Just now in future past

Janus Lego man
Janus Lego man – Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to use words and concepts from Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.

The PAD prompt is to use the words: convict, great, play, race, season, and voice. With an extra challenge of writing a sestina.

My Janus phrase for the A to Z challenge is:

just now
(1) A moment ago (past); (2) Now (in the present); (3) (Scotland, South Africa) In a little while (future).

From the entry for Janus in Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary:

Janus is represented with two faces, because he was acquainted with the past and the future; or, according to others, because he was taken for the sun who opens the day at his rising, and shuts it at his setting.

It really is fun when the prompts overlap so nicely.

In the Jumpspace of Janus

Just now, as Janus stares at both horizons with conviction,
the great fall, and the next rise to be great
in the eternal tail-biting race
the circuitous circuit at play
with each repeating season
an echoing voice

Just now in spring, a call of sweet voice
sings with reproductions conviction
which is, Janus blushes, the impetus of the season
building sharply until too great
to continue to ignore as play
panting and sweating before and after the race

Just now, still circuiting the race,
Janus coughs, having lost his voice
the tug of war is at barbarous play
both sides pulling with such conviction
to see them mud-splattered would be great
but the ionic repulsion is strong this season

And just now, Janus has forgotten the season
he has tripped and fallen during the race
seeing his tail so close and so great
he remembered the profound words he needed to voice
all of the accumulated knowledge believed with conviction
but then he wagged and forgot and wanted to play

Just now, Janus stares at daylight at play
so many sparkles and shadows this season
he has trouble focusing near or far with conviction
and his thoughts and memories spin and race
he longs to hear that one special voice
from his future past of somedays great

Just now, Janus will circle again feeling great
dizzy and heady from all this play
enchanted by so many echoes of his own voice
with similar words for each season
at this horizon he chooses to skip the race
and stretch his vision with conviction

To sing a great season
Janus will play, bringing hearts to race
just now, his voice is future and past’s conviction.

Revising a short story: the penultimate pass

Now that I have revised at the story level and the scene level, it is time to dig into those paragraphs, sentences and words. A fun and useful tool to use at this point is the word cloud. I put my text into Word It Out and created this:

The program has some great tools. After pasting the text into the text box, I clicked on Settings at the bottom right and added the character names at the end of the filter words. Then, once I created my word cloud, I clicked on Wordlist and can click on any of the words to see how many times I used them. I definitely want to look at the instances of “like” and “back” and explore why I used them so much.

After working on some of the issues that my word cloud revealed, I continued using the “Find” function. I found some lists of words to looks for in some of my old posts. Revision: Overused Words helped me find some problems with “very” and “really.” And Part Two The Worrying Wave of Weak Verbs: a cautionary tale of the murderous search for to be, to have, to do, to get, to go and to make got me on the right path to finding all my weak verbs. A search for “ly” also helped me strengthen my verbs by revealing the adverbs I used to modify them. My “ly” search also showed that I overused “only” which in most cases, I deleted.

This time, when I listened to the computer read my story, it was helpful. I noticed a couple typos, some words and phrases that were clunky, and a couple unnecessary sentences. It helped me fix the timing of the ending so it had the punch I wanted. And the most exciting part? I liked it.

I will print it out and read it aloud a few times, and then send it to a few beta-readers for feedback.

An Exchange of Letters

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem containing a letter and a response. The PAD Challenge prompt is a prime number poem.

Dear Sandman,
This is to extend
an open invitation
to come by tonight
and bring me a dream
I haven’t seen you
in such a long time
I am exhausted
please come

I’m afraid
I will have to pass
with the days getting longer
and the sand shortage
I have found myself stretched thin
please accept this missive
as a call to non-action
with my permission
to nap

Get into the Junk Drawer Song

Bokeh notes over some stain cleaning pads in the junk drawer.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt called “Junk Drawer Song” is an interesting juxtaposition of thoughts on a song and the stuff in the junk drawer.

The April PAD Challenge is a “Get (blank)” title poem.

Over at the A to Z Challenge they linked to a bunch of random generators in hopes to inspire. My Janus word for today is incorporate (adjective) 1) having a body, having been incorporated; 2) having no body; incorporeal

Get Out of that Confined Mind

The drawer forms the junk incorporate
like that yellow-shagged square
that contained my pre-teen change-up
a lone D battery as solo as a wall-flower
hoping to show her power some day
under that battery, a collection of inkblots
half-hiding the instruction manual
for the Air Hawk Pro as if they
are the gateway to the subconscious–

where hips, hips and boobs
I don’t yet have, shaved armpits,
a whisper of stubble
she’s on the empty dance floor
the club on the first, small, odd
cruise ship, a trip flush
with firsts. She had it,
the seductive movement I didn’t
the easy knowledge of her body,
knowing everyone was watching
her and breathing it in
through her arms and hands
lifted above her head, lifted
toward the short ceiling

–I’ve been wondering where to look
for that manual because I need to check
my tire pressure, there’s an unopened
box of two, unused, multi-eraser
cleaning pads, I leave it there, unused
as if still choosing to keep the stains
like all the sit-ups in front of the antique
mirror behind the closed bedroom door
or the lit floor tiles on the busy dance floor
when I became incorporate and understood
the unhidden meaning my mother feared–

my breath so close, the rhythmic touching
not exactly accidental, though still innocent
One and two, three, four and
two three pause clap clap clap

–so much shoved in this drawer:
two long screws, one short, and a dime
all those unused padded envelopes
meant to hold CDs, my CDs
and the blue, plastic, kidney-shaped
Mayor for my pocket, a yelling voice
of Katrina survival whose batteries
have not yet gone dead
That man needs to yell “I am pissed.”
And I, obviously, don’t hear it
enough, or it creates
its own power

I love that I push those buttons now
and he yells out to the future me
in another state, because contained
doesn’t work for a dancer
who needs to prove her groove

What the Inanimate Need to Do

The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write an unusual character’s to-do list.

The PAD challenge is to write a persona poem for an inanimate object.

Over at A to Z the word is “hustle.” I’m feeling that. My Janus phrase for today is hold up which can mean to support or aid, or to hinder or impede.

Such a busy day

I’ll need to make a list
a to-do list
to keep everything straight
to keep me on track
I need to be sturdy
never wobble
stay grounded
to hold her dishes
while she stares out the window
at the mountain and waves
to hold up her elbows as she
holds her head
I need to be vast
never completely covered
to have space for her projects
her work, and her whims
constantly rotating
around my head
one side of the runner
to the other
I need to avoid banging
into her knees or feet
as she tends to bounce
and bruise easily
and I don’t feel a thing
I need to avoid spills
as today is too busy
for mopping up
or changing my cloth
but the most important thing
I need to do today
is be supportive
she needs me to
be here for her
standing straight
in quiet patience
and not hold her up
in any way
because today
is a very busy day

After Fleeting Moments Fly

Tree growing around a headstone
photograph by Maria L. Berg 2017

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is a bit odd (but timely since I found out last night that a friend died). We are to write a monologue poem delivered by someone who is dead.

Poem-a-Day prompt is a metaphor poem.

A to Z Challenge is Game. My Janus word is garnish: With food, the verb means “to add to”; with wages, it means “to take from”.

Because my friend and I got to know each other through a show I put together with Ernie K-Doe, I thought I would ruminate on some K-Doe lyrics while working on this.

Someday I’ll Wake Up and Say

You stoop in the leaves
garnishing the base of this tree
a long, long time
I rock and roll
down below
are the branches dancing?

The roots are
bass strings
I strum all night and day
I can’t tell you
I can’t explain
wake up and say
you should have
been there

wherever, wherever you are
while you’re waiting,
waiting a solution
susurrus advice
or contribution

You stoop so low
one more time
I rock and roll
down below
to me
they’re about
the same

Meditation on a Villain

villain meditates

Today for NaPoWriMo we have a syllabic form prompt. We are challenged to try either a shadorma or a Fib.

For April PAD: Ooo, write a villain poem

Over at the A to Z Challenge they are asking what your favorite children’s book was. I loved The Monster at the End of this Book, Mister Pines Purple House and Harold and the Purple Crayon.

My Janus word for the day is fast. Fast can mean either “to move or do quickly” or it can mean “to not move,” as in “holding fast.”

I went with the shadorma. I enjoyed the opposite’s game prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub last night so much that I wanted to use it today to make a villain shadorma. To do that, I looked back over the chapbook I created in 2017 in response to the Poem-a-Day Chapbook Challenge. The Chapbook I compiled of the poems I wrote during that challenge is titled “The Hero’s Many Voices.” I looked back through a number of those poems and used them as inspiration to write a hero poem of three shadormas. Then I did the opposites game and here is today’s poem.

Behind the too white smile

shun courage
after sloth resists
a lost grip
invited
fast and loose, he cannot hide
hate held and gaining

no life lost
when scandal the cost
stoic in
avoidance
spurring destructive action

fun false facts
conspire to obscure
lies spreading
everywhere
emotional health suffers
sown of poisoned earth

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.

Fun with Collective Nouns

A drawing of a wisdom of wombats

The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to choose a short line from a beloved book as the title of the poem, then once the poem is written, completely change the title. At first I had trouble deciding which book to draw from, but then my eyes rested on my beautiful copy of A Compendium of Collective Nouns from Woop Studios.

The A to Z Challenge is to write a sentence without the letter E. My Janus word is execute: to execute a person is to end their life; to execute a program is to start it.

Today is the first two for Tuesday at the Poem-a-Day Challenge:

  1. Write a change poem and/or
  2. Write a don’t change poem

Wise Wombat Moon

A wisdom of wombats
is said to have
a unique defense system

thus intrigued
I read on to learn
their prized wise way

like a gaze of raccoons, I turn
and rinse the text for clues

like a wriggle of worms, I churn
through the dark, rich words

like a blessing of unicorns, I home
the unique

like a doom of dragons, I stalk
their defense

then I find it,
the trove of treasure
the secret to their system

when under duress
what performance are the
wise ones uniquely wired to execute?

with thick cartilage
and lack of tail, they dive
into burrows headlong

leaving their predators
with nothing protruding
to grab onto

they do not change colors
like a lounge of chameleons

nor do they change spots
like a hypnosis of cuttlefish

they do not stand tall and growl
like a maul of bears

they do not bare their teeth and howl
like a pack of wolves

in other words
they turn [tail] and run
showing their hunters their bums

Oh, wise, wise
wombat moon
shine in the face of danger

a wombat in contemplation

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.