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My First Guide Dog: The Keller Years

 

The Keller Years:

 

March 21, 1990-December 15, 1997

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

If I were to divide my life into chapters, an easy way to do so would be according to the dog (or dogs) who shared my life during a particular period.  On March 21, 1990, “The Keller Years” began when a strikingly beautiful, reddish golden retriever came into my life as my first Leader Dog.  Twenty-seven years ago today, Keller and I took our first walk together–with her wearing her Leader Dog harness and leash.  The day was gray, with a little rain; but March 22, 1990, is a golden day in my memory.

 

Although I had pet dogs throughout my then four decades of life, learning to work with a guide dog was like learning a new dance with a new dance partner.  The name of the dance, if well done, was Independent Mobility; and I often realized that my partner was training me more than I was training her.  After all, during the previous three months, she had been training with a professional trainer while I had only been reading books about guide dogs and increasing the length of my daily walks with a white cane.

 

At that time, the guide dog school which I attended (March 18 through April 12, 1990) did not give students any information about the puppy-raiser or puppy-raiser family.  Thus, although I have been able to thank the puppy-raisers of my Yellow Labrador Heather, my Golden Retriever/Black Labrador Zoe, and my Black Labrador Willow–I have never been able to thank the puppy-raiser of my first Leader Dog, Keller.  In 1990, students were not even told the exact birthdays of their guide dogs.  knowing only that Keller’s birthday was sometime in June, I established the tradition of celebrating her birthday on the birthday of whom I thought was her namesake–Helen Keller.  While no other guide dog in our March-1990 class had been a littermate of Keller, I did learn that one of Keller’s littermates, named Cedar, had become a graduate in the previous class at Leader Dog School (Rochester, Michigan).  Since Keller was such a loving dog and had such good house manners, I certainly have always missed having the opportunity to greatly thank the people who raised, initially trained, devotedly cared for, loved, and then amazingly generously gave the young Golden back to Leader Dogs School and eventually to me.  Somehow, I hope these puppy-raisers know how much their gift to me remarkably changed my life in very positive ways and how deeply I thank them for the gift of my first Leader Dog.

 

Perhaps, these puppy-raisers of Keller trained her to do something that is not a requirement for guide dogs.  On command, Keller would find what was to me a lost item on a floor.  Whenever I told her to “find it,” she did; then, Keller lay flat out on the floor and extended her right paw so that it was pointing directly to the lost object.  “Good dog, Keller!”  Of course, she enjoyed the praise; and I was pleased to have help with finding what I had dropped or otherwise lost.

 

Since Keller was so good at performing the “find it” trick, my students at the Visually Impaired Persons Program (for adults) enjoyed witnessing Keller’s obedient finds.  Also, while I was a blind rehabilitation instructor, Keller had a quick, uncanny way of learning the names of my students.  When I told her “Find Joe,” Keller would gracefully lead me through the large classroom with four cubicles along one wall and find the student with whom I wanted to speak.

 

During one semester, our Visually Impaired Persons’ Program included six students with guide dogs and a number of students with white canes.  The guide dogs, from a few different guide dog schools, got along very well; but I always thought that Keller realized that she needed to set an example for the other guide dogs and behaved accordingly.

 

One day I distinctly remember during “The Keller Years” was marked by Keller and my taking a typical noon break by walking through three buildings via skywalks and then going outside.  As we were walking on the skywalk from the Continuing Education Building to the Old Main Building in the bright light of the windows of the skywalk, someone stopped to tell me, “Your guide dog always looks so happy when she is working.”  I thoroughly appreciated hearing this comment, but I knew that Keller was completely devoted to her work and especially loved her guide work.  I was extraordinarily lucky to receive such a guide dog as my first Leader Dog.  She was beside me when I, at Leader Dog School, returned a phone call and learned that I received a fellowship grant to earn a second master’s degree at Western Michigan University.  Keller was beside me when we learned the campus of Western Michigan University and attended classes and events.  My first Leader Dog was beside me when we learned our new home area in Milwaukee and the campus of my new workplace at Milwaukee Area Technical College.  My new Golden was beside me as my life blossomed into a new career and new experiences.  Together, we learned so very much.

 

As I write just a few notes about Keller, I realize that “The Keller Years” would need to comprise a few or several chapters–not just one.  If she were still here beside me, I would have her sit and tell her “Wave.”  Her right paw would be immediately up and repeatedly stretching out in a wave to you and/or to your pet dog or guide dog.  At Leader Dog School, she was dubbed “the Stellar Keller”; and her light has shined upon me with my second, third, and now fourth Leader Dogs.

 

 

March on to a Happy Spring!

Alice and Willow, my fourth Leader Dog

 

March 22, 2017, Wednesday

 

Remembering Leader Dog Zoe

 

Remembering, with Love and Honor, Leader Dog Zoe

 

(April 23, 2007-March 16, 2016)

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

If I were a sculptor,

I would have chiseled

into a block of marble

a lasting monument

to you and your beautiful ways.

 

If I were a painter of canvas,

I would have re-created

your portrait as you always sat

in your princes, posture-perfect pose.

 

If I were a skilled photographer,

I would have captured your likeness–

mid-stride, your harness up,

your head held high and proud

to be in the lead.

 

If I were a painter

with water colors …

oh, but I have painted you

a thousand times

with water-color tears–

pictures developed only in my mind:

the painful hours and moments of your unexpected final day,

the precious and blessed years

that you

generously and lovingly

shared with me.

 

Since I am not an artist,

I have crafted only words for you

during this past measured year,

these last twelve months,

these fleeting fifty-two weeks,

these recent 365 days–

without you

at my lead

or beside me.

 

To give tribute

to your greatness,

I could only dedicate

a small book to you,

dedicate this blog to you,

remember you

and thank you

at the highest altitude

of gratitude,

tonight and always.

 

 

In loving memory of my third Leader Dog, Zoe,

who passed away one year ago

at 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 16, 2016,

at our home in Milwaukee–

Alice and Willow, my fourth Leader Dog

 

March 15, 2017, Wednesday

 

A Pi Poem to Treasure Crocheted Afghans

 

A Pi Poem to Treasure Crocheted Afghans

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

Hands that held

small,

plain crochet hooks,

as

if artist’s brushes,

turned strands of yarn into canvases

of warmth,

of love gifted to all

who received afghans

crafted by

Mother, Aunt Zita,

and–of course, the most prolific–

my paternal grandmother (Liza).

 

rippled, shell, or granny square

were patterns they crocheted in colors

to match taste,

decor,

occasion

for the lucky recipient.

 

Covered with warmth

of the wool, granny-square

afghan,

I thought of my mother

who still gives me

her caring,

her wisdom,

her amazing inspiration

for this poem.

 

This week,

my sister sent to the twins

two small afghans made by our mother

so that a brand new

generation can feel the warmth from the past

and learn

to smile, wrapped in hand-crocheted love.

 

NOTE:  In my previous Wordwalk blog, I wrote briefly of how to create a pi poem and also included another pi poem of mine.  While I divided this week’s pi poem into stanzas, you (the poet) decide whether to write the pi poem as one stanza or to divide the “piem” into two or more stanzas.  Below I will repeat the exact same pi poem as above; but I will insert at the onset of each line the number of syllables in that particular line, according to the first thirty-five numerals of the mathematical pi.  As in last week’s poem, I converted the first zero of pi into the number ten; thus, the second-from-the-last line of this post’s piem contains ten syllables.  Please note in the comment section any question about writing a pi poem, and I will be happy to respond.  Now, you have less than a week to craft your pi poem for Pi Day, March 14, 2017 (3/14/17).

 

 

A Pi Poem to Treasure Crocheted Afghans

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

# First Stanza

 

(3)  Hands that held

(1)  small,

(4)  plain crochet hooks,

(1)  as

(5)  if artist’s brushes,

(9)  turned strands of yarn into canvases

(2)  of warmth,

(6)  of love gifted to all

(5)  who received afghans

(3)  crafted by

(5)  Mother, Aunt Zita,

(8)  and–of course, the most prolific–

(9)  my paternal grandmother (Liza).

 

# Second Stanza

 

(7)  rippled, shell, or granny square

(9)  were patterns they crocheted in colors

(3)  to match taste,

(2)  decor,

(3)  occasion

(8)  for the lucky recipient.

 

# Third Stanza

 

(4)  Covered with warmth

(8)  of the wool granny-square

(2)  afghan,

(6)  I thought of my mother

(4)  who still gives me

(3)  her caring,

(3)  her wisdom,

(8)  her amazing inspiration

(3)  for this poem.

 

# Fourth Stanza

 

(2)  This week,

(7)  my sister sent to the twins

(9)  two small afghans made by our mother

(5) so that a brand new

(10) generation can feel warmth from the past

(2)  and learn

(8)  to smile, wrapped in hand-crocheted love.

 

 

On March 14 (3/14), next Tuesday, please enjoy a piece of PIE and a pi poem!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

March 8, 2017, Wednesday

 

Pi Poem for Comba Bakery

 

NOTE:  If you are not interested in writing a pi poem, but would like to read one about Comba Bakery (which closed nearly five decades ago in Clinton, Indiana), please proceed to the second  section of this blog post.

 

On the other hand, if you are interested in the crafting of a pi poem, please read the preliminary section before reading the pi poem.

 

 

March–A Time for Writing Pi Poems

 

 

I was thinking spring and then the month of March which took my poetic mind to pi poems (or piems).  If you are prompted to pen a pi poem on or before Pi Day (March 14–3/14), you may want to use the following portion of the infinite number of pi as I did in the piem which appears later in this post:

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028

As in my pi poem below, the above portion of mathematical pi allows for 35 lines of poetry.  To write a pi poem, you use the mathematical pi as a guide to determine the precise length for each poetic line of your pi poem.  While some poets count words per line, I am among the poets (piemists) who count syllables per line to craft a pi poem.  For example, the first line of a pi poem contains three syllables; the second line contains only one syllable (therefore, a word of one syllable), and the third line includes four syllables.  As you continue to follow mathematical pi for each line length, you decide when to close or end your poem.   While you ponder a piem, the rhyme scheme is your choice.

 

In my opinion, if your poem extends to the first zero of pi, you may take one of the following three choices:

  1. Conclude your poem; thus, your pi poem will end with a line of five syllables.
  2. Skip the zero, and make the next line of your poem with a count of two syllables; then, continue with a line of eight syllables, etc.
  3. Interpret the zero as the number ten; thus, create a poetic line of ten syllables. (You may conclude your piem with this ten-syllable line or continue to follow the guideline of pi with your next line having only two syllables.)

In my previous pi poems, I used choice one or two; however, in my new piem, I incorporated the third choice.

 

If you are interested in more examples of pi poems, please explore the archives of this Wordwalk blog.  Among my most visited blog posts are those about pi poems, each of which includes a sample pi poem of mine.  From the number of visits on my prior posts about piems, I can only assume that some teachers, students, and/or budding poets are investigating my posts about Pi Day.  I thank you all and wish you “Happy writing!”

 

           

Pi Poem for Comba Bakery

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

Crisp, brown bags

hid

fine torchetti–

gems,

Italian pastries

of the brick oven of my cousin

Martin,

his Comba Bakery–

so spotless, so clean,

fragranced well

with glorious bread

and, on some special occasions,

the sweet aroma of torchetti.

 

From Levone, Italy,

he came to Clinton, Indiana,

rose early

each day

to knead dough

that became long Italian loaves

or torchetti,

which he shaped like horseshoes

glazed with

granulated sugar.

Oh, what a sweet

rendition

of breadsticks!

 

His kind and gentle wife Dina

pulled and rolled

soft dough

and gave warm, welcoming grins

at their bakery on North Ninth Street.

The three items sold

were handmade to blue-ribbon perfection.

God bless

the gifted hands that made this food.

 

 

Happy March!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

March 1, 2017, Wednesday

 

Vacuuming Vignettes (More Dog Tales)

 

Vacuuming Vignette

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

I could be vacuuming the carpet.  I should be vacuuming, but I am more in the mood to write about vacuuming.

 

When I was growing up in the era of leave It to Beaver and I Love Lucy, both of my parents worked.  Thus, my mother had a way of ruining a perfectly good Saturday by declaring that Saturday was “cleaning day.”  I always thought that reading was a much better way to spend a Saturday morning.

 

Almost all of my pet dogs and later guide dogs tolerated vacuum cleaners with an eye of suspicion.  I felt the same about most cleaning endeavors; nevertheless, I have always preferred to live in a clean abode and have never liked the idea of anyone else’s cleaning my room or dwelling.  For decades, I have been confident of my own cleaning skills and have put them to use on whatever day of the week (when necessary).

 

The way I most like to clean is with a full measure of creativity.  Creative cleaning is re-arranging furniture and/or other items, decorating for whatever season or holiday, re-configuring storage areas, or developing a new color and design scheme for a room–as I am cleaning (with only memory of vision).  Having creative cleaning goals in mind, I can grasp the worthiness of cleaning–and I can listen to an interesting audio book while I am completing tasks.

 

On the other hand, vacuuming is really only an adjunct to the Creative Cleaning Department.  I just use geometric designs–yes, those basic, common-sense patterns from geometry class!  Perhaps, what I am doing is creating an abstract, geometric design in the carpet.  (Oh, to have a shag rug in avocado green, again!)  Plugging into the electrical outlet is easy enough once I have carefully located the open spots of the plate; holding the excess cord in my left hand while I am vacuuming with my right hand provides for a clean canvas for my vacuuming the geometric patterns.  Well, actually, from time to time, when I am keeping the cord away from my path of cleaning, I do remember one vacuum cleaner salesman who did not want to sell me a vacuum cleaner.  About 24 years ago, having been settled in Milwaukee with a good job for a couple of years, I decided that the time had come for my purchasing a very good and lightweight vacuum cleaner that would last for quite a number of years.  Unfortunately, to my surprise, the salesman thought that he should not sell me a vacuum cleaner because he was concerned that I would vacuum over the electrical cord.  Standing there in his store, with my guide dog Keller (a golden retriever, with very long, beautiful hair), my three educational degrees, and over thirty years of vacuuming experience in varying degrees of diminishing vision–I convinced the salesman to sell me the high-end vacuum cleaner.  With that vacuum cleaner, any prior one, or one newer model, I have never had the problem that the salesman envisioned.

 

As chairperson and sole member of my own Creative Cleaning Committee, all went relatively well for me.  During the next few years when I returned to the store for an annual tune-up of the vacuum cleaner or for bags, the salesman never said another word about my ability to vacuum safely my own carpet.  Then, the next time I went to the store, it was closed.  After a little research, I had to change from the store on the north side to a store on the west side of the city.  Eventually, I learned that the salesman, whom I first encountered, had a massive heart attack and died at a much-too-young age.  Periodically, I cannot help but think of him when I am using my vacuum.  I wonder if he knows that my only real challenge is not dealing with the electrical cord, but is being certain that I have picked up all the plush and squeaky toys of my guide dog before I delve into the geometric patterns of vacuuming.

 

My fondest memory of vacuuming is from the marvelous thirteen months when I actually had two guide dogs–one retired and one new Leader Dog.  Just before I was ready to vacuum a room, I had my older yellow lab and my younger black lab/golden retriever mix go into another room; they readily and happily obliged.  As soon as I finished vacuuming, I told my two dogs that I was done.  Zoe, the two-year-old, immediately came running toward me; and amazingly, my thirteen-year-old Heather did her best to trail behind her new, young buddy.  Within a few seconds, both of my Leader Dogs were joyfully greeting me and relishing pets.  Were they congratulating me for a job well done, or were they accepting their praise for their own job well done?  No matter–never was vacuuming so enjoyable.

 

Now, I am somewhat in the mood to vacuum the eighteen carpeted stairs in my townhouse while Willow supervises from a respectable distance.  Of all my pet dogs and guide dogs, Willow, my current Leader Dog, is the only one who would actually prefer to stay right beside me and the vacuum; nevertheless, I encourage this very calm Black Labrador to stay in the nearby room while the vacuum cleaner and I are at work designing our geometric patterns.  Then, with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat, I wish my former Leader Dog Zoe were still here to lie beside Willow.  As I had called Zoe and Heather to come after I had finished vacuuming in 2009-2010, how I do wish I could just once call Willow and Zoe together to come to me when I finish vacuuming.  Oh, yes, even with my sweet Willow, I do still so very much miss my Zoe.

 

 

WEATHER NOTE:  Mother Nature gave Milwaukee another record-setting day!  On this February 22, 2017, the high temperature was 71 degrees!  The prior record high of 62 degrees was from 1984.  (I should note that all of this unusually warm weather also inspired me to take down all of my Christmas decorations before the end of February.)  Although we will return to a Wisconsin reality of weather conditions tomorrow, experiencing Florida-like weather without ever traveling past our Milwaukee borders has been delightful for walks with my Leader Dog Willow during the past several days.  Some people may call our recent weather “global warming.”  I call it a “gift from God,” and I give thanks.

 

Hoping you have been enjoying lovely weather,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

February 22, 2017, Wednesday

 

Blanford’s Mountain: A Gob Pile of Adventures and Memories

 

Blanford’s Mountain:  A Gob Pile of Adventures and Memories

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

When we were in an adventuresome mood in the 1950s and 1960s, we often turned to “Blanford’s Mountain”–actually, a gob pile (made from types of waste rock from coal mining).  At the time of my youth, this gob pile, which we said was made of shale, had hardly any vegetation; amazingly, today, this gob pile is covered with vegetation.

 

From the kitchen window of our Hoosier home, we had a view of “Blanford’s Mountain.”  From the yard on the east side of our house or from the field to the south of our Indiana home, the gob pile, a remnant of a small coal mine of the early 1900s, was clearly seen.

 

“Blanford’s Mountain” was always there during my childhood and school years; but at times, we were called to that “mountain” and just had to climb it–sometimes with my dad, sometimes only with friends and/or my sister.  When we were in the mood for an easier climb, we took the southern route.  The slope on the south side led to the area where the settling pond and old coal mine were; however, we almost always followed orders and almost never walked near the old settling pond.  At the top of the gob pile was a circular indentation which made me think of a volcano.  Although I never climbed the east side of the gob pile–the steepest side–we did summit both the north and west sides of the gob pile, which we considered part of the Bill and Clotene Toppas farm.

 

In the winter when the “hill” was covered with snow, I was never brave enough to sled down the north side of the gob pile; however, generations of young boys often provided us with entertainment as we watched them trudging through the snow with sleds and then swiftly sliding down the hill into the pasture.  Considering the steepness of the north side of the gob pile and the length of the sled run, these Blanford boys were rather daring.

 

On a warm or windy spring, summer, or autumn day–the view from atop “Blanford’s Mountain” was spectacular.  We could see a panoramic view of the farm fields, pastures, woods, roads, our house and a few others, the trees lining Brouiletts Creek, and a bountiful piece of the sky.  That view from seemingly the highest point of our hometown of Blanford, Indiana, gave me a spellbinding sense of the freedom and beauty of our blessed land–of the quietness and tranquility of a small, rural town.  Ironically, the noise, hard and repetitive work under dangerous conditions, sweat, and blood of coal mining gave us this wondrous place–a place for adventures and a peaceful place for a poet to grow.

 

Below, you will find one of my poems in which the focus is on the old coal mine of the early 1900s–the coal mine that was very near our property with its yards, house, field, and woods.  This small coal mine was one of many that dotted the landscape of Vermillion County during the first couple of decades of the 20th Century.

 

 

In a Dream Came the White, Mine Horse

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

In a dream came the white horse

whose story Margie told.

The massive, milky white horse,

who had worked at the coal mine

that bordered our property line,

galloped gracefully into my dream

to tell me the stories

of the turn-of-the century mines,

the Indiana mines of the early 1900s,

and much more.

 

Born in Italy, in 1879, my grandfather–

who, despite his 6’1”-height, worked the mines for too many years–

insisted with only a light Italian accent and a couple of tears,

“None of my four sons will ever set foot

in a coal mine.”

None did.

 

Yet, the massive, milky white horse,

from the old mine near my house,

trots boldly into my dream.

“I know your story.  Go away!  Go away!

I do not have an apple nor hay for you,” I say.

He whinnies with laughter and does not obey.

The massive, milky white horse speaks in my dream,

“Don’t you know I eat coal dust?

Do you know why my eyes are yellow?

Because from all those miners,

I caught the lust for gold.”

He whinnies with laughter, and my body turns cold.

“Forget this pretense of the present tense,”  I snap.

“Margie told me you drowned in that old pond—

the pond, near the shale hill, our mountain.”

“Oh, so, you do know why I am

so massive and milky white.”

“If you had really worked in the mine,

you wouldn’t be so tall and white.

Just go!  Go, and let me sleep.”

“Listen, I was not always a horse of twenty hands;

as a colt, I was a white or cream.

Of course, when I worked, I grew gray and black

from the ever-present coal dust.

How that life weighed down my back!

But, after all those years

of washing in that old pond,

I turned a milky white

so that I could take flight

into your dream to tell you:

lobby against Connally Coal Company—

they will blast and scrape and sour

your pretty, little town.”

I lie back down, but cannot sleep.

Wiping coal dust from my eyes, I begin to weep.

 

 

SPECIAL REQUEST:  If you ever climbed this gob pile or took a sled ride down the gob pile, please leave a comment on this blog post.  Other readers are also welcome to leave comments.

 

With thanks for reading my Wordwalk blog,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

February 15, 2017, Wednesday

 

Accoutrements of Winter (essay and poem)

 

Accoutrements of Winter

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

One of the accoutrements of a Midwestern winter is being able to stay inside to listen to a good radio program–especially when good radio programs are becoming more scarce.  Yesterday afternoon, on The Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio, the guest on the Kathleen Dunn Show was poet Billy Collins.  Of course, one of the wonderful aspects of this public radio program is that the interview was for one full hour, without any commercials–you, know those things so many people laud and applaud during the Super Bowl, but could do without at most other times.  Along with the succinct questions and interesting answers, Billy Collins read a number of poems from his new collection of poetry entitled The Rain in Portugal, as well as one poem which he wrote even more recently.  Certainly this radio program was a superb way of jump-starting National Poetry Month, celebrated throughout the thirty days of April; and the broadcast made me feel as if I were in Poetry Heaven.

 

Additionally, Mr. Collins, poet laureate of the United States (2001-2003) and poet laureate of New York State (2004-2006), prompted me to ponder just a little more on one of my favorite topics–and one of my favorite categories on Jeopardy–poetry.  Why are too many people afraid of poetry?  Why do too many people not include poetry books or even single poems in their accoutrements of winter?

 

In the February 7 interview, Mr. Collins noted that his mother had memorized many poetic verses and had shared verses with him when he was a child.  As he grew older and was writing poetry in high school, his father periodically gave his son an issue of Poetry magazine.  Did these gifts from his parents help to lead Billy Collins on his path of poetry?  I easily assume so and encourage parents to share poetry with their children; also, I encourage teachers to plan a poetry unit for the month of April.  On the radio program, one librarian called in with her comment about what her library in Wisconsin is planning to do for National Poetry Month; and I hope that more librarians will plan both poetry writing and reading events for patrons of all ages during April.

 

Just as there are all kinds of fiction, nonfiction, music, sports, and art–there are all kinds of poetry.  My guess is that if you have an objection to poetry, you simply have not yet been exposed to the type of poetry that speaks to you.  Continue to read:  eventually, you will find your chosen poetry, or it will choose you.

 

As a writer, one of the greatest compliments I receive is a reader’s telling me or writing to me that he or she never cared much for poetry, but that he or she likes my poetry!  Well, I love the thought of clearing the path to poetry for someone or some readers because if someone comes to enjoy or appreciate my poems, perhaps, this reader will explore other poetry and find therein the magic, wonder, and glistening simplicity of other poems.  Before my retirement as an instructor of English at the technical-college level, what I was sometimes amazed to hear was that a student had never before written a poem; then, the gift to me as a teacher was this student’s not only writing a good poem, but coming to the point of enjoying the writing, reading, and presenting of poetry.  Teaching poetry units is one of my fondest memories of my teaching career.

 

Now, do your part; and creatively prepare for National Poetry Month.  Fifty-one more days and counting!  Meanwhile, I share with you the following poem.

 

 

Accoutrements of a Midwestern Winter

 

by Allice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

Among my accoutrements of winter is

a double-knitted cap of couplets

to toss in the air like Mary Tyler Moore,

in honor of snow-covered trees and poetry.

 

Among my accoutrements of this season is

a warm scarf of sonnets

that I can wrap around my neck and face

to face and forget the frigid winds.

 

Among my accoutrements of a Midwestern winter is

a fake-fur trimmed hood

on my puffy down coat:

the hood muffles the sounds of winter

and whispers haikus into my ears.

 

Among my accoutrements of winter are

my snowflake-patterned mittens

that grasp the metaphors and meters

of this Midwestern winter.

 

Among the accoutrements of February are

my blessed, fleece-lined boots

that re-boot my spirit

and help me to write away the winter blows and lows

by stepping up to

poetry

that always warms my heart

like a bowl of fidilini soup.

 

 

POST-SCRIPT:  By the time you read this blog post or soon thereafter, the public radio program with guest Billy Collins should be available in the archived programs of The Kathleen Dunn Show, aired on The Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio and posted at:

 

http://www.wpr.org

 

Enjoy your accoutrements of winter!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

February 8, 2017, Wednesday