Archive | March 2016


I remember my mother looking at her hands,

marveling how they had become wrinkled, old,

explaining the scars, her crooked little finger,

then pulling the skin smooth for a glimpse of way back.

I did the same thing just this evening –

smoothed the skin back from my fingers

imagined them soft and young –

Smiled at the sun kisses across the backs of both hands

looking like age spots to anyone who does not know

I once went sailing out of San Diego

chasing the square-rigger Star of India down past Mexico,

sun burning to a crisp.

I ran a finger over the scar of a flap of skin

sliced on a broken glass in a soapy dishpan when I was a new bride.

Eyed another scar where I once caught my pointer in a truck door

requiring twenty one stitches to reattach the top of my finger.

The nail fell off, grew back sideways.

And the stitch line on my little finger, almost cut off

when I used a pair of scissors to open a bottle of wine to toast a friend dead too early.

The slash below my left thumb

where they mended my De Quervanes is thin, precisely executed.

I should have massaged it more vigorously to avoid the dent in my wrist.

The mark of Mom’s teeth where she bit me when she lost it at Ruth’s wake.

Creases on my palms?  I cannot tell if my life line, or my heart line,

or the wrinkles on the sides of my palms can really tell

how full my life has been or will be,

but these hands with their protruding veins

and squat, square fingers

were my first fascination when I could not yet roll over,

propelled me across monkey bars,

dug gardens

dredged chicken

felt throttled in a wedding band

smoothed my darling girl’s hair

and wiped tears from her eyes, though she does not remember.

They stroked kittens, steadied pens, tickled grand babies,

pulled the rings from my mother’s still hands,

cool and soft and lovely at the end, Ma, truly.


All the live long day,


And relentless

Heavy, wet snow.

Frozen pines hang low,

Next door cherry is bent to the ground,

But the willows, tall on the hill,

have been blown free of cover

and are waving almost gaily,

without intended rudeness.



The last I saw of Emil Catt
was his tail going out the door
into the cold
into the snow
claiming his right to wander.
An hour later
I realize I have not seen him come back,
so I pull my robe ’round me tightly,
stand at the door whistling for him,
puffs of frosty breath
proving he should be frozen solid by now.
“Emilll! Eeemie! C’mon!”
Whistle, whistle, whistle.
I finally shut and lock the door,
muttering about his likely demise
as I move to the front window
to look outside for him.
He lifts his sleepy eyes
to me, confused about why I grumble
as he lies on his fluffy spot in the sun on the bed
where he spends most his days.
Once more, I am the fool,
thinking him not smart enough to come in from the cold,
while he has been warm inside all along.

exhaustion, or something like it

<too tired to think>


I attended a writer’s fundraiser for Arapahoe Community College last night, finger foods, silent auction, cool readings by poets and authors.
It was exciting to me, NOT mortgage banking.   Two young gals sat at my table, so I introduced myself and asked if they were students at ACC.
One graduated two years ago, and works in a local library.  The other is a teacher in the English department at ACC.  They were obviously long time friends there together, but nice to me.

Not wanting to waste time sitting quietly waiting for someone to talk to me, I launched into asking them about their work and their favorite books.  The teacher bemoaned the fact that enrollment was down.  It was difficult to interest students in literature.  Time would tell if the class remained in the curriculum.   So, I, being in sales a good part of my work life, immediately asked how she was promoting her class to the community in general, to enrolled students specifically.  I was imagining this big campaign, handing out fliers, visiting bookstores, coffee shops, doing open mike events – reading the classics.    Some razz-m’tazz.
“We don’t promote our classes.  People have to sign up for them.”
The old sales manager in me shuddered – “all things come to those who wait-usually what is left by those who hustle.”    Tsk,  not my job.

The librarian was more interesting.  Loves the library.  Is writing a book. Western historical fiction. How great!  I recommend The Bridge at Valentine by Renee Thompson, as a great example of historical fiction.  I warmed to the topic.  “It is beautifully written, about life of pioneers in Idaho. There is a scene right at the beginning of the first chapter where this accident happens! It  reminds me of the murder in the orchard in Willa Cather’s O Pioneers.   Not that this is murder, but the whole sense of slow motion, and tragedy, y’know?”
“I have never read that book, or any of Willa Cather. I know, I probably should, but…”
I hope my gasp was inaudible.
“Oh…well, you might…”
The conversation ends

The lady poets and authors were funnier, “fuller-lifed,” if you will.  One from El Paso read from a long poem about life in the desert with sand in your eyes, chiles in the pot.  Loved it.   One gal, who has traveled the world, read a long poem about an inane argument.  It made you chuckle, but reminded me of talking with Mom in her “word salad” days.  The words of the argument made no sense, but I suppose that was the point – most arguing makes little sense.   One tiny, fragile, could barely walk on her own poet teetered at the podium, adjusted her sparkling turquoise jacket, opened her mouth and out came this beautiful, rich, strong voice reading poems written by women she’d encountered during her fifteen year tenure at a women’s shelter.   Stunning.  Another younger award winning poet read from her book about the Chinese workers riot in San Francisco in 1877.  Stark, lyrical poems.   Another read about a raft trip with her family through the Grand Canyon.  Not quite Edward Abbey, but she captures the eye-rolling sixteen year old on the float with her mother.  It is on my list to read.

Lovely way to spend an evening.   Nice, brief chats with each of the authors.   I intend to get into this community of writers, finish my “devil in the details” novel and a few more tales I have started over the years…leave my daughter and my grands and greats something to read me by.   I figure I have at least 30 years to get into it, eh?

Peace out



My mistake is not in believing in love;

My mistake is leaving love to chance…

relying on magazines or movies or old wives’ tales

love potion No. 9.

My mistake is not wanting to take the time,

just looking to jump in,

hear someone else’s voice for a while.

So that is two mistakes, tsk.

Another mistake?  assuming people mean what they say

or, if they love you, they will always love you.

If they care for you, they will always care for you.

If you need them, they will come to your aid.

They don’t always come.

Hard lesson

learning you are a liar.

The largest mistake of all is thinking you will die if love is not true;

but in the morning, if someone does not love you

You do not die

You do not shrivel

You just stand up straight, eat breaky, and head on into work.



A scholarship fundraiser

A nod to International Women’s Day

A collection of poems and excerpts from books

Read by their poets and authors

As delicious as that first bite of a well seasoned filet

Juice running onto the plate

With the promise that every last bite

Will be just as fully satisfying.


rJo Herman

March 10, 2106

(on the first time I entered Arapahoe Community College, instead of simply driving by, and finding my future amongst writers and readers and even musicians.  Life is good.)