Pathways: a video, music, and poetry project

Update 9/2/2021: After enjoying all the oral poetry for the Poetics prompt this week, I thought the poets of dVerse Poets Pub might enjoy this for Open Link Night. I hope you will check out today’s special guest post from Jacob M. Appel on revision as well.

Here it is! My response to wRightingMyLife‘s Changing Focus monthly blogging challenge. The theme was Pathways.

I’ve wanted to try something that combines music, photography, and writing for a while, so this was a great inspiration to give it a try. This first effort was a bit rushed ( I happened upon the challenge halfway through the month), but I had a lot of fun with it and learned a lot.

While putting together the video, I learned how to do some animations with my photographs (haven’t figured out how to use them with my video editing software yet), and learned some techniques for combining motion and still photography.

Recording myself reading my poems was great practice. While practicing, some revisions and edits became obvious.

Writing music to go with the visuals and poetry was very challenging. Many of my ideas just wouldn’t work. I went through days of discarding recordings, but finally came up with the feel of pathways I was going for.

September’s theme is Reflections. I have a lot of reflection to do about my Pathways project. 😉

Nemesia: looks like a baby snapdragon to me

Flower-a-day #9

Pensitivity 101’s Three Things Challenge inspired me this morning. The three things to include in my post were: CREASE, BLEND, FRONT. I recently started doing daily inkblots again. Writing about faces in the clouds in my Nephelococcygia post the other day got me thinking about drawing faces over inkblots. However, I like the inkblots just how they are, so I couldn’t bring myself to draw on them.

This morning after I creased the page in my sketchbook, and was rubbing the paper to blend the water colors, I imagined creating bokeh pathways over the inkblots as symbols of mental pathways: paths of thought, neural pathways, etc. So I strung lights in front of the pages and had some fun results.

Ode to a red rose #SoCS

The Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is “Ode.” Last week I was inspired to start my daily flower drawing practice and it made me draw every day which is amazing to me, and I love the black and whites photographs that I never would have thought to try before seeing zombie flamingos’ post last Saturday. So in a way this whole last week of posts has been an ode to Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

Ode to a lone red rose
standing bold against the gray sky
its petals say see me

Maria L. Berg

I also started the Pathways project from wRightingMyLife last week and I have found that very inspiring. I created a new barefoot bokeh filter and tried it out this morning:

So Many Questions

The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write a poem that poses a series of questions. The PAD prompt is to write a remix poem. These should work well together. It’ll be interesting to look back through this month’s poems and see which questions spring to mind.

My Janus for the A to Z challenge is the letter X which can mark a spot, or delete it.

Heightened Senses

What sense would I heighten if I could?
Which sense is the villain of my story?

Which smells trigger my memories?
Are they pleasant smells or foul odors?

What color tints my vision?
What do I see in the clouds?

What is this ringing in my ears?
What voice do I hear in the dark?

Which word tastes best in my mouth?
What flavor was the glue?

What texture represents me?
Why do I step on broken glass?

How far do I want to see clearly?
Which frequencies would I choose to hear?

What are the tastes I would enhance?
Could there be a dial for only pleasant smells?

If I sign by the X and everything would be as soft as Levi,
would I heighten a sense if I could?

To Believe or Not Believe in Obscure Sorrows

A cluster of tiny blue wildflowers
The Weeds I Won’t Mow – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to find inspiration in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows . Both “sonder” and “occhiolism” made me think of the same thing, so I guess that’s the inspiration.

The Poem-a-Day two for Tuesday is:

  1. Write a believe poem and/or…
  2. Write a don’t believe poem.

At the A to Z Challenge they are turning their thoughts to what’s next. At the end of the challenge in May, I’ll be back to my revision focus. What is your revision plan? What is your revision process?

The Janus phrase for today is wind up meaning (1) To start; (2) to finish.

The poetics prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub today is about poetry as a bridge and includes the puente form. Here’s hoping it will help me bridge all my ideas.

A close-up of purple heather flowers
To Know Every Heather Flower – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Overwhelming Possibilities

Each time I try to imagine the life of every human
I wind up faced with the limitations of my perception
I thought I might start with those in the houses
I see, try to have empathy for their children and spouses
a plot at a time, from the blue rambler to the three-story brown
but that’s already too much, overwhelmed I shut down

~because I don’t believe it’s possible~

to know every tiny blue flower along the drive
or each of the purple heather visited by bees
it would take all my time to give each a name
recognize each quality that is not the same
and that’s but the surface, as precious and delicate as we are
we may as well be numerous as the heavenly stars

It’s Not Easy to Eagle a Mergansered Verb to a Terrible Appointment

An eagle near the top of a fir tree surrounded by cones.
Big Screamy atop the fir tree – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a response poem to another poem.

The PAD challenge is to write an appointments poem.

My Janus word for the A to Z Challenge is terrible which can mean formidable, or lousy.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt inspired me to head over to ModPo on coursera to listen to and read some of the poems discussed there. In the resources section, I took a look at ModPo Plus (part 1) and found “Popcorn-can cover” by Lorine Niedecker.

Popcorn-can Cover by Lorine Niedecker.

In this succinct poem, Niedecker uses “mouse” as a verb which reminded me of Alana’s great rant poem the other day “Just saying” on Poem Dive.

I really love how Niedecker created this connection for me: an image of the cold, scritching and scratching a hole in the wall to squeeze its whiskered nose and furry body through. So for my response, I want to try a few of these to see if I can create some great imagery by turning a noun into a verb. Plus it will have to be a terrible verb that has an appointment. 😉

  1. Inflatable sea-turtle raft
    launched from the terrible,
    slippery ramp
    so she can
    merganser all day

  1. Glittered Seahawks flip-flops
    slipped under my soles
    to cover my delicate skin
    so those sneaky shards of glass
    from last winter’s storm
    can’t tiger-muskie in

  1. This shock gasp
    squished into a swimsuit
    has an appointment
    with the chilly water
    so the dread
    can’t eagle down


A Feather in His Cap

A blue bokeh shape feather on a hat next to a headpiece.
A Feather in His Cap – bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today NaPoWriMo,s challenge is a metonymy prompt: “write a poem that invokes a specific object as a symbol of a particular time, era, or place.”

The Poem-a-Day prompt is to write a nature poem.

Today’s Janus word for the A to Z Challenge is screen which can mean to conceal with or as if with a screen; or “to display prominently” as in screening a film.

A Feather in His Cap

There was a time
not so long ago
when a man would not leave home
without his hat

the rounded dome
with a short curved brim
made famous by a tramp
of a comedian on the silver screen

but is that a bird feather
in the band of that bowler
tucked with pride, showing
off kills or vanity?

as he fashions that fedora
that flash of color never seen
in black and white on the small
screen while detecting

but that ptarmigan
is thrilling as
he tips his trilby
and has her all aflutter

the ostrich dances
as he bows low
and swirls his cap
with foppish aplomb

as history and etiquette
melt away or we forget
caught up in the
spectacle of millinery

Get into the Junk Drawer Song

Bokeh notes over some stain cleaning pads in the junk drawer.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt called “Junk Drawer Song” is an interesting juxtaposition of thoughts on a song and the stuff in the junk drawer.

The April PAD Challenge is a “Get (blank)” title poem.

Over at the A to Z Challenge they linked to a bunch of random generators in hopes to inspire. My Janus word for today is incorporate (adjective) 1) having a body, having been incorporated; 2) having no body; incorporeal

Get Out of that Confined Mind

The drawer forms the junk incorporate
like that yellow-shagged square
that contained my pre-teen change-up
a lone D battery as solo as a wall-flower
hoping to show her power some day
under that battery, a collection of inkblots
half-hiding the instruction manual
for the Air Hawk Pro as if they
are the gateway to the subconscious–

where hips, hips and boobs
I don’t yet have, shaved armpits,
a whisper of stubble
she’s on the empty dance floor
the club on the first, small, odd
cruise ship, a trip flush
with firsts. She had it,
the seductive movement I didn’t
the easy knowledge of her body,
knowing everyone was watching
her and breathing it in
through her arms and hands
lifted above her head, lifted
toward the short ceiling

–I’ve been wondering where to look
for that manual because I need to check
my tire pressure, there’s an unopened
box of two, unused, multi-eraser
cleaning pads, I leave it there, unused
as if still choosing to keep the stains
like all the sit-ups in front of the antique
mirror behind the closed bedroom door
or the lit floor tiles on the busy dance floor
when I became incorporate and understood
the unhidden meaning my mother feared–

my breath so close, the rhythmic touching
not exactly accidental, though still innocent
One and two, three, four and
two three pause clap clap clap

–so much shoved in this drawer:
two long screws, one short, and a dime
all those unused padded envelopes
meant to hold CDs, my CDs
and the blue, plastic, kidney-shaped
Mayor for my pocket, a yelling voice
of Katrina survival whose batteries
have not yet gone dead
That man needs to yell “I am pissed.”
And I, obviously, don’t hear it
enough, or it creates
its own power

I love that I push those buttons now
and he yells out to the future me
in another state, because contained
doesn’t work for a dancer
who needs to prove her groove

What the Inanimate Need to Do

The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write an unusual character’s to-do list.

The PAD challenge is to write a persona poem for an inanimate object.

Over at A to Z the word is “hustle.” I’m feeling that. My Janus phrase for today is hold up which can mean to support or aid, or to hinder or impede.

Such a busy day

I’ll need to make a list
a to-do list
to keep everything straight
to keep me on track
I need to be sturdy
never wobble
stay grounded
to hold her dishes
while she stares out the window
at the mountain and waves
to hold up her elbows as she
holds her head
I need to be vast
never completely covered
to have space for her projects
her work, and her whims
constantly rotating
around my head
one side of the runner
to the other
I need to avoid banging
into her knees or feet
as she tends to bounce
and bruise easily
and I don’t feel a thing
I need to avoid spills
as today is too busy
for mopping up
or changing my cloth
but the most important thing
I need to do today
is be supportive
she needs me to
be here for her
standing straight
in quiet patience
and not hold her up
in any way
because today
is a very busy day

Squares in Motion

bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

Today’s Poetics challenge at the dVerse Poets Pub is to write an ekphrastic poem. I chose Laura’s third option and began my poem based on the title of an image by an artist I wasn’t familiar with, Bridget Riley, before I looked at the piece. Then I looked at the piece and finished the poem.

Movement in Squares

quick turns, sharp angles
only to find the point of origin

always on the straight and narrow
never to meander with wanderlust

blocks, chunks, cubes
toppling, clunking, thudding

lacking grace or fluidity
except to twirl on that point when found

But isn’t everything on this screen
movement in squares?

tiny bits in a group costume
masquerading as sine waves

films, TV shows, new clips and ads
tons of tiny colored squares

of information overload
bombarding, teetering, tumbling


It is but a trick of the eyes
a play on perception

glaring bright in black and white
the chessboards never meet but fall

and fall to depths unknown
reminiscent of Alice in a rabbit hole