Poetry Month Challenges Day 1: Aggression and Apathy

Aggression in Apathy by Maria L. Berg 2023

Welcome to the first day of National Poetry Month! April is a busy month here at Experience Writing. There’s a lot to experience: the cherry plum trees are covered in their happy pink and white blossoms; daffodils bow their frilly heads in the flowerbeds; and I enjoy combining the daily writing challenges of blogging A to Z, the PAD (poem-a-day) challenge, and NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) with my daily photography challenge. I created and thought I had posted my calendar of the A to Z contradictory abstract nouns I will be exploring this month in my A to Z announcement post, but I just noticed that somehow the calendar got into my media, but not into the post, so here’s my calendar for the month:

Aggression and Apathy

My study of abstract nouns started during NaPoWriMo last year. It evolved into a study of contradictory abstract nouns when I came across a piece of writing advice that said, “Find the hope in despair, and the despair in hope.”

This got me thinking that what one person takes as hope may only lead to another’s despair, and vice versa. Then I applied the idea to other contradictory abstract nouns. If you’re interested in looking at my progress in this study, it started July 19, 2022 with my post Contrasting Abstractions: The next phase in my study and has been my focus ever since.

How does the dictionary define aggression and apathy? Aggression is defined as any offensive action, attack or encroachment. The practice of making assaults or attacks; offensive action in general, and in Psychiatry it is defined as overt or suppressed hostility either innate or resulting from continued frustration and directed outward or against oneself. Apathy is defined as absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement, lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

Aggression is an angry inflamed passion, apathy is a complete absence of passion and emotion, anger or otherwise. But there’s more to it than that, isn’t there? Why do some people react to stimuli with aggression and others with apathy? I see aggression as a response to frustration because of a lack of understanding, an inability to empathize and compromise. Apathy is a similar response, but instead of acting out, one acts inwardly, running from any painful feelings by not feeling at all.

Today’s contradictory abstractions got me thinking about the human fight or flight response. In a way, aggression and apathy are two ends of the continuum of fear. I’ll talk more about fight or flight tomorrow since Sundays don’t have A to Z posts.

Today’s Images

For today’s images, I contemplated the colors of aggression (orange and red) and the colors of apathy (gray, beige). So to find the aggression in apathy and the apathy in aggression, I added my orange lights to the mirrorworld, and hung a fabric backdrop with beige and gray as the main colors.

The shapes and lines of aggression are jagged and triangular. Apathy lacks shape and line.

I found that using my flash and focus to attempt to pick up some of the beige and gray background also reflected some of the light expressing the tension between aggression and apathy (image at the top of the post). While capturing my images, I realized that aggression without opposition loses its power and emotion, blending into the apathy (image below).

Apathy in Aggression by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to take a look through Public Domain Review’s article “The Art of Book Covers.” and choose a book cover as inspiration.

There are many beautiful and interesting old book covers to choose from. I chose A Book of Images (1898) by W. T. Horton & W. B. Yeats

The thin jagged path in the void goes well with aggression in apathy, and following it would probably be pretty foolish.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a foolish poem.

The Poem

Apathy Aggressed

Standing still she can ignore the sharp, sheer edges
can feel safe in the nothing and not care
Any unpleasant scents—her sweat, her waste,
her rotting discarded—become commonplace
and are no longer noticed. Any unpleasant
sounds—alarms, horns, scraping, her screaming—
become background noise, a droning hum
no longer noticed as time drips the days.

But the world creeps in, poking and prodding
until orange-red aggression pushes her to motion.
Along the thin, jagged path she staggers, trying
to resist, but once inertia can’t fight the pressure
her pace accelerates past apathy’s border with obscurity.

It would be foolish to take her gaze from the path
but the stars, the stars twinkling in the abyss
tug her yellow attention from her blue fears
and back again, and she wants to go back
but she can’t because she doesn’t want to
be seen as foolish, or smell the stale air
and rotting discarded. Lacking options
makes her angry. She wants to lash out,
to hit and scratch and smash and destroy
the world that crept in and made her feel fear again.

One thought on “Poetry Month Challenges Day 1: Aggression and Apathy

  1. Maria! It’s so good to see you and I love the imagery in this poem – especially how the world creeps in and pokes her into action. The book cover is gorgeous too!

    Liked by 1 person

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