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Wordwalk with Leader Dog Willow

July 13, 2016


Wordwalk with Leader Dog Willow on a Velvet Night


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



When I was ready to initiate my blog in January of 2013, I pondered many names for my blog.  “Alice in Wordland” was already taken by another writer.  After checking out more names for my blog than I could now count, I chose Wordwalk.  This moniker for my blog seemed appropriate because on my many walks with my third Leader Dog, Zoe, I often thought of ideas for my poems, essays, and short stories.  Besides thinking of ideas for writing pieces, I composed lines of poetry or revised a line or sentence while I was walking with my Zoe in the lead.  Of course, I only did the “writing in my head” during long blocks (stretches of sidewalk), between intersections–never while listening for the onset of parallel traffic at a down-curb nor while crossing a street.  Since Zoe was such a faithful and practically perfect guide dog, the long and quite numerous blocks  that we walked were frequently fruitful for my writing goals.  My path contained positive “Writer’s blocks”–the opposite meaning from most writers’ definition of this phrase.


Since the passing of my Zoe on March 16, so much changed and so much was missed.  Then, on June 7, I happily stepped into Willowland.  Although Willow was a wonderful Leader Dog while we were training at Leader Dog School in June and has been an impressive Leader Dog as we together learn routes in my neighborhood, I have concentrated so much on Willow as we are walking together that I had not given another thought to the art of Wordwalk–until this evening (July 12, 2016, Tuesday).


Yes, a creative walk happened on this July 12 as we were strolling down a double block.  I must have felt comfortable enough with Willow’s guiding–I must have trusted her sufficiently so that my mind could drift to that creative space to craft some of the lines of the following poem.  I smile at the thought of being “Alice in Willowland.”  What a wonderful feeling to return to the art of Wordwalk–now with my fourth Leader Dog!



Velvet Nights of Summer


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Oh, the velvet nights of summer!

I happily embrace

nights when the velvet air of July

cushions my face

from the memories of the past winter,

nights when the velvet clouds

pad the poetic path

on which I walk and write,

nights when velvet winds

stretch from the succumbing sun to the dusk

which unfolds into a natural desk

on which I can creatively write

as my guide dog Willow leads the way.


On this velvet evening,

a double block drifts into a “Writer’s Block,”

then a span of back to total concentration on work with Willow.

At the next double block,

along Juneau,

I hear the mourning dove–

also for the first time

since returning home

with my new Leader Dog.

On the day after the anniversary of my Dad’s 103rd birthday,

is he nodding his approval

of my Wordwalks with Willow,

of my Willow?


My fourth Leader Dog and I walk

toward the distant cooing

of the uncommon mourning dove–

more typical in the trees around my Hoosier home.

What a gift is this velvet night

on the 12th of July,

when  I come to the crossroads

where the mourning dove, my writing, and my willow




Enjoy the velvet evenings of July!

Alice and Willow


July 13, 2016, Wednesday



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  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–What a nice poem! I never thought of a summer night as “velvet” but it is the perfect word. May you experience many more writers’ blocks in this positive way.

  2. Alice, this is nice. I think the name of your blog is very appropriate. May you and Willow have many happy word walks together.

  3. Oh, Alice, you captured the essence of beautiful velvet fabric in your poetic descriptions! I remember a tiny dress of red velvet trimmed with lace that I loved to wear. You may have had one, too, or simply waited to grow into mine–being my little sister. I also think about the lovely red velvet skirt you wore as the maid of honor in my December wedding. I am so happy that you are resuming your Wordwalks, and I certainly look forward to reading more about the Adventures of Alice in Willowland.
    Love, Mary

  4. Fran Rayce permalink

    How satisfying, and what relief you must feel, to find your self so totally being able to trust your new guide, Willow. I’m sure this is just the first of many walks you will be able to enjoy during velvet nights. Willowland sounds like a wonderful place to live, learn and write.

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