Celebrating Play and Treats

What a Difference a Day Makes by Maria L. Berg 2022

As you can see, the snow is gone. I know I said I wasn’t going to publish all my word pictures here, but I wanted to show the result without the snow, and then I did some playing indoors.

Playing Indoors by Maria L. Berg 2022

New Poem

The dVerse Poets Pub is open after a two week vacation and today Lisa invites us to write a “celebration” haibun. I haven’t written a haibun in a while, so I think I’ll give it a try.

Celebrating Release from a Beautiful Imprisonment

I saw large, white flakes fall during my white-knuckle drive home through thick rain and sporadic drivers with speeds from infrared to ultraviolet.

Ten days it snowed since we opened presents, and ate Mother’s delicious strawberry cake, everyone generous and grateful. I remained sustained.

Overnight snowmelt
frees me from joyous ice jail
I return with treats

Playing in the Mirrorworld by Maria L. Berg 2022

And this image of the Mirrorworld fits with Of Maria Antonia’s 2022 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt “Chill,” I think.

Chillin’ in the Mirrorworld by Maria L. Berg 2022

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo & #NovPAD Day 10:

Abandon by Maria L. Berg 2021

When I included “abandon” as a prompt, I imagined things left behind. I was feeling that kind of abandon yesterday, but I want to leave that behind. This morning when I thought of abandon, I thought of wild abandon: bright colors, spinning until falling, rolling down hills. The surrender kind of abandon. This bliss kind of abandon.

I’ll try to bring both aspects of abandon to a poem to fit yesterday’s Poetics prompt: In the Light of Other Days.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a nature poem.

The Worry Exchange

I ask my morning
what I can abandon
to enable a feeling
of wild abandon
Worry, said the morning
abandon your worries
like branches abandon
their leaves to the wind
and I hear the lawn
is getting too long and
you have dishes in your sink
and I remember the black grit on
the gray kitchen tiles
I ask my morning
how to abandon
all the worries I’m facing
so I can feel reckless abandon?
Face them with action
So I mow the lawn with abandon
and as the grass abandons inches
I turn my ankle
but I do not abandon my mission
I yell the pain at the wind
and for once
the pain walks off
when I finish and lock the mower in the shed
I find that my shed keys are lost
most likely locked inside the shed
and while not finding my keys
I notice the drip from the outside faucet
drip, drip, abandoning water
(and money) into the mud
which is worrying

Dimensional Abandon by Maria L. Berg 2021

November Daily Prompts by Maria L. Berg 2021 Please leave your links in the comments. I hope you will join me.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo & #NovPAD Day 4: A Party Hidden in Plain Sight

Fancy Ribbons by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today I was inspired to try a shadow effect inspired by images I’ve seen on Pinterest. Pareidolia combined with tricks of light and shadow made for some interesting house guests.

Out from Hiding by Maria L. Berg 2021

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

The prompt is to write a party poem.

At the Party

It hides
behind the fancy ribbons
the glitter, the streamers
it hides in plain sight
behind white-toothed
red-lipstick smiles
is obscured by
laughter and music

but then a sudden light–
headlights through the window
sweeping the far wall,
someone leaves the bathroom
or enters from the hall–
and the shadows shift
and I see it so clearly
and then it’s gone
covered again in laughter
and the next song’s major chords

It hides
under every plastic cup
and every paper plate
under every chair
used to fasten a balloon
I can taste it
in every bite of cake
there it is
in the flicker of candles
I smell it coming
in the smoke
when extinguished

It lingers longer this year
as it lurks in the shadows
and leaves a clingy film
after the guests have gone

The shadow from a piece of ribbon created a profile on a white wall.
His Stern Profile by Maria L. Berg 2021

My party poem combined with “hide” made for a conceit that fits Björn’s Meet the Bar prompt at dVerse.


My days are flying by. Every day I think I’ll get more done than I do, but I’m enjoying putting extra time into this initial set-up with the intent to have everything come up again later. I started hopping around a little bit yesterday, and that helped me get motivated to go back and continue the scene from the day before.

How’s your writing going? How do you get and stay motivated?

Why the Long Faces? by Maria L. Berg 2021
November Daily Prompts by Maria L. Berg 2021 Please leave your links in the comments. I hope you will join me.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo & #NovPAD Day 3: As Wild as a Baby Huckleberry in November

Wild Huckleberry by Maria L. Berg 2021

So far, so good. My prompts are inspiring me to hop out of bed, grab my camera and try new techniques. When I woke up, I made a quick list of things found in the wild that I forgot to put on my abandoned property description yesterday. This included: spiderwebs, spiders, huckleberries, salmon berries, ferns, maple trees, etc. The list of these details made me think of a set of screw-on macro lenses I bought a while ago and only tried once or twice. I set my camera to macro, grabbed the 10X lens and the 4X lens, and set out into the wild.

The world was very cooperative. It temporarily stopped raining and a little morning sun peeked out from the clouds occasionally. The leaves held lovely droplets. I was hoping to find one little shriveled up huckleberry clinging to the tree, but instead found many tiny huckleberries hanging on. They were delicious crispy, juicy treats. What a nice surprised.

A Cup of Raindrops by Maria L. Berg 2021

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

The prompt is “As (blank).”

As Wild

Today I am wild
as wild as a huckleberry
after the first frost
a crisp, tart-sweet burst
as wild and fresh as raindrops
collected in the yellow petals
of a buttercup among ferns
as wild and fresh and vibrant as light
breaking through the thick gray
to reveal threads of spiderwebs
from sori dot to sori dot
as wild and fresh and vibrant
and dangerous as thorns
hiding entwined on blackberry vines
weaving through it all
like sharp fangs behind
plump, closed, smiling lips
ready to prick any bit of
vulnerable bare skin
that comes too near today
I am wild

And for Ingrid’s Poetics prompt at dVerse yesterday, a version of only the concrete.

Today I am

a huckleberry
after the first frost
a crisp, tart-sweet burst
raindrops collected in yellow petals
of a buttercup among ferns
light breaking through
the thick gray clouds
to reveal threads of spiderwebs
from sori dot to sori dot
thorns hiding entwined on
blackberry vines weaving
through the underbrush
like sharp fangs behind
plump, closed-smiling lips
ready to prick any bit
of bare skin

In the Light by Maria L. Berg
Veins by Maria L. Berg 2021


Yesterday I made the Miso and Squash soups I had been planning, so my meals are only a matter of quick warming for a while. I had forgotten all about my word count sticker sheet and bingo card, so I have some fun stickers to put on things today. Hopefully that will get some fun motivation started.

Writing Exercise: As my warm up today, I’m going to keep Chekhov’s gun in mind today and make a little map of everything I’ve set up in my opening scene: All of the props, sounds, people, etc. that have been brought to the reader’s attention as important and brainstorm how they may be revisited and build toward the climax of the story.

There’s also a Chekhov’s Gun Exercise from 101 Creative Writing Exercises that sounds interesting.

Yesterday, during the BARN writing group, a new member mentioned Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner, so thinking of today’s photo prompt, I looked it up. It consists of 15 minute hand-written writing sprints, writing as fast as you can. Sadly, I press hard even when I try not to, and do not write very quickly. But I do write faster when hearing the tick of my kitchen timer, so during my morning pages this morning, I will attempt to write as fast as I physically can and hope it leads me to bi-passing my inner critic and get to my intuition and instinct.

Whiskers by Maria L. Berg
November Daily Prompts by Maria L. Berg 2021 Please leave your links in the comments. I hope you will join me.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 28: Carving Into the Gooey Bits

Mr. Skeleton on a Rampage by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, carve, I went to grab a carving knife from the knife block, but it was missing. Mr. Skeleton had gotten to it first and had gone on a skeleton candle murder spree.

Unlike yesterday, I had a lot of fun this morning, and everything worked the way I wanted it to. My photo shoot was inspired by the original Halloween movie (affiliate link) poster.

I have really enjoyed this photography challenge this month. Not only does it get me up and active first thing, with creative production before breakfast, it involves crafting and engineering. I’ve enjoyed how the different prompts have worked together, so the graves I didn’t finish one morning, filled out the graveyard on another morning. There’s been a nice balance of creating scenes inside, outside, and bringing the outside in. I’ve tried so many new things and feel like I’m mastering some new techniques. I’ve also explored my space in new ways and appreciate all of my Halloween decorations for their versatility.

I found these one-word daily prompts so inspiring, I plan to continue during November. For NaNoWriMo I’m working on a thriller novel called “Abandoned Property,” so I’m creating prompts to go with that theme. I’m working to come up with prompts that will be as inspiring as Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge has been.

Killer Shadow
Killer Shadow by Maria L. Berg 2021
Halloween Slasher by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt, “Tea,” took some thought, but then I thought of charming elderly ladies which led me to Arsenic and Old Lace and I thought of the practice of reading tea leaves for divination, and decided tea would fit in nicely as spooky inspiration.

The 2018 prompt was “Split in two” which goes well with that carving knife.

Today is Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub, so let’s see if I can carve out a poem to share at the pub.

My Halloween movie poster with bokeh jack-o-lantern face.

Seen in the Tea Leaves

Finally split in two
I’ve broken through
to the gooey bits
where dualities splash
and clash in banality
a mystery of flesh
starving to carve

the protective coating
cracked, gives and crashes
around the periphery
as sharp edges
glitter in steel
in jittery fists from shivery
spinal nerve trickery

contradictory cleavage
poking at pains hoping
for gains by slicing
and dicing then displaying
the gore as horror torn
and shorn from its
safest hiding places

the conditionality of
sanity sliced by a
skeleton’s carving knife
in the morning light
dazzles momentarily
before it scares me
and I put it away.

The Other Slasher Comes to Play by Maria L. Berg 2021
Slasher Protege by Maria L. Berg 2021

And after I thought I was done taking pictures, kitty went to learn at the feet of the master slasher. Of course, this was meant to be a secret transaction, so he ran off the moment he saw I was taking pictures.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 26: Playing with the Upside-down

Alien Encounter by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, creature, I experimented with an effect I noticed when I started to play with bokeh in the mirror: it’s possible to take a photo of a filter both right side up and upside down. These are my first experiments with the effect, but I got some fun results.

Tentacles by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt, “Speaking and Listening,” reminded me of all of my children’s story records my parents brought me a couple weeks ago. I think I’ll spend some time with them as I write today. The headless rider has some funny lines.

The 2018 prompt was “Inside Out.” Listening to my old story records brought out my inner child.

For Today’s Poetics challenge at dVerse Poets Pub, Lisa requested Halloween themed poems about irritating human attributes. That seems to fit well with today’s creatures. I don’t think I’ve tried the Duodora form before.


Human creature
I’ve never come down so
far with you before
and heard. Don’t forget
those roars in the night!

Every hypocritical word a trap

Human creature
where monsters did last rise
you have to believe
in them to see them
Pull off its disguise!
This is a headless monster you can’t nab!

Creature in the Deep by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo Day 21: Playing with Firewater

Melting Skull by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “drink,” I bought yummy, colorful juices and repurposed my candy mold as an ice tray. The drink photos did not go well. I made a terrible mess and I’m going to have to deal with a drunk alligator and zombie later, but I like how the candy pumpkin shots turned out. Making shots for a zombie, what was I thinking?


Today’s prompt is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. The 2018 prompt was “How Will I Know?” It recommended using poetry magnets. I haven’t played with mind in a while. Should be fun.

The dVerse Poet’s Pub prompt is the poetry form compound word verse.

At the Water’s Edge

Aspiring to some acceptance
Breaking down my mind’s resisting

How will I know to take the leap?
I imagine kisses’ sweet

After candy pumpkin shots and
warm-cheeked, heady, loose-lips demand

How will I know to go or stay?
After the bridge washes away

Is there a reward for rushing,
or a leftover brain-crushing

Candy pumpkin shots by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 12: An Ode to Tortured Love & Frogs

Light Frog by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, is “frog.” My nephew told me that my next bokeh filter should be a frog a while ago. I’m glad I finally made it. I like how it turned out.


Today’s prompt is “ode.” The 2018 prompt was “Tortured.” I like the contrast of writing a tortured poem of praise. It really captures the chaotic loss of control of love.

The Tuesday Writing Prompt at Go Dog Go Café is to write a poem without using the words “the” and “and.” I think this constraint could work well with sonic surrender, so I’m going to give it a try.

Today’s Poetics prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub: to write my way out of a place of pain, fits so perfectly with my thoughts of an ode to tortured love, it’s as if Ingrid was in my head this morning.

Oh, my Torture, this Love

When pain reigns, thrilling
heightened awareness glaring
nerves sparking with life
firing toward limitations
creating tense-muscled suspense
extremes of what I can stand

Is it fear that brings me here?
Does my flesh believe it will tear?
Warning of peril from unlimited pleasure
chaotic behavior when overwhelming
pre-frontal processes, living uninhibited

In dizzying free-fall, Contusia
dazed in a haze, purples
sensitive to touch, crazed
obsessive worries in separation
so unstable wobbles, topples hobbled
drained faint–that in-between pain

like frogs hopping perilously
across back roads in thick morning fog
brought on by a pond squashed in grills every year
I am drawn to danger, red cayenne heat of danger,
frying-pan-to-fire danger, tightrope-no-net danger,
thin lines connecting cliffs over synaptic canyons
too far to cross, between gains
lost, ends too soon

Lake Frogs by Maria L. Berg 2021


Go Dog Go Café also has a Halloween-themed Prompt Challenge looking for Halloween inspired original pieces of writing / and or art. Submissions are open until October 25th.

This Week’s Story

Logline: An arrogant gossip hears noises coming from his shower. Exploring the drain isn’t enough, after cutting a whole through the floor, he finds that his problems run much deeper.

This morning I started the draft and it already surprised me. I’ll keep writing to about 1,000 words today and then let it simmer again until tomorrow. Here’s a little excerpt from my protagonist’s childhood trauma flashback:

I’m not sure what I did to convince it to stop playing dead, but when it did it was all claws and teeth. Its feet pierced my neck and shoulders trying to hold purchase while its teeth and front claws went for my head and face. I dropped the wood and flailed, but couldn’t scream for fear that parts of it would get in my mouth. So no one came to my aide.

I fell hard to the concrete on top of the wood I dropped, bruising my ribs, and played dead myself. It didn’t take long for it to lose interest and scurry into the shadows. I crawled up the steps and cried for my mom. She covered my cuts in stinging alcohol. I filled the house with screams, outmatching the wind until it died, and she took me to the hospital.

Maria L. Berg 2021
Frog on Her Head by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

The Novelinee is new to me

My first plum shrub cocktail photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s prompt from Laura at Dverse Poets Pub is to write a Novelinee, a nine line stanza with a rhyme scheme in iambic pentameter. Let’s see what I can come up with.

In novelty

a sudden interest overpowers calm
and everywhere I look a present falls
like plums too high to pluck now in my palm
enthralling rubber skin to sweetness calls
excite my senses newness all around
abundance fills my morning breakfast air
the plop of ready fruit, adventure’s sound
what foreign taste awaits for me to dare
once hidden, now the joy in looking found

I finished this poem right on time to go combine my shrubs. I made:

  1. plum & honey + apple cider vinegar with basil
  2. plum & agave + balsamic vinegar with sage

For my cocktail I used equal parts rum, the balsamic shrub and tonic water. Sounds weird, but it’s tasty and has a nice bite. Here’s to trying new things! Make your way to the bar and request a sample. 🙂

Oral Poetry: Trying a new writing process

The Poetics challenge from Ingrid at dVerse Poets Pub is to write a poem without writing it down. This intrigued me and sounded like a great way to start exploring some ideas for this month’s Changing Focus project around the theme “reflections.”

I thought I’d share this vocal warm-up I like to do before recording (because it’s fun):

Yesterday, I discovered that the bass effects pedal I’ve had for many years, has a built in drum machine, so hold onto your hats world.

Focus on Reflections words and music by Maria L. Berg

Focus on Reflections

I face a self-imposed focus
on reflections
a month of looking
of looking in mirrors
looking at me

not turning away
looking further
and deeper
finding the deep waters
past the imperfections

What will I find there?
What does reflection
smell like? What is its
taste? How will I get to
the point where I
only see what I like?

All those flaws
become only a reflection
only the light
hitting a chip in the mirror
everything reflects light
all we see is a reflection

*That was an interesting experience. After finding a drum beat and recording the drum and bass. I played it back while saying lines to the room. When I felt like the concept was flowing, I recorded myself, then typed up what I said as if transcribing. That was fun. I think I’ll play with that a lot.

Cover of The Cynic in Extremis, a poetry collection by Jacob M. Appel. There is a picture of a grumpy looking pug wrapped in a furry blanket.

I hope all of you will come by this Thursday, Sept. 2, and read a special guest post about revision by Jacob M. Appel. I recently enjoyed his poetry collection, The Cynic in Extremis. I found it both entertaining and provocative.