From Where I’m Sitting, I Fill Up the Sky

Berg in Immediate Surroundings – by Maria L. Berg 2021

The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem about the meaning of your first or last name.

The April PAD prompt is to write a poem inspired by your immediate surroundings.

My Janus word for the A to Z Challenge is left.
As a past tense verb, it means “to have gone”; as an adjective, it means “remaining.”

Because I’ve often written about the mountain (Berg in Swedish means mountain), I thought adding a structure or form would help inspire something unique, so I took a look at the Poetics prompt from yesterday over at the dVerse Poets Pub.

I’m glad I did, because it got me thinking about all the fun adventures I’ve had on the mountain and the animals I’ve met there. Kim’s prompt was inspired by the poem The Print the Whales Make by Marjorie Saiser as was my poem.

close-up photograph of Mt. Rainier
Berg – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Black Bear’s Branch

I freeze. You haven’t seen it yet
the thick, dark fur tucked among the fir trunks
We are too close, my heart jackhammers
with fear and fascination
Is that how we are:
a dangerous shape
a few steps off the path?
Too late. Can’t go back.
But looking up at those sky-filling slopes
with awe, I remember
the deer and the fox prancing
also encountered there
and the way the bear licked
at the grass, not bothered
by the branch still attached
to his bum, so peacefully grazing
I didn’t notice him
until I had left him behind
on the return path
he wasn’t interested in me
and my fear of black bears
in dark forests of fascination
on the sky-filling slopes
slanted sunlight on snow
glinting promise
of new bear sightings
another day

Original ideas through playing with opposites

Today at the dVerse Poets Pub, the Poetics prompt is to write an opposite poem. Lisa offered up an amazing video called The Opposites Game from TED Ed that I highly recommend watching.

I thought it would be fun to start with one of my own old poems and create its “opposite.” I started with a NaPoWriMo poem from last year called A future voice in the dark.

Another future voice in the dark

You demand I unlearn the light
leaving the past unseen
stacattos played allegro
under the facades of blank stares

that direct route
the straight line is known
weightless without speed
smooth without old disadvantages

many blank surfaces, many original sounds
severe, substantial discomforts
close cacophonies of
what will be

That was really fun. Reminded me of the poetry MadLibs I did with some of my old poems last summer. (Those this one makes a lot more sense). I think I’ll be trying this technique a lot more. This could lead to some nice two-column, reflective poems.

A Wine-tinted World

The World through Grape-colored Glasses

Peering out my wine
windows tinted
and clouded
at a swirling landscape
of bitter-sweets
the view skewed
by tannins and cork
floaters among
the cloudy
reveries
shuttering my
wine windows
I delve
the cellars deep
for lofty thoughts
and epiphanies
before the heady
kerplunk

This poem is a response to today’s Quadrille prompt at dVerse Poets Pub.

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 laundry mountain: dirty, clean, dirty

a pile of laundry in a mesh carrier: orange shirt, jeans, sweatshirt and more jumbled together.

Today’s poetics prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub is to write a laundry poem. De Jackson, today’s host, wrote a great example called Spin Cycle. The prompt brought up tons of memories: The cramped laundry room in my childhood home, sorting socks with Mom, the drying closet in Sweden, hand scrubbing in a basin in the Ivory Coast, late nights at the laundromat in New Orleans, stringing a line in the backyard, and so much more. It’s going to be tough to narrow this one down. I decided to stay in the now.

Sew–Mow–Wash–Sew

After I mowed, I didn’t jump in the shower
I was hungry and thirsty
and had emails to read
It didn’t take long before my smell distracted
I reeked, such a stench
of grass, dirt, gas, and sweat
So I ran to the laundry room
and those clothes I wrenched
off and threw in the washer
then ran to the shower to scrub

While breathing the sweet gardenia suds
of my soap in the steaming hot water,
I thought of my shirt
that burnt-orange, long sleeve
U-neck with a front pocket
just perfect for the shed keys
and my small mp3 player,
so I can listen to audio books
and forget that I’m pushing and pulling
large rotating blades

When I pulled my mowing shirt
from the cupboard this morning
it had more holes than fabric
but I wanted to wear it
so I zigzagged those pieces
until there were sleeves
and the pocket would work and
slipped that perfectly worn
almost sheer fabric
over my sports bra and t-shirt
I comfortably mowed for
an hour and a half then
tore it off and threw it in
the wash just like that

To be soaked and agitated
spun, churned and wrung
then pulled still wet and shaken
tossed in a hot tumbler to dry
It won’t survive, not in that shape
but I’ll stitch up its wounds
again and again because
it’s not the long sleeves
or the useful front pocket
it’s the mow then wash
wear and tear
that has made it so perfect

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

Playing in the Duplex

When I read The Tradition by Jericho Brown, I was drawn to his duplex poems. I was fascinated by how slight changes in the repetition of a line could completely change and deepen the meaning of both lines.

Inspired by Peter’s prompt at dVerse Poets Pub to attempt a circular poem, I thought I would try my hand at a poem inspired by this form.

I found a great post on the Poetry Foundation website by Jericho Brown From the Archive: Pulitzer Prize Winner Jericho Brown’s “Invention” in which he talks about how he invented the form and what its boundaries are.

bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

The Total Eclipse

In the woods, the villain is stronger
changing allegiances, spending the night

I change allegiances and spend the night
to bury the things I’m holding tight

I replant the things I already have
that felt truly special in the other house

I felt truly special in the other house
stronger than the hero passed out in the car

Passed out in the car in protest of me
to shine a light on how dark I can be

And I can be dark, a total eclipse
when eclipsed by absurd rejection

The rejected change allegiances
in the woods, the villain is stronger

I don’t think I totally got it, but I’m glad I gave it a try. The poem went in an interesting direction.

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

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

Always Standing at the Edge: new poem to dVerse poetics prompt

Yesterday at dVerse Poets Pub, Lisa presented an inspiring prompt for poetics. I figured I would rush out a few poems with the prompt “Edges and fringes,” but when I sat down to write, all I came up with were lists of words I wanted to use, nothing more. Today, after some journaling, it came together.

With One Toe Pushing

Ego drowns in the campfire at the edge of fascination
at the brink of sanity with one toe pushing
Who then maintains the role of oversight?
An oversight of Ego’s; I am certain

When honesty eclipses opinion in the jelly shower of imagination
its sharp bite creating borders verging on volatile
Is it raising tempers to breaking
or tempering passions to advantage?

Artistry crosses the hangnail edge of complete hurt
I want to lose myself, to stay in the fire
But I must strike while imagination is hot
and yet my very being is on strike

Humility returns with the hitchhiker cobwebs of wisdom
Between sane and mad is such a fine, fine line
like a hummingbird feather’s quill
an eyelash fallen from a field mouse
a sand flea trail on a Northwest beach
but the sand invites my toes to sink
and waves crash to keep my attention
the sand fleas irritate my body alive
I am safely back from the edge
I refrain–only peer at the beyond
at what can and will be–singing the refrain: not today