Happy May Day

collage of photos of flowers in a woven-paper basket
Flower Basket (2020) multi-media collage by Maria L. Berg

I did it! I made it through April with over thirty new poems posted, inspired by NaPoWriMo and the Poem-a-Day Challenge. Congratulations to everyone who met these challenges. It was very fun to see the winners posted for last November’s Poem-a-Day Chapbook challenge. Congratulations De Jackson!

A to Z challenge winner badge

At the A to Z Challenge there’s an after-challenge survey. I enjoyed using the challenge to explore Janus words and phrases in my poetry.

I also enjoyed discovering art, craft and design sites I hadn’t visited before along with other writing sites.

This challenge isn’t quite finished. There will be a reflections post sign-up on May 3 and a blog road trip starting May 10th.

It’s time to get back to revision. This week I’ll be posting about my poetry revision process. I hope you’ll join me and share your tips and tricks for poetry revision.

The Final Destination

Today’s final NaPoWriMo prompt is to write directions describing how a person should get to a particular place.

The final PAD prompt is a goodbye poem.

Over at the A to Z Challenge they have a word scramble. The Janus word for today is zip which can mean energy, vim, or nothing, nada, zero

fisheye view of trees and sun

Time To Go

Goodbye. It’s time
for me to be
on my way

If only I knew
where I wanted to be

I would zip up the stairs
and burst out the door
climb into the car
and back down the drive

I could turn right or left
and loop directly back here
somehow climbing uphill
both ways

with water always at my right hand
an eagle soaring overhead

and if I venture further
past the pentacostals and jehova’s witnesses
the elementary school or the gas station
speed down the hill or up
the road will bring me here again

larger loops radiating
as if a stone dropped in the lake
on a still day
I might as well stay

An Irreplaceable View

Tonight is the Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala. It’s free.

The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to imagine looking through a window, any window, and describing what I see.

The PAD prompt is to write an evening poem.

Over at the A to Z Challenge they’re playing the Yes Game. My Janus word is yield which can mean; to give up, surrender, or relinquish, but also; to produce by natural process.

Today is Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub where you can share your best recent poem and read and comment on all the great poetry being shared.

This is the window

with the slightly broken sill
covered in flakes of pop-corn ceiling
with semi-sheer blinds that when open
tuck up all wrinkled on one side
through this dusty, cobwebbed window
revealed by off-white sheers belted to hooks
where a speck of a beige-dotted bug climbs
there’s a once thought impossible view

because for my whole life
it was blocked by next door’s tall firs
providing cool shade lakeside
my great aunt told me
she did it on purpose
to hurt her brother next door
a family feud of unnatural proportion
wielding God’s power one sibling on another
imagine each day’s hurt never recovered

But they’re all gone now
and I can finally see past
the iron railing, the rhodie, and the hedge
to the rippling water, a dock, and a buoy
to the houses and the park, but above that
what this table was so long deprived
is the sky filled with mountain–
ignore the threatening volcano inside–
massive contrasts of blue and white
glacier and rock, snow blanketed slopes
it’s never not amazing, not one single time
I look, even hiding behind complete cloud cover
when a stranger wouldn’t know it’s there

I tried to think of any other window
where I would rather look
and suddenly, I am in the international
space station, looking down on Earth
my body is confined, but my view
through this small portal is as if
the eye of God. To see the sphere
its atmosphere floating in the void
to know the glorious insignificance
of momentary stresses, bringing
overwhelming strife, but seeing
all connection of a day in life

But there’s no coming back from that
I’ve already known what new seeing
can do, would I want to add that fractured
knowing too?

I only have this window for a ticking-clock
of time, I want to be aware, to take in each tick
of this view while it’s sublime, the years
of firs blocking the way flew so quickly by
knowing there are limits, a coming end
erases the flaws in the pane, even the
baked-on bird gifts that won’t scrape
with a blade, all I see gleams
this view holds a vivid shine

To Believe or Not Believe in Obscure Sorrows

A cluster of tiny blue wildflowers
The Weeds I Won’t Mow – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to find inspiration in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows . Both “sonder” and “occhiolism” made me think of the same thing, so I guess that’s the inspiration.

The Poem-a-Day two for Tuesday is:

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

At the A to Z Challenge they are turning their thoughts to what’s next. At the end of the challenge in May, I’ll be back to my revision focus. What is your revision plan? What is your revision process?

The Janus phrase for today is wind up meaning (1) To start; (2) to finish.

The poetics prompt at the dVerse Poets Pub today is about poetry as a bridge and includes the puente form. Here’s hoping it will help me bridge all my ideas.

A close-up of purple heather flowers
To Know Every Heather Flower – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Overwhelming Possibilities

Each time I try to imagine the life of every human
I wind up faced with the limitations of my perception
I thought I might start with those in the houses
I see, try to have empathy for their children and spouses
a plot at a time, from the blue rambler to the three-story brown
but that’s already too much, overwhelmed I shut down

~because I don’t believe it’s possible~

to know every tiny blue flower along the drive
or each of the purple heather visited by bees
it would take all my time to give each a name
recognize each quality that is not the same
and that’s but the surface, as precious and delicate as we are
we may as well be numerous as the heavenly stars

Sky Awareness Week

A photograph of interesting clouds in the sky.
Practical Nephelococcygia – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem for a particular occasion. And the Poem-a-Day prompt is to write a thought poem.

The occasion prompt inspired me to head over to National Day Calendar and see what kind of National events and “days” are happening. I was surprised by what I found.

Today is:

With that many special occasions that I won’t be celebrating for just one day, I thought I would look at what this week will be, and found:

A patch of blue sky with faint clouds.
A Patch of Blue – by Maria L. Berg 2021

A few of those got me thinking. National Work Zone Awareness might be difficult if you are observing Sky Awareness. And Every Kid Healthy may conflict with National Princess Week. However, Sky Awareness could combine with Princess Awareness if you see castles in the sky, and Medical Laboratory Professionals can be appreciated for keeping Kids Healthy and Infant Immunization. Lots to think about, but I’m kind of stuck on Sky Awareness Week. The idea that people might only be aware of the sky for one week in April is interesting and surprising. 🙂

Clouds in the sky.
An Offered Palm – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Nephelococcygia and the art of sky awareness

It’s finally here
the nationally recognized week
I’ve waited for all year

Those seven days
to lay down outside
and shift my gaze

up to the sky
and become aware
of things that fly

like jets and seaplanes
eagles and ducks
pleasantly observed until it rains

and clouds in layers
creating shapes
for nephelococcygian players

shifting and forming
fantastical beasts and faces
and castles before the storming

when I’ll run inside
but still be aware
the sky will abide

above and at week’s end
when awareness shifts
back to the earth to tend


sky unobserved like a falling tree
in the forest, eyes closed
no clouds to see

for another year
of head-in-sand
sky-falling fear

Exporting Flying Dreams

NaPoWriMo has a fun prompt where I’m to find an article about an animal and replace the animal name with an abstract or other specific concrete noun. The Poem-a-Day challenge is to write a question poem and my Janus word for the A to Z Challenge is unbending; meaning both rigid, inflexible, refusing to yield or compromise, as in “his stance against reform was unbending”; or becoming less tense, relaxing, as in “unbending a little, she confided…”

Capturing Rainbow Butterflies (2020) bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg
Capturing Rainbow Butterflies (2020) bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

Flying Dream Felons?

Though flying dreams
are not endangered,
they are vulnerable
because their habitats
are vanishing

a concerned citizen
called authorities
after noticing boxes–
flying dream traps–
on trees in Florida

Americans aren’t the only ones
who find dreams adorable
they’re small, furry
exotic notions
valued and thought of
as pocket pets

while it is legal
to breed flying dreams,
in most cases, it’s illegal
to take them from the wild
and sell them to wildlife exporters

and flying dreams make awful pets
unbending in their
nocturnal enterprises, they
make a lot of noise at night
and they have sharp teeth

imagine how the dreams must feel
taken from their homes
and sent to foreign lands

Inspired by “Flying squirrel felons” by John Kelly, published in the Washington Post April 13, 2021.

It’s Not Easy to Eagle a Mergansered Verb to a Terrible Appointment

An eagle near the top of a fir tree surrounded by cones.
Big Screamy atop the fir tree – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a response poem to another poem.

The PAD challenge is to write an appointments poem.

My Janus word for the A to Z Challenge is terrible which can mean formidable, or lousy.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt inspired me to head over to ModPo on coursera to listen to and read some of the poems discussed there. In the resources section, I took a look at ModPo Plus (part 1) and found “Popcorn-can cover” by Lorine Niedecker.

Popcorn-can Cover by Lorine Niedecker.

In this succinct poem, Niedecker uses “mouse” as a verb which reminded me of Alana’s great rant poem the other day “Just saying” on Poem Dive.

I really love how Niedecker created this connection for me: an image of the cold, scritching and scratching a hole in the wall to squeeze its whiskered nose and furry body through. So for my response, I want to try a few of these to see if I can create some great imagery by turning a noun into a verb. Plus it will have to be a terrible verb that has an appointment. 😉

  1. Inflatable sea-turtle raft
    launched from the terrible,
    slippery ramp
    so she can
    merganser all day

  1. Glittered Seahawks flip-flops
    slipped under my soles
    to cover my delicate skin
    so those sneaky shards of glass
    from last winter’s storm
    can’t tiger-muskie in

  1. This shock gasp
    squished into a swimsuit
    has an appointment
    with the chilly water
    so the dread
    can’t eagle down


A Feather in His Cap

A blue bokeh shape feather on a hat next to a headpiece.
A Feather in His Cap – bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today NaPoWriMo,s challenge is a metonymy prompt: “write a poem that invokes a specific object as a symbol of a particular time, era, or place.”

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

Today’s Janus word for the A to Z Challenge is screen which can mean to conceal with or as if with a screen; or “to display prominently” as in screening a film.

A Feather in His Cap

There was a time
not so long ago
when a man would not leave home
without his hat

the rounded dome
with a short curved brim
made famous by a tramp
of a comedian on the silver screen

but is that a bird feather
in the band of that bowler
tucked with pride, showing
off kills or vanity?

as he fashions that fedora
that flash of color never seen
in black and white on the small
screen while detecting

but that ptarmigan
is thrilling as
he tips his trilby
and has her all aflutter

the ostrich dances
as he bows low
and swirls his cap
with foppish aplomb

as history and etiquette
melt away or we forget
caught up in the
spectacle of millinery

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?