Heightened Senses

image of a white flower bursting from fuzzy buds.
by Maria L. Berg 2021

The prompt for NaPoWriMo is a form prompt called “The Shapes a Bright Container Can Contain.” We are to emulate a poems shape/line lengths and use the same first letter of each line.

Over at the A to Z challenge there is a dice game of challenges and rewards. I’m enjoying their theme this year. I rolled two sixes, so my challenge is to visit 6 new blogs, and my reward it to take a nap! Looking forward to that.

Today’s Janus word is downhill. When referring to difficulty, it means “progressively easier”; but when referring to status or condition, it means “progressively worse.”

The April Poem-a-Day prompt is to title the poem “First (blank).” So talking about firsts today.

The poem I chose for the prompt is “When Love” by Alicia Ostriker which was the poem-a-day in my email from poets.org. For my title, I used my new Personal Universal Deck.

The First Gardenia Reverberates

When a favorite smell surprises
it reverberates
a memory

that invites the other senses
conspiring elation
askew reality

the true perception
revised
lifted and bright

the trigger of an avalanche
surging, downhill tumble
gracious grey matter

When a beloved smell bushwhacks
it bushwhacks
time and space

Liminal Imagery

image from Liminal Spaces @SpaceLiminalBot

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to choose an image from @SpaceLiminalBot to inspire a poem.

PAD Challenge: Write an active poem

Self-fulfilling

All of the shelves are empty
the end is near

nothing left to read here
the end is near

the light blotches in the blue carpet
lead the eye to the liner left in the trash can

under those letters had there
been apocalyptic fiction

escapist fantasies of survival
in a world after cataclysmic catastrophes

or catastrophic cataclysms
the end is near

the pink and yellow sale signs
taped to the columns remain

forever a testament
to a once bustling environment

but there is no one left
the end has come

Shuffling my deck

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt includes some arts and crafts. We are challenged to create a “Personal Universal Deck” of words, then use some in a poem. I also listened to an audio recording of Michael McClure giving a lecture explaining the deck. Sadly, it ends right before he’s going to discuss things that can be done with the deck. Some aspects of creating the deck that I found interesting are the words are to represent both your good and bad side in concrete basic grammatical units, and come from a meditative state. He describes the deck as creating an arranged derangement which echoes day one’s prompt.

Over at Blogging from A to Z C is for Card trick. After I create my Personal Universal Deck, I’ll have to teach it some tricks. My Janus word for today is critical which can mean vital to success (a critical component), or disparaging (a critical comment).

The April Poem-a-Day prompt is to write a communication poem. So I guess my card trick will be opening a dialogue with myself through the Personal Universal Deck without being too critical, or perhaps I will find the Deck a critical component of personal communication.

My Personal Universal Deck in Progress

Not trusting myself to truly choose the words from the list at random for the cards, I typed them up, printed them, cut them out and put them in a vase. I selected two out of the vase without looking, then pasted them to a card, one right-side-up at the top, and one upside-down near the bottom.

This aspect of the deck–having a word upside down–made me think of tarot cards in reverse direction. I thought about the “reverse position” of the words and what that might mean.

I’ve previously talked about Plotting with Tarot. Since there weren’t really instructions for how to use this new deck once I made it, I thought I would try applying some similar ideas. I was inspired by Michael McClure’s instructions to meditate on the past, present, and future to find the words, to use Arwen Lynch’s card draw in Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book. The first card represents the present, the second card drawn represents what happened directly before the first, and the third is what happens directly after.

A Familiar Laugh

Her laugh, cut off when you entered the room,
continued to ring in your ears.
You would know that critical cackle anywhere.
So many tears shed
because that laugh was infectious
when at your expense.

Moments before you entered the room,
you had stared at your rain-soaked self
in the odd, corroding mirror in the hall,
and recognized not a dampened mess,
but a sparkling creation.

She is but a grain of sand
in your boot
as you climb.

#NaPoWriMo Day 2: A Different Choice

White bell flowers in front of over-lapping bokey squares of a segment of traintracks. A few stick out with yellow backgrounds.
The Golden Trail – bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

The NaPoWriMo prompt this morning is to explore a road not taken. What would have happened if I made a different choice.

The PAD Challenge prompt is “What will the future hold?”

Over at A to Z they’re challenging writers to make bets with ourselves. I bet I can read and leave comments on five A to Z blogs today.

Today’s Janus word is buckle (1) To secure, tighten, hold (by fastening with a buckle); (2) to collapse after being acted upon by an external force, as in “to buckle under the strain.”

The Future Holds a Multitude of Choices

Choice swung a bat
at mailboxes
full of parasites
during the full worm moon
of Regret

While Regret visited
the ghost zoo
to stare through
the glass of
Free Will’s enclosure

While Free Will stalked the boundary,
Destiny twisted
in an office chair
at an enormous oak desk,
waiting for Will
to buckle

While Destiny swiveled,
Choice dropped the bat
and snatched a ruler
from Education
to measure
the distance
to Yes.

The NaPoWriMo prompt inspired me to grab my “tracks” bokeh filter that I created during OctPoWriMo last year and head outside. Since it is a cloudy morning, I took a selection of light strings and some extension cords along. Yesterday was the first time I strung my lights from the curtain rod to hang in front of the window and today is the first time I’ve taken them to shoot outside. I don’t know why it took me so long to try these things, but it looks like this NaPoWriMo is expanding my world of bokeh photography. Woohoo!

Yellow background bokeh train tracks and a few leaves in a an oblong globe of grey.
A Future Golden Trail – by Maria L. Berg 2021

I love how this path looks like it’s inside a crystal ball.

As I mentioned in another post from OctPoWriMo, Change of Perspectives, my camera has a cool built-in art feature that lets me filter for a primary color, leaving everything else grey scale. I mentioned playing with it yesterday, but it didn’t work with those pictures, so I gave it a try today and had some great results.

Black and white train track bokeh, a few with striking red backgrounds/
A Perilous Path – Maria L. Berg 2021

And this photograph made me think of the Lil Nas X vs. Nike controversy–Who the heck wants human blood in their shoes?

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

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS): Run Yonder

Young boy running on grass.
Go go go photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

Yesterday morning I happened upon Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt. This weekly writing prompt offers a word prompt and a word limit. This weekend it is “Yonder” and the word limit is 44 words which I found familiar as it is the same as the dVerse Quadrille. I thought I would give it a go and remembered that it was Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt was “run.” Those prompts could go well together, so I did some journaling.

I enjoyed the stream of consciousness writing and had some ideas for poetry but wasn’t ready to post yesterday. Today, I gave it another look and came up with a “yonder” poem of 44 words that I like.

Here is an excerpt of yesterday’s stream of consciousness:

. . . I used to love to run, through the woods around the lake, lil sjön in Sweden. Now, I run a few steps and I feel like I’ll die. So what “run” do I want to talk about? Colors run, mascara runs, people have the runs, a run in stockings, fingers run up and down scales, a keyboard, race to the finish, the rat race, sprint to the finish, flee from fear, run from a bad memory, from the past, run from the truth, run to love and hope, an embrace, someone’s arms, a familiar face, race to a banquet table, an all-you-can-eat buffet, “do you know where you’re running to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?” Run in place, on a treadmill, in a hamster wheel, run for the ball, run from the police, scatter, only have to run faster than the person behind you . . .

And here is the yonder quadrille poem I wrote this morning:

Ever Yonder

Beyond the hives filling with honey
and the rolling hills where we would roll too
through the soft, sweet grass that held us watching dawn
to the lapping waves against damp sand
we traveled so far to be here
where nothing became any clearer

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