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Poetry without Pawprints

April 6, 2016


Poetry without Pawprints


On this sixth of April, which marks unbelievably three weeks since my third Leader Dog Zoe walked at my side and in the lead, I still hold many tear-jerking moments along with the multitude of happy times which my cherished black lab/golden retriever and I shared. With all respect and gratitude to Zoe, I am somehow able to look forward to the word as to when I will be matched with my fourth Leader Dog. I wish I already had the good news to share with my family, friends, and Wordwalk readers; but I am still waiting.


Thus, as I am trying to deal as best I can with this profound loss of my Zoe and of much of my independence, I have tried to think of this month which I have, in the past, so enjoyed as National Poetry Month. I recall a particular student of mine–a good, young poet who had taken a poetry/creative writing class in high school before she was my student in college. In the midst of our celebrating National Poetry Month or at the end of the semester when we relished “Poetry at the Podium,” this particular student commented that she had not previously realized that poetry could be happy, up-lifting, positive, joyful, or even jovial: she thought all poetry had to be downtrodden, negative, or sad. I think of her and the happy days that my students and I shared poetry while my Zoe lay perfectly quiet at my side in front of the classroom or when she lay beside my chair and I sat in the back of the classroom when a student was presenting poems at the podium. I hope that you find the following six short poems of this first week of National Poetry Month to be more than the reflection of the sadness which I have found to be my companion during these past three weeks.


  1. April 1, 2016, Friday: My First Poem for National Poetry Month, 2016


The Depth and Breadth of Waiting


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Patiently waiting,

nervously waiting,

sadly waiting,

tearfully waiting–

I, the proponent of creative waiting,

can hardly productively wait.


How can I creatively wait?

How can I wait for the news

of my placement in training

with my fourth Leader Dog?


perhaps from Heaven,


must guide me

through these painfully long days of waiting

to renew my life

with a new Leader Dog.


  1. April 2, 2016, Saturday: My Second Poem for National Poetry Month, 2016


No Pawprints in the Snow


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



without my Zoe,

I walk

only in the inner courtyard

and to the Tower:

I walk only with a white cane

and with memories

of my beloved guide dog.


This Saturday Spring

brought a rush of snow flurries

to a depth of two inches.

I needed to walk

midst the snowshowers,

feel the snowflakes

on my tear-stained face.

From Heaven,

could Zoe see

in the newly fallen snow

only arcs from my white cane–

no pawprints–

no pawprints in the April snow,

which, like my Zoe,

had time on Earth

that was all too brief.


  1. April 3, 2016, Sunday: My Third Poem for National Poetry Month, 2016


Mother Nature’s Reminder


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa


After the Saturday snow melted,

Sunday woke to 32 degrees;

then, the April temperature rose

to an official 70 degrees.

Late in this Milwaukee spring day,

according to the weatherman,

the temperature dropped

twenty degrees

in five minutes.

How Mother Nature did remind us

how quickly life can change–

change so suddenly

as with the unexpectedly sudden passing

of my treasured



  1. April 4, 2016, Monday: My Fourth Poem for National Poetry Month, 2016


Prayers for a Guide Dog Named Scarlett


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa


From a far-away friend,

I hear today of his friend and guide dog

who was severely attacked

by an already known-to-be problematic dog.

My thoughts and prayers reach out

to this guide dog named Scarlett and her blind handler.


Then, I realize how fortunate I have been

with all the many, many miles

that I have walked with my Leader Dogs

Keller, Heather,

and Zoe.


God and Saint Francis,

please bless all guide dogs

and their handlers

as they walk in independence and confidence

on Your Big Blue Marble.


  1. April 5, 2016, Tuesday: My Fifth Poem for National Poetry Month, 2016


Waiting, on Wisconsin’s Presidential Primary Day


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa


Aren’t all politicians lucky?

Each knows how long is the wait until voting day,

how long is the time until voting locations close,

approximately how long is the wait until results are announced.


However, my waiting is unmeasured

and is ever so hard.

Can CBS, NBC, ABC, or FOX project

my results?

I am still waiting, waiting.

I wish my waiting were measured–

how much easier this would be.


Can there be music without measures?

Can there be a book without chapters?

Can there be

peace of paws

without measured waiting?


  1. April 6, 2016, Wednesday: My Sixth Poem for National Poetry Month, 2016


Wednesday’s Five O’clock Memories


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa


In my somewhat younger years,

when I was studying at one university or another,

when I was teaching in one Midwestern state or another,

my dad called me every day

at five o’clock.

In more recent years,

after my father’s passing,

my sister most often calls me

at five o’clock.


Three weeks ago this evening,

when I too suddenly knew

that my Zoe was dying in my hands,

Mary called

at five o’clock;

and while my one hand was comforting Zoe

and the other hand was holding the phone,

my most cherished Leader Dog



One comfort to me is


that my extraordinary dad

was there to meet

my extraordinary Zoe

at five o’clock,

at a place

we have come to call

The Rainbow Bridge.


* * *


During this past week, the above poetic thoughts drifted in and out of my head and heart; only today did I write down any of these words which are in tribute and honor and lovingly dedicated to my precious Zoe. Additionally, I dedicate my fourth poem to my writer friend (and newspaper columnist) Ernie, his friend, and guide dog Scarlett; the final of these six poems is also dedicated to my sister and our dad.



With thanks to all who reached out to me this past week,



April 6, 2016, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Fran Rayce permalink

    Alice, thank you for allowing us to share in your memories of Zoe. Although the weather here
    is much like yours, and spring has definitely not arrived I still pray that nonetheless you will soon be partaking of the Michigan version of spring as you meet and begin to love a new guide dog.

    • Fran–Thank you for reading this blog post and for commenting. I will let you know when I will be in Rochester. Hoping to meet with you and Natalie soon–Alice

  2. Alice. As usual, your poetic phrase captures emotion completely. My hat is off to you, and my heart goes out to you. Keep on writing, and keep on moving towards tomorrow. dp

    • Deon–Thanks for the comment and encouragement. Thank you for your poetic inspirations of the month. Looking forward to your poem today–Alice

  3. Dear Alice,
    Thank you for your touching poems and for the special dedication. I pray that you will find peace and comfort in your walks and your words as you mourn precious Zoe and await your new Leader Dog.
    With love always,

  4. Dear Alice: Your poetry is such a deeply witnessed walk through grief. You honor Zoe with every written word. More tears as those words draw me/us in to this sacred space of sorrow. Prayers and positive thoughts keep flowing out to you, dear lady! Thank you for letting us in.

  5. The heartbreak of Zoe’s passing and the emptiness you’re feeling during this waiting period bring much sadness to the family. We hope that you will soon have tears of joy in being united with your next special companion.

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