Skip to content

Accoutrements of Winter (essay and poem)

February 8, 2017


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


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:


Enjoy your accoutrements of winter!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


February 8, 2017, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Alice, I enjoyed The Rain in Portugal. as a matter of fact, I reviewed it on my blog not too long ago.

    My late husband Bill was one of those who didn’t like poetry in general but was a fan of mine. I was glad to introduce him to this art form through my work.

    • Abbie–Many thanks for sharing with my WORDWALK readers the link to your blog and your review of Billy Collin’s latest collection of poetry. I hope that many of my readers will check out your blog, as I enjoy reading it each week.

      With appreciation, Alice

  2. mfanyo permalink

    Dear Alice,
    My accoutrement of winter in Denver this week includes a light sweater and sunglasses for the record-breaking temperature of 75 degrees predicted for tomorrow! While the mountains are getting another big dose of snow, Denver remains warm and dry. However, on this roller coaster ride of a winter–the forecast for Saturday in Denver is rain changing to snow with accumulation of three to four inches. One week ago today Denver experienced its first ice storm in recorded history! This winter weather is full of surprises!
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Willow!
    Love, Mary

  3. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–Very nice post, and you continue to write poetry that I enjoy reading. However, we decided our accoutrement of this roller coaster winter should include a brief road trip to the hopefully sunny south. For now we’ll enjoy the warm up here in the north–Sue

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: