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Zip Odes on the Fourth of July

July 1, 2015


NOTE: Were you expecting fireworks, sparklers, and patriotic music? Will a series of zip odes do? No, you did not just read a typographical error. A zip ode is a poetic form based on the writer’s hometown zip code. After first hearing about the zip ode from Wyoming writer and friend Abbie Johnson Taylor, I decided that I should write a zip ode–especially since my mother was the postmaster of the Blanford (Indiana) Post Office for twenty-eight and a half years. When Mother became postmaster in 1955, the zip code had not yet been invented. With the implementation of zip codes in 1963, the Blanford zip code became and still is 47831.


To write a zip ode, craft a five-line poem or stanza, wherein the number of syllables per poetic line corresponds with each consecutive numeral of the chosen zip code. Some writers choose to count words, rather than syllables, per poetic line. Whichever you decide to count, be consistent throughout the zip ode. The rhyme scheme or lack of rhyme scheme is your choice. The hometown represented by the zip code is to be the topic of the poem. Your zip ode may be simply a poem of five lines or as many stanzas as you like–as long as each stanza follows the pattern of your selected zip code. For example, in each stanza below, I followed the zip code 47831 so that each first line has four syllables, each second line has seven syllables, each third line has eight syllables, each fourth line has three syllables, and each fifth line has just one syllable.


Thus, I share with you a series of seven zip odes about my hometown. Instead of counting words per line, I chose the option of counting syllables and found that I especially like the 4-7-8-3-1 form so well that I think it should be called the “Blanford Verse” so that other poets can use this form for poems on various topics–not just on the topic of my hometown of Blanford. Additionally, although the centering may not transfer, each line is centered in my original document because the 4-7-8-3-1 form seems to call for centered lines.


In the comment section of Wordwalk, besides leaving a comment this week, you are welcome to share your zip ode. If your zip code contains a zero, I suggest that you create a corresponding line of ten syllables or ten words for each zero of your zip code.



Indiana Zip Ode 47831


(dedicated to my mother, Mary A. Massa–November 25, 1914-July 3, 2001)


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



++ 1 ++



soon to mark two hundred years,

nurtured me with memoirs to write.

Home, state home:



++ 2 ++


Mom’s post office–

her four-seven-eight-three-one

proudly stamped on each piece of mail–

flew the flag



++ 3 ++


Blue iron bridge,

over tree-lined Brouilletts Creek,

welcomed all to this hilly town’s

Black Diamond



++ 4 ++


Decades ago,

the gob pile, our mountain, gave

a panoramic view of home,

fields and town,



++ 5 ++


Our Blanford Park

was where the town reunion

took place every Fourth of July:

food, baseball,



++ 6 ++


Those old dance halls,

above the grocery stores,

near Binole’s, Jacksonville School–

now silent,



++ 7 ++


Dear hometown friends,

would you please choose me to be

poet laureate of Blanford?

Poem, sweet




Happy Fourth of July to all readers of Wordwalk!

Alice and Zoe


July 1, 2015, Wednesday



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  1. I so look forward to your writings. Hats off my dear. Have a great weekend. dp

  2. When zip codes were first introduced in 1963, I was taking a speech class in high school. Mother helped me gather materials to make a poster for a speech about the new addition to our addresses.
    The zip code poems are fun! I’m wondering what my creative sister can write for 80005.
    Love, Mary

  3. Zip Odes . . . you are forever a teacher, Alice! This is neat and would be fun for students of all ages. How about 33953?

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