Day Twenty-Eight: Exploring Xanadu

Xanadu by Maria L. Berg 2022


I had to stretch a little bit to find something that starts with X. Xanadu is a proper noun for a mythical place, but it can serve as a metaphor for opulence or an idyllic place, and that is how I intend it today for our abstraction. It is described as a “stately pleasure-dome” in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan.

Exploring the idea of Xanadu gave me an excuse to (re)watch the 1980 roller-skating musical fantasy starring Olivia Newton-John. It was Gene Kelly’s final film, and he was on roller-skates! When I searched to see if he was really skating in the film, I came across this gorgeous gem of cinema history:

and here’s Gene Kelly in Xanadu

Just watching those two clips, it’s easy to see that Xanadu can be any place when in the right state of mind. For today’s images, and just for fun, I cut a roller-skate filter and whooshed it through my world like a muse returning to her Xanadu in the clouds.

The Pleasures of Xanadu by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a concrete poem, a poem in which the words create a shape. My favorite concrete poem I’ve written is “Humans Need Stories” from 2017. And it goes well with the muses of Xanadu, so here it is:

Shape poem in the shape of a hand
Humans Need Stories by Maria L. Berg 2017

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a sight poem. This should go well with describing Xanadu.

dVerse Poets Pub

Over at dVerse Poets Pub they are celebrating the poems of Joy Harjo. Tonight is open link night at the pub, so head over and link up your best poem from this week.

Skating to Xanadu by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Finding Xanadu

Remembering Xanadu by Maria L. Berg 2022

Day Twenty-Seven: Words of the Wise

Wisdom by Maria L. Berg 2022


By definition, having wisdom is to possess a power, the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; also scholarly knowledge or learning. Many people relate wisdom to age, believing that it is accumulated over time, thus the symbol of the wise old owl. Some relate it to spiritual or ancient teachings that have stood the test of time. Some believe wisdom is found within through meditation or dreams, tapping into the collective unconscious of ancestral memory. “-wise” as a suffix denotes manner, position, direction, reference, etc. as in counterclockwise or edgewise. Wisdom may lie simply in knowing where you are, your position, your reference points, and the direction you are heading.

Happily, I have an owl filter already cut. For today’s images I will try to capture its accumulated wisdom by hunting for its reference points and direction.

Elusive Wisdom by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a duplex poem, a form created by Jericho Brown and my favorite poems in The Tradition. I wrote my first duplex and talked about the form last year in my post Playing in the Duplex.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a remix poem. This should be an interesting challenge, to remix one of this month’s poems into a duplex. For today’s remix, I decided to work with lines from day nine’s poem “Hope Breaks Eternal” and day sixteen’s poem “Needs For Sale.”

Wise by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Last Night’s Forgotten Bruise

Hope breaks through last night’s disappointments
Swirling the spiral when need’s a deep bruise pressed

Need is felt like a forgotten bruise pressed
When hunger turns to feed on its own tail

Turning to yearning when finding tales stale
Hope breaks the mold of expectation

Molded clay days of expectation have
A brittle grasp on reason’s crumbs to break

Reason’s crumbs scatter as the days break
and a vacancy needs filling, love’s ache

Hope sees a need-filled hollow, vacancy’s ache
And jumps, unstartled, unique and new

To flip perspective for the world anew
Hope breaks through last night’s disappointments

Day Twenty-Six: The Value of Love

Value by Maria L. Berg 2022


Value is a concept I find intriguing. Does anything have intrinsic value, or is it only through exchange that value comes into existence?

Value has so many definitions, many of which have to do with worth: “relative worth, merit, or importance: monetary or material worth: the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.” What is worth? Having a value of, or equal in value to. I’m starting to enjoy discovering circular definitions.

Value also has definitions specific to fine arts:

  1. degree of lightness or darkness in a color.
  2. the relation of light and shade in a painting, drawing, or the like.

So no matter what, I’ll be creating something with value. 😊

One person’s trash is another’s treasure, so the saying goes. I find it interesting how something can have no value one moment and be precious the next, so I re-visited a filter and some lights and reflectors that I thought had no value when I first tried them, and gave them a second look.

Intrinsic Value by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem that contains an epic simile.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is the final two for Tuesday of the challenge:

  1. Write a love poem, and/or…
  2. Write an anti-love poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s Poetics prompt fits perfectly with the idea I had for my poem this morning. In honor of Shakespeare’s baptism day, Ingrid challenges us to choose one of his plays from a list and:

Write a poem based on the theme of your chosen play (be sure to mention which play you have chosen at the end of your poem, or use the play’s title as your poem’s title) or

Use your chosen title somewhere within your poem (you can also use it as the title of the poem, if you wish).

Shared Values by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Wherefore Art Thou?

Assigning a value to love
is like asking the dryer
where the missing socks go

It won’t tell you that
one is trapped between
its back and the wall
or another has slid
underneath. It won’t
explain that one
unraveled and became
the thread stuck
by static cling
to a sheet, and
it definitely won’t
reveal that when
it’s loaded just right
and spins at a certain
velocity to vibrate at
a frequency just so
a portal opens to the
sock dimension, only
long enough for one
sock to get through

The dryer won’t spill
its secrets because
it enjoys an air
of mystery
and it can’t talk
but if it did
and all the missing
socks were found
it would only
cause heartache

because without their pairs
the lone socks removed
from the dryer lost
all value and
were tossed away
like Romeo and Juliet
the perceived loss
of the other
made existence

Day Twenty-Five: The Delightful Excitement of Uncertainty

Uncertainty by Maria L. Berg 2022


The fun of exploring abstract nouns is the area of uncertainty. They are not “ascertainable or fixed, as in time of occurrence, number, dimensions, or quality; not clearly or precisely determined.” They are “vague; indistinct; not perfectly apprehended: subject to change; variable; capricious; unstable: ambiguous; unreliable; undependable (definition of uncertain from”

Uncertainty can be exciting, it adds mystery, raises questions, leaves blanks to be filled. It inspires exploration, and promises adventure to the optimist. But uncertainty is also the breeder of fears. Absolutely everything is an uncertainty except taxes and death, as the saying goes, so how can I approach that visually?

I recently ordered four strands of clear lights. I was thinking of creating a grid on the porch and laying under it, but today it’s raining, so I think I’ll try surrounding myself with lights like a waterfall and see what happens. The effect is uncertain. How exciting.

Growing Uncertainty by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt, based on the “aisling” form, Irish for dream, is to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area where you live.

I created a character called the Lake Spirit years ago to explain why so many young, athletic men die in the lake every summer (it seems like every summer, but I don’t have data on that). Her origin story, “Deadly Again This Summer,” was published in America’s Emerging Fantasy Writers: Pacific Region in 2019. Her name is Ondinara, and she will be appearing in today’s dream poem.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a response poem. I think Ondinara might come in a dream in response to the events in my poem, “Suspending Belief,” from Day Fourteen.

Uncertain by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

A Desperate Hunger to Consume

With the feel of damp
carpet at my bedside
and a distant smell of fish
her haunting words return
“Help me. I’m so hungry.”
Coming back so vividly

Cold spots on my skin
as she dripped, dripped
hovering over me, so
close to my face
sharp teeth like
a tiger muskie
huge dark eyes
like a perch and
the mouth of a bass
and yet the sweet
visage of a girl
still echoed within

She said she had held me
and shown me the way
when I Iost my will to
surface and my lungs
began to beg

She said she felt my longing
to become one with the lake
and in that moment felt a kinship
and reflected on her fate

So she came to me in dreaming
so I might hear her water words
and understand her nature
before the hunger overwhelms
and she must consume

Day Twenty-Four: Sheer Villainy

This is the last Sunday of the of the month, and there is no A to Z on Sundays, so today’s photo-challenge is a little different. I’ll be using the photos I took this week to create visual poems guided by a homograph.

A Sheer Lack of Respect by Maria L. Berg 2022


Sheer has so many interesting meanings:

adjective – perpendicular; very steep; a sheer cliff

(of textiles) so fine as to be transparent

(prenominal: before a noun) absolute; unmitigated; sheer folly

noun – any transparent fabric used for making garments

verb – to deviate or cause to deviate from a course

(intransitive) to avoid an unpleasant person, thing, topic, etc (swerve)

When I chose this homograph, I was thinking of “shears,” as in scissors, and to shear as in cutting or trimming like shearing sheep which is a homophone to this homograph (oops). However, I’m glad for my mistake. I like the visual possibilities of “perpendicular” and sheer fabrics.

Sheer Wilderness by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem with vivid similes.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a superhero or supervillain poem.

Sheer by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Your Favorite Supervillain

Every word he says
is a lie designed
to manipulate
through fear

He dresses to intimidate
like an electric-blue
frog, standing out
in contrast to the
forest, announcing
its poison

He wails demands
and commands like
a siren calling those
lost in the fog
to crash upon
the rocks

He directs attention
to his misdemeanors
while committing atrocities
where no one’s looking
like a magician whose
vanishing cabinet doubles
as an iron maiden

He twists and turns
a truth to a question garbled
never finishing, so blanks
are forced to be filled
like the tendency of
a fluid in exosmosis
substance flows lower and lower
and lower

He sticks his long fingers
into dark, damp holes
pushing and prodding
until the vile emerge
to do his bidding
echoing lies designed
to manipulate
through fear

Day Twenty-Three: Everybody Needs a Thrill

Thrill by Maria L. Berg 2022


The abstract noun “thrill” makes me think of the Prince song “Pop Life.” The chorus is:

Pop life
Everybody needs a thrill
Pop life
We’ve all got a space to fill
Pop Life
Everybody can’t be on top
Life it ain’t real funky
unless it’s got that pop!

So what makes life pop? What does a thrill look like? I think of roller-coasters and fireworks, but I get as much of a thrill from making a new shape and taking photos in the mirrorworld. For today’s images I tried taking pictures of flowers using the “pop” effect in my camera. The effect is supposed to create a vivid look by emphasizing color tones, but all I noticed was brighter reds and pinks which did not thrill me. So I added the center circle to yesterday’s shape and headed for the mirrorworld.

Thrill Ride by Maria L. Berg

The Poetry Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem in the style of Kay Ryan. I’ve actually done this before because I liked her poems so much. Here’s one I did last year:

Rearrangement II
~after Kay Ryan

As crafty as
a grifter who
knows where
you got your shoes
is the slight of hand
of rearrangement

In the wee hours
among the lip-loosened
marks, he plies his
trade unnoticed

until the tourists
are sorted from
the locals

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a conspiracy poem. I like how Kay Ryan’s poem Blue China Doorknob fits with this prompt.

The Poem

Thriller Night
~after Kay Ryan

Monsters may be
dreaming us. We
the detritus of
a long day’s worries
sloughed off
in REM sleep. We
may be the the nightmares
of Nessie snoozing
deep in the Loch
watching us acting out
her surreal conflicts
and fears. And if
we’re the Boogie Man’s
daydreams, or the
chaser to an ogre’s
free fall–before
shuddering awake in
his cave in a cold
sweat or a deep
sorrow of regret–
do the monster’s
ever linger at
the edge of sleep
to stay with us,
try to get us back,
catch a glimpse
before we fade

Day Twenty-Two: The Secret of My Success

Success by Maria L. Berg 2022


If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

I thought this morning’s images would be easy. I received some new lights I ordered yesterday, so I figured anything that came from playing with them would be a success. Like any experiment, the results, whether proving the hypothesis or not, are a success because they lead to the next hypothesis.

This morning, however, was not a success. The lights were garbage (three bulbs dead and hot the instant plugged in, even smelled hot=fire hazard) and the only thing I achieved was to get a return code. So what does success look like after disappointment and frustration? I could take a nice picture of the cat or a flower and call it a day, but I would not see that as a success.

Is success the color of money, of gold and jewels? Is it seeing a goal to completion, an accomplishment? What does that look like visually? Perhaps a loop, or a bullseye. I have an idea.

Today’s successful images were all about perseverance.

Finding Success by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Yay, a repetition prompt! Today’s prompt is to write a poem that repeats “a sound, a word, a phrase, or an image, or any combination of things.”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is an Earth Day prompt to write an organism poem. Happy Earth Day!

My Idea of Success by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Our Living Organism

in relation

gentle pets produce purrs

relative to being

I place my head on his furry brow

being composed of the parts

below his ears, above his whiskers

the individual moving

I breathe with him, in sync with him

parts of the whole organic system

and listen, absorbing the vibrations

structured, living entity, complex thing

and feel calm; but don’t trust it

a networked system, organic whole

watch for the flick of the tail

parts of the moving organized

signalling the coming pain

individual being

of grasping claws

complex living creature

and piercing teeth

networked entity

his wild


Day Twenty-One: With Respect to Respect in Some Respect

Respect by Maria L. Berg 2022


When thinking about “respect,” I was so focused on an attitude of deference, admiration, or esteem; regard, that I was surprised to read its definition as:

A particular, detail, or point (usually preceded by in): to differ in some respect. To me, this definition connects respect to quality.

Relation or reference: inquiries with respect to a route. Of course I use the phrase “with respect to,” but I guess I forgot about it with my thoughts going to “respect your elders” and “respect the power of nature” relating respect more to awe and deference.

I’ve been wanting to play with my spirals on the lake, but living in a place that is rainy and overcast, I’ve had to be patient. As such, I respect any moment of sunlight. Thus, these images
captured when the sun broke through this morning, represent respect in that respect.

In That Respect by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is a combination of things: “Write a poem in which you first recall someone you used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job you used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that you saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, close the poem with an unanswerable question.”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a sound poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

Today Björn challenges us to write our poem as a riddle. I didn’t think I would try it, but my poem turned out to fit the prompt, in some respects 😊

Some Respect by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Following a Sound through a Dark Wood

A kind word or harsh
A belly of jelly laughter
quick to grab the wooden
paddle hanging at
the front of the class
the cry, the smack
the very first year
of lessons in respect
A command or request
clicks and clacks
of keyboards
all the keyboards
lined up with barely
elbow room to spare
as we stare not hearing
the scratching pencils
the grinding teeth
the turning stomachs
but assign them numbers
we don’t hear the moans
of despair, or cheers
of passing success
The clap of a slap
The coo of canoodle
faceless strangers
click and clack all day
we spray judgement
from a distance
like the splat and splash
drip of Pollock’s
paint, we are but numbers
but not number one,
not even number five,
not even whole numbers
like number 17A
those subtle stripes
like fingers plucking
at destiny’s strings
What does respect sound like?

Day Twenty: Searching for Quality

Quality by Maria L. Berg 2022


What essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute belonging to or What will make today’s images high grade; superior; and excellent? What qualities in my images will produce or provide merit: a claim to respect and praise; a claim of worth?

And here’s another circular definition: What is quality? As an adjective it means producing or providing products or services of high merit. What is merit? a commendable quality.

What qualities define a quality image? Is it mathematical; a version of the golden mean? Is it structural, following the law of thirds? Is it an emotional response, , something that makes us feel? Or is it simply a realistic, detailed capture of subject matter we relate to, something we want to see? As with all of the abstract nouns I’m exploring, the answers may be different for each person. It could be any of the qualities above or combinations of them and may change with our moods.

In photography, the qualities I admire are: light/shadow; sharpness/blur; color/contrast; composition/balance; texture; and depth. I had hoped for some sunshine to try my spirals on the lake, but the weather is not cooperating, so I think I’ll explore quality through the built in effects in my camera.

One quality I changed this morning was cleaning the dust off the mirrors. Odd how dust can accumulate even when you use something every day. Qualities I can play with to change the quality of my images are: White Balance, ISO (light sensitivity), flash and exposure, Creative Style (I can adjust contrast, saturation, and sharpness), and Paint Effects ( I’ve shown the posterization, and single color effects before, but I’ve never tried them in the mirrorworld.

A Rosy Quality by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem that anthropomorphizes a food.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is a word prompt. The challenge is to use at least three of these words:

  1. Content
  2. Double
  3. Guide
  4. Meet
  5. Pump
  6. Suit
So Many Positive Qualities by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

She Brings Out My Best Qualities

Most people say
they don’t like me
I’m not much in
my birthday suit
dirty and earthy
veined and tough
They don’t see me
like she does

She chooses me
cleanses me
dresses me
dries me
and I change
for her I am the best
that I can be
I become the life
of every party

When we meet
they can’t go wrong
can’t answer questions or
fumble through small talk
with a full mouth
they can’t tell lies
white or otherwise
while chewing

She knows my contents
by heart and shares
them every time
like a guide
through Flavor Town
to my garden
I am enough
but sadly not more
for she never gets
to take me home

Day Nineteen: Trying to be Patient

A small foil covered bunny surrounded by colored lights.
Patience by Maria L. Berg 2022


The bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like; an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

Patience and perseverance are important when working on large projects and when trying something new, but also during daily interactions, and growth and self-discovery.

To explore patience visually, I used a tripod and slow shutter speeds, exploring light and shape over time. Talk about needing patience; nothing wanted to cooperate today.

Patiently Awaiting Spring by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem that begins with a command.

Poem A Day

Today’s Two-for-Tuesday prompts:

  1. Write a What’s There poem, and/or…
  2. Write a What’s Not There poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s Poetics prompt Merril provided a list of Country Garden Roses and challenged us to choose one or more to use in the poem or for the title.

A glass ball surrounded by colored lights.
Trying to be Patient by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Twice in a Blue Moon

Be patient
each second screams
into the hours
as Monday becomes
Sunday raindrops
filling rivers flowing
eroding earth
into canyons

Be patient
each breath whispers
lungs swelling with oxygen
feeding the blood
aging each cell
rusting old swing-sets
and winter-salted
vehicles, crumbling
what was once
holding strong

Be patient
each heart beat signals
skipping into its pulse
fluttering, flushing
deep breaths don’t
stop the pounding
pounding on the door
to the unknown
it will come
and you will
face it whole-