Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is inspired by spring plantings. We are challenged to pick the name of an heirloom seed, and incorporate or use that name to set the theme for our poem. I chose the Molokai Purple Sweet Potato.

My poem is informed by both the beauty and the heartbreak of Molokai.

Molokai is a small, gorgeous island in the State of Hawaii, formed two million years ago by two volcanoes. One of these collapsed into the Pacific, leaving half of the volcano intact to form dramatic cliffs at the edge of the island. At the base of the highest, most impenetrable cliffs, King Kamehameha V established a leper colony in 1866 and exiled thousands of Hawaiians to life imprisonment there.

Molokai is also home to Hawaii’s largest coral reef, a massive and beautiful but endangered species.


Molokai, the mysterious island

Goddess Laka, giving dance and music

teaching hula on the sacred hill Pu’u Nana

handed down through generations

Goddess Hina, giving life to the people

goddess of the moon

goddess of fishermen

Hina, who gave birth to the coral reef

and all spiny ocean creatures

mysterious isle

basking in the glory of nature

forests and waterfalls clinging to cliffs

the island’s only dangers

limited to the vagaries of native weather

and the multitude of falling coconuts


Molokai, the forsaken island

the Goddess Hina weeping

the people clamoring

haunted by heartbreak

the ghosts of panic and greed

a colony under the cliffs, where the dead roam

exiled by the king

comforted by saints

Father Damien

Mother Marianne

recovered from sickness and loneliness

with compassion, love

the eradication of ignorance

and the advent of modern medicine


Molokai, the friendly island

reborn from beauty and tourism

native charm

no traffic lights

no building taller than a coconut tree

renewed with hospitality and hula

intimate beaches, hiking and mule rides

helicopter tours

modern coping mechanisms

modern problems

marvelous ecosystem

dead-drop cliffs and waterfalls

fruitful bounty of ranches, farms

economics vs. erosion

and endangered species along the shore



Read more about Molokai’s endangered coral reef at the U.S. Geological Survey’s website.



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