Zoe (2022 NaPoWriMo #03)

With a little digging I found another series of poetry prompts being provided by NaPoWriMo – 30 Poems in 30 Days. I started in the middle so these will be coming out of order as I work to catch-up.

Prompt 03

Write a glosa poem


A glosa poem is a Spanish form that pulls lines from another poem (similar to a Golden Shovel or cento). You can find the full explanation here.

I’ve decided to use a source poem that I’ve previously used in a Golden Shovel to see how differently the outcome is based on form choice. This kinda feels like a scientific experiment, but poetic. I like that!

I’ve chosen a lovely poem by Claude McKay titled “Tropics in New York”. Here is the quatrain I’m sampling:

“Bananas ripe and green, and ginger-root,

Cocoa in pods and alligator pears,

And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit,

Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs,”

from Claude McKay’s “Tropics in New York”

My golden shovel pulled from the line “Cocoa in pods and alligator pears” and goes as follows:

Sun-Bleached Blond

Golden Shovel inspired by Claude McKay’s “Tropics in New York”

Skin bronzed to a rich cocoa,
Hair sun-bleached blond, tied up in
Long braids hanging down past her ear pods
Shoulder straps, to the dancing twin alligator
Tattoos glistening beneath the dribbling juice of ripe pears.

I wrote this as part of a collaboration project with other poets. You may also find it interesting to read their poems based on this line as well — here.

Ok, now it’s time to glosa!


Glosa inspired by Claude McKays’s “Tropics in New York”

We met in school, a university in upstate New York;
Her from The City but before that the islands,
I from the countryside, of the Green Mountains;
Her skin a deep dark island brown;
Mine called white, but more of a pale pink hue;
Her beauty a contrast to the snowy landscape,
Came to mind when I read the lovely “Tropics in New York” —
A poem titled as if in dedication to her,
And the time we walked together through a market admiring
Bananas ripe and green, and ginger root.

We both lived in the international living center dorm;
A place to bring together people from the world around;
I, a country-boy from Vermont the odd one out,
But I, untraveled and naive, was welcomed home.
We bonded in the TV lounge watching episodes of Star Trek;
At the time, I didn’t understand why the common appeal,
But thinking more about it, it’s not so odd —
After all, we were ourselves adventuring in space unknown;
Meeting aliens of all kinds — reminding me again of that market’s
Cocoa in pods and alligator pears.

It was our final year in school;
We were preparing for our lives beyond;
I’d secured a job in Japan starting in the fall;
She would be continuing with graduate studies;
We both had a summer ahead with anything to do;
I had an old car with a few miles left to go,
It was no Enterprise starship, but it worked,
So we decided to take off and continue our exploration;
It was on this trip that we discovered the market
And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit.

We’d left from New York City,
Passed our alma-mater on the way to Niagara Falls,
And arrived in Toronto and it’s international market;
She, excited to see so many things from home;
Me, excited to see so many things unknown;
We mostly window shopped — our eyes bigger than our pockets;
But when she saw the glistening rosy hue on yellow,
We couldn’t resist anymore and we bought one mango to share;
I’ll never forget this adventurous trip, or my very first mango
Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs.

What a trip back memory lane. It was a road-trip of a lifetime — we put over 10,000 miles onto the car as we zig-zagged across the North American continent. After that trip, Zoe and I went our separate ways. I’ve often wondered where she is. Is she still exploring the world? Has she returned to her roots in the Caribbean Islands? I don’t know. I hope she is well. I’ll always be grateful for her companionship along the way and for introducing me to that very first mango. I think it was in that moment that I became a foodie. Until then I’d never known how transformative a food experience could be.

Be well,



  1. murisopsis says:

    Mango is “fruit of the gods” according to many. We purchase mangoes whenever they are on sale. (have 3 of them ripening on the counter now) This form is a cousin to the golden shovel so it is no wonder you excelled at it!! Great story of a wild adventure. I’m getting the impression you are a risk taker and an adventurer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Monty Vern says:

      That’s a good name for them to be sure. I must have sucked on that first mango stone for an hour trying to get every last drop of taste out of it.


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