Poetry Month Challenges Day 17: Need and Nonsense

Need in Nonsense by Maria L. Berg 2023

“I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.” 

Dr. Seuss

“The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.” 

Carl Jung

Need & Nonsense

Need is an urgent want, as of something essential or indispensable; a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary; a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation. Last year I talked about Maslow’s hierarchy of need, and how need connects to motivation, so I won’t go into that here. Nonsense is words or language having little or no sense or meaning; behavior and actions that are senseless, foolish, or absurd; and is also defined as impudent, insubordinate, or otherwise objectionable behavior.

From the definitions one could say that need is in contradiction with nonsense because needs are necessary for survival, and nonsense may be a detriment to survival. However, there are some that would say nonsense fulfills a need.

I found an article by Alex Sternick who practices “the Art of Nonsense and Laughter Therapy.” He said, “researchers found that nonsense may unconsciously influence the quality of implicit Learning. The students who read the absurd Story chose about 30 percent more of the letter strings, and were almost twice as accurate in their choices, than a comparison group of 20 students who had read a coherent short story.” He said, “If we understand from within that the external world is, by its nature, full of absurdities and contradiction, we can make choices to express meaningful purpose in our lives instead of following a nihilistic way of self-neglect and pessimism.” He believes speaking in gibberish helps us to stop fighting to understand everything and say anything without being judged or “wrong.”

Today’s Images

Last year when looking at “need,” I saw it as a spiral as in “the way a person can spiral when needs aren’t met.” How do I add nonsense to that? For today’s images I made wire spirals and hung them on another wire like my idea for the “blinds” idea. With multiple spirals moving without my control in a blob-shaped filter, I added nonsense to my need for expression.

Nonsense in Need by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is “to write a poem that contains the name of a specific variety of edible plant – preferably one that grows in your area. (That said, if you’re lacking inspiration, online seed catalogs provide a treasure trove of unusual and charming names for vegetables, fruits and flowers. Here’s one to get you started.) In the poem, try to make a specific comparison between some aspect of the plant’s lifespan and your own – or the life of someone close to you. Also, include at least one repeating phrase.”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a nerve poem.

Today’s prompts gave me a happy excuse to spend some time with The Complete Herbal (1653) by Nicholas Culpeper, M. D.. I searched “nerve” in the text and chose an herb (specific variety of edible plant) that Culpeper said treated the nerves.

The Poem

The Benefits of Cowslips

Like cows in delicate a-line yellow slips
clustered in the field in spring
their bulbous lips softly petting the grass,
the cowslips gather on their stalks
in the pasture.

Venus lays claim to this herb as her own,
and it is under the sign Aries as I am.
The ointment of it adds beauty,
or at least restores it when it is lost.
It strengthens the brain and nerves
and remedies palsies. Guess I need
to preserve or conserve the flowers
and eat them every morning.
But for my outer wounds I’ll need
the leaves to make an ointment
with some hog’s grease.
The ointment of it adds beauty,
or at least restores it when it is lost.

I’ve never seen cows
wearing slips; yellow, delicate
or otherwise, and if I did
would the nonsense
sooth my nerves?

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