Day Twenty-Nine: The Birth of Yearning

Yearning by Maria L. Berg 2022


Yearning is a deep longing: a strong, persistent craving or desire accompanied by tenderness or sadness for something unattainable or distant. Thinking about how to represent yearning, I thought about how the other abstract nouns I’ve explored this month are entangled with yearning: Ambition, Goals, Ideas, Needs and Hopes can induce yearning; people yearn for Beauty, a certain Quality of life, Respect, Success, to have Value, Wisdom, a Xanadu, and of course Thrills. It takes Patience to live with and through our yearning.

I looked back over all these different aspects of yearning that I’ve represented through abstracts, and listed the filters and techniques I’ve tried. I took in what a big month of discovery it has been for me, and yet, I yearn for more.

Today, I wanted to create even more depth than the mirrorworld provides, so I opened the curtains across the room, strung lights over the glass door and tried taking pictures from outside into the mirrorworld–didn’t work. However, the trees reflected in the mirrorworld looked interesting, so I focused on that. I also thought black and white represented yearning better than all the neons of yesterday.

Yearning II by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth, both positive and negative.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a poem with The Last (Blank) as the title.

Yearning Hearts by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

The Last Gift

I was born
at the magic hour
of midnight on
the day Picasso died.

I remember
feeling elated when
reading the date
in beautiful Barcelona
at the museum
and I thought,
that explains a lot.

Could it be his energy
newly sent to roam
came right back
home unknown
to a screaming baby,

Lurking in wait
silently guiding my
choices and my hands
toward abstract thought
and art and places hard
to understand, exploding
color and shape and line
to find a truth behind
the surface?

It would explain
the internal dual
of masculine and feminine
of flamboyant performer
who hides in her room
of wild rogue who
follows the rules
of artist-scientist
practical poet
yearning to fit in

Labeled creative as long
as I’ve lived, but also
weird and strange and
bullied by my peers
for being different. Is
he to blame, dead
pompous artist who
paid his checks
with a scribble
and his name?

I wouldn’t mind
having that gift
if he’s in here
and he’s to blame.

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-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 Eighteen: Everybody Has One

Opinion by Maria L. Berg 2022


“I’m going to become wild, and eccentric, and full of opinion.” ~Amanda Kendall (Grantchester Episode Six)

An opinion is a view or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty; not necessarily based on fact or knowledge; a personal view, attitude, or appraisal. Opinions are made of so many connections: perceptions, histories, judgements, situations, moods, first impressions, instincts. How do I put all of that into an image? What does the point of connection that forms an opinion look like?

I know I want to play with my spiral filter again. I find the way the spirals overlap exciting, and that may be the best way I can capture opinion. I’ll try it in the light today instead of the dark.

Forming an Opinion by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write five answers to the same question without ever identifying the question.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a poem with We (Blank) as the title.

Full of Opinion by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

We All Have Opinions

I. On a cold day in hell
when pigs fly over the
frozen lava and the fish
and cats and dogs
falling from the clouds
all say your name

II. Will you be there?
Will you hold my hand?
Stare into my eyes
and smile a pleasant
distraction while
we fall

III. Of course, in a snap
as quick as lightning
in a heartbeat
no arm-twisting
necessary I’m
already there

IV. That’s a crazy idea
why would anyone
want to throw
precious life away
for fleeting thrills
of adrenaline’s rush

V. I guess I’m game
explain it again
I want to understand
every detail
preparations is key
for me to be in control

Day Sixteen: Touching Need

Need by Maria L. Berg 2022


When thinking about need, the easiest to define are physical needs: hunger, thirst, sleep, shelter, etc. American psychologist Abraham Maslow presented the theory that human actions are motivated by certain physiological needs in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Maslow presented a hierarchy of needs and postulated that when a lower level of need is filled, attention is focused on the next level.

Plateresca / Getty Images from

Need and want are easily confused. Even with our most basic needs, we eat when not hungry because of a craving, or drink when not thirsty for energy or to stay alert. Need is an ache. Need tugs and gnaws. Need can cause people to act in unpredictable and irregular ways.

When I think of need visually, I think of a spiral, the way a person can spiral when needs aren’t met. I tried both a spiral-cut filter, and a wire spiral in a square filter, for the idea of three square meals, and getting square. Though I like the symbolism of the spiral in the square, I am in LOVE with my new spiral filter.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS)

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness is “nose/noes/knows .”

Here’s an excerpt from my journal this morning:

“When I need to sneeze, when I feel that tickle coming, I touch the tip of my nose with the pad of my right index finger and it usually stops. The sneeze just dissipates, disappears, goes back to wherever those violent, explosive, breath-stealers originate. How do I know to touch my nose just so? When did I learn to say no to my nose when it wants to explode? I don’t know. Perhaps it was ancient knowledge asleep in my cells that awoke one day when I wanted to stay quiet at a lecture or in a concert hall, and felt threatened by an approaching sneeze, or perhaps I was holding someone’s hand and liked the texture and pressure of touch and didn’t want to jerk my hand away to cover flying spit, didn’t want to wipe snot on my sleeve, so I tried to wiggle my nose like in Bewitched but didn’t have control over the small muscles in my face so I used the index finger of my free hand to manually move my nose to make magic with but a touch.”

— Maria L. Berg

Needs Triumvirate by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poetry Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a curtal sonnet.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a touch poem.

Spiraling by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Needs for Sale

A vacancy needs filling, this ache
tugs with gravitation, black-hole torn
the roof away gives to stinging hail
a brittle grasp on reason’s crumbs to break
the barren seed now sprouts with thorns
and vines woven into storm-drawn sail
the spiral swirls when need’s a deep bruise pressed
hunger turns to feed on its own tail
but finds a nub, the point through worry worn
on a bed of nails, sheets held with claws caress
when need’s for sale

Day Fifteen: Motivated to Patiently Explore Motivation

Motivation by Maria L. Berg 2022


Today we had a very special guest post by Jacob M. Appel about prioritizing writing. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend reading it for a dose of writing motivation.

It is human nature to be drawn to pleasure and avoid pain. All motivations can be put into these two categories, but some find pleasure in pain, and some are repulsed by pleasures. Motives for people’s actions are endlessly entertaining as is evident from the number of mysteries and thrillers available to stream. With every violent act, the most interesting question is why, what was the motivation?

What motivates you? What provides a cause or reason to act? It’s different for everyone, so what does motivation look like? It pulls and pushes; like a force, it changes one’s direction.

For today’s images, I searched for a symbol that represents both pleasure and pain. I decided fire was the perfect fit. Fire is beautiful, exciting and draws you toward it for warmth, but it burns and can cause great pain. I added orange and blue strings of lights in the mirrorworld, used my fire symbol filter, and put it in motion.

All Fired Up by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem about something you have absolutely no interest in.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a patience poem.

Motivated by Love by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

No Patience for the Idolotry of Reality’s Celebrity

Living vicariously through imagery
false luxury, fake enmity, wasted
hours watching, watching, staring
not caring, not having to care
and yet wrapped up in voyaristic
connection, anticipation of one
more juicy bit of depravity
From where the motivation
to trade away one’s moments
in passive consumption
of the glitter and glamor
of the basest, lowest
crudest ridiculist
at the table
the loosest lips
sinking the most
shock-ships, launching
the most depth-charges
to lower the lowest bar
confusing the line between
fiction and delusion
even further

Day Thirteen: The Amazing Joy of Kindness

Kindness by Maria L. Berg 2022


Kindness is another of those abstract nouns with a circular definition. It means to act with benevolence. What does benevolence mean? An act of kindness. It also means a desire to do good to others, but good is a whole bunch of vague and abstract.

This morning I read that yesterday, April 12th, was declared “One Kind Act a Day” Day in Utah. Complicated in itself, right? If the goal is to do one kind thing every day, how can you have one day for it, but that’s a question for the governor of Utah. The examples given as kind acts were: to pay for the dinner of the people at the table next to you in a restaurant, or to buy the coffee of the person behind you in line, but is that actually kindness? Those people are already at a restaurant, or in a coffee shop, so they have the means and intention to pay their own way. By paying for them, you haven’t found a need and fulfilled it. You haven’t done something that lessened their burden (much).

When I think of kindness, I think of taking the time to observe, pay attention, and listen, truly listen to what someone needs, then give what you can to ameliorate that need if within your means and ability. Listening in itself may be the biggest kindness.

With that in mind, I continued the approach I started yesterday, putting light in the mirrorworld. I added three more lights: two overhead clip lights, and a multi LED hanging light.

A Kind Word by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem that joyfully states “Everything is going to be amazing.”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is a title made from How to (blank).

Paying Attention by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

How to Show Kindness

When intending to act with kindness
the ego may get in the way
slay the impulse to project
your moving picture is singular
only a ghostly image
when applied to others
patient observation is going to be stupendous

When one kind act is needed a day
shatter every stifling fear
kindness takes courage
like the fragile mouse
grab the thorn and tug
yank it from the giant paw
expecting the lion’s roar
sympathy is going to be astonishing

a kind word soothes
the savage beast
and tastes sweeter
than a barbed tongue

When kindness is key
tear through apathy to care
lend a keen ear
with an open heart
aware like soft slant light
revealing specks of dust
as floating glitter
tenderness is going to be extraordinary