It’s amazing how energizing one cool, cloudy day was. Today, was back to hot and sweaty, but it didn’t feel as oppressive. I finally set up my new mobile mirrorworld to my satisfaction, and played with an interesting purple and green light palette.
I find it amusing that these random globs of dried hot glue in different shapes look like people dancing to me.
Today was the first time I tried using the net-lights with the reflection balls in the fabric-covered pool noodles. I like how nature adds to the abstractions. I’m seeing lots of potential.
When light escapes and comes to play I know I’ll have a busy day Free of night and free of fears as glaring white she appears but in our game I calm her and coax each color forward when light escapes and comes to play I know I’ll have a busy day
Last week I stumbled upon Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium which are a series of planned lectures about literary values he was working on when he died. He died before he finished writing the sixth. His six values of literature are: Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, Multiplicity, and Consistency.
In each of his lectures he discusses his ideas of the stated value and its opposite which inspired me to use these values as my contradictory abstractions for August and into September.
First, I considered the word value, and its many meanings. When I looked at value at the beginning of this study of abstract nouns in April, I was thinking about value in terms of exchange. Calvino appears to be using the seventh definition for value in my Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary which is “something (as a principal or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable.
Artistically, what I was desiring was a changeable color palette for my floating photography studio. So I chose some garish spandex I had collected from bargain tables over the years, and sewed colorful skins for my pool noodles. The results were surprisingly subtle, yet interesting.
Calvino’s first value, “Lightness,” he sees as the opposite of “Weight” as in the weight of the world, or gravity of thought. When he discusses lightness as a quality of literature, he describes it as “the sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher.”
Calvino says that lightness in writing is precision and determination, not vagueness and the haphazard. Then he quotes Paul Valery who said: “Il faut etre leger comme l’oiseau, et non comme la plume” (One should be light like a bird, and not like a feather).
This idea really appealed to me. Where I live, I am constantly surrounded by birds, from tiny hummingbirds and dark-eyed juncos to great blue herons, osprey and bald eagles. The mystery and grace, flight’s sheer defiance of gravity is exciting to watch.
I had already collected some small feathers the neighbor’s cats so kindly left on my porch. so I tried using them as filters.
This week I am looking at Calvino’s second value Quickness which he sees as the opposite of Lingering and Digression. Yesterday, to begin my study, I tried a technique I found in Abstract Explorations in Acrylic Painting by Jo Toye. Jo used hot glue to create stencils to create resist patterns in her paintings. Now that I am look at my filters as both positive and negative space, I saw the potential for this technique with my photography. Here’s my first attempt:
What’s fun is it’s similar to something I tried a long time ago with wire:
Guess it wasn’t that long ago, but it sure seems like a very long time ago. I think the changes in the thickness of line from the glue are much more dynamic.
The reason I chose to try the glue technique this week is because once the glue gun is hot and I’ve cut the basic filter shapes, I can create many different designs with quickness, then linger in all their image possibilities.
Restaurants bring up so many memories fraught with conflicting emotions. I think Lightness and Weight, and Quickness and Lingering can all find their way into a restaurant.
Gathered at Another Steak House
Restless in this restaurant, her eyes rest on the fake, flickering candles and cloth carnations, on the bleached tablecloth and folded cloth napkin swans swimming in place on gold waves rippling at the edges of shiny plates waiting for waiters to replace them with appetizers, strengthening hunger’s desire.
Tense utensils clang in past and future tense Tumblers topple, ice tumbling, sliding across tabletops, and topics are quickly tabled as secrets spilled splatter saucy and juicy stains that will never completely come out and after desserts are devoured no one lingers to feel sated.
Heron Tree published my poem “Repent” as part of a series of poems created from materials published before 1927. Their call for submissions inspired me to explore a book of fairy tales I’ve had for a long time that was published in 1907. I talked about it in my post A Fun Found Poetry Project when I first started working on it back in January. Please check it out, and enjoy the great work they do at Heron Tree.
I finally figured out how to use the reflection balls in the lake. I made them a floating barrier by threading rope through some pool noodles. The color added by the pool noodles was I nice surprise. I like the effect so much, I ordered four more reflection balls of the same size. They arrive tomorrow. This weekend is going to be fun. Now I’m thinking of pool noodles as a color palette.
dVerse Poets Pub
Today was Open Mic Live (online) at dVerse. I always want to attend, but never make it. It starts at noon here in the PNW, and today it was 1pm before I finished making my filters and taking my photos. But I can still join in by posting a poem, so here’s today’s exploration of calm & agitation:
He says calm is the wind
I ask him what he thinks of when I say calm he waves his arm majestically and says this
I turn from him, taking in the entire day: the sun, the lake, the sky the warmth, the waves, the houses and trees the moment we are sharing as he pauses in his constant labors
Do you mean the lake? Or the sun? Or? I prod always wanting more Actually, wind, he says, Calm is the wind
I think of the gentle breeze that guides a floating lounger where I don’t want to go I think of the wind that steals my papers and pushes them into bushes I think of the angry wind that lifted the glass table and threw it through the sliding door I always think of the hurricane that stole everything
I ask him what he thinks of when I say agitation He laughs, as if I should know? Or he doesn’t want to say? A disagreement of some kind he answers, turning
That’s funny, I say, because I always think of wind as agitation because it makes things move he moves on, and we both continue our labors
For yesterday’s poetics prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub, Laura challenged us to think about last words and choose some famous last words to inspire our poem.
“Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” ~ Karl Marx
How cruel and yet delicious all those smiling, resting faces all those relaxed, unworried death masks forever frozen as last seen in loving minds
How cruel and yet delicious to know the time of one’s passing to gather everyone ever loved together to impart an answer a lifetime sought
How cruel and yet delicious the final not knowing but feeling certain it will be there in time feeling tongue-tipped and out-reached seat-edged in life-searched readiness
How cruel and yet delicious hearing gulps of held back sobs tasting one’s own saliva, one’s juices for a final time, becoming thick with enzymes preparing for decay smelling each familiar perfume not disguising each unique sweat visually sucking and sucking every detail as if it will be the forever memory: that cute sneeze, that child’s whine, that cuticle bitten, that hair swept from that eye, one’s own slowing, rattling breath and
then it’s there it comes the answer THE ANSWER electric, eye-bulging epiphany of all epiphanies the room leans in edged, sharp and everyone hears AH-HA! before eyes dim, chest stills and nothing more.
Last week I missed my Sunday visual poetry due to a very fun and special family birthday party, so today I’ll be exploring two homographs: Content and Contest.
Content & Contest
Let’s start with a quick overview of the meanings of our homographs from dictionary.com. Each of these has two pronunciations as well.
Content (kon-tent): Usually contents.
something that is contained: the contents of a box.
the subjects or topics covered in a book or document.
the chapters or other formal divisions of a book or document: a table of contents.
something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts: significance or profundity; meaning: substantive information or creative material viewed in contrast to its actual or potential manner of presentation: that which may be perceived in something.
~That last meaning opens up content to be just about anything.
Content (kuhn-tent): satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.
Contest (kon-test) noun: a race, conflict, or other competition between rivals, as for a prize: struggle for victory or superiority: vigorous or bitter conflict in argument; dispute; controversy.
Contest (kuhn-test) verb: to struggle or fight for: to argue against; dispute: to call in question: to contend for in rivalry.
I’m feeling content to create content on this lovely, clear day. I won’t contest the results of my visual poetry experiments, and appreciate the poetic content equally. It’s not a contest.
The Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt yesterday was “clear” which got me thinking about the clear sleeve idea I started playing with “Combine.” I’ve been thinking about using the clear plastic to create blackout poetry. I thought it would be fun to print text in the same size and font and then use a blackout design from one poem on another piece of text.
Since I wanted to use small, uniform text, I photocopied sections from a few non-fiction texts I own. I started with Rose Windows by Painton Cowen. Choosing a random page from the introduction, I created the first image in this post.
Then I switched out the text to a page from Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung using the same blackout and got this:
I used this same blackout with two other random pages from non-fiction I own, and moved it up and down the pages. I highly recommend trying this as an inspirational tool. I’m loving it. It’s like creating a cipher to bring your own, new understanding to any text. I also like that it leaves the original text intact as I change it and make my own choices and meanings.
Dwelling Entirely in the Slime of the Earth
Transfix us equally unexpected feeling elusive awe and wonder
this experience accentuated by interweaving tensions
poured light of infinite shades in the sun
glowing quietly jewels and coloured glass possessing
I’m excited for a little relief today. I’ve had stomach pain the last couple days, so alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress, oppression, etc. is greatly appreciated. A rain-free day with some sun is also something affording a pleasing change, as from monotony: release.
While thinking about visually creating relief, bas-relief came to mind. Bas-Relief is a sculpture technique in which the shapes only rise slightly from the flat surface of the background. In this case relief means the distance of the carving; bas-relief is low relief or a short distance, close to the surface compared to high relief. Coins are a good example of bas-relief images.
Because I finally have some relief from the rain and clouds, I can play with all my new transformer filters on the lake. The images I create using the glints of lights on the lake are like bas-relief in a way as the shapes stay connected to the water’s surface.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday
Today’s prompt is “clear.” Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal:
A clear blue sky. Finally. A faint half-moon lingers just above the all firs behind the house across the lake. Today’s mission is clear: to plant. I looked at the seeds I have, the herbs my sister gave me for my birthday, the vegetable seeds left from last year: lettuce, spinach, cabbage, radishes, and beans are all going to find homes in the soil today. Here I go.
Clearly, I did not expect pulling that dead plant out of the bed and putting my sister’s little birthday flower in its place would be so difficult. The dirt was hard as concrete and full of rocks. The wayward grass did NOT want to come out. I hope that little flower lives after all that effort. I’m glad it’s supposed to be nice tomorrow too because my nieces are here, and now I clearly have other things to do.
Maria L. Berg 2022
And when I finally find relief release from pain and mind left clear blue sky cloudless and half-moon near,
I hope the moment isn’t brief the sun set free is quick to sear and blinds all thought to steer or veer
Since time is such a greedy thief a heart remembers cupid’s spear a pain that aches renewing fear,
relying on our group belief of control and measured hours: we’re among our peers existing here
to smear the days with its mischief the half-moon leers then disappears leaving a trail of relief’s tears
And when I finally find relief I hope the moment isn’t brief since time is such a greedy thief relying on our group belief to smear the days with its mischief.
I’m finding this study of abstract nouns fascinating. We think we know what these words mean, but the more I study them, the less clear they become. When I dive into their definitions, I always find something surprising. Mercy has a very interesting definition: compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.
Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. “Stricken by misfortune” brings in ideas of destiny and luck, and forbearance brings patience into the mix. But it’s the next part of the definition that surprised me: “an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power.”
The wording implies that an offender or enemy is a person in one’s power. That any person is in another’s power is a warped idea. Power struggles are one of those facts of life from beginning to end that are an instinctive part of the human struggle that is intertwined with the question of evolution and/or creation; and the basic questions of nature vs. nurture. However, I was even more interested in the idea of the offender, or enemy being that person in one’s power. When I think of an offender, or enemy, I think of bullies: people out for a fight; people looking for those they perceive as weaker than them, to belittle and have power over. How would that person be a person in my power? There’s a lot to think about there.
For today’s images, I thought of my door filter that I created for “Close” and used again for “Adventure,” symbolizing the mercy of giving someone a way out. What could symbolize removing suffering? A mouse with a thorn? Too obtuse, the viewer would have to think of the fable of the mouse and the lion, and interpret, a line in its paw as a thorn removed from a lion. Instead, I tried to open and close my door filter to flowers.
Merciful sleep, thick, heavy fog with power over me, have pity this one night keep out intruders lock the doors and hold them fast from the dreams of suffering and sorrow, haunted memories of possibilities filled with desires that you steal away come morning
Continuing my Sunday visual poetry, I’m abandoning my magnets for a new overlay idea that goes well with today’s homograph “combine.”
As you have probably noticed, I like to unite prompts for a common purpose; many prompts join forces to create one poem. I join many ideas into a close union, creating a new whole. But how will I simultaneously cut, thresh, and clean those ideas with my mental combine harvester; evaluate my prospective players, and which combine will use my results to create a self-serving monopoly (That last cabal-style definition of combine is unusual to me. I’ll have to look into it)?
Today’s new technique was inspired by yesterday’s search into Vispo, short for visual poetry. A description of a book mentioned transparencies which made me think about how I take a picture of my collages then more pictures after adding words. With transparencies, I could create this additive process over and over.
When I started my Words on the World project, I ordered two different thicknesses of colored Sharpies and a large amount of clear plastic sleeves to cut the filters from. Cutting open the sleeves creates pages for layers of transparencies. I printed out some of last week’s photos and tried it out.
For today’s poem, I took a look at my WordPress reader and found:
The quality or state of being easily broken, shattered, damaged, or destroyed: delicate; brittle; frail: vulnerably delicate, as in appearance: lacking in substance or force; flimsy: in a weakened physical state; slight; tenuous: fragility comes to everything and everyone at one point or another. I think of thin, brittle, sheer tissue; skeletal frames; loose connections, crumbling.
For my images, I thought about how fragile the paper filters I created with paper punch shapes were. I pulled out the roll of paper to make a new one, but then thought about the loosely connected fragility of old lace. I have a collection of old lace trim, and tried placing some over the lens shield. I really like the effect.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday
Today’s prompt is to write about a phrase from childhood. Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal:
I thought of discipline first: Just wait ’til your dad gets home, and I’m gonna count to ten, but there has to be some fun phrases from childhood. I thought of Step on a crack . . . ; Tag! you’re it; Jinx! you owe me a coke; but none of those really spoke to me. Then I thought of Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me–a phrase used a lot as a kid that proved not to be true–and I’m rubber and you’re glue; your words bounce off me and stick to you–fun to say, but also not true. The sticks and stones saying goes well with today’s abstract noun “fragility”, and both phrases feel like they would work well in a poem.
Maria L. Berg 2022
Sticks and stones–
so abundant / all around on the ground quick to hand / broken from a dry branch weaponized / slung, thrown, whipped, battered, broken with the slightest aim / anger-fueled force
–may break my bones, but words–
symbols and sounds / agreed upon to have meaning combined with malicious intent / to produce hurt in the perceived fragile shouted and chanted to taunt / because repetition erodes caverns from the cracks because words evoke emotions that / though we’re told they don’t matter
This Sunday is the first of the month, and all the challenges are over, but I thought I would close with a visual poem guided by a homograph.
I really enjoy homographs that have different pronunciations. Close can be an adjective or adverb; a noun or verb. Pronounced klohs adjective – near in space or time: near in relationship: parts or elements near to one another: compact, dense (a close weave) adverb – tightly: near or within proximity Pronounced klohz noun – the end or conclusion (the close of the day) verb – to cover an opening; shut: (tr) to bar, obstruct, or fill up: to bring the parts or edges of (a wound, etc) together or (of a wound, etc) to be brought together, unite.
I think of: closing a lid; closing a door; cutting it close; That was close!; close ties; close friends; personal space: too close; closing in on a solution.
The April Challenges are over, but there are still plenty of prompts to be found. For today’s poem, I took a look at my WordPress reader and found:
E. M.’s Sunday Ramble Prompt #22 This one’s new to me. The Sunday Ramble is 5 questions about a topic to ramble on about. Sounds a little like Stream of Consciousness Saturday, which I enjoy. Today’s topic is “Random Questions to Trigger Imagination” and the questions are:
If people get a purple heart for bravery, what do the other colors of hearts mean? (Make up your own heart meanings and colors.)
If you were given $5 Million to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
if you could build a themed hotel, what would the theme be and what would it look like?
What would the adult version of an ice cream truck sell, look like, and play for its song?
What animal would be the cutest if it was down-sized to the size of a cat?
At my magical realism hotel where crowds rush to try the strawberry pop-rocks that make them sprout wings and fly the first to reach the luminous-gold heart that means a dream will never die, hanging in the ceiling sky, is remunerated an unimaginable sum in magic hotel money. And if that isn’t enough excitement to keep every patron busy, they can visit the Museum of the Fantastical and Silly with a tank of whales the size of cats and giraffes the size of mice that swish their tails to swat at pesky winged-humans the size of flies.