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Joan E. Bauer: Col. John Stapp, Fastest Man in the World

What saved me were those years in Alamogordo

when I was nine & ten, unfettered, unsupervised,

so I could build wooden carts, play with bows


& arrows, roam empty lots, half-framed houses

with my buddies Mike & Greg—in the military

boomtown near Holloman where Col. John Stapp,


Fastest Man in the World, hurtled on the rocket

sled 630 miles an hour, then stopped. 46 g’s.

Glad we didn’t stay, returned in ’57 to LA.


Could’ve been one more Alamo teen so bored,

I turned to Jimson weed, eating spiky seed pods

for escape in a blur of delirium & amnesia.


Flat-roofed ranch house. Thin walls, dirt yard,

scorpions, brackish water. Creosote, cottonwoods,

mesquite, saltbush & every kind of cactus.


Blistering July, but night so cool & sky so dark.

Who knew there were so many stars?  By fall,

walking a mile to school through dust storms.


My mother put aside her reading to gussy up,

black cocktail dress & heels, to help my dad

entertain ‘the brass.’ Best memory: watching


Mom’s friend Verna gyrate & howl in a plaid

house dress. September 1956, just like Elvis.

Ain’t nothin but a hound dog, cryin all the time.


Back in LA just months, my father’s assigned

to Edwards in the Mojave. This time my mother says:

I didn’t raise my daughters—to be tumbleweeds. 



Copyright 2018 Joan E. Bauer.  

Previously published in Pretty Owl. Reprinted by permission of the author.


Col. John Stapp

One comment on “Joan E. Bauer: Col. John Stapp, Fastest Man in the World

  1. charliebrice2017
    January 31, 2018

    Loved this one, Joan. You really killed the ending. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on January 31, 2018 by in Poetry, War and Peace and tagged , .

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