Fungi poetry: such a great prompt!

A circle of mushrooms on the end of a felled tree
photo by Maria L. Berg

Today’s Tuesday Poetics prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub is all about fungi. Mushroom poems–and I was just looking at Alice in Wonderland images. I had so many ideas while reading the prompt poems. Here goes:

Fungous Circle

My Swedish Mom took me mushroom hunting
specifically for chanterelles, small orange ruffles hiding
among the stones and birch one would think obvious
but for a tween too elusive.

I thought fungus was gross as was all food
but she caught my attention as she pointed out
the important signs of poison.

Like the beautiful little wild flowers that
sprung through the forest floor after the winter waned
I had been kept ignorant, though a curious child.

Now, it is understandable that I hadn’t been guided
to see, to hunt, to appreciate
each unique cap, each frill of a delicate gill,
each stalk and ring.

When our mushrooms grow from septic or near run-off
my wild palate wasn’t encouraged
free food can be dangerous
I was already known to eat flowers.

Taught the circle of life, I saw
the little trees growing from the fallen as
I traipsed across the canyon.

I told my parents I would be buried there.
They denied me. Said it couldn’t be done.
But now, it’s clear, I was not the only one.

To be put in a sack, made of mushroom spores
And planted, it’s happening, possible.
Then I read people are making mushroom sneakers.
Do I want to be stinky feet? That run comfortably and well.

I want to be a tree.

#WriterinMotion Begins! the prompt

rahul-pandit-CDrP01O2n-w-unsplash resized

To my surprise, I’ll be working from a visual prompt: this lovely photograph by Rahul Pandit of a small house in nature. This project being about sharing the process from draft creation to polished piece, I thought I would share from the very beginning of my process, through brainstorming to idea before I get to the draft.

First thoughts

I really like the colors: The blue tones in the hills and the glowing light around them separating them from the sky; the lush green of the plants and trees; and the contrast of the small building’s yellow and red that makes it jump out from its surroundings.


Where is this? Where do I want this to be?

I’m curious about the specific name of the flowers and the trees, so I zoom in and crop a picture of the flowers and head over to name that plant for quick identification. Sadly, that didn’t work, neither did any of the other picture plant identification programs, so I tried comparison identification and believe it is acanthus mollis otherwise known as bear’s breeches which could be fun. It flowers from late spring to early summer, which is the seasonal feel of the photograph, a moment of reprieve before that small structure becomes a summer oven. Next, the trees.

To look at the trees’ possible identity, I went to The Arbor Day Foundation’s What tree is that? After answering the questions, guessing often, it identified my trees as Green Ash. After looking at some pictures of green ash, it’s plausible.

So now I have some specific details for my setting and the lighting, golden hour, puts my story during those magical slanted-light moments of dusk or dawn.

Because of the isolation of the dwelling, I started wondering if my character would eat the bear’s breeches and drink the ash leaves as tea. It turns out both are considered medicinal, so that’s an interesting possibility. I also learned that the acanthus mollis has a sweet scent that attracts insects and the short stalks of the flowers and the area without many flowers can mean that the soil is too rich and the plants may be harboring snails.



A Poetry and Photography Project for May: Day 1 the flowers stole focus

I started my day by taking another look at Molly Spencer’s revision post. I followed her link to Poets & Writers The Time Is Now series and found an inspiring prompt:

Excavating the Mind

The prompt, inspired by Bernadette Mayer’s book Memory, challenges to jot down notes about several images and observations each day for a week then write a poem that combines them into a single sequential mass.

The project for this week

Bernadette Mayer’s shot a roll of film each day for a month for her project. This week I intend to take (at least) twenty-four pictures each day and take notes about the images. I’ll share some of the images and observations and create a final poem at the end of next week.

Day 1 comments and observations

I talked to my mother this morning and she was very excited about all the flowers in bloom, especially the rhododendrons. During my photographic observation, the flowers stole focus.

My notes and observations:

My herbs are flowering
I don’t smell by herbs enough
rosemary has a strong delicious smell
flowering thyme doesn’t smell much

rhododendrons look like tropical pine cones
perhaps Tahitian?
just before they bloom

the dead ivy on the side of this tree feels like a bad omen

Is that white flower gentrifying that blue flower?

Join Me

For those of you who just finished NaPoWriMo and were looking for more prompts and inspiration, I hope you will join me for this week-long poetry prompt. I’m already having fun with it. Please share your observations and links to your images in the comments and we can enjoy this adventure together.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaPoWriMo Day 30: When Zeal Returns

I thought a couple of my fabric glass light boxes were nice illustrations for today’s return poem, but the way they were hanging on the wall wasn’t conducive to the photographs I wanted, so I rearranged them. It felt weird, but good, pulling them off the wall and swapping them around, plugging them in and enjoying them in a new way.

The poem

When Zeal Returns

Zeal returns at the break of dawn
before realization or consequence yawn

like a child on a swing who
soars and falls
higher and faster until
she tires or jumps
trying to fly
only to crash

Zeal returns with an ember of creation
before impossibility or discouragement’s gestation

like a comet it lights
my sky
for a while
its tail a dying
as it travels
from sight

Zeal returns when discovering the forgotten
before loss and grief get a word in

like a yo-yo on a frayed string
the return feels like
skilled control until
it rolls

Zeal returns when it does
passion and zest without cause

like flowers and leaves
sun and rain
in the spring
bring a will to begin
something, anything
and clean and plant
to kneel in the dirt
let go
of the hurt and
turn my face, arms extended
to the wind until
it burns

Then zeal returns


A to Z Challenge

zither – a musical instrument consisting of a flat wooden sound box with numerous strings stretched across it, placed horizontally and played with the fingers and a plectrum (any implement for plucking a string, such as a small piece of plastic, wood, etc.). It is used especially in central European folk music.

zydecoPopular music of southern Louisiana that combines French dance melodies, elements of Caribbean music, and the blues, played by small groups featuring the guitar, the accordion, and a washboard.

Looking for a good definition of zydeco got me going through my personal collection of not only zydeco music, but a beautiful art collection by Earl Hébert. His warm joyous paintings of Louisiana life brightened my days. His studio was next to Royal Rags, the costume shop I worked at in the French Quarter. His beautiful book Zydeco Shoes includes his paintings, recipes, and a CD of zydeco by The Lucky Playboys “Plus d’chance–Que d’esprit” meaning More Luck–Than Sense. 🙂


Prompt: Write a poem about something that returns

What a wonderful way to end this poetry challenge. I’m listening to zydeco, admiring beautiful paintings by an old friend and thinking about the return of zeal, passion, and zest for life.

PAD Challenge

Prompt: write a praise poem

Shelter in Poems, a virtual reading this evening!

Shelter in poems April 30 2020

Free virtual Event                 April 30, 2020 7:30 EDT

Academy of American Poets has an event tonight. What a great way to end NaPoWriMo. I was surprised to see names like Dulé Hill and Dan Rather on the list. I look forward to seeing which poems they read.

Enjoy This Day! Treat Yourself to some Great Poetry!

#NaPoWriMo Day 29: The penultimate poem

The poem

Total Trickster

It’s a complicated relationship
but then, isn’t every relationship–complicated
We keep it casual
He wanders over on a whim
takes a nap on my porch
either in the chair where I like to read
or the cushion on the bench
When I notice him,
I go out to say Hello
sometimes, when I open the door,
he’ll waltz right in

He’ll snuggle up to me,
put his head on my leg as I work
I cherish this time and try not to move
because if I do, he’ll leave
He gets mad if I go to the bathroom or if I eat
More often these days,
when I think we’re enjoying each other’s company
he lashes out at me
his moods change so quickly
I am often caught off guard
the language barrier can be frustrating

At the moment, he is inside my bass drum
a sign that he wants to hide
from the world as much as I do
Yesterday, I didn’t realize he was there
I thought he was outside
and he appeared in the middle of the day
The way he strutted across the room
I think he enjoyed surprising me

He’s a total trickster
changing the whims of the wind
with the flick of his tail
like Coyote, he draws in the fool with false wisdom
like the one-eyed pirate with a see-through eye patch
he prowls

He has trained me well
I do tricks for his affections
provide treats at his command
slide and click, slide and click
the glass door to his whims
all for a moment more
with this elderly feline
who chooses my company
over the chaos at home

A to Z Challenge

Yu – “An interval of the Chinese scale. The ancient Chinese divided the octave into twelve equal parts, like the semitones of our chromatic scale, which were called lu. Their scale, as commonly used, consisted, however, of only five notes, which were called koung, chang, kio, tché, and yu, and which corresponded to our F, G, A, C, D; koung or F being considered to be the normal key.” (from


Prompt: high praise to your pet

PAD Challenge

Prompt: Total (Blank)

#NaPoWriMo Day 28: When there is nothing but memories

Screenshot_2020-04-28 'In one ear and out the other' Poster by marialberg

In One Ear and Out the Other print from photograph of fabric glass by Maria L. Berg staged by Redbubble

The poem

The Best Rooms Are Too X-rated

Thinking through the bedrooms
so many bedrooms
moving and moving
trying to make something mine
I tried to settle on one
to mentally linger, loiter
describe in detail
like a capsule through time

I wanted it to be a happy place
full of growth and creative industry
accomplishment or at least good dreams
and for a moment I settled on your room
that first room
with only a mattress on the floor
we sat together in the chair
and blew bubbles through the fan
That room didn’t need anything else
for a few weeks

Then I thought of our room
before the storm
the tall ceilings and

I realized that all of the best rooms
the very best rooms
are too X-rated
to describe in this public space
for prying eyes
to savor
and embrace

The prompts

A to Z Challenge

X bracing – a constructional characteristic of a steel-string flat-top guitar established as standard by Martin around 1850.

𝄪  the symbol for a “double sharp” which means to play the note 2 half-steps higher


Prompt: write a poem about an old bedroom

PAD Challenge


  1. Write a look back poem and/or…
  2. Write a don’t look back poem. Because some folks just want to keep their eyes on the road ahead.

Reena’s Exploration Challenge

This morning, I found another prompt that I found inspiring. Over at Reena Saxena’s site, prompt # 131 is a quote that I could really relate to.

He had lost everything of value to him. There was an empty canvas on the easel, his colors and tools. What would he paint?

After Hurricane Katrina, when I had lost everything, I used fabric as my canvas. I had been working on an original technique of sewing layers and cutting that, when finished, looks like stained glass, thus “fabric glass.” The image at the top of the post “In One Ear and Out The Other” symbolizes trying to take all the bad and turn it into good.

My original pieces are all one of a kind, but I took pictures of them and loaded them onto where they make them into prints, cards, clothing, pillows and other products.


#NaPoWriMo Day 27: Massive Wonderment


Massive Wonderment (2018) photograph by Maria L. Berg

The poem

A Review of Wonderment

At first glance, it can be confusing
and a little bit scary
the rush of heightened perception
opening the senses to floods of emotion
when facing the tremendous unknown

The impressive beauty of discovery
sparking the creative mind to
sort through the behemoth array
of memories and form
new associations
each texture astronomical
each smell pythonic

In moments of wonderment
it becomes easy to sit peacefully
without imposing hurry
and enjoy each herculean sight

I applaud wonderment its mighty perseverance
its elephantine stubborness
and ability to always stay in front
of the latest trends and fads

If I must find fault
it would be that sometimes
a sense of wonder can be too massive
overwhelming, even exhausting
but that is a warbly criticism
for sleep brings recovery
So bring on the wonderment
gigantic and colossal
Highly recommended

A to Z Challenge

whole step – interval of major 2nd, two half-steps between

wah-wah – is an imitative word (or onomatopoeia) for the sound of altering the resonance of musical notes.

warble – (of a bird) sing softly and with a succession of constantly changing notes.


Prompt: a poetic review of something not usually reviewed

PAD Challenge

Prompt: write a massive poem

#NaPoWriMo Day 26: A Day Can Change So Quickly

the mountain's fickle hats

The poem

The Changing Days

A day can change so quickly
the sun slips behind the clouds
limbs break in the wind
becoming glass-shattering projectiles
the house floods, or burns, or burns while flooding
families shrink or grow
chairs are shifted around the table

Change will always happen
childhood dreams fleeting
take a lifetime to achieve
and once achieved warp and grow gargantuan
like Carl Jung discovering the matrix–
the simulation is now a garden snake
chasing its tail

How do we value change?
as dear as flying horses to fairy tales
or garbage to seagulls
as feared as homelessness
or a leader’s dangerous idiocy?

A day can change like
the whims of Mt. Rainier’s cloud hats
or a stain finds satin on a walk to school.
The cardio-glide found on the roadside
pairs well with cheese and wine,
so it does not produce change,
not this day
however, the vinyl records and books
do well to lighten the mood
because a day can change so quickly


The prompts


Prompt: “Almanac Questionnaire”

PAD Challenge

Prompt: Write a change poem

#NaPoWriMo Day 25: To Study This Twinkling

photograph of rhododendron

They Blush at Their Shocking Beauty (2020) photograph by Maria L. Berg

A to Z Challenge

variation(s) – the transformation of a melody or theme with changes or elaborations in harmony, rhythm, and melody.

vibration – Any rapid, repeating undulatory or tremulous movement; it is vibration that causes all sound.

virtuoso – One who is extremely skilled at performing upon an instrument


Prompt: Writing After James Schuyler’s “Hymn to Life” a prompt by Hoa Nguyen

PAD Challenge

Prompt: Write a remix poem

This prompt inspired me to look back through what I’ve written this month and the one poem that inspired a remix was the one that started with a line from the anne carson bot: A Future Voice in the Dark. Changing that first line and the title, got the words flowing into my present tense poem to go with the Hoa Nguyen prompt.

The poem

To Study This Twinkling

How long can I study this twinkling? A vibrato in time and space defining now. I remove my pajamas to put on sweats, I am on the way to the mailbox, walk to the car to make sure it starts, the red BRAKE light comes on, it roars to life, I hear “DIY Quarantine” from a voice on the radio, flip the key to off and open the door, so I won’t hear anymore. I jump out, pull the door handle to make sure it’s locked, habits leave traces of the before. I continue my journey, moss creeps across the driveway, bits of dead fir branches rest on the bushes, the mailbox has spiderwebs over the lock. I am delighted to see Poets & Writers in there. I don’t see anyone, I don’t hear a car, I hurry back. The drizzle is cold. I place the mail on the counter–wash my hands with soap and water. But the magazine? I use hand sanitizer on the magazine, but I’m not ready to sit with it yet. I hear “this is it, the apocalypse” and “I’ll pay you at another time.” Words that alligator to this moment. Uninvited, they bite right through. “I go back into the breathing method,” words of a mountain climber clinging to sanity guide me to common ground. The sun breaks through, the world completely changes. Shocks of crimson and blush, pearl and violet jar my senses as I swivel. I grab my camera and run outside. This study ends, a new one begins.

#NaPoWriMo Day 24: Nature’s Candy

mandarin oranges

A to Z Challenge

unison – interval formed by two parts on the same pitch


Prompt: write about a particular fruit

PAD Challenge

Prompt: write a nature poem

The poem

Californian Mandarin Cutie

Strong dimpled flesh in my favorite color
the perfect size for the palm of my hand
peels away revealing chalky off-white veins
and an enticing, refreshing scent
that lingers on my finger tips

I use my thumb to remove more of your coat
and both thumbs to pull you in half
each section the perfect treat
the first bite rewards with refreshing juice
tangy and sweet in unison excite the taste buds

I devour your sections
faster and faster
my fingers become sticky
your peel lays open and empty
sad evidence of my violent