Skip to content

Forte (A Canvas Poem)

February 10, 2016




by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Before the poor imitation of Picasso’s Guernica

covered the iris of my canvas,

I (who could hardly see the numbers

of paint-by-number)

brushed strokes in the style of PBS and books.

Eventually, I painted over all canvases,

except three–

one of placid spring,

one of striking autumn,

one of an endearing clown.


The thoughtful clown is on a speckled purple background:

his hair is in fragrant colors

of oranges and Red Delicious apples;

his smile is whimsical,

his eyes are optical illusions.


The muted hues of the spring canvas are,

according to a sighted sister,


according to me,

fading like my memory of sight,

those seeing and visionary days.

Yes, all are fading, fading:

so, these three canvases of my life

remain covered with opaque wax paper,

as they have traveled with me

around my homelands of the Midwest,

during a nickel’s worth of decades,

and continue to fade,


behind my precious “Aunt Zita” bookshelf.

The canvases of my life

are hidden away,

like my acuity.


I have such sweet memories

of these paintings:

I have such sweet memoirs

of sight.

Naturally, I still go to the art museums–

the art museums of life.


Instead of painting by number,

I now paint by words.

While oils fade,

treasured words revive my artistic soul

which metamorphosed into a poetic soul.


Life is such a collage of change.

How wonderful

that when life takes away

a weak or fragile canvas,

life gives

a forte!



Hoping you will remember President Lincoln on his birthday and

hoping you will enjoy your Valentine’s Weekend,

Alice and Zoe


February 10, 2016, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Alice. Such fine strokes of light, sound, life. The colors of your words can’t help but brighten the souls that have walked beside you through this rainbow with which you paint with words. Thanks for the canvas, so full. I could relate with each line of your poem. A wonderful painting! dp

    • Deon–Thanks for a beautifully-crafted comment! I wish I could write comments as you do. With much appreciation, Alice

  2. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice — this poem really touched me. I remember hearing you tell students that you were one of the lucky ones who had once been able to see the skies, trees, etc. and to have those memories.

    Speaking of our school days, if you remember, at MATC there was a photographer named Sue Ruggles. In the last issue of the national Lions magazine, there was an article by a visually impaired photographer (last name also Ruggles) who is slowly but surely losing out to retinitis pigmentation (not sure about this spelling) and she had some very interesting things to say. Also, at our local Lions’ meeting last night, a new member was inducted by the district governor by first being blindfolded, then after following the d.g. around the room a short distance, he was told to remove the blindfold and keep in mind what it was like and to remember the words of Helen Keller. It sure brought back memories of last spring visiting her birthplace.

    I really like getting your blog in my mailbox.

    • Hi, Sue–I am so glad that you are receiving my blog posts in your e-mail now, and I appreciate your interesting comment. I do remember Sue Ruggles and have wondered if the other Ms. Ruggles were a relative. I will ask a writer friend from Pennsylvania about this person because I believe my friend knows the Ms. Ruggles who has RP. Bless all those Lions! Your visit to Helen Keller’s home was also a very special moment for me. How many blind people are lucky enough to have a friend to call from the Helen Keller Museum/Home in Alabama?

      Many thanks–Alice and Zoe

  3. Alice, you are a true artist in so many ways; and this is definitely one of the most touching pieces. May you and Zoe have a sweet holiday!

  4. Dear Alice,
    This poem touched me so deeply because it truly exemplifies all the changes you have experienced in your lifetime–the gifts, the losses, the joys, and the sorrows. With each experience you have become stronger, and you share those strengths with others through your powerful, yet gentle words. God bless you and Zoe on this St. Valentine’s Day and always.
    Love, Mary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: