Great Balls of Fire! A getaway pegacorn happens!

Last week I found two Sunday writing prompts. Let’s see what they have for me today:

Poetic Bloomings‘ PROMPT #334 is “It Happens” and Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie‘s Sunday Writing Prompt is “Great Balls of Fire”

I thought I would combine the prompts and was mid-freewrite with the ideas, but then something happened. 🙂

A photograph of an inflatable pegacorn, white with rainbow mane, wings, tail and horn on a blue lake.
Pegacorn leashed by Maria L. Berg 2021

Flying Free on the Slightest Breeze

I ran to save a pegacorn. It happens.
I jumped up and ran to my dock
expecting to intercept
but it surprised me

It didn’t stop. It flipped
in a flash, floating
on a slight breeze,
landing halfway

to the neighbor’s dock
It eyed me and its escape
one more flip
then gone

I sprinted through the weeds
ignoring the bushes grown together
I found footing over the sharp
wet rocks and leaped

over the watery gap
to the wobbly planks
in time, just in time
to grab

that mythical horse’s
horn and deliver
it to a thankful mermaid
ready for a flying adventure

An open rose with yellow, orange and red petals
Great Balls of Fire by Maria L. Berg 2021

Here’s the original poem of somewhat combined prompts:

Fireballs Happen

The great ball of fire commands the day
burns up the clouds for full display
brightens the blues, the greens, yellows, and pinks
and heats up the ant invasion

The great ball of firing neurons attenuate
to every black speck, ready to hate
the second it moves, obsessively out for the kill
if only this year it could end

The great ball of fire from ant-filled wood
each crackle a hope lifting my mood
they burned, they burned the entire glorious day
diminished, but never gone

As I admire the great balls of fiery rhododendrons
each tattooed blossom aflame in summer, my neurons
burn with hope that the bomb of toxins I desperately set
in the bathroom will push back

No! Destroy the enemy, so I may some day
bake and bathe undisturbed under the
great ball of fire in the sky

Revising Poetry-a Demonstration Part Five: New Redrafting Ideas

image of notebook and marked-up poem through a blue lens
The Poem in Blue by Maria L. Berg 2021

The dVerse Poets Pub prompt for Poetics is Blue Tuesday. Sarah challenges us to write Blue poems which gave me an idea for another redraft, “Put a color on it.” This a great way to think about revising to emotion as well. When you’ve identified the mood and emotion you want your poem to convey, ask yourself what color that is and use that color as a filter for redrafting your poem. The Sherwin-Williams paint colors site is a great tool for exploring color families and color names.

Put a color on it

For this poem, I imagined using a blue lens on my camera and using it to tint my poem. I used some of the draft from the thesaurus game below and made it blue.

Seeing in Blue

An atmospheric perception after the rain
in the steam of warm rain
captures contrary smoky-azurite wings
those wings just can’t agree
pulsating rhythmic reflections in a poll
the rhythm’s inverted beats
in a pool’s still, faded-flaxflower waters

Rapture jammed with glacial conceits
fancy whims chilling beneath
mid-cloudburst like ebbtide in advance
it will advance the tide
of the swimming, sense of falling
falling, falling into this dive
maneuvering eviction from a wondrous whirlpool

The outlook grows lake-water crisp
Ow! It bites, clarity
after a meditative rainstorm’s punctuation
all those taps, droppy drips
untimately leads to discovering the fountain,
finally find, what’s to find
transmitting blissful moonmist

image of rhododendrons through a blue lens
Seeing Blue by Maria L. Berg 2021

I thought of a couple more quick and easy redrafting techniques over the weekend. I am a huge fan of my thesaurus and thought what fun it would be to use my thesaurus to come up with replacements for all of the main nouns and verbs. I’ll call this exercise Thesaurus Game.

Thesaurus Game

Here’s what I came up with using the first stanza of the original short-centered line poem “Indelible Marks” for demonstration:

Permanent Symbols

a perception captures contrary wings
flittering in range of a basin’s elbowroom

jammed with glacial conceits mid-provocation
like ear-ringing in advance of the swimming,
sense of falling, maneuvering eviction from a coil

the outlook grows crisp as if ultimately discovering
the fountain transporting pervading corruption saturation

While reading the Back Draft:John Murillo interview, the two versions of “Mercy, Mercy Me” made me think of another, somewhat simple redraft I can do. I can turn it upside down. I think I will add that to my process at the beginning of redrafting.

Turn It Upside-Down

When I took the full, long lines of the current draft and turned them upside down, I didn’t find a lot of inspiration, but when I took the short, centered lines and turned them upside down, I found some interesting lines. That inspired me to completely reverse the words which also revealed some interesting lines.

Drag center line to the right or left to reveal each poem

This comparison block makes me happy! I liked how Back Draft on Guernica was comparing their first draft and final draft poems using JuxtaposeJS, so I created a Juxtapose on the knightlab site, but the HTML wasn’t working with WordPress. I found a work-around which included downloading a plug-in and writing more HTML, and I was planning on trying it for the final poem reveal, but now I don’t have to. Yay for comparison block. Thank you WordPress.

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