Day One: Foolish Ambition

Happy April Fool’s Day. I’m not a fan of pranks or practical jokes, so this in not one of my favorite days, but today being the beginning of a poetic journey, I thought of the Fool of the tarot: head in the clouds, not looking where he is going, about to step off a cliff. Looking at the card this morning, I thought it was a perfect illustration of blind ambition. However, my challenge is to photo-illustrate ambition in my own way.

The word Ambition on pavement under a pink and white Japanese Camellia flower in the circle of a fisheye lens
Dark Green Ambition by Maria L. Berg 2022


So what is ambition? The definition at says “an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.” The fun thing about that definition is all of those nouns are abstract nouns as well. If I boil down that definition, it says, to want attention and do stuff to get it.

How will I create a photograph representing ambition when it has no visual aspects?

I started by looking up the symbolic color of ambition and found that dark green represents ambition, greed, and jealousy–an interesting trio. I took my darkest green Sharpie and wrote ambition on a clear filter. Then, thinking about the fool not looking where he’s going I wrote Fool on a clear filter and encircled it in arrows and stuck it on the world with my fisheye lens.

The word Fool encircled by arrows written in dark green on the sky in the circle of a fisheye lens
Foolish Ambition by Maria L. Berg 2022

However, those images do not get to the visceral state of ambition. The letter A bokeh shape filter I made last fall to represent screaming has an arrow shape in its center, so it felt like a good filter for today. I took it into the mirrorworld and created my abstract photograph of ambition.

Abstract Ambition by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poetry Prompts


The first prompt of the month is to write a prose poem that is a story about the body.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to choose a word that starts with “F” and use it in the title.

The Poem

The Fool’s Foot and Fingers Flying

Head held high, enjoying the sun on my shoulders, I begin my journey with a spring in my step accompanied by the trill of birdsong. My ambition soars through the cumulus clouds, as if helium guides me toward the stars. The scent of the rose I paused to pluck lingers in my nostrils as its thorns prick my thumb and forefinger where I delicately pinch the stem. Wild strawberry and mint delight my tongue. The space beneath my hat, sparking with passionate want, foolishly forgets it is attached to feet, and feet need ground. Bodies have so many needs ambition would like to forget: desire’s nemesis hunger rumbles in my stomach; achievement’s enemy sleep heavies my eyelids; and distinction’s adversary thirst scratches my throat. But I ignore them all, and the nagging bark at my achilles, and keep going, and going until, like a cartoon character, I notice the ground fell away a while ago, and with nothing supporting me, I fall, losing my rose as I flail.

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

So Many Questions

The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write a poem that poses a series of questions. The PAD prompt is to write a remix poem. These should work well together. It’ll be interesting to look back through this month’s poems and see which questions spring to mind.

My Janus for the A to Z challenge is the letter X which can mark a spot, or delete it.

Heightened Senses

What sense would I heighten if I could?
Which sense is the villain of my story?

Which smells trigger my memories?
Are they pleasant smells or foul odors?

What color tints my vision?
What do I see in the clouds?

What is this ringing in my ears?
What voice do I hear in the dark?

Which word tastes best in my mouth?
What flavor was the glue?

What texture represents me?
Why do I step on broken glass?

How far do I want to see clearly?
Which frequencies would I choose to hear?

What are the tastes I would enhance?
Could there be a dial for only pleasant smells?

If I sign by the X and everything would be as soft as Levi,
would I heighten a sense if I could?

The “news” Makes Parody Easy

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a parody. The PAD Challenge is a title prompt: “(blank) World”.

Over at A to Z Challenge there’s a challenge to add some variety to the day. One of the options is to try a new kind of exercise. I saw cardio drumming for the first time on a mystery show from New Zealand. I have a yoga ball and drumsticks. I think I’ll give it a try.

The Janus word for today is vault (1) A small locked box; (2) the expanse of the heavens.

My parody was inspired by a silly thing Larry Kudlow said. After watching the segment, he may have been making fun of “plant-based” as terminology and not saying the ridiculously stupid thing he appears to be saying, but my poem’s a parody and the idea is funny, so his original intent can linger as nonsense either way.

Lest a Green New World, All Must Fear the Plant-Based Beer

We’ve all been warned
it was on the “news”
from that treasured vault,
got those TV views

Do not listen to scientists
if they don’t agree
but he says there’s a study
that supports, soon we’ll see

They’re coming for our summer meats
no more family bar-b-q’s
We’ll be roasting brussel sprouts
and then what chaos ensues?

That’s right! We’ll be drinking
plant-based beers
removed of all that tasty flesh
or at least that’s what Larry hears

No more hamburger in our hops
no more bacon in the barley
no more yak shank in the yeast
might as well cancel all the parties

No fermented flank steak
or bubbly buffalo wings
Absent the Angus ale
and the joy a perfect pork-loin pint brings

How will we get a buzz without
a beefy broiled Bud
and what will tint the goggles
if there’s no sirloin in the suds?

*After writing my poem, I found this post about beers that are brewed with meat. Gross, but I felt it should be included.

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.

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?