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Happy National Poetry Month, Part 3

April 21, 2021

Happy National Poetry Month, Part 3

                For twenty-one days, I have kept my goal of writing at least one poem a day.  From the eight poems which I have written during the past week, I have selected three to share with you this evening.  Each poem is quite different from the other although my second Leader Dog Heather is a focus of the second poem and is mentioned in the other two poems.  As I noted last Wednesday, Leader Dog Heather became a part of my life on April 15, 1998.

                My first selected poem is a “bio poem” or may be classified as a “bio acrostic” because I use my first and last name as the “stem” of the acrostic poem.  On an e-mail list for writers, I encouraged the other writers to share an acrostic bio so that we could become better acquainted with each other.  A number of writers in the organization did post their acrostic bios which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. 

                My sister, now retired from teaching, enlisted her five grandchildren, her husband, and one daughter-in-law into the writing of bio acrostics.  What fun!  Ranging in age from five to ten, Mary’s grandchildren did a wonderful job of writing bio acrostics –even for the family dogs.  I was quite pleased with the one acrostic written for and about my current Leader Dog Willow.  Why don’t you join the fun and write an acrostic bio or a poem of introduction?  Then, perhaps, you can encourage others to become acrostic poets.  Remember that when you are writing an acrostic, try to have the initial word of each line be a strong word.  In the sample poem below, you will read that I also incorporated alliteration and play-on-words.  Your acrostic bio need not rhyme, but should give the reader a word picture of you.

* * *

The Alice Acrostic Bio

acrostic poem for Day 17 of National Poetry Month by Alice Jane-Marie Massa


Loves walking and living with Leader Dog Willow,

Increases her container garden each year,

Creates with words and verses,

Energizes people about poetry,

Mass-produced a poster to honor her four Leader Dogs,

Almost never misses listening to JEOPARDY and the news,

Savours posting on her WORDWALK blog each week,

States proudly that she is a “Hoosier at Heart,”

Amasses poetry and prose to preserve family history.

* * *

                When I write some poems, I laugh out loud.  When writing others, I smile.  Then, when I write too many poems, like the one I share below, the words are trying to stay afloat midst all the tears.  So, you will find below what is for me, but perhaps not for the reader, a “teardrop poem.”

* * *

An Old Circus Dog:  For Heather, in Heaven

Teardrop poem for Day 19 of National Poetry Month by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Not upon my pre-retirement nor post-retirement resume

will you find a mention of this point.

You, dear reader of poetry, may decide if it should be there.

When my second Leader Dog Heather was close to age twelve,

her hesitancy about ascending and descending

long flights of stairs

made me realize that at my workplace,

we had to change our routine and

rely on the elevators.

I prayed that she would be able to guide me

through one more month of the spring semester

so that she could “semi-retire” from guiding

and retire after ten years beside me

at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

My Yellow Labrador Retriever

did achieve her decade of work at MATC.

Then, the turn at the back door of our townhouse

and down three steps of the deck became too much of a challenge

for my once-upon-a-time too-strong Lab.

The two required sharp turns complicated her descent.

Alas, I found the perfect ramp for the back stoop:

I just had to convince my aging canine of the perfected new route to her relief area

behind our townhouse.

With the very sturdy ramp in place

and double-checked for stability,

I began the lesson of teaching Heather to use the ramp, instead of the stairs.

With supreme determination,

all the positive praise I could muster

For each tiny step of progress,

I encouraged and encouraged my creamy-colored Lab.

I would not allow myself to envision anything but success:

I knew the successful use of this ramp

was the only way

I could keep Heather throughout her retirement–

the only way we could continue to live at our home,

near my workplace and so many other needs.

Nevertheless, my greatest need was to be able to care

for Heather in her old age.

We had to succeed.  We had to succeed.

Positive praise.  Prayers to Saint Francis.

Finally, Heather descended the ramp!

Hurray!  Estimated time of first descent of the ramp:  forty-five minutes.

Second descent of the ramp: five minutes!

Then, amazingly, more practice brought forth an all-time brief record!

Bring out the checkered flag!

Fortunately, her using the ramp

to return to the back door took much less convincing.

Hurray!  Hurray!

The greatest achievement of my life:

teaching an old guide dog to walk the ramp

like a content and confident circus dog–

an extraordinarily beloved dog

who continued to share life and home with me

and then Leader Dog Zoe for

thirteen more months.

* * *

NOTE:  One of the prompts on my NPM Calendar of Prompts was quite simply to write a poem about a sneeze.  Much to my surprise, last Saturday, I think a world record may have been set for the most poems written and posted on an e-mail list about a SNEEZE!  The prompt was a big success; reading the “sneeze” poems of my fellow writers was enjoyable.  Now, I hope you will enjoy reading my “sneeze” poem.

The Third Sneeze

Poem for Day 14 of NPM by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Throughout the two decades when I periodically used cabs,

I learned a great deal about cab drivers from a variety of countries.

Yes, I am sure I could write at least a chapbook–

or a cab-book–about my experiences.

Quite a number of years ago,

my guide dog and I tucked into the back of a cab.

After telling the cab driver my destination,

he sneezed.

Pre-COVID days, his sneeze was to me of little importance.

As he drove sufficiently speedily to my workplace,

the cab driver sneezed a second time.

Although I was unalarmed,

the cabbie began to express his worry aloud

and then recited prayers in another language.

The prayers were interspersed with the vocalization

of accented worries in English.

He was truly afraid that

if he sneezed a third time,

he would


I did not fear his dying from a third sneeze:

I feared he would not take me to my requested address.

For him, oh, my, what increasing stress!

Then, the feared phenomenon occurred:


I wondered what in the world he would do;

I knew we were near my destination.

His terror seemed to turn to aggravation.

Somehow, telling him “God bless you”

seemed not a good choice.

“You are fine:  you’ll be fine.”

Still living, the cab driver pulled up to 1036 North Eighth Street;

I gave him the fare and a nice tip.

He paused in his worried, prayerful state to take the cash.

“Thank you.  Take care,” I said;

Then, he sped off to undoubtedly live and sneeze another day.

* * *

Hoping your April snows melt quickly, as did ours today!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

April 21, 2021, Wednesday


From → Uncategorized

  1. Hi Alice,

    I enjoyed reading the poems.

    The sneeze is really funny – I love the back and forth that you put into this poem – his vocalizations and your inner fears.

    Glad that both poems ended on a triumphal note.

    I am so happy today – because Songs for the Pilgrimage is now published!

    The best part is that it was published first on Smashwords, and on my Mother’s birthday! April 20.

    Mom would have turned 101 that day. The following day, April 21, the book went LIVE on Amazon.

    Leonore told me how proud they are of this book cover and she feels that it is the most beautiful cover they have ever created.

    I am so proud of that cover, as well. It is a very moving photo taken in Venice – and it feels like you are standing there right beside the Grand Canal looking at the row of gondolas at rest, waiting for the day to begin. The water feels like you could reach out to touch it, as it appears to be moving towards your feet as you stand there looking across the canal.

    I have posted this announcement on my blog and on Face Book. I have such a feeling of accomplishment and pride at knowing I have done this expanded and revised edition that was in my head for so many years. This is my fifth published book! Can you believe it? I feel like it is a dream. I could never have known in 2007 that this would be my new life –

    Bob is scheduled for surgery on May 6 – so please keep him in prayer. One day at a time –

    Love, Lynda

    • Congratulations, Lynda, on the publication of your fifth book! How wonderful that SONGS FOR THE PILGRIMAGE debuted on the anniversary of your mother’s birth and during National Poetry Month!  Thanks so very much for announcing your book to WORDWALK readers and for describing the book cover so beautifully!  I plan to order the book as soon as possible and am looking forward to reading it.

          Secondly, thanks for your comments about my poems on this post.

      My very best wishes to you and Bob!

      Thinking of you and wishing you much success with SONGS FOR THE PILGRIMAGE–Alice and Willow

  2. Susan McKendry permalink

    Alice–At this busy time of year on the farm, I haven’t spent much time on my laptop although I do read your blogs on my phone weekly. These three poems were so delightful to read, especially the one about Heather, because of your guide dogs, she is the one that I knew the least. The “sneeze” poem was very funny, and I appreciate Lynda’s comments so much. Also congratulations to Mary and her grandchildren for getting involved.–Sue

  3. mfanyo permalink

    Readers of your blog always have surprises waiting for them, Alice! Among your poems, I was delighted to read about the fun the little Fanyo poets had writing acrostic poems! Whether by Zoom with the Michigan grandchildren—Lanie and Caden—or in person at our home with the Colorado grandkids—Emmy, Tyson, and Trey—a creative and good time was had by all, even the grown-ups who joined in. I have the pleasure of sharing two of their acrostic poems with your readers.

    BELLA (golden-doodle pet of Lanie and Caden)

    Barks a lot
    Enjoys toys
    Loves Lanie
    Loves Caden
    Always cute

    WILLOW (Leader Dog of Alice and celebrated in words by Emmy, Tyson, and Trey)

    Wonderful helper
    Is so smart
    Loves Aunt Alice
    Likes walks
    Oh! She’s so sweet!
    Wags her tail all day

    Thanks for inspiring all of us to write poetry during National Poetry Month!
    Love, Mary

  4. Francetta Rayce permalink

    Alice and Willow,
    I’m in awe of your dedication and skill in producing these interesting poetry pieces. It has inspired me to use poetry pieces myself for my writing group this month, but I’m only creating one each week!
    With your dedication I have continued to encourage others in my group to give poetry a try.

    My tulips seem to have survived our four inches of snow earlier this week. I am ready to move on to planting season.

    My best to you and Willow,

    • Good morning, Fran–Thanks for commenting and for spreading the poetry around with more encouragement and your own creations. Also, I appreciated your giving this post a “like.”

          Your pretty pink tulips in the snow sound like quite an April photograph in the Midwest!

      Happy gardening, and happy poetry writing!

      Alice and the PAWet Laureate–Willow

  5. Carole permalink

    Alice, you are such an inspiration! I loved your cheerful and tearful poems, as well as those shared by Mary from the little Fanyo cousins! Creating a bio acrostic poem would have been such an interesting exercise for all grade levels while I was teaching; but for now, I am pleased to pass this fun form of poetry along to friends and relatives to enjoy with their grandchildren.
    Enjoy the rest of your NPM!
    Cousin Carole is inspired by Alice’s creativity,
    Always looking forward to the Wednesday blog,
    Really enjoys our long telephone conversations,
    Often exchanges texts with news and updates,
    Loves to read and recall the family stories,
    Even makes an attempt on occasion to be a little creative.

    • Carole–You earned an “A-plus” for your acrostic bio! Congratulations, and thanks for the smile which your poetry effort gave me this evening!  I appreciate your joining in the fun of NPM!

      Take care, and talk with you soon–Alice and Willow

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