Sijo: a new form to me

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a sijo. Thank you for featuring yesterday’s perch rant.
The PAD Challenge is a two for Tuesday: 1. Write a love poem 2. Write an anti-love poem
The Janus word for A to Z challenge is qualified which can mean “limited” (as in “qualified success”); or “skilled, skillful” (as in “a qualified expert”).

pink Mylar balloon, floating on a lake
photo by Maria L. Berg 2021

Eye-catcher

Is this a qualified vessel, floating past, on the waves?
Bobbing Mylar, passion pink mystery of lost love loose
caressed by surface tension and kissed by a summer breeze

Well, if I have to rant about something . . .

I just enjoyed the first presentation of Crime Writer’s Week with author Leigh Russell. She had lots of tips for writers and mentioned poetry often. I’m looking forward to the next panel. I hope you will find time to enjoy some of this free conference this week. I have crime in each of my novel manuscripts from literary fiction to science fiction and even in some of my poems ;). And I’m having fun thinking about all of them.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a humorous rant.
The PAD challenge is to use an animal title.
My Janus word for the A to Z Challenge today is the phrase “put out” which can mean to create or produce, or to extinguish (a flame) or injure.

A perch inspired my story “More than He Could Chew” which is available in the Anthology Writer Shed Stories (Volume 1).

Put Out by Perch

There you are
swimming to the surface
as I want to dive in
Laying some eggs
–that will be tiny
fish by the thousands
soon swarming the ladder–
leaving a trail of excrement,
flaunting your occupancy

You slimy, slippery, carnivorous
cannibal, yeah, I saw you
slipping into shallow waters
under children’s feet to
freak them out with your
slithering slime, then
shimmering off to hide
in the shadow under the dock

Don’t you know that’s why
you’re so easy to catch?
but that’s another tease
isn’t it? The excitement
of the tug on the line
then your scales are sharp
and cut and you’re so full of
bones, not enough to fry
you’re only good for
choking on

You swim in a school,
but you skipped class

Who were you in my dream collage

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to find inspiration from a chapter title in Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words by Susan G. Wooldridge.

The PAD Challenge is to write an ekphrastic poem.

I was inspired by the chapter “collage” to look at some collage programs online. I had a lot of fun with Word Art, creating a shape for each line of my poem, starting with another chapter title, “Who were you in my dream?”

Then I put those images into another program called ribbet to make a shape collage. I didn’t enjoy ribbet as much as it made me sign up for a 14 day trial and wasn’t as simple and straight forward as Word Art. But, it made a fun collage to illustrate my poem.

Last Night I Dreamed of You

Who were you in my dream?
I search for you through the seaside
house with so many rooms
ocean spray salts my face
and the curtains, a storm is coming
Are you the air or water,
sifting sand, or my guiding flame?


#SoCS: Stream of Consciousness helped me write a moon poem

There’s a lot going on today. The Write Hive Conference has workshops and presentations all day and it’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) with the prompt “mash,” so that should be an interesting combination (a day of stream of consciousness while attending a conference).

One of the sponsors for Write Hive is Prowritingaid which will have another free conference next week. Crime Writer’s Week starts on Monday and has interesting presentations and events all week. The Networking events look like fun.

Now to some poetry~

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a moon poem.

The Poem-a-day challenge is to write a waiting poem.

Over at the A to Z Challenge they are asking what you do on your “Off Day.” I really like today’s Janus word, overlook (1) To watch closely; (2) to fail to notice

Time for some stream of consciousness. Hopefully, there will be a poem in there.

It worked! All of the prompts came together. Even “mash” got into the poem. Just for fun, here’s a section of my stream of consciousness before I got to the poem:

. . . “mash”: a pulpy mass. I mash black beans, then fry them up for my feta and beans on toast. That’s pretty much the only thing I mash. I just mashed a tiny, black sugar ant that crawled on me, that’s what my summers are about” mashing ants. Not this year. This year I will win the battle somehow. . .

The battle plan for the ants goes on for a while then I get to the poem when I write, “What does any of that have to do with mash or overlook or the moon or waiting?” Then the poem kind of spilled out.

Reflected moonlight – bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg 2020

He is a Selfish Moon

Am I waiting for the moon,
so I can mash his stupid,
smug face in–
the way he overlooks the pain
he brings, the tidal pull
of our waters, powerless
to the moon’s whims

that peeping moon’s
bright light, pouring
across the lawn,
and streaming through windows
in the middle of the night,
does he think I don’t see
him reflected in the water
in the morning?

He is not camouflaged
in a cloudless sky.

A Pretend Trip to Palouse

The NaPoWriMo prompt is to relax with a Skeltonic.

The Poem-a-Day prompt is to write a city poem.

Over at A to Z Challenge we’re reminded that this is a challenge and to Never Give Up! The Janus word is nonplussed.
It can mean so surprised and confused that one is unsure how to react or not disconcerted, unperturbed.

A Skewed View

completely nonplussed
this trip to Palouse is a bust
everything covered in dust
and the haunt cancelled, I trust
curse this wanderlust
but if I adjust
my view just a touch
to the rolling hills of lush green and rust
swirling and diving in natural flux
the sun piercing the clouds makes the dust
in a gust
sparkle like stardust

I Couldn’t Think of Anything: ended up with way too much

Every photo in this post is a micro-mystery that starts with “M”

I can’t believe we’re already at the halfway point. The days are flying.

There’s a free online writing conference this weekend starting tomorrow called WRITEHIVE. I signed up yesterday. There are free workshops and presentations all weekend. Did any of you attend last year? I hope you’ll join me. Let me know in the comments and I’ll look for you. Now to poetry!

Can you guess them all? Post in the comments.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to a small habit picked up from a parent. Pushing through while journaling really got me somewhere I hadn’t looked before.

The PAD prompt is a title prompt “(blank) Story.”

Over at the A to Z Challenge they have a fun game of Magnifying Glass. I think I’ll get in on that as a fun photography challenge.

I present two Janus words today: mad and mean

mad can bean both in love with/crazy about, and very angry at

mean can mean a lot of things, but as a Janus it is both average and superior 😉

Our Projects’ Story

Dad had two private spaces
the den and the garage
I wanted in, to watch
but wasn’t allowed
I thought he was mean
I was mad I was a girl

His spaces were messy
his messy, our kind of messy
everything had a plan, a purpose
yet to be accomplished
a spark of an idea
that would be

What if he was protecting me
he worried the moment that I might
see there was a flaw
an issue for him alone
or he listened to voices
on that raspy radio

that he didn’t want me to hear
having adult, contrary thoughts
I wasn’t ready for, or
it’s very possible,
that both of Dad’s places
were experiments

full of his projects
and work and ideas
were his systems of
controlled chaos
competing experiments
engineered to find order

A girl-child–
a precocious, curious, tomboy
with her own creative mess
would be an added variable
a deviation, produce an outlier
muddle any useful findings

irreplicable results
rendering any formulas useless
The math, but a recording
of a wish unfulfilled
or rather an algorithm
for lies forgotten



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

Tomorrow’s Headline

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem in the form of a news article you wish would come out tomorrow.

Today’s PAD Challenge is the second two for Tuesday:

  1. Write a lucky poem and/or…
  2. Write an unlucky poem.

Over at the A to Z Challenge they encourage a quick game of Klondike solitaire to let the mind wander a bit when you need a break. My Janus word for today is killer which can mean something or someone that takes life, or in its slang usage can mean something challenging to do or something excellent.

Today’s prompts inspired some arts and crafts. I began today’s poetry journey by pulling some old local papers from my fire-fuel pile and began hunting for inspiration. Since the local Courier-Herald is mostly full of stories about kids sports and I couldn’t even find the word “luck” in there, I quickly lost interest, so I tried a different source. When I was taking the Futures Thinking specialization courses on Coursera, I signed up for some Futurist newsletters. I found my inspiration from a link in the Science X Newsletter that led me to Phys.org. I found a few different articles that interested me, printed them and then got to work.

Today’s poem about tomorrow’s headline used the following sources:

The role of hydrophobic molecules in catalytic reactions by Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum

Using near-field optical microscopy to conduct real-time evanescent wave imaging by Bob Yirka , Phys.org

Megafauna extinction mystery unlocked by Flinders University

Researchers find bubbles speed up energy transfer by Elaina Hancock, University of Connecticut

(images used are public domain)

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.