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On a Writer’s Block, Another Memory of Zoe

April 26, 2017


NOTE:  On this past Friday, April 21, 2017, the spring/summer issue of the online literary publication Magnets and Ladders was posted at:

Along with many short stories, memoirs, poems, essays, and one book excerpt in this new issue of Magnets and Ladders, you may read my following piece, as well as two other poems of mine.


The other reason for my sharing the following piece with you is that the combination of the memoir and poem brings forth another welcomed memory of Zoe, my Labrador Retriever-Golden Retriever mix, whose tenth birthday would have been this past Sunday (April 23).  Last summer, I posted on Wordwalk only the poem; however, for Magnets and Ladders, I added to the poem an introduction which I am sharing on Wordwalk for the first time.  In some ways, this poem is a transitional poem that gathers together my writing, Zoe, Willow, and my dad.  Near the close of National Poetry Month, I am pleased to bring together for you this quartet of themes in one piece.



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, 2016, so much changed and so much was missed.  Then, on June 7 of last year, 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 the evening of July 12, 2016, Tuesday.


Yes, a creative walk happened on last 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 final few days of National Poetry Month!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


April 26, 2017, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Alice.
    Thanks for the morning walk. The mourning doves and I salute to you and Lady Willow. Write on Wisconsin! dp

    • Deon–Thanks for your creative comment. I hope that some of my WORDWALK readers will check out all the wonderful poems which you have written for National Poetry Month–“30 Poems in 30 Days.” I just enjoyed reading your 27th poem of this month of April and hope that other readers will head to:

      for your amazing array of poetry.

      Keep writing–Alice and Willow

  2. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–So nice how you put this together, especially your positive “writer’s block.” Hope you and Willow have many of these “writer’s blocks” during this upcoming time of long-awaited nice weather. And somehow I feel that your Dad is nodding his approval for all you do.–Sue

    • Hi, Sue–Many thanks for your especially nice comment. Willow and I are ready for more spring-like weather for our walks. Hoping all is well with you–Alice and Willow

  3. mfanyo permalink

    Dear Alice,
    “The Velvet Nights of Summer” is a lovely poem filled with warm memories, tender feelings, and soft words. I also enjoyed reading the two poems that were published in Magnets and Ladders, both of which are so clever and delightful! You have ended National Poetry Month with three wonderful pieces! Thank you for sharing the fruits of your Wordwalks with us.
    Love, Mary

    • Mary–Thanks! Today’s WORDWALK felt more like a walk in November than in National Poetry Month. Despite all the rain, wind, and grayness of the past couple of days, my yellow tulips are still standing tall.

      Take care–Alice and Willow

  4. Hi Alice,

    I love this article and poem. Thanks for the mention Of Magnets and Ladders.


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