Archive | August 2014


fourth edit with all my darlings dead

Just a crackled old tea cup
sans saucer
holds my morning coffee,
blessing the day with promise.

rJo Herman


first draft

it’s an old, crackled coffee cup,
the kind that should have a saucer…
indigo flowers and leaves hand painted imperfectly
soft pottery, not porcelain
it thuds when you tap it

the handle is one half a small heart
large enough to hook one finger
to the first knuckle – your thumb flat
on the top curve, and your bent
middle finger adding support below

you could raise your pinky, but though
it is delicate compared to a modern mug
it does not foster fanciness, rather invites
you left hand – assuming a right handed drinker –
to loop comfterbly around it (yes, comfterbly)

not for warmth, or because it’s heavy to hold,
but just because it invites both hands,
in fact, I tend to pick it up with my left hand,
three bottom fingers and thumb lightly in place,
pointer almost resting across the top,

then hook into the handle with my right index finger,
slide the left thumb and fingers back
it invites ritual
to slow down just a minute
to savor your morning cup of elixir

I bought it at Ophelia’s in Georgetown,
Had gone looking for blue and white plates,
There it sat, out of place, an afterthought
amongst Blue Willow and old Spode china
reaching for me like density (hello, McFly)

each time I set it down I study the stained
crackles, look for the secret surprise of the
squiggled flowers at the bottom, and wonder
at the one, errant blue dot halfway up the inside
where the painter carelessly touched his brush

someone loved this cup, and used it, a lot
I imagine it traveling across the prairie, bounced
and threatened by each jolt of the wheels,
or presented with a whole set as a treasured gift,
or just catching someone’s eye as it caught my hand

on some shelf in some shop with no great story.
Oh my, it has morphed as I’ve study it,
smooth where thumbs and fingers have held it, and…
Oh, I’d best just fill it from the freshly brewed pot
and let the analysis melt with the heat of my morning joe.

rJo Herman


I noticed an old woman in the Amarillo bus station who appeared to have her grey hair neatly pinned into a large bun on the side of her head. We smiled at each other, and she shuffled across the room to talk, briefly cutting through the anonymity,loneliness and fear of a bus station in late evening. I was glad for a companion with whom to await my bus to Portales.

My eighteen year old heart panicked when I realized she actually seemed to live at the bus station, and she also seemed a bit loony. Her loose, old fashioned “dressy” dress was threadbare, her teeth sparse. The net pinned to the side of her head was filled with all the hair she’d pulled from her hairbrush every day for years. One must be careful, she said. Some evil person could use even the smallest bit of your hair to curse you.

I was relieved she did not get on the bus to Portales. It was clear she was not catching any bus going anywhere, but I am certain she stole a strand of my hair, because for all these forty four years she has traveled in the recesses of my mind, popping up at odd moments like this very morning when I cleaned my hairbrush and threw the fuzz into my trash can…

cursed, or blessed, to remember her…


rJo Herman

Ma three years after

Mom died three years ago, July 6, 2011. I miss her…

The first year it was like she was in my skin, in my face in the mirror, sometimes I’d look at my feet and see her feet, would scrub and scrub her skin off mine…I wept everyday on the way to and from work, then bonked my own forehead because I knew she did NOT approve of sentimentality, or crying over things you cannot change.

She (I?) moved on the second year, and seemed to appear less often except in perhaps the funniest moments…her voice faded from every day conversations. But she was still around.

The third year during my cancer nonsense, she nudged me now and then to get over myself and to remember others have troubles, too…she did not believe in self pity, and would have thumped me had I embraced it… I’m glad for that.

I miss calling her when she was still at home, or walking into the dining room at Nightingale Lane, saying, “Hello, Muthaw!” to which she would reply, “Oh, hello, Dahling” then chuckle…I miss her cool hand in mine those last couple years…her awareness of the change of seasons by the change in the trees on our drives…though eventually, she couldn’t remember the word for trees, she knew what she was looking at…what’s a word, anyway, but something someone made up once. If she saw a motorcycle on the road, she always thought it was one of her boys, always…and she’d wave, glad they’d driven by. “Never can tell where they’ll show up,” she’d say. She studied the pictures Mag posted all over her walls, sometimes asking…”Now who is that handsome young man in the pilot suit?” (Jon)
or “oh my, is THAT Giles and Turner?” “Who is that beautiful girl and her father?” (Jenn and Bob)… sometimes she would ask me who I was , and how nice to meet me…or Mag, Julie and Max and Ryan would have been to visit and JUST left, and she’d say to me, “I never see Margaret. How are Julie and the babies?”

I don’t miss the panic in her eyes when she was uncertain where she was, or hearing that she was distressed being showered. I don’t miss wondering if she was on the right meds, that she really felt comfortable…I don’t miss her asking every so often, “where’s my car?” to which I’d always say, “Oh, it’s in the garage.” “oh, that’s good. It’s a good little car, y’know?” “It is, Ma” and I will never forget the time my brother, Ted, was in town and stopped in to visit her, and stood in the hall while I woke her sleeping in her chair, got my face really close to her and said, “Look who’s here!” Ted waved, and this look of purest joy came over her face, she was out of her chair and at his side as fast as her shuffling feet would carry her – sure, beyond any doubt – that he was Dad, her Johnny, come at last…

I hope…oh what am I saying…I know she’s doing well in the great beyond, organizing and moving the furniture every six weeks or so…
Miss you, Ma…every day…but I’m not being mopey!