I wrote a poem for the Peace Corps’s poetry contest last month. It didn’t win anything, but . . . here it is:




The ayudante sings his song for


Her Bluebird school bus carriage

Transformed from Cinderella-pumpkin-yellow

To Mayan huipil hues of reds, greens, and blues

For her trip to Guate.



The city, the ayudante, Esmeralda

Beckon to the campesino,

His cowboy hat pulled low over

Coal black eyes

Watching his basket of chickens—his life—hoisted onto

Esmeralda’s back.



The volunteer hurries through Antigua’s market

To Esmeralda,

Smoke stinging her eyes, backpack slung across

Her shoulder,

With one change of clothes, a toothbrush, and

Her dreams inside.



The ayudante’s call to


For the campesino, for the volunteer,

For Esmeralda—

All bound together on the road to



  • Esmeralda is the name of a bus company from Antigua to Guatemala City. They are Bluebird school buses from the States painted in bright colors.
  • Ayudante is the “helper” to the driver of the bus. He would sing-song “Guatemala! Guatemala! Guatemala! Guate!” to announce the impending departure of a bus for Guatemala City.
  • Huipil is a Mayan woman’s brightly colored blouse.
  • Campesino is a man who lives in the rural countryside.

2 thoughts on “Esmeralda

    • Thanks Bob! The book comes slowly, very slowly! I’m thinking about getting an MFA to see if that will help push me along!

      Thanks for all the genealogy stuff! I’m hoping it will rekindle my interest.

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