black and blue

No Contest for Content

Last week I missed my Sunday visual poetry due to a very fun and special family birthday party, so today I’ll be exploring two homographs: Content and Contest.

A blackout poem using purple sharpie on clear plastic over a random page from Rose Windows by Painton Cowen.
Dwelling Entirely in the Slime of the Earth by Maria L. Berg 2022

Content & Contest

Let’s start with a quick overview of the meanings of our homographs from dictionary.com. Each of these has two pronunciations as well.

Content (kon-tent): Usually contents.

  1. something that is contained: the contents of a box.
  2. the subjects or topics covered in a book or document.
  3. the chapters or other formal divisions of a book or document: a table of contents.

something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts: significance or profundity; meaning: substantive information or creative material viewed in contrast to its actual or potential manner of presentation: that which may be perceived in something.

~That last meaning opens up content to be just about anything.

Content (kuhn-tent): satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.

Contest (kon-test) noun: a race, conflict, or other competition between rivals, as for a prize: struggle for victory or superiority: vigorous or bitter conflict in argument; dispute; controversy.

Contest (kuhn-test) verb: to struggle or fight for: to argue against; dispute: to call in question: to contend for in rivalry.

I’m feeling content to create content on this lovely, clear day. I won’t contest the results of my visual poetry experiments, and appreciate the poetic content equally. It’s not a contest.

The same image of the previous poem with a page of text from Man and his symbols by Carl G. Jung next to it.
Now the Experiment by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts

The Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt yesterday was “clear” which got me thinking about the clear sleeve idea I started playing with “Combine.” I’ve been thinking about using the clear plastic to create blackout poetry. I thought it would be fun to print text in the same size and font and then use a blackout design from one poem on another piece of text.

Since I wanted to use small, uniform text, I photocopied sections from a few non-fiction texts I own. I started with Rose Windows by Painton Cowen. Choosing a random page from the introduction, I created the first image in this post.

Then I switched out the text to a page from Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung using the same blackout and got this:

The same purple blackout over a new text from Man and his symbols by Carl G. Jung, creating a new poem.
The Dream of the Unconscious Dreamer by Maria L. Berg 2022

I used this same blackout with two other random pages from non-fiction I own, and moved it up and down the pages. I highly recommend trying this as an inspirational tool. I’m loving it. It’s like creating a cipher to bring your own, new understanding to any text. I also like that it leaves the original text intact as I change it and make my own choices and meanings.

The Poem

Dwelling Entirely in the Slime of the Earth

Transfix us equally
unexpected feeling
elusive awe and wonder

this experience
accentuated by
interweaving tensions

poured light of
infinite shades
in the sun

glowing quietly
jewels and coloured
glass possessing

me dwelling
in some strange
universe which exists

entirely in the slime of the earth

#SoCS: Clearly Relieved

Relief by Maria L. Berg 2022

Relief

I’m excited for a little relief today. I’ve had stomach pain the last couple days, so alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress, oppression, etc. is greatly appreciated. A rain-free day with some sun is also something affording a pleasing change, as from monotony: release.

While thinking about visually creating relief, bas-relief came to mind. Bas-Relief is a sculpture technique in which the shapes only rise slightly from the flat surface of the background. In this case relief means the distance of the carving; bas-relief is low relief or a short distance, close to the surface compared to high relief. Coins are a good example of bas-relief images.

Because I finally have some relief from the rain and clouds, I can play with all my new transformer filters on the lake. The images I create using the glints of lights on the lake are like bas-relief in a way as the shapes stay connected to the water’s surface.

Relieved by Maria L. Berg 2022

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Today’s prompt is “clear.” Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal:

A clear blue sky. Finally. A faint half-moon lingers just above the all firs behind the house across the lake. Today’s mission is clear: to plant. I looked at the seeds I have, the herbs my sister gave me for my birthday, the vegetable seeds left from last year: lettuce, spinach, cabbage, radishes, and beans are all going to find homes in the soil today. Here I go.

Clearly, I did not expect pulling that dead plant out of the bed and putting my sister’s little birthday flower in its place would be so difficult. The dirt was hard as concrete and full of rocks. The wayward grass did NOT want to come out. I hope that little flower lives after all that effort. I’m glad it’s supposed to be nice tomorrow too because my nieces are here, and now I clearly have other things to do.

Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Brief Relief

And when I finally find relief
release from pain and mind left clear
blue sky cloudless and half-moon near,

I hope the moment isn’t brief
the sun set free is quick to sear
and blinds all thought to steer or veer

Since time is such a greedy thief
a heart remembers cupid’s spear
a pain that aches renewing fear,

relying on our group belief
of control and measured hours: we’re
among our peers existing here

to smear the days with its mischief
the half-moon leers then disappears
leaving a trail of relief’s tears

And when I finally find relief
I hope the moment isn’t brief
since time is such a greedy thief
relying on our group belief
to smear the days with its mischief.


Release by Maria L. Berg 2022