Written in the Stars

Starlight by Maria L. Berg 2023

Today’s prompt for Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub is “star.”

I’ve been playing around with creating found poetry from The Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper (1653), one of the texts suggested for submissions to the next issue of Heron Tree.

Culpeper believed that the medicinal properties of herbs were connected to stars and planets, writing, “I knew those various affections in man, in respect of sickness and health, were caused naturally (though God may have other ends best known to himself) by the various operations of the Microcosm; and I could not be ignorant, that as the cause is, so must the cure be; and therefore he that would know the reason of the operation of the Herbs, must look up as high as the Stars, astrologically.”

The book is a really fun read, and the man was very poetic in his description of herbs and remedies, so I’m enjoying using the text for found poetry. I am also continuing my study of drumbeats in relation to poetry and this week I’m looking at 1, 2 &, 3, 4 &  and 1 &, 2, 3 &, 4. For fun, I decided to combine the two and attempt to tame some of Culpeper’s words into my drumbeats for today’s quadrille.

Let Her Be With a Fixed Star

Upper crust of the earth, shooting forth like a star,
the planet that governs, the stronger the better,
written fixed before the nature of planets, take notice
those houses, they delight star fashion, smell somewhat sweet
up as high as the Star under them.

Memento Poetry Form

Color Explosion by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is a new to me poetry form called “Memento.” The Memento form “created by Emily Romano is a poem about a holiday or an anniversary, consisting of two stanzas as follows: the syllable count should be 8 beats for line one; 6 beats for line two; and two beats for line three. This is repeated twice for each stanza. The rhyme scheme is: a/b/c/a/b/c for each of the two stanzas.” Here’s my attempt at my first Memento:

sky lighting

we gather, heads tilted, eyes wide
as pyros, born of flame
alight
each explosion elicits cries
of fright then quickly came
delight

brilliant color blossoms fall wide
Boom! rockets rise again
free flight
when lights sparkle in hopeful eyes
we bathe in warm ash rain                                                                  
tonight

                                                             

Light Explosion by Maria L. Berg 2023

Juxtaposing Last Year’s Lines

The Good in the Bad and the Bad in the Good by Maria L. Berg 2023

After We Said Goodnight

We have said goodnight but
buckle up and hold on as hearts buckle

The rope hangs from the reaching branch
Head held high, enjoying the sun on my shoulders,
I begin my journey

At my magical realism hotel where
the air is thick with it
agitation nags, it’s tickling

The fan whirs in the window
In the deep shadows under the metal erection
Funny how easy the monster comes out

A blinding fog over men’s senses, deceives about
you can’t be disappointed, if you have no expectations

Today’s Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is to create a poem from the first line of the first poem of each month that I posted in 2022.

Dream Imagery

The poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is to “write a poem inspired by a vision, dream, or both.” I tried to do the spoon in the bowl trick to induce a dream state, but all I saw was a big orange square of color with a read shadow moving around, so I decided to sleep on it and I’m glad I did because I had very vivid dreams last night.

The Body of the Dream by Maria L. Berg 2023

I am a group of three women going to a writing retreat

but I was waffling, so I just followed
to enjoy the talk and be in the walk
but before we left, we needed relief
we arrived upstairs and entered the booths
but they crammed in mine, their laughter was bright
and throwing a card up in the thick air
it defied logic and surprise! froze there
she threw a whole pack of colored small cards
they tumbled then froze in patterned tableaux
I needed to go, I squeezed through the mess
to the booth next door glad for a rest, but
card woman followed, black straight hair shining
she revealed a new pack, and sent those cards fly-
ing into the air, creating structures
like bridges Venetian, cov’ring canals
eyes flashing from one amazing wonder
to land on the next joy to discover
but I could not stop my mind from worry
we needed to go and be in a hurry
because time moved so unlike the cards
and we would miss the bus to their ferry

Quadrille Monday: A Bold New Poem

Feeling Bold by Maria L. Berg 2023

Today at dVerse Poets Pub it’s quadrille Monday which means we are writing poems of exactly 44 words and today, De Jackson has offered the word “bold” to inspire and be included in the poem. “Bold” is also a great word to inspire today’s images.

Life of the Party

I want to be bold
a grand story told
if only it were so easy
along the fold
I rolled in gold
shimmering and breezy
never cold and never old
the whirl lost hold
fruit lost to mold
and I fell dizzy and queasy

Grief in Happiness and Happiness in Grief

Grief in Happiness by Maria L. Berg 2022

Exploring the Big 5 abstractions is proving an interesting challenge. Turning my attention to happiness, I found some interesting websites:

Happiness Academy

World Happiness Foundation

happiness.com

https://www.dayofhappiness.net/

https://happinessday.org/ outlines 10 steps to Global Happiness:

  1. Tell everyone
  2. Do what makes you happy
  3. Give and spread happiness to others
  4. Attend a world happiness event
  5. Celebrate
  6. Share what makes you happy on social media
  7. Promote UN Resolutions 65/309 & 66/281
  8. Advance the United Nations global goals for sustainable development
  9. Enjoy nature
  10. Adopt Happytalism

They define global happiness this way:

  1. Happiness as a fundamental human right and goal for all
  2. Happiness as a universal aspiration in the lives of all
  3. Happiness as a way of living, being, and serving communities and society
  4. Happiness as a north star for individuals, communities, governments, and society.
  5. Happiness path toward achieving the sustainable development goals
  6. Happiness as a “new paradigm’ for human development
  7. Worldwide celebration of the international day of happiness that is democratic, diverse, organic, and inclusive

Of course, none of those definitions actually define happiness which I contemplated a bit in my previous post Oh, What Two Little Letters Can Do.

Happiness in Grief by Maria L. Berg 2022

Turns out last week was “International Happiness at Work Week.” Does that mean people are expected to be in a steady-state of unhappiness at work except for one week a year? Here is the International Week of Happiness at Work “manifesto”:

And here’s the “manifesto” from Happiness Academy:

And here’s an article about happiness as work Happiness As a key Performance Indicator from Forbes.com.

Agony as Outburst by Maria L. Berg

Good Grief

So now that we know nothing new about Happiness, I tried to explore the grief in happiness and the happiness in grief which made me think of the phrase “good grief.” I looked it up expecting some fantastic story of how grief can be good, but instead only learned that the word grief was used in replacement of the word God—because it started with the letter g—to create a mild oath. So that also didn’t get me much of anywhere.

I didn’t think I was going to find inspiration this week until I sat down with a line from the poem “On Good and Evil” by Kahlil Gibran. The line that really stuck with me is “For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?” I started thinking of how grief is torture. Then I thought of the line as a form and wrote, “What is grief but happiness tortured by loss and regret? What is happiness but grief minus torture?”

I felt like I was finally getting somewhere and did a dictionary deep-dive. In the definition of grief it said to see Sorrow. Anguish also said to see Sorrow, so a deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone of something loved links grief and anguish. The definition of torture links anguish and agony. At agony, I found what I was looking for.

Agony is defined as intense pain of mind or body: anguish, torture. b. the struggle that precedes death. Since every moment from birth is the struggle that precedes death, that puts us all in a constant state of agony and thus grief. However, agony has another meaning: a strong sudden display (as of joy or delight): Outburst. Thus, through some circular definitions, I have found the happiness in grief.

But what is the grief in happiness? Thinking specifically of the happiness I find in this work. Visually, is it the obsessive desire for ever increasing beauty and perfection? In a way, each new discovery and technique though it is exciting and makes me happy, also brings grief because I can’t lose what I don’t have, and I don’t grieve what I am ignorant of. In this way a discovery is grief in happiness AND happiness in grief.

New Poem

Today is Open Link Night (OLN #324) at dVerse Poets Pub.

A couple weeks ago in my post How to Capture the Love in Apathy and the Apathy in Love, I mentioned I found a treasure of Home Ec Magazines from the early 1960’s. I’ve been going through them, and this week I collected phrases from three Vogue Pattern Books and a McCall’s Pattern Fashions. Whoever was writing for VPB was a poet (I couldn’t find a writer listed in the Staff). The language used to describe one outfit at a time was very creative, and I found so many interesting phrases that when taken out of context are rich with meaning. For today’s poem, I used some of this found language to help me express my ideas of grief in happiness and happiness in grief.

what’s RIGHT right NOW!

Here—along
my struggle that precedes death
I hunger for kaleidoscope coloring
and thirst for firm but fluid texture
aching for the shape that expresses
most perfectly

And now, further along
my struggle that precedes death
I agonize with possible discovery
the ecstasy of expected but unknown result
exhausting abundance for a glimpse of beauty

And now, continuing
my struggle that precedes death
I hunger for stronger solid colors harmonizing
and thirst for an incendiary force
aching for the evolutionary change
for anything that is not changing
isn’t alive.


Do Our Ideas About Beauty and Ugliness Change When We Close Our Eyes?

Do You Hear What I Hear? by Maria L. Berg 2022

This morning I did a search for “the ugliness in beauty” and found a couple of really interesting articles:

The Biological Response to Beauty and Ugliness in Art [Excerpt] by Eric Kandel 2012 from Scientific American

Experiences of Ugliness in Nature and Urban environments by Fatima M. Felisberti from International Association of Empirical Aesthetics

The first, by Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel is an excerpt from his book called The Age of Insight. The study of art through neuroscience excites me so much, I ordered the book and it arrives on Sunday. Hopefully, it will inspire for a long time to come, so you will be hearing a lot about it. Guess we’ll find out on Sunday. For today, I want to share what I found most exciting from the Scientific American article.

“Beauty does not occupy a different area of the brain than ugliness. Both are part of a continuum representing the values the brain attributes to them, and both are encoded by relative changes in activity in the same areas of the brain. This is consistent with the idea that positive and negative emotions lie on a continuum and call on the same neural circuitry.”

This physiological connection between contradictory abstract nouns is really exciting. I wonder if this has only been studied through visual stimuli.

Yesterday I started thinking about how visual definitions of beauty and ugliness are, so today I wanted to focus on the other senses. Though beauty and ugliness are particular to the person perceiving the stimulus, are there consistencies within an individual across the senses? If someone perceives a beautiful smell, do they also find the stimulus visually beautiful? If she finds a texture uncomfortable or painful, does she find the stimulus ugly, and vice versa?

New Poem

For today’s Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Laura Bloomsbury invites us to write in couplets. She introduces the prompt speaking of marriage which I think goes well with the physiological marriage of contradictory abstractions as laid out in Eric Kandel’s article above. I haven’t tried the Côte form before, so I thought I would give it a try.

A Movement that Married Right and Left

Become,
a fevered dreambook brimming

Survive,
a wooded area secreting

Discuss,
absolute wilderness loving

include,
visions of annihilation

predict,
variations of our ruination

until,
a poisoned well is flowing

Produce,
divided people by labeling

Attract,
all within orbits spinning

Cover,
the shadowy trails leading away

This poem was a culmination of many ideas I was playing with this week. First, a friend mentioned working on bringing meter into my free verse. Then I watched a ModPo discussion of Lorine Niedecker’s work that talked about how the she didn’t use strict meter, but created meter like bars of music. And I started reading The ABC’s of Reading by Ezra pound in which he writes:

“music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance; that poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music: but this must not be taken as implying that all good music is dance music or all poetry lyric.”

So I looked at some piano music I enjoyed playing and listened to some records. Rêverie by Debussy worked with the Côte form in my mind.

At the beginning of the week, while contemplating how to look at the beauty in ugliness and the ugliness in beauty, I thought about how society and culture define physical beauty and ugliness which made be think of a stack of Playboys that were left in this house before I moved in.

I thought about the joke that men always say, “I only read it for the articles” and thought it would be interesting to use Playboy articles for blackout poetry about ugliness in beauty and beauty in ugliness.

The magazines are from 2002, so they are strange little time machines to twenty years ago. I chose the imperative verbs from words in an article called “The Death of Network News” by Bill O’Reilly and the couplets were inspired by phrases from “Virtual Reich” by Michael Reynolds.

The Ugliness in Beauty and the Beauty in Ugliness

I thought about continuing last week’s study of love and apathy, there is so much to think about and explore, but I decided I’ll let that simmer as I continue through my planned overview of the big five. This week I’m looking at the ugliness in beauty and the beauty in ugliness.

Remember back in January when I was going to put a word on the world every day? Like this: A fish-eye lens view of the lake and sky with the word "WONDER" in orange floating in the clouds.

Probably not, like many of my exciting ideas, it didn’t last long before I moved on to the next exciting idea. However, yesterday, while pondering this week’s contradictory abstractions and how to capture the ugliness in beauty and the beauty in ugliness, I remembered these words, and found Beauty in the box of plastic filters. When I was originally putting words on the world, I used my fisheye lens which won’t work with bokeh. This time, I tried my zoom lens and got the result I wanted.

Five textured light circles with the word Beauty written in cursive in their centers.
Full of Beauty by Maria L. Berg 2022

I can’t believe it took me this long to try this. I looked back at January’s posts and found a comment in my post Unlocking New Doors that seems to say that I tried it, but it didn’t work, but I think I was focused on the fisheye lens and trying to make the fisheye work with the zoom lens, so I could increase its distance. At the time, I wasn’t thinking of the words themselves as shape filters.

I think it took reading The Last Vispo, becoming interested in text and type as visual poetry, and my more recent discovery of the negatives of my filters also making great filters (which I talk about in my post Thinking About August) to finally realize that I can combine my word filters with my shape filters.

So, of course, I had to make one that said “Ugly,” and took some pictures.

Pretty Ugly by Maria L. Berg 2022

New Poem

For today’s Poetics at dVerse Poets Pub, Merril invites us to spice things up by choosing a few spices from her list. I recently picked and dried (baked) my own herbs to refill my Italian Seasoning container. The process was aromatic and the result, delicious.

In Search of a Spicy Muralist

A Mural Of Flavor—
blankness redefined
What palette do you offer?
What shapes to delight
this mind?

Ginger, first to answer
with fire atip her tongue
wisps Arizona Dreaming
in acrid cactus tones
but when pressed for any detail
she feels pricked and leaves for home

Basil was a little green
but did not shy from leafing out
He proposed a Tuscany Sunset
and all that it’s about
but when asked for some specifics
of what that would entail,
he curled up inside himself just like
a little snail

I thought about the mustard seed
and how it grew and grew
how it was tiny but then spread out
and how I could do that too
So I made a mark
then many more
and filled the blank
with every flavor
and some that had never been before
here for everyone to savor

Calvino’s Sixth: The unwritten memo – consistency

A Consistent Inconsistency by Maria L. Berg

This week completes my study of Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium. Calvino died before writing this final lecture in his series on values of literature. So I get to extrapolate from the other memos and imagine his ideas of consistency as a literary value.

I found Andrei Codrescu’s attempt to do just that: On Consistency: Italo Calvino’s Sixth Memo.

AND

In her article “Calvino’s Values in Literature” in The Journal of Educational Thought Vol. 24, No. 3A, Marylou Miner presents her belief that the sixth memo would explore harmonious structure explored in a musical sense. She also presents the image of consistency to be a circle or a wave.

Let’s start with the word “consistency.” It has two different meanings that could each be a value of literature:

  • a degree of density, firmness, viscosity, etc: the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining form; solidity or firmness

OR

  • steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.: agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially correspondence or uniformity among the parts of a complex thing

I had only been thinking of consistency in the latter definition before I looked it up. Now, I’m thinking of the viscosity of my images and the density of my images.

Yesterday I tried to explore consistency through staying in one place and only creating shapes with the light on the waves. I wasn’t excited with the results, but the practice with a focus on consistency led to exciting results today.

Using Marylou Miner’s ideas for forms, I pulled out all of my circular, spiral, and wavy filters and found some fun ideas for improvement.

An Inconsistent Consistency by Maria L. Berg 2022

ModPo

This is also the first week of ModPo, a free online introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry offered year round through the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania and Coursera.org. It is also a yearly ten-week symposium for poetry lovers. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. I attended my first “office hours” session today and really enjoyed the discussion. The first live webcast to kick off this year’s symposium is Sept. 7 (tomorrow at noon) at 3PM Philadelphia time.

New Poem

For today’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Mish challenges us to play with some unusual words.

In my aliferous dormiveglia

empyrean orenda arrives as
reflections upon late summer leaves, as
gleams in glittering eyes, as
glints upon the waves, pushing me
to querencia—a timeless space, an
ephemeral place—where
I am sustained by isolophilia.

My logolepsy borders on the obscene
in this foggy pause
as I wake from the dream.

Multiplicity: the dot that becomes a universe

Bursting by Maria L. Berg 2022

Let’s continue to explore that smallest thing–the dot, the pixel, the eye mote, the speck of dust, the atom, the cell–that when multiplied “spreads out, encompassing ever vaster horizons, and would end by embracing the entire universe. (Calvino)”

In an old set of geometry tools, I found two compasses: one regular with a point on one end and a place for a pencil on the other, and one with two pointed ends. I’m not exactly sure what this tool was made for, but I find it is perfect for puncturing interesting dot designs in paper filters.

Pointy Compass

Inspired by the white details in Georgiana Houghton’s paintings (found in the great book World Receivers) and the intricate moving dots in James Whitney’s films Yantra (1957) and Lapis (1966) and the pixels in his brother John Whitney’s film Permutations (1968), I created several filters of dot patterns, and some of random dots.

Jeremejevite by Maria L. Berg 2022
Secret Writing by Maria L. Berg 2022

New Poem

It’s Open Link Night (OLN #322) at dVerse Poets Pub which means anything goes, so I thought I would try a new inspirational tool/form I came up with inspired by Calvino’s “scheme of the network of possibilities” and my net lights.

Here’s my quick sketch of my “net of possibilities” (which I apparently called the net of connections yesterday):

I recently pulled out a bunch of stuff left over from the puzzle company. I found many card-stock labels from the small puzzles with pictures of the artwork on them. I cut these images into circles, cutting slightly different sections from the image for three circles of each image. Then I put all the circles in a bag, and pulled them out without looking and placed them in my net. Here is my net of possibilities now:

Each image can inspire in so many different ways and on multiple levels:

  • subject
  • setting
  • time
  • color
  • texture
  • metaphor / simile
  • sensory detail
  • a word
  • a phrase

And then the net creates connections between the images, and repetitions of images could inspire word or phrase repetition, or other rhythm. I’m exited to see where this goes.

The Net of Connections I.

In the deep shadows under the metal erection
ballerinas spring in sprightly toile, swirling
pastel dots like the spots of spring colors
bouncing off the structure and filling the sky
through a cubist’s window, its shutters
removed to create a unicorn enclosure
in a hotbed of literature where every
captured unicorn sees the world as a jumble
of cubes–inanimate, sleeping, lying upon and around–
while the men of metal erect towers–monuments to
their masculine powers that birds will break
their bills on–while underneath, somewhere
in the shadows, curling and coiling like golden scales
of dragon tails, and ebbing and flowing like the tides,
the ballerinas echo the shapes like a bridge over
a lily pond, the spring flowers floating in patterns
only understood in the abstract, and the mighty
dancers set sail to new worlds like viking conquerors
while the sleepers sleep
the metal erection stands.

Mr. Kitty working on his poem (or not helping)