Map to the Green Lake

30 Your eyes

April Photo A Day Prompt: 30 Your eyes

Prompt: Farewell poem
Reference: Poetry Foundation, farewells and good luck; Vicki Bonnell, “Phantom Ranch” from Contemporary Haibun OnlineAlbizia saman; Aimee Nezhukumatathil, “More than the Birds, Bees, and Trees: A Closer Look at Writing Haibun


Papaya forests blur past the window. Yellow-green carpet of gentle fronds, leaves the size of dinner plates. Papayas run out and the evergreen forests rise. Long-needled, sweet-cones, canopy-shade the highway. One side is Pacific cliffside. The other traps you against the Cone. One whispers the Lake is actually summit to the old Cone, and to get to the Lake, you must climb the Cone. But you can not park just anywhere on the highway.

One overgrown patch of highway shoulder. Eroded mile marker number, vine-cluttered, shaded by pine cones. One wild patch of road, faint between the pines and papaya patch. Take a chance.

The road forks left – to the right forsaken lava boulders and a’a’ fields concealed by nameless brown vines grow papaya in infinite neat rows. All are plucked clean of fruit. All grow yellow leaves in the drought. All glow golden in the afternoon, like the fruit they yield. Sweet and quick to the teeth. Infinity is unsatisfactory.

The road is blocked by rock smoothed by constant rain and green moss and rusted barbed wire. Someone a long time ago decided to mark off territory and wall off his land from the marching papaya patch. Scale over the boulders, mind the barbed wire. Someone decided a long time ago to bend the wire hither so you could climb over. Mind the mosquito clouds and hairy caterpillars.

Bring a bottle of
water. Prepare for a hike.
Stage one: A green patch.

Over the rocks and down a steep hill, a clearing with a tub of water. Beyond the clearing is a neglected path. To the right is an impenetrable wall of rock and rainforest. If you are brave and aimless, wander into the gloom and poke the vertical wall completely hidden in the trees. Could be the ancient Cone. Could be a sleeping volcano. Could be a shelved Goddess plan.

A locked gate. Slip through the gaps. Poke thorny makahiya to sleep. The trees grow short. The canopy yields to ashen sky. It is always ready to rain near the Cone. Always overcast. Cloudy. Murky. Slip below the branches of an ancient monkeypod tree. There is the highway three-quarters to your left. There is the house that won’t help you. There are their fields, neat rows of grass. There are their fences, barbed wire hung between rotting oak posts.

Take the path to your right. Two neat rows of earth lay shaved and exposed for you. Someone’s been here many times before, many, many times. They won’t help you. Dive into the darkness of the canopy. Dive under the leaves of the vast acacia tree.

Take a care about the mud. Someone’s tried to build a staircase here before. They used the roots of ancient saman, cousins or brothers of the one guarding the way. Part the leaves. Step over rotting eaves. Step over water. There. The shore. Green Lake. Its Cone rises on the opposite rim. Try the water off the swing of thick rope hung from a young guardian.

The surface is flecked with lily and leaves from the raintree and fronds from a hidden coconut palm. The water is teeming with microbes. The water is absolutely still. Mirror. Freshwater. They say below the surface, the water turns salty. The Lake is connected to the Sea. Swim deep, find the entrance.

Another stillwater mirror, an underwater lake. Saltwater is heavier. Dive into the lake. Swim farther, deeper. Brave the pitch tunnels. Brace against the cold. No longer can the Goddess protect you. The current fights you. It wants to take life from you. They could use all the life on the side of a volcano, and your virulent recklessness is invigorating fuel. At some point, the Goddess pities you, and she rises under you. Pushes you to light. Breaks the surface for you.

If at that point, the
waves don’t take you, the isle shuns
you. Has escaped you.

You wake. You turn back. There are the wild horses legend says guards the lake. They block the paths, one before the locked gate. Slip through the cracks. A family blocks the next path. Greet them.

Food, food. Don’t you run.
Escape is that way. That way.
Turn around. Turn back.

They follow you to the clearing. They drink from their water tub. They wait for your turn. They’ve been watching all the long while. Someone takes care of them. See how they wait. You scale the steep hill. Grab some barbed wire. Hoist your burdens over mossy rock. Take the elusive Map with you. Hurry. There’s an evening squall just beyond the Cone.

Papaya trees sway,
horses wait for golden dusk.
Map to the Green Lake.

Veronique of the hailstones

29 A Word

April Photo A Day Prompt: 29 A Word

Prompt: Jim Simmerman, Twenty Little Poetry Projects
Reference: See list in link above; Omniglot: Chavacano


Hail marys come storming from the clear blue.
I pick up a bead – nature’s ice finger
compressed into this tiny dot. Tastes like
layered water, bounced around by gales and
puffs that brought it here. Hail mary pummeled
the ground, “Exhale the last of your winter.”
The drumming was brief and sweet.

Veronique of Irving Park
said there was no hail,
just the patter of leaves
making their beds on garden plots.
See how they color the ground.

She’s tripped out, sleep-deprived.

Veronique said hailstorms are violent.
They leave marks on cars, steel-corrugated
roofs, pluck out windows from
unfinished refurbished apartment buildings,
make them look out the street blind,
like skull eye sockets.
Hailstorms don’t form high up in the sky.

“Un lenguaje no bastante.
No yo ta intindi,” she said.
Her eyes unfocused.

“The strong ice of wind…”
she said again.

She picked up a bead of hail
crushed it between her fingers,
tasted it. Retrieved another,
and another, until her palm glistened
with a dozen tiny pellets
melting into a single white ooze
solid to the touch.

“Amelia. Come learn to do this.”

Soon, I learned how to bring back winter
using the first spring raindrops,
how to cast someone with the flu
with the cold I conjure in their rooms.
I pluck out pinches of Arctic air
off the tops of cirrus clouds,
and make it shade my summer afternoon
out on the lawn.

We’re such sharp cookies.

I can turn the summer into winter
and the spring into fall,
or the winter back to fall
back to summer, back to spring.
I can distinguish between sundogs and halos,
which ice sprites make tornadoes,
make rainbows from ice crystals,
bend moonbows to my bidding,
squeeze deluge from waterfalls
make it sunny or storm all the time.

“Un lenguaje no bastante.
Yo ta intindi.”

The hailstone in my palm
recognized me
and didn’t need instruction
to launch his new journey.

Hail marys come storming from the clear blue.
I pick up all the beads
and fashion ice blankets
over parched garden plots.
The duty was brief and sweet.

Tornado Sunday

28 A Friend

April Photo A Day Prompt: 28 A Friend

Prompt: Poem from the news
Reference: Robbie Ward, “U.S. storms kills 21, tornado roars through Mississippi city


“I heard snapping and I said, ‘Get down on the floor!’ And then the trees started falling over,” said Moe Kirk Bristow, a Tupelo resident. “I haven’t seen a house yet that doesn’t have a tree through it or on it, so it’s bad.”

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe said at least 15 people had died statewide in the storm that authorities said produced the first fatalities of this year’s tornado season.

The White House said President Barack Obama, who has been on a trip abroad, called Beebe to receive an update on the damage and to offer condolences.

Nine of the victims on Sunday came from the same street in Vilonia, a town with a population of about 4,100.

A new middle school set to open in August in the town was heavily damaged by a tractor trailer blown into its roof. A steel farm shop anchored to concrete was blown away.

Governor Beebe recounted how one woman died when the door of her home’s reinforced safe room collapsed, while a father and three daughters survived by seeking shelter in a bathtub that was flipped over in winds that leveled the house.

The National Weather Service said the threat of tornadoes will last for several days as a strong weather system interacts with a large area of unstable air across the central and southern United States.


A house yet that
doesn’t have a tree
through it or on it,
so it’s bad.

First fatalities
of this year’s
season: Fifteen people

to offer

Nine Sunday
from the same street
in Vilonia.
Population: 4,100.

A tractor trailer
damaged a new middle school -
blown into its roof.

A concrete-anchored
steel farm shop
was blown away.

Three daughters
and their father
survived in a
flipped over
Winds leveled the house.

The National Weather Service
said tornadoes will last
several days
with a large area of
unstable air
across the central
and southern states.

Rise before sunrise

27 Transparent

April Photo A Day Prompt: 27 Transparent

Prompt: Poem from a photograph
Reference: April Photo A Day Prompt Day 27: Transparent (above)


Rise before sunrise, 4 a.m.
Catch the first train out.
Two hours later, arrive at landing.

What I fear most
is to have to wake my daughter
three hours ahead of her class

So we can take the first trains out
in time for breakfast, earliest drop-off,
and leave her there napping

so I can go to work. So when her
teachers went on strike, they said
they didn’t mean to, but it was

necessary. And my friends rooted
for the unions, and I rooted for fellow
parents dropping off their kids

at makeshift day cares with staff
trained just enough to recognize
whose child it was did she belong.

So they went to work. I went to work.
The music of protest played on tubas
ringing in my ears, beating in time my heart.

The everything convention

26 Kitchen Sink

April Photo A Day Prompt: 26 Kitchen Sink

Prompt: Curtal Sonnet
Reference: Gerald Manley Hopkins, “Pied Beauty“; Vince Gotera, “Gerardo, My Dead Brother, Speaks


Praise be the entertainment industry.
For distractions and attractions,
Enough occupations for the world and you and me.
There were quests, weapons, books, maps,
Unspecified animal ears fashioned from fiberglass,
Villains, heroes, sidekicks – all arresting time traps.

But the thing I loved most of all
Is when she herself found games in the hall -
Pac-Man had powers and ghosties and munchies,
The Dalek chased and squealed and giggled same as she -
— she had such a great time!

Long may you live

25 Far Away

April Photo A Day Prompt: 25 Far Away

Prompt: Anaphora
Reference: The Byrds, “Turn! Turn! Turn!“; Allen Ginsberg, “Howl I and II


Posted in memory of my father, Herminio.
Maligayang kaarawan, dad!
We miss you and love you very much.  
We miss your warmth. 
May it be warm always where you are now. 


May you live to see another ball game in spring.
May you live to build another house in spring.
May you live to plant a garden and see it grow past 10 springs.
May you live to throw chops on the grill again in spring.
May you live to drive across the Lower 48 in spring.
May you live to manage a local cafe in spring.
May you live to watch your grandchildren grow in spring.
May you live to read and write enough books in spring.
May you live to find your largest geocache in the spring.
May you live to see cherry blossoms in the spring.
May you live to see moss fall off gnarled trees in the spring.
May you live. May you live. Long may you live.

A city

24 Contrast

April Photo A Day Prompt: 24 Contrast

Prompt: Masonry
Reference: Robert Frost, “Mending Wall


We need a city.
We need blocks,
stubs, a

set, a princess carriage.
We’ll stack them
atop thick

of leaves. Let’s stack
blocks high. High
as we

go. Stack them against
a balikbayan box
before it

sail in two weeks,
lands six months
from today.

the train set around
the big box.
One infinite

eight. Build a staircase
between loops
to meet

resting against the big
balikbayan box. Affix
window at

very top. Now, we
can see the
whole world,

orange sunsets, beaches. Blueberries.
Playgrounds. Flickering airplanes.
Sapphire seas.