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Epaulets of Feathers

November 9, 2016


Epaulets of Feathers:


A Month–Not Just a Day–of Thanks, Week 2



To give earnest thanks throughout this month of Thanksgiving, “Epaulets of Grudge” would be better cast off and replaced with “Epaulets of Feathers.”  After these few introductory paragraphs, you will find my poem entitled “Epaulets of Grudge,” which I wrote on October 11, 2015.  Although I shared this poem with one of my writers’ groups, I doubted that I would ever post it on my Wordwalk blog.  However, as I debated with myself what would be the topic for this blog post of November 9, 2016, I eventually thought of this poem in my personal archives.


Besides resting and always awaiting another revision in my saved documents, “Epaulets of Grudge” not only appeared in the current fall/winter issue of the online literary publication Magnets and Ladders, but also was one of two poems selected for “honorable mention” in the Magnets and Ladders Fall/Winter-2016 Poetry Contest.


As I continue my list of thanks for this month of November, I am grateful to have some of my writings published and to have received some recognition for a few of my pieces since my retirement from teaching.  At the close of each of the prior three years, I have been grateful to read a summary of how many people in the United States and in other countries have visited my Wordwalk blog:  each year, the number of blog hits has significantly increased.  Thus, during my “golden years” (or “silver-gray years”), I do appreciate having this writing hobby to keep me busy and give form to each week and milestones to each year.


To bridge the gap from my altitude of gratitude for my writing avocation to the following poem, I emphasize that I am thankful to live in a country where a transition of power comes in a respectful, dignified, and peaceful manner.  With this poem returning to my mind this morning, after I created it thirteen months ago, I ponder how a poem may have multiple levels of meaning, may be interpreted differently by different readers, and may have new meanings for another period of current events or season of life.  I hope that in “Epaulets of Grudge,” you find at least a few messages which the poem intends to convey.



Epaulets of Grudge


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Your epaulets are grudges:

I do not understand why.

They are so unbecoming.

Why do you wear them every day?


The epaulets of grudges

pull on your vocal cords

and make you sound different–

strained, unnecessarily strained, and strange–

a stranger to me.


Yes, my shoulders are unattractively rounded;

but the grudges slip right off.

I am glad, ever so glad

because I could not move on with such weights

upon my shoulders.


When my younger nephew ran in the Bataan March Marathon,

he ran with a backpack on his shoulders,

a backpack of more than forty pounds

plus two of the weights

his grandpa (my father)

used in his golden years.

My nephew ran with the beloved memory

of his grampy

and honored his World War II service

at the Battle of the Bulge.


At the finish line of the marathon,

as my nephew shook the hands

of five survivors of the Bataan March,

none wore epaulets of grudge.


Of some men,

monuments are made of the world’s finest marble,

cut from the caves of Marini di Massa,

in Northern Italy.


Some women are memorialized in Wisconsin rose granite.

Other statues are

carved from Indiana limestone.

Some celebrities

are molded into life-size

statues of wax.


Are you molded from a block of butter?

Are you carved into a block of ice?

Are you melting, melting–

like the Wicked Witch of the West?


Some famous people are cast in bronze.

You, my dear friend,

will be cast in grudge–

unless you choose to change

your monocular ways.


I offer you a gift:

epaulets of feathers.



May our United States of America always remain united and blessed

and may God bless all of our country’s veterans on Veterans’ Day,

Alice and Willow


November 9, 2016, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Alice,
    May the worried weights of the world slide from the shoulders of stamina and strength. Thanks is giving, and thanks is a gift. May the thanks of this season give to you as much as you give to others.

  2. Hi Alice,

    This is the perfect poem for this week. Thanks for the mention of Magnets and Ladders.

    • Hi, Mary-Jo–Thanks for your comment and thanks for all you do for/MAGNETS AND LADDERS! When I think of all that I am thankful for this year, meeting you in person this summer /

      is on my list of thanks. Enjoy the weekend! Alice

  3. mfanyo permalink

    Dear Alice,
    First of all, congratulations on the publication and recognition of this thought-provoking poem! On this Veteran’s Day and every day, I welcome your gift of “epaulets of feathers” and hope to keep that visual in my mind in the coming months.
    May God bless those who are currently serving or have served our great country, especially all of our family members.
    Love, Mary

    • Mary–Yes, on this Veterans’ Day, as previous Veterans’ Days, I have been thinking of our dad and his service in the 638th Tank Destroyer Battalion (April 9, 1941-October 9, 1945), as well as the military service of Dad’s brothers Charlie, Johnny, and Jules–our special uncles. I do imagine that Uncle Jules, now 90, has also been thinking of his brothers on this day. With thoughts of the younger generation, thanks for their service are extended to my nephew Eric (Army Ranger), cousin Jason (Navy), and cousin Dan (Air Force). Blessings for all who have served and who continue to serve our country so well. A & W

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