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

The Power to Recognize My Power

Power by Maria L. Berg 2022

Power

Power has a long list of interesting meanings. The idea of having power over a person came up in the definition of Mercy the other day, so my first thoughts this morning went to the evils of authority or influence: fear, torture, corruption. But the main definition of power is ability (power or capacity to do or act physically, mentally, legally, morally, financially, etc.): ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something. In physics it is work done or energy transferred per unit of time. In math the product obtained by multiplying a quantity by itself one or more times. It is energy, force, or momentum.

Yesterday I started experimenting with two new ideas. First, expanding upon the hinge idea from my door filter, I created a series of filters that I call transformer filters: geometrical designs with sections not completely cut out, but folded. These filters can create many different shapes depending on which sections are “open.” Second, I created a light grid. Using an old aluminum grid from the laser-cutter, I placed a string-light in every fourth square. Combining my new filters with my power grid is like quilting with light.

Energy by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s Meet the Bar prompt, Björn challenges us to try the Constanza form created by Connie Marcum Wong in 2007. It’s a new form to me and appears quite challenging. Let’s see if I have the power to complete a Constanza.

The Poem

Recognizing Power

When moon’s aglow and murders caw
and streetlights burn in amber rows
the night excites and passion grows

the city girls sing la-dee-da
to walking beats of clicking heels
a destination soon reveals

with hips that swing a tra-la-la
manipulating lookers on
but don’t get close or they’ll be gone

a magic power there–ta-da!
distracts the eye while coins are palmed
and every protestation calmed

their laughter echos, ha ha ha!
where shadows imprint eyelids closed
be careful dancing when you’ve dozed

When moon’s aglow and murders caw
the city girls sing la-dee-da
with hips that swing a tra-la-la
a magic power there–ta-da!
their laughter echoes, ha ha ha!

To the Nth Power by Maria L. Berg 2022




Every Limitation an Opportunity

Opportunity by Maria L. Berg 2022

Opportunity

When searching out a new opportunity, we open ourselves to “an appropriate or favorable time or occasion: a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal: a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.” What is favorable? Affording advantage, opportunity, or convenience; advantageous. And advantageous? Furnishing convenience or opportunity; favorable; profitable; useful; beneficial. The circular nature of abstract nouns is a merry-go-round.

For today’s images, I wanted to attempt to put doors in the mountain, but I lost my opportunity because the clouds came in, making the mountain disappear before I got up. However, changing my point of view provided new opportunities.

Blooming Opportunity by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s poetics Lillian provided a challenging prompt to use compound words from a list.

The Poem

Navigating Twilight Hours

Exhausted from a glutted day so good,
night announces her arrival with a star.
Fish spark algae trails in the still water,
proof of life hiding like sweet honey.
Dew is but an inkling to the dark earth.
Quake in awe of the mystery at hand.

Shake the salt when tail-feathers show.
Off his game, his flight won’t block the sun.
Burn the branch from which he screams all day.
Time will slow, so night can catch the moon.
Light the path until their shadows cross.
Walk on the glow until blistered and exhausted.

Pink Squirrel Opportunity by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Mixed Mercies of Sleep

Mercy by Maria L. Berg 2022

Mercy

I’m finding this study of abstract nouns fascinating. We think we know what these words mean, but the more I study them, the less clear they become. When I dive into their definitions, I always find something surprising. Mercy has a very interesting definition: compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.

Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. “Stricken by misfortune” brings in ideas of destiny and luck, and forbearance brings patience into the mix. But it’s the next part of the definition that surprised me: “an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power.”

The wording implies that an offender or enemy is a person in one’s power. That any person is in another’s power is a warped idea. Power struggles are one of those facts of life from beginning to end that are an instinctive part of the human struggle that is intertwined with the question of evolution and/or creation; and the basic questions of nature vs. nurture. However, I was even more interested in the idea of the offender, or enemy being that person in one’s power. When I think of an offender, or enemy, I think of bullies: people out for a fight; people looking for those they perceive as weaker than them, to belittle and have power over. How would that person be a person in my power? There’s a lot to think about there.

For today’s images, I thought of my door filter that I created for “Close” and used again for “Adventure,” symbolizing the mercy of giving someone a way out. What could symbolize removing suffering? A mouse with a thorn? Too obtuse, the viewer would have to think of the fable of the mouse and the lion, and interpret, a line in its paw as a thorn removed from a lion. Instead, I tried to open and close my door filter to flowers.

Mercy 2 by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s quadrille, Sarah challenges us to write 44 words about sleep.

The Poem

Merciful sleep,
thick, heavy fog
with power
over me,
have pity
this one night
keep out intruders
lock the doors
and hold them
fast from the
dreams of
suffering
and sorrow,
haunted
memories of
possibilities
filled with desires
that you steal
away come
morning

Mercy 3 by Maria L. Berg 2022

Oh, What Two Little Letters Can Do

Happiness by Maria L. Berg 2022

Happiness

This morning I was wondering, how is happiness different from other abstract nouns I’ve explored: comfort, joy, or delight? Then I looked up the definition and there they all were: good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy: delighted, pleased, or glad. So luck was in there too.

Though one can be happy about a singular result–a bit of luck, a pleasurable experience, a hummingbird hovering in sunlight–I think happiness as something internalized, attained through acceptance, appreciation and gratitude. Not the kind of happiness found through the rose-colored glasses of denial and ignorance, but through awe, wonder, and curiosity.

The Declaration of Independence declares that we have been endowed by our Creator to pursue happiness, but the men who composed that document would have had very different ideas of happiness than I do, than almost anyone living has today, I would think. And they didn’t say we have the right to attain happiness, to spend every day in happiness, but the right to pursue it. The first definition of pursue at dictionary.com is “to follow in order to overtake, capture, kill, etc.” I hope that’s not what they meant.

Sunday’s experiment with additive text, got me thinking about lettering and generating text, so, I put some letters in the mirrorworld. Starting with an “A” made it clear to me that when the bokeh flips, it flips upside down and backwards.

Realization Generation by Maria L. Berg 2022
Generating Laughter by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s prompt is to write a food poem. Misky invites us to play with our food and lick our fingers. The prompt made me want to go play in the garden. My favorite meal is one I’ve freshly picked. It brings me so much happiness to grow my food.

Unexpected Harvest by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

How My Garden Grows

Impressed by the determined kale’s
waving green leaves that persisted,
refusing to perish through
the long, recurring winter
towering over the weeds,
with my shovel and garden gloves,
I attack and turn the soil, finding
roots and rocks where I had planted
just last year, and also finding
something very strange
a mystery appeared

Every year I dig up old nails
or a little plastic toy
but this I can’t identify
tossing my gloves in the wheelbarrow
filled with fir cones and weeds
I turn it and turn it
inspecting it in every way
careful not to cut my dirty fingers
I think of lighting hitting
a beach, making glass of sand
but this is dirt and no lightning
has struck and it was buried.

At first I feared it was a curse
this dirty, sharp-edged glass
figure, but after cleaning
off its outer coat it brings to mind
a little gardener, laboring
hunched over carrying
a heavy load, a bountiful harvest
what luck to discover
such a good omen
as I begin to sow
maybe his sharp points
will ward off bunnies
and curious dark-eyed
juncos and crows,
leaving those tasty kale leaves
whole to flourish

Sad Birdman in the Kale by Maria L. Berg 2022

An Impromptu Combination of Combines

Continuing my Sunday visual poetry, I’m abandoning my magnets for a new overlay idea that goes well with today’s homograph “combine.”

A Curious Combine by Maria L. Berg 2022

Combine

As you have probably noticed, I like to unite prompts for a common purpose; many prompts join forces to create one poem. I join many ideas into a close union, creating a new whole. But how will I simultaneously cut, thresh, and clean those ideas with my mental combine harvester; evaluate my prospective players, and which combine will use my results to create a self-serving monopoly (That last cabal-style definition of combine is unusual to me. I’ll have to look into it)?

Today’s new technique was inspired by yesterday’s search into Vispo, short for visual poetry. A description of a book mentioned transparencies which made me think about how I take a picture of my collages then more pictures after adding words. With transparencies, I could create this additive process over and over.

When I started my Words on the World project, I ordered two different thicknesses of colored Sharpies and a large amount of clear plastic sleeves to cut the filters from. Cutting open the sleeves creates pages for layers of transparencies. I printed out some of last week’s photos and tried it out.

Questionable Combination by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts

For today’s poem, I took a look at my WordPress reader and found:

Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #258 is “Impromptu” and to write a poem (or piece of prose) in exactly 48 words.

Pensitivity101’s Three Things Challenge #957 is TROUBLE, FLIGHT, TICKET.

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (FOWC) is “heat.”

Curiosity Kills Boredom by Maria L. Berg 2022
Curiosity Leads to Delight by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

At the Poet Combine

This impromptu combination of light and words

I dream will take flight

layered to create heat

the heated air lifting

or get me into trouble

this brave trust

punch my ticket

above the troubles

to the improv

cut, threshed, and cleaned

to a shiny core of deeper meaning

#SoCS: Sticks and Stones and Words

Fragility by Maria L. Berg 2022

Fragility

The quality or state of being easily broken, shattered, damaged, or destroyed: delicate; brittle; frail: vulnerably delicate, as in appearance: lacking in substance or force; flimsy: in a weakened physical state; slight; tenuous: fragility comes to everything and everyone at one point or another. I think of thin, brittle, sheer tissue; skeletal frames; loose connections, crumbling.

For my images, I thought about how fragile the paper filters I created with paper punch shapes were. I pulled out the roll of paper to make a new one, but then thought about the loosely connected fragility of old lace. I have a collection of old lace trim, and tried placing some over the lens shield. I really like the effect.

A Fragile Connection by Maria L. Berg 2022

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Today’s prompt is to write about a phrase from childhood. Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal:

I thought of discipline first: Just wait ’til your dad gets home, and I’m gonna count to ten, but there has to be some fun phrases from childhood. I thought of Step on a crack . . . ; Tag! you’re it; Jinx! you owe me a coke; but none of those really spoke to me. Then I thought of Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me–a phrase used a lot as a kid that proved not to be true–and I’m rubber and you’re glue; your words bounce off me and stick to you–fun to say, but also not true. The sticks and stones saying goes well with today’s abstract noun “fragility”, and both phrases feel like they would work well in a poem.

Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Human Fragility

Sticks and stones–

so abundant / all around on the ground
quick to hand / broken from a dry branch
weaponized / slung, thrown, whipped, battered, broken
with the slightest aim / anger-fueled force

–may break my bones,
but words–

symbols and sounds / agreed upon to have meaning
combined with malicious intent / to produce hurt in the perceived fragile
shouted and chanted to taunt / because repetition erodes caverns from the cracks
because words evoke emotions that / though we’re told they don’t matter

–can [never] hurt me.

A Fragile Ecosystem by Maria L. Berg 2022

Making Delight

Delight by Maria L. Berg 2022

Delight

This study of abstract nouns through abstract photography brings me extreme pleasure and satisfaction. To capture that delight today, I used my favorite fuzzy fabric as a backdrop, my favorite spiral filter, and used the camera flash in the mirrorworld. Some of the results were surprising and delightful.

Delightful by Maria L. Berg 2022

For Cinco de Mayo at dVerse Poets Pub we’re writing cinquains developed by Adelaide Crapsey. Laura challenges us to write either a cinq-cinquain, or a cinquain chain / crown cinquain. Either way it’s five cinquains which follow the syllabic pattern 2-4-6-8-2.

The Poem

Delight Cycle

giddy
awakening
to possibility
hot shower shoulders dripping with
delight

delight
so fresh and new
smelling of minty dew
tears and scratches to get through this
foul mood

foul mood
coating the day
before I can hang the
yellow and orange polk-a-dot
fabric

fabric
of my joy life
rug for meditation
cape for solar-being costume
background

background
sifting bright lights
providing fun textures
inspiring surprises; smiling
giddy

Bravely Facing This Stage of Grief

Bravery by Maria L. Berg 2022

Bravery

What is bravery? Courage. What is courage? Bravery. I love this stuff. It is a quality of mind or spirit that allows a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear. Other than military imagery of facing the enemy and facing death, what does bravery look like? How do I capture a quality of mind or spirit in an abstract photograph? What is the shape of fighting through fear, striving for acceptance through grief: running toward something instead of staying frozen in stasis or running away? I haven’t played with my footprint filters in a while. Maybe, I can do something with them.

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 38

I received my early reviewer’s copy of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 38 that I won from Library Thing today and the first illustration shows a girl running toward a giant monster, its mouth open, dripping saliva over jagged, pointy teeth. She looks brave. But it’s also incredibly brave just to share a poem, or stand up and read to an audience. It’s brave to get out of bed, get dressed and face another day of grief and loss which is the prompt for today’s Poetics at dVerse Poets Pub. Lisa challenges us to choose one or more of Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) to write about, in relation to our, or another’s, current state of being.

Running Toward by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

So many years wavering

Is it a betrayal,
this acceptance?
It feels like I’ve given
up on something
by acknowledging
this reality.

Though I knew
it wasn’t possible
that this was temporary,
only a way-station
in Purgatory,
it felt like wrapping
myself in a soft, warm
blanket–that false hope–
I could wake up
in from this nightmare.

If I only learned my lesson
or did the right thing here,
I could have it all back again
and you–not the mean dream
you, rejecting me over
and over, making me
so sad that I don’t
sleep anymore, but
the real you, I’m
electrically attracted
to will wrap me in that
warm, soft blanket
and hold me tight,
your stubble poking
my cheek and my neck.

It’s so hard to accept
reality’s betrayal
and yet, I feel
calm promise
knowing that
nothing I do or say
can fix this.
This is my day
to stay in:
this moment
is mine to lose.