#OctPoWriMo Day 25: Fueling the Spirits

An Apparition on the Lake by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, haunted, I took my single ghost filter to see what’s haunted in my world.

Toward the Light by Maria L. Berg 2021


Here we are starting our last week. I’ve decided to continue my daily poem practice through November by participating in Writer’s Digest’s November PAD Chapbook Challenge. After I finished my poem revision series last spring, my next goal was to create my first collection. I started exploring my themes and writing and submitting poems with that intention. Creating a chapbook this November, exploring my themes through the prompts will be a good way to continue in that direction.

Today’s prompt, “cup,” is a good one for me right now because I’m weary of burn-out, especially as we approach NaNoWriMo. I need to be rejuvenating, getting excited to write even more, and yet, the excitement I felt at the beginning of the month has waned. I need to refill that well in a big way. The 2018 prompt was “the door goes both ways.” I’m going to interpret that in terms of energy flow.

Distract the Ghosts

My cup seems to empty
before I drink
my ghosts are gluttons
but spirits sink
having trouble refilling
on never enough
like the torrent
spilling from the rupture
in the rubber bag in the well
never full after so many
pulls and yet thrown down
to spill again

This abrupt cut of current
is but the wrong song
skipping, repeating, leaving
the needle too long
on the same boring line
Changing the channel
breathing into the
haunting hues will
excite juices again
to fill my cup with
torrential thoughts
like hot honey
Quick! Distract the ghosts

Haunting Hues by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 13: Haunted Surrender

Haunted by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “ghost,” I changed the eyes on one of my ghost filters and got out the creepy children figurines. Then I thought it might be fun to try some shots from outside in to capture some ghosts on the furniture, so I hung some lights in the window and went out on the porch. Then the happy accidents began.

Ghosts on the Water by Maria L. Berg 2021

I am usually irritated by all the bright lights my neighbors burn all night. The light pollution blocks out most of the starlight in an area that should be a great place for stargazing. However, this morning before dawn, those lights across the lake created a perfect palette for ghosts and their oddly right-side-up (or upside-down) reflections on the still, glassy water.

Ghost Reflections by Maria L. Berg 2021


Today’s prompt “theater” goes well with the 2018 prompt which was “If I Were You.” It was the last prompt I responded to in 2018 and I wrote a blitz poem. There are a few lines from that blitz that I like and relate to today’s prompts:

Afraid to discover/Discover yourself/Discover you were wrong

Deceive your believer/Deceive with a smile/Smile through the pain/Smile while the heart breaks/Breaks barriers

Love ripped away in a day/Love in a paper heart

Consider your options/Consider how I feel
Feel the love/Feel for another

In the 2018 prompt, she talked about feeling the need to get things off your chest, and times you wish people would see things from your point of view, but “If I Were You” has very different connotations to me. And combined with today’s prompt “theater,” it could be about an actor’s process, trying to actually become someone else.

An Actor At Heart

This theater, repeat defeater, creeps
into everything, thespian terminator
of tastier chemistry, detonates the latch
that was holding me back, biting my tongue
biding my time to tame forgiveness wild
behind the clear fragile pane in its frame

And now, used as a mirror, a lover, afraid
to discover, discover myself in you, through you,
seen by you, discover I was wrong all along
that you deceive your believer, that I am
the believer deceived, deceived by a smile, the smile you
smile through, through the pain, through the
stuck loop-brain, mirrored smile as my heart breaks
finally breaking through the faux-mirror barrier,
the reflective shards splatter then scatter,
tatters of face laced lateral flattery lacks
fact staged as false safety now lost

And now, stage left alive while I writhe sleepless
again, rage kept aside childhood nights
of boogeymen, and man monsters in the closet
I posit I had no options frozen in loss
I tossed to any comfort familiar, known
clung to as home, though full of ghosts
haunted, roaming unwanted by most, I
became host to a diaspora of spirits

And now, I consider my options, plethora
of options to consider, one of those considerations
could be how you feel, how I would feel
if I were you, empathic fanatic actor
collector of others, crawl into your skin
shoes and eyes, see your lies and whys,
the trauma that creates drama in response
to the symmetry of leaves in trees

Studying the Beat Poets & My Exploration of Sonic Surrender

This week, week 6 of ModPo, we’re studying the beat poets. The section starts by reading and discussing Howl by Allen Ginsberg. As I read it I remembered a tape a friend gave me of Steven “Jesse” Bernstein. I heard the music behind Steven as he spoke his poems while reading Howl. I hadn’t noticed how close their rhythms are before.

Then I read some of “Old Angel Midnight” by Kerouac and watched Anne Waldman perform “Rogue State” and started to wonder about my concept of sonic surrender vs. “babble flow” vs. nonsense. I like the sound collecting I’ve been doing and connections I’ve been finding, but I’m not completely surrendering to only the sound of the words. I’m not even repeating words and phrases very much. I’m stuck in a constraint of creating meaning, wanting to create shared understanding, and I think I like that better than babbling sounds.

Last night I watched the movie Howl for the first time. It wasn’t what I expected. I liked how they included a dramatization of the obscenity trial against the publisher. But mostly it was a beautifully animated reading of the poem. One of the important things I took away from the film was Ginsberg’s belief that a poet had to bring the voice they use to talk to their friends to their poetry.

In the Light by Maria L. Berg 2021


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.

I’m having fun taking my time with this draft. Sharing my progress here is great accountability to keep me working on it. Today another fun idea came while I was writing. Here’s an excerpt:

I loosened my tie and pulled it over my head. I had the clever idea of lowering the tie down there, like a colorful silk claw-lure. After letting it dangle limply for a few minutes, I gave it a few quick jerks to make it dance, grab attention, but no takers. When I pulled it out it was splotched with black ooze. Ruined. Stupid.

Maria L. Berg 2021
Ghost by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 28: Mending the broken places

first ghost


Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Mending the broken places. The suggested form, Pantoum, looks interesting.

Mending is only temporary

Pierced, torn, unraveling forms a hole
Reunite them with needle and thread
The fabric can never again be whole
This tear requires a tight zigzag instead

Reunite them with needle and thread
When left too long the gap needs a patch
This tear requires a tight zigzag instead
I’ll have to find thread and fabric to match

When left too long the gap needs a patch
Hours spent mending can’t fight destroyer time
I’ll have to find thread and fabric to match
Wasted effort or recaptured moment sublime

Hours spent mending can’t fight destroyer time
The fabric can never again be whole
Wasted effort or recaptured moment sublime
Pierced, torn, unraveling forms a hole


The image for Day 28 on the Pinterest board shows a ghost I helped make for my friends’ party in New Orleans.

My take: I love how the perspective of the photo makes the ghost look taller than the buildings. How frightening would it be if a specter with glowing red eyes rose up out of your back yard and grew to gigantic heights?

Micro-fiction: Petra knew she had no business messing with Voodoo, but the lady at the shop in the quarter had said burying the gris gris in the garden would change her luck. Her luck had been so bad lately, she had assumed that meant for the better. Cowering under the glare of the red glowing eyes of the rising, giant specter, she knew better than to assume when messing with Voodoo.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: Conflicted

Creepy verbs: sluice

Story Cubes Symbols: clock (1:45), padlock, apple, arrow up, pyramid, magic wand, drama masks, key, magnifying glass

Woodland creature: snake

Collective noun: a flourish of blossoms

Horror trope: witches/warlocks

Oblique Strategies: Would anybody want it?


Happy Reading and Writing!