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I saw it
while driving up I-25
in the morning traffic

there to the west
below white peaks…
Purple Mountain’s Majesty

rJo Herman


I wrote these thoughts in our discussion section BEFORE reading the textbook to see if any of my remembrances match history as these authors present it.    I have found a number of inaccuracies in our assigned reading, leaving out a phrase or even a word, which gives the authors’ desired slant to history.  Addressing that slant is a project for another day.
My Cold War Memories:

* Dad and his B-52 crew on Alert, living at the Alert Shack two weeks every month – sometimes families were allowed to visit and share a Sunday lunch…not every Sunday though

* Dad and crew flying 24 hour missions to Russia –

* something about a Chrome Dome…something to do with those 24 hour missions and Russia  (Wikipedia explains it so: Bombers loitered near points outside the Soviet Union to provide rapid first strike or retaliation capability in case of nuclear war)  I always imagined it like a cover over the earth, and Dad flew to its edge

* the “red phone”

* Dad’s big flight helmet with a sun shield, and he wore these two little plastic discs around his neck. He told us that Santa could speak to us through them…sometime later someone told me they were radiation detectors, to tell if he’d been contaminated somehow

* Everyone at Mass praying for God to stop the spread of Communism every day before class (2nd grade – 6th grade), and on Sundays

* All the kids at school wearing dog tags with our names and addresses

* People building bomb shelters (we didn’t)

* Being told that if the Russians bombed America, we would be amongst the first to be bombed because there were missile sites all around the base, and the Russians would want to take out the missiles and the B-52s first.  We were proud to be that “important.”

* Practicing for a nuclear blast…all families on base had to have a stockpile of water, canned foods sufficient for at least two weeks; everyone was told to stay inside (though we kids would sneak out after the AP (Air Police) vehicles drove down the block – it was a game to hide from them)


Have you ever seen a fully loaded B-52 fly over with its vast, heavy wings?  Have you ever imagined what it is like for that giant airplane, loaded with nuclear bombs,  to refuel below another giant airplane (tanker), so close that one miscalculation could explode them both.

Once one of the 52s exploded on base (Walker AFB, NM).  The blast blew out all the windows in our base school.  One of the Airmen who was killed had been our Sunday school teacher.  The power of that explosion was stunning.  Imagine the power of a nuclear bomb…

The world knew the destruction of the Atomic Bomb.  There was no reason to believe it could not, would not happen again.  It was, and is, a real threat.
I am curious to see how this textbook presents it.  The very question to describe real vs. perceived threats makes me think the authors are skeptics.  Perception is reality…threat of death by bombs was very real when I was a kid.


Eight bells on the hour
One on the half-
So chimes the clock
On my brother’s mantel.
“I’ve heard this ring every day of my life,”
as he winds it
like his dad before him
like his dad before him.


On the mantel, tall ships with perfect rigging

On the fridge, top grades

In the air, top flight

In the hearts of his girls, no one




Or more easily wrapped around tiny fingers

Semper Fi


Two years ago today
I lost my ample breasts.
Physical recovery progresses with bells.
I recommend – insist upon! – naps.
Head games are more the trial;
tears, fears, gnashing of teeth,
not to mention outbursts of rage,
utter disdain for weakness, stupidity.
Yet, despite my greatest efforts,
even my head heals
and bears its scars with equal tintinnabulation.

rJo Herman  5/9/15

Mom’s songs

Fishy, fishy in a brook
Daddy catch you with a hook
Mama cook you in a pan
Baby eat you like a man

She sailed away
On a lovely summer day
On the back of a crocodile.
“You see,” said she,
“He’s as tame as he can be.
I’ll float him down the Nile.”

The croc winked his eye,
As the lady waved goodbye,
Wearing a happy smile.
At the end of the ride
The lady was inside,
And the smile was on the crocodile.


NaPoWriMo Day Three


There was something awry at this morning’s Mass.
Something skewed.
It may have begun before I arrived late, just after the initial blessing,
But in time to confess to almighty God and all my brothers and sisters
That I have greatly sinned,
Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.
We all beat our chests,
Then sat,
Then stood for the reading of the Gospel.
We all did something different.
Some of us stood, some knelt, some sat, all at the same time.
One man was oblivious through the ringing of the Eucharist bells,
Reading his missal
even after Father said “Please kneel.”
Everyone looked at everyone, half up, half down, not wanting to be the one to get it wrong;
Uncertain what to do
As if none of us had ever gone through this same ritual
At least three hundred times in our lives.

Perhaps it was the shifting of the pews earlier this month
That led to the confusion on ancient procedure this morning.
One thing is for certain,
Change is in the air at St. Mark’s Catholic Church.


It’s becoming almost unbearable,
this wait for the poppies to bloom.
The leaves are lush and full,
and the furry pods have been teasing
for at least a week now.
I want to stay at the window
or hover over them until the first bloom splits.
Just do it!
Pop, or crack, or burst like a ballon!
Just do whatever it is you do!
Bloom, damn you! Bloom!
I cannot stand the wait!

rJo Herman 5/31/14


2014 April 2

“April Fool’s is past!
You’re the biggest fool at last,”
So my mother said

When we kids hollered
“April Fools!” on April two,
Laughing our heads off.

She knew we did not
care. The fun of it was there
and pranks all around.

rJo Herman 4/2/14


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