I Couldn’t Think of Anything: ended up with way too much

Every photo in this post is a micro-mystery that starts with “M”

I can’t believe we’re already at the halfway point. The days are flying.

There’s a free online writing conference this weekend starting tomorrow called WRITEHIVE. I signed up yesterday. There are free workshops and presentations all weekend. Did any of you attend last year? I hope you’ll join me. Let me know in the comments and I’ll look for you. Now to poetry!

Can you guess them all? Post in the comments.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to a small habit picked up from a parent. Pushing through while journaling really got me somewhere I hadn’t looked before.

The PAD prompt is a title prompt “(blank) Story.”

Over at the A to Z Challenge they have a fun game of Magnifying Glass. I think I’ll get in on that as a fun photography challenge.

I present two Janus words today: mad and mean

mad can bean both in love with/crazy about, and very angry at

mean can mean a lot of things, but as a Janus it is both average and superior 😉

Our Projects’ Story

Dad had two private spaces
the den and the garage
I wanted in, to watch
but wasn’t allowed
I thought he was mean
I was mad I was a girl

His spaces were messy
his messy, our kind of messy
everything had a plan, a purpose
yet to be accomplished
a spark of an idea
that would be

What if he was protecting me
he worried the moment that I might
see there was a flaw
an issue for him alone
or he listened to voices
on that raspy radio

that he didn’t want me to hear
having adult, contrary thoughts
I wasn’t ready for, or
it’s very possible,
that both of Dad’s places
were experiments

full of his projects
and work and ideas
were his systems of
controlled chaos
competing experiments
engineered to find order

A girl-child–
a precocious, curious, tomboy
with her own creative mess
would be an added variable
a deviation, produce an outlier
muddle any useful findings

irreplicable results
rendering any formulas useless
The math, but a recording
of a wish unfulfilled
or rather an algorithm
for lies forgotten



Heightened Senses

image of a white flower bursting from fuzzy buds.
by Maria L. Berg 2021

The prompt for NaPoWriMo is a form prompt called “The Shapes a Bright Container Can Contain.” We are to emulate a poems shape/line lengths and use the same first letter of each line.

Over at the A to Z challenge there is a dice game of challenges and rewards. I’m enjoying their theme this year. I rolled two sixes, so my challenge is to visit 6 new blogs, and my reward it to take a nap! Looking forward to that.

Today’s Janus word is downhill. When referring to difficulty, it means “progressively easier”; but when referring to status or condition, it means “progressively worse.”

The April Poem-a-Day prompt is to title the poem “First (blank).” So talking about firsts today.

The poem I chose for the prompt is “When Love” by Alicia Ostriker which was the poem-a-day in my email from poets.org. For my title, I used my new Personal Universal Deck.

The First Gardenia Reverberates

When a favorite smell surprises
it reverberates
a memory

that invites the other senses
conspiring elation
askew reality

the true perception
revised
lifted and bright

the trigger of an avalanche
surging, downhill tumble
gracious grey matter

When a beloved smell bushwhacks
it bushwhacks
time and space

Liminal Imagery

image from Liminal Spaces @SpaceLiminalBot

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to choose an image from @SpaceLiminalBot to inspire a poem.

PAD Challenge: Write an active poem

Self-fulfilling

All of the shelves are empty
the end is near

nothing left to read here
the end is near

the light blotches in the blue carpet
lead the eye to the liner left in the trash can

under those letters had there
been apocalyptic fiction

escapist fantasies of survival
in a world after cataclysmic catastrophes

or catastrophic cataclysms
the end is near

the pink and yellow sale signs
taped to the columns remain

forever a testament
to a once bustling environment

but there is no one left
the end has come

#NaPoWriMo Day 2: A Different Choice

White bell flowers in front of over-lapping bokey squares of a segment of traintracks. A few stick out with yellow backgrounds.
The Golden Trail – bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

The NaPoWriMo prompt this morning is to explore a road not taken. What would have happened if I made a different choice.

The PAD Challenge prompt is “What will the future hold?”

Over at A to Z they’re challenging writers to make bets with ourselves. I bet I can read and leave comments on five A to Z blogs today.

Today’s Janus word is buckle (1) To secure, tighten, hold (by fastening with a buckle); (2) to collapse after being acted upon by an external force, as in “to buckle under the strain.”

The Future Holds a Multitude of Choices

Choice swung a bat
at mailboxes
full of parasites
during the full worm moon
of Regret

While Regret visited
the ghost zoo
to stare through
the glass of
Free Will’s enclosure

While Free Will stalked the boundary,
Destiny twisted
in an office chair
at an enormous oak desk,
waiting for Will
to buckle

While Destiny swiveled,
Choice dropped the bat
and snatched a ruler
from Education
to measure
the distance
to Yes.

The NaPoWriMo prompt inspired me to grab my “tracks” bokeh filter that I created during OctPoWriMo last year and head outside. Since it is a cloudy morning, I took a selection of light strings and some extension cords along. Yesterday was the first time I strung my lights from the curtain rod to hang in front of the window and today is the first time I’ve taken them to shoot outside. I don’t know why it took me so long to try these things, but it looks like this NaPoWriMo is expanding my world of bokeh photography. Woohoo!

Yellow background bokeh train tracks and a few leaves in a an oblong globe of grey.
A Future Golden Trail – by Maria L. Berg 2021

I love how this path looks like it’s inside a crystal ball.

As I mentioned in another post from OctPoWriMo, Change of Perspectives, my camera has a cool built-in art feature that lets me filter for a primary color, leaving everything else grey scale. I mentioned playing with it yesterday, but it didn’t work with those pictures, so I gave it a try today and had some great results.

Black and white train track bokeh, a few with striking red backgrounds/
A Perilous Path – Maria L. Berg 2021

And this photograph made me think of the Lil Nas X vs. Nike controversy–Who the heck wants human blood in their shoes?

April First: And so it begins

The View Out My Window – bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

It’s the very first day of National Poetry Writing Month and the prompt is to “derange” myself, make the world strange and see it as a stranger.

This could tie in nicely with the April PAD Challenge prompt: write an introduction poem. As part of my poem, I could introduce a stranger: create a persona and see the world through his or her eyes.

Over on the A to Z Challenge blog they came up with a Scavenger Hunt for the month. What a fun idea. For the A to Z challenge my Janus word is adumbrate which can mean both to disclose and to obscure.

This prompt may call for some new bokeh filters.

Reflection from the Outside In – Maria L. Berg 2021

Breeding Fruit Flies with Two Different Eyes

An impression arrests the fruit flies in kitchen sinks full of ideas
frozen in mid-irritation, fleeting yet multiplying before your eyes
what indelible marks will topple to the tongue
and adumbrate the growing clutch

Contentment empties the glue of flavor and steals the scissors of artistry
the constant irritation and insatiable hunger
–of those fruit flies, feeding in the sinks–
sketch an impression of furious flight

Refreshment wriggles among the moles under the tent of solitude
having vacated the house with the ideas, but left the kitchen sink to the fruit flies
the dark, fresh-earth tunnels adumbrate new and curious spaces for contemplation
where crawling, not seeing, may nourish new understanding


An Explosion of Color – Maria L. Berg 2021

It’s open link night at dVerse Poets Pub, so head over to share and read some poetry.

The Cherry Blossoms Starting to Fall

A bee pollinates a light pink cherry-plum blossom against a blue sky
Pollination – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today is Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and I found the cherry blossoms prompt timely. I went out to admire the cherry-plum trees in bloom and noticed the grass is already littered with pink. I’m glad Frank inspired me to spend some time admiring the pink against the sky before it is gone.

Emerging

The first delicate, pink blossoms burst early this year, or was it me, still clinging to winter’s safe cave? Any excuse to stay hidden under the blankets ripped away by the brash budding cloud of cotton candy, contradicting the sky. But today, upon closer inspection, burgundy leaves already clash with the petals along the branch and the grass is littered with fallen flowers. The bee’s hum fills me with hope for future fruit. Last year I missed the juicy, pitted presents withheld, perhaps, due to a confusing late freeze. I am lucky to have poked my head out in time to witness this peek-a-boo of nature. Like an updraft billowing a circle-skirt, it surprises, shocks, and delights then is gone.

tiny pink blossom
tickling periwinkle skies
the flasher of spring

Fallen in the Grass – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS): Run Yonder

Young boy running on grass.
Go go go photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

Yesterday morning I happened upon Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt. This weekly writing prompt offers a word prompt and a word limit. This weekend it is “Yonder” and the word limit is 44 words which I found familiar as it is the same as the dVerse Quadrille. I thought I would give it a go and remembered that it was Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt was “run.” Those prompts could go well together, so I did some journaling.

I enjoyed the stream of consciousness writing and had some ideas for poetry but wasn’t ready to post yesterday. Today, I gave it another look and came up with a “yonder” poem of 44 words that I like.

Here is an excerpt of yesterday’s stream of consciousness:

. . . I used to love to run, through the woods around the lake, lil sjön in Sweden. Now, I run a few steps and I feel like I’ll die. So what “run” do I want to talk about? Colors run, mascara runs, people have the runs, a run in stockings, fingers run up and down scales, a keyboard, race to the finish, the rat race, sprint to the finish, flee from fear, run from a bad memory, from the past, run from the truth, run to love and hope, an embrace, someone’s arms, a familiar face, race to a banquet table, an all-you-can-eat buffet, “do you know where you’re running to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?” Run in place, on a treadmill, in a hamster wheel, run for the ball, run from the police, scatter, only have to run faster than the person behind you . . .

And here is the yonder quadrille poem I wrote this morning:

Ever Yonder

Beyond the hives filling with honey
and the rolling hills where we would roll too
through the soft, sweet grass that held us watching dawn
to the lapping waves against damp sand
we traveled so far to be here
where nothing became any clearer

The hummingbird is a close relative of the swift, but a swift can also be a lizard or a reel for winding thread.

Oh, the tiny things photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today at the dVerse Poetry Pub the Quadrille prompt is “swift.” Because I had been bird watching this morning, I thought I would give this 44 word poem a try. Then I started looking at swift’s definitions and synonyms (like I do) and found the noun definitions very interesting. The birds that are called swifts are closely related to hummingbirds and are also the cave bird in Asia that make the nests for nest soup.

A very vocal hummingbird started hanging out in my cherry-plum tree this winter. He’s always trying to show off by making a loud, sharp chirp. I don’t know how well he’s doing, but I’ve seen three hummingbirds looking at each other in my tree recently. I love that he perches at the tip of the very tallest branch, attempting some minuscule dominance.

Swiften

tiny
humming-
bird, a swift’s
closest relation, chased
from his perch in the cherry-plum’s
top branch by three sparrows wanting, but he’s not gone
a snappy chirp and he dive-bombs, headlong, a kamikaze at breakneck,
dispatches the intruders and poses, prominent against the clouded sky


Surprised he’s a redhead photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

Excavating the Mind Round 2: The poem, the sequential mass

Amazing headlines and a burlap sack

 
I read across the yellowing paper under the burlap sack “Attraction Dear Reader Israel-Syria River Fastest Gun JFK To Head”

across from these headlines the fuzzy blue face admires,
casually aware of thumb tacks
ironic placement comes to light,
reminding me of cyclical efforts to tirelessly beckon sleep
and the weight that killing germs has taken on, so quickly changing focus
of mortal fears and intentions

Is the sky half full or empty when the clouds part only on my right?
wet makes the world reflective
I missed the camellia’s dance on the wind that must have caressed it
with strong gusts to deposit it so far from its bush.
Here, alone in loveliness, swirls of gaudy pink and white,
showing off its golden sex, it punctuates the pavement
But I can imagine the rhythm which lingers
in the metronomic drips of the accumulated leftover rain
microscopic twirlers within the droplets, like the camellia
her shocking cotton-candy petals betray her; she wants to fit in.
The relationship falters when she blooms; her strength and beauty overwhelm.
In a world of gigantic rhododendrons, this flower became a tree.

squatting down to see his world
new perspective’s surprises unveil
a small bit of crumpled foil on the walk so out of place like drugged teens
the follower staggers, attempting to communicate released control
he leads to places I can’t follow
and only pops his head out when I’m too slow
A canyon created, mysterious geological event.
Moss and detritus of trees collect on and in his new surfaces.
from here I see rot and damage near the base
but sometimes rot fuels new life, hope to feed a future
new points of view open whole new worlds, untouchable mysteries
he rears up, pounces on the unseen, again and again

Accumulating colors into the big box of crayons with the sharpener,
crayons juxtaposed with Miracle Gro Shake and Feed tell the story
of my nephew’s attention,
the hand drawn labels, his symbols of language
renaming my vegetables to be
adding the stove to the picture induces my own childhood
melting crayons between waxed paper to grow layers of color
to scratch away rainbow scenes of Halloween witches and jack-o-lanterns
trick-or-treating through the black layer of night

Joyful memories collect in a glass jar of buttons,
my precious gift from my mother who knows me so well,
a history of someone else’s sewing life, leftover closures,
one or more than needed for a loved one’s shirt, dress or coat,
or that one article of clothing wanted but too dear to afford,
replicated by a skilled hand over weeks or months,
this jar of time and intimate design found its way to a sink
next to a vacuum for cleaning a computer that,
at this angle, looks like a robot’s foot also by a sink,
a sink that dripped so it is turned off,
a useless sink, except for its shadow, swan-like, gliding to the jar,
to inspect the colorful contents, to peck and pry the lid,
to crave one button so entirely that it must pluck it in its beak
and taste its story only to enjoy the taste
of that story’s longing so thoroughly that it glides
down its throat and sticks there, choking and gurgling

Music, the skeleton key to memory, to emotion, to the subconscious,
enhancing the flavors of attention and mood
This decorative, vintage key I wear around my neck, the one
that opened our practice room in the old hotel that burned
or the small, recognizable key I called “the key to my heart” with a sly smirk
Music tempers all these keys, opens their doors with new light
flooding each room, perching on different objects each time
a blue note, turned orange by the days, alights a prism of shadows
the crooner’s microphone croons alone, a symbol of passions
warm vibrations again to come
I bob and sway to children’s songs of other lands
in the same way I move to your jazz variations
with joy of place and sound, with wonder and understanding,
I have no choice but to dance in my seat,
putting weight in my pelvis and shoulders, knowing my gut and my breast

I want to play, I search for toys and find
tiny soldiers hiding among the stones of the hearth
I want adventure and wander among the cinders inside the fireplace
goslings arrive as if to accentuate my childishness, so fluffy
this time the geese, now parents, don’t linger for photographic evidence
from the best side

Music holds history like a jar of buttons. A sound, the design of an age,
revealing tools, technologies, politics and fads
all revealed in only the first few notes of a needle on vinyl,
reminding me of a very different world view.
My innocent, naive openness, my rosy oneness
fueled by false advertising and deceptive equivalencies.
Her voice influences the lighting. His piano changes how I see.
The saxophone transports me through time,
then when the needle stops, I stop. I can’t go on with this manipulation.
I need silence, to rest and reflect. To clean up my mess.
Two lifetimes later, I remember everything
was in gelatin and the water tasted like iron,
but I can’t forget the man begging me for my ticket to the buffet

fresh goslings

Happy Reading and Writing!

Excavating the Mind Round 2 Day 5: Observing with American Sentences

trees in the zoo

Trees in the Zoo

  • Neighborhood trees are in cages; I throw meat at them, but they don’t move.

I am working on a week long photography and poetry challenge inspired by a prompt from Poets & Writers called Excavating the Mind.

Today’s Enrichment and Time Engulfer

This morning, I was excited to see that one of my library digital holds came in, so today I get to explore Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within by Kim Addonizio.

Here she is talking about the book:

Her first prompt in the book is “american sentences,” Allen Ginsberg’s take on the haiku, a sentence of seventeen syllables. He introduced them in his book Cosmopolitan Greetings. If you would like more information, Paul E. Nelson provides a PDF called American Sentences Workshop. I thought it was fun that he talked about juxtaposition creating tension.

Chapter 17 is “three observations.” I skipped to that chapter to see how Ms. Addonizio approaches her observations and translates them into poetry. She says that when she’s trying to use up some time when waiting, she tells herself to look for three things that are “striking or unusual” and make a note of them.  I like the idea of combining these two exercises. I will attempt to find three striking and unusual things to observe and create american sentences to describe my observations.

Day 5 notes and observations

Poets are people who notice what they notice – Allen Ginsberg

With that in mind, Levi and I set out to notice three striking or unusual things. We stumbled upon the first unusual things right away. Levi pointed out a flower that had fallen, but I focused on a small piece of crumpled foil in a place it had no business. The mystery foil led me to some worrying thoughts and my first american sentences.

  • This foil whispers secrets of teens doing drugs in the night, left behind
  • A small bit of crumpled foil on the walk so out of place like drugged teens

For the next unusual thing, we looked slightly beyond our usual trek around the house and ventured past the end of the driveway. We found this oddly broken and separated rock.

  • This rock, solid and strong through aeons, not cracked, nor broken, but apart.
  • A canyon created, mysterious geological event.
  • Moss and detritus of trees collect on and in your new surfaces.

Our final striking thing was a shocking pink giant rhododendron mingling with the trees.

  • Her shocking cotton candy petals betray her; she wants to fit in.
  • The relationship falters when she blooms; her strength and beauty overwhelm.
  • In a world of gigantic rhododendrons, this flower became tree.

There you have it, the last day of the second round of pictures and observations. I’m glad I repeated the exercise for a second week, so many different and unique observations. Tomorrow the drafts and on Sunday a new poem.

Happy Reading and Writing!