Cronifiscence (For Rose)

Cronifiscence (For Rose)

Used to be, we rough and ready, time-tested but never bested
full-breasted, not-begging-your-behested ladies
were frowned upon, looked down upon as
past our prime
‘More to be pitied than sensualed’

But now we gather in pools of lactic estrogen
to reminisce about dime phone booths
penny candy and two-bit boyfriends
our first quarter centuries marked by
debauchery, doubtless laughter
the ember of roach-clip glowworm
impromptu meetings on the streets
so far below downtown, we were crowned by
halos of cannabis smoke rings

Might be on city subways with melted portraits in windows
crashhurtling then lurching to stinky stop stations

Or southern streetcars harvesting magnolia scent
sliding over tracks greased by funk and fancy

We hail from many lands, form a tribe that
transcends countries of origin, societal strata
We are crones in the best sense of
that beleaguered term – we defy restrictions
Protest “wrinkles as afflictions”
Deny quaint references to “women of a certain age”

We ARE Women of a Certain Age
Certain that we have been there
Certain that we burned our bras and will do so again
if our daughters and all fertile women are denied
choices and voices – we will make noises, so watch out, boyses
We are certain that the world is better with us in it

Our experience has honed us into
magnificent, beneficent, sensible, sexy creatures
We have earned our crowns
We don’t do boundaries or borders

We are found art

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Just in:  Added to Poets United’s Poetry Pantry for Sunday!

Rose Preston is a jewel. She lives in New Orleans, born in South Africa. She’s the kind of woman who will save a lovely object d’art for years until she finds the person who needs it… in this case, a lovely card with shining giraffe for her girlfriend’s birthday. I, too, collect bits of this and that (often sending to my old buddy Sidnie), just waiting for the right time, the right hands into which I place that little treasure.

Rose lives. I mean, this woman is traveling home in two weeks, then she’s going on SAFARI! Holy schmoley, that’s living. She was once charged by a baby elephant and, defying odds, snapped “my National Geographic photo,” only to later accidentally delete it… when she was high. I mean, really, kids, this is my kind of girlfriend. God willing, neither of us (nor any of the other fantastic women I spent time with in New Orleans!) will ever grow up, never stop ranting and raving and reveling in our lives.

Now if only I could download the damned pix off my “smart” phone, I’d include her picture.  Later, I shall have to edit her image in. Peace, Amy

Swing, Sway, Pay the Musicians!

Swing, Sway, Pay the musicians!
(New Orleans)

TOURIST SAYS:
“We flew down here to New OrLEENZ
Oh, that Berbin Street’s a racy scene
White people, black people
Al Hirt’s closed but I got
a real hurricane glass at Pete Fountain’s
And the music! There was a white singer
who did that gravelly voice on
‘What a Wonderful World,’
so authentic, he sounded just like
Lance Armstrong!

 

LOCALS SAY:
…‘cept she wouldn’t know real jazz
if it sashayed up
slithered along her inseam
and chomped down on her skinny butt

Buuuut… we love them, the tourists
in their Mardi Gras beads
They stay on Bourbon so’s not to
imperil themselves, and
sure as God’s name is on a dollar bill,
the Lord rains that green on our
Katrina-ravaged, race/grace savaged,
road-buckled, pothole-pimpled hometown

Tourists nurture the city, rain the green
on the parched heads of bartenders and servers,
taxi drivers, musicians – from our bevy of
audacious, bodacious singers to brass ensembles and
buskers to second-line bands – plus mule carriage men and
bicycle carters, all manner of trade here in N’Orleans
Hell, they take that bread and spread it all over town

Tourists don’t know the real goins-on
‘less they got good friends hostin, boastin on
their chicory-roasted tasty toasty town
The dark side streets pulsing late-night R&B,
roots jazz, Kid Ory’s ghost, all those
greasy good sounds after the Bourbon Street gigs
are done, the paddleboat is docked, long after people
who clap on the one and the three (bless ‘em) have retired to
their hotels…after the Top Five Louis Tunes go to bed

That’s when the hunger is sated, when gates open to
a positive, righteous flood no Army Corps of Engineers
could ever fuck up, this outpouring of soul
dredged in Creole hot sauce nasty goodness
It’s what they’ve been dyin to say, dyin to play all day
all the way down from The Land of the Green, source of
the rent and new shoes and toys for Christmas

Payin gigs ain’t even foreplay
The cab ride down steams every hungry body up
Jump out the door, slide into sensual surreal
so-real recesses of excessive compression
to achieve the blissful explosion
swaying sweaty bodies
contorted faces
building building to

The excruciating mindbending orgasm of
hot humid homegrown harmony

And to that I say, Laissez les bons temps rouler
“Let the good times roll!”

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Yes, New Orleans was a treat. I will be recounting these stories for the next few posts. Thanks to Rickie Lee for inviting me down… to Lex for telling me I had to go… to Rose and Suzanne for their sweetness… to Alfred for being Alfred and trading the piano bench with me… to Amanda for hosting my Second Phase… to Brother Robert, and you best call him, I’ll give you his number later, if you need a cab… and to the wonderful assembly of artists, musicians, and just plain folk who made up our Second Line parade in celebration of Rickie’s birthday.

We will have words about Brother Robert, a smidge of the gorgeous art of Suzanne La Fleur, musings on my new friends and old ones as well. And yes, there will be clips once I get my Smart Phone hooked up to my hard drive. I am in love with NOLA, but my somke-sensitive lungs are glad to be back in Wisconsin!!

For ABC Wednesday, the letter was S.  Sweet sweaty salty swimmin in satisfaction.  Yeah.  Peace, Amy

Ghost of Mama, Passed

Ghost of Mama, Passed

Damnedest thing, this smell
Can’t get it out of hair
nor clothes nor bedding

Cigarette smoke
That shit cost me a career

Two weeks of stench
clinging like a needy ex
stalking me like that one guy who…

Here comes freakazoid strange:
Niece calls me, nervous, feels like
“Grandma is trying to say something
to me, it’s important”

Now, I was Charlotte’s listening daughter
But Kati was Grandma’s smoking buddy
They sat and puffed for hours
while I choked in the next room
(but grinning because, hey,
Charlotte smoking and hacking was
still better than Charlotte drinking)

Twentysome years Mom’s been dead
After so much time, you think?
Charlotte clouding me with smoke
and Kati still puffing, could it be?

Mama, we are listening
Tell us what to do

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, we’re playing, Play it Again, Toads! Going back to an old prompt. First came Ella, invoking Halloween; then, there was a site of lines from ghost poems, one of which we must incorporate into our poem.

One struck me, from Ghost by Paul Mariani: After so much time you think… although I rephrased it for effect.

The experience in my poem is real. It could be weaning off a psych med, although the side effect was not confirmed by my psychiatrist. Maybe some old secondhand smoke finally draining out of my sinuses, like old toxins? Possibly a denim jacket from St. Vincent de Paul that I didn’t launder enough before wearing a few days in a row? It could be something ‘brainiacal,’ and for that I will consult my physician Monday.

But I think it’s Mom, I really do! (Especially because I washed the bejeezus out of the jacket and used a Netipot on my sinuses…)  Guess I’m calling Kati tomorrow after church!  Peace, Amy (although now I freaked myself out and I probably won’t sleep much.  Such is the questionable wisdom of creating ghost stories before bedtime!)

Orion, Reimagined (a pleiade)

Orion, Reimagined (a pleiade)
In memory of Wilmot Dunn, stargazer

Old Grandpa Dunn and Charlotte
Out to the telescope shack
(over Grandma’s dead body…
only money saved, for that?)
“On left, three stars, that’s O’Toole.
One Irish constellation.”
Obviously, Grandpa fibbed!

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For dverse Poets Pub, where (while sipping a fine Wisconsin microbrew (Bitter Woman, tastes just like it sounds!), I wrote to the prompt, a new form called a PLEIADE. “Inspired by “Pleiades,” a star cluster in Taurus constellation, also called the ‘Seven Sisters’ (Greek Mythology).” Seven lines, seven syllables, plus the first letter of each line must match the first letter of the title. I found this doubly delightful because I could remember Grandpa Dunn, my wonderful second great-grandfather.

The Story: My mother’s Great-grandma Dunn was mortified when her mischievous, spendthrift husband used their entire life savings from his work as a railroad conductor to buy a state-of-the-art telescope. He proceeded to build a shack around it, which Grandma referred to as “the Shithouse,” both for her opinion of the endeavor… and for the state in which Grandpa found himself after the purchase. (Can’t blame her. This was mid-1930s Depression Iowa.)

Wilmot Dunn was a dreamer. Mom said he had many, many graphs written up of a proposed rocket ship to the moon, and, after Grandpa Dunn died, little Charlotte asked if she could keep all his charts and writings. Grandma had already donated the telescope to Drake University, per Grandpa’s wishes. The writings, she left in the Shithouse, which she promptly doused with kerosene and burned. Mom was heartbroken, but it instilled in her the telling of his stories to me, and it’s still a part of that rich Shanty Irish oral tradition in my family! Peace, Amy

Muse-ical Demands (Real Toads prompt)

Muse-ical Demands

Starts off humbuzzing
nuzzling, within and without
her brain stirring to life

“Wait awhile,” says a muse-ical voice
“Hang out here – words are
on their way.”

Then her mind’s forest glade
is overtaken by a storming swarm
of mystical creatures
Jumping
Scurrying round her chair
Mumbling jimmystewartlike
Shaped in curves and lines
The stuff of scribbled margins

“Hear us!” they demand
“No idyllic comforts for you today!”

Passion’s blessed curse
She knows but one way:
She and the skittersliding
ROWDS
SWORD
WORDS
can coexist

And she fumbles for a pencil

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads asked us to consider the work of Eugenio Montale, an Italian man of words who was a Nobel Laureate. He wrote prose poems, and I have adapted his mostly nature-themed works into my own “human nature-themed” work!

Have been drawn to art (acrylics and the like) lately, so have not been around my blog much. Apologies, and many thanks for all who stick with me, even when I don’t stick with myself. To myself. Oh, you know what I mean…

Peace, Amy

Sun Goes Down Bitter

Sun Goes Down Bitter

Sunset is the saddest light there is
when it signals another night
for a blighted, blindfold family

Threats shouted, curses thrown
‘cross the supper table
flung like mashed off a ladle

Someone always slams palms down
Leaves in a huff, mumbling stuff
This time it’s Dad – which is really bad

Cause he’s mad at Mom, anxious
When he’s anxious he wants some
and he’ll take it from someone

who’s smaller than he is
Can’t talk back, can’t fight back
Can’t swallow her vitamin in the morning

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Susie at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, “Play it Again, Toads.” I chose a line (“Sunset is the saddest light there is…”) from Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, a book I read years ago and now must read again.

The thought of summer sunsets, very sad. Alcohol for Mom all afternoon… two martinis for Dad – after he had stopped for a drink with the guys. He was quick to anger, yet completely arbitrary… kept his buttons hidden from us, but if Mom knew he was “in the mood,” she’s spark a fight and later go to her room and lock the door.

So much for the safely of the suburbs and the oft-Tea-Partied “stability of two-parent families.” I’d have given anything to get them a divorce! Peace, Amy

PS I am not posting much, but I am in a cycle of artwork: acrylics, India Ink, pastels, courtesy of Cornucopia Arts Center of Madison, WI, a free center for neurodivergent people. I’ll try to sneak in some art next time. A

Crowning Glory

Crowning Glory

She dresses for the party tonight
simply
sweetly

She fusses with her Hello Kitty necklace
dreamily
purposefully

She lingers in a view of
herself
and her crown of glory

Her “all clear” party and
chestnut
hair jewelry

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Locks of Love allows people to donate 10” or more of their own hair to help create wigs for low-income girls who have allopecia or are fighting cancer. My favorite donor was a girl in our Attica church who had done it twice before her 16th birthday. Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Magaly asked us to write about hair jewelry. This sprang to mind as a survivor adornment, as one friend told me, “until the real thing comes along!”

Peace, Amy

Wisconsin’s Burden (Stale Pale Male Scott Walker)

“Duuhmm…” (heavy breath) “…well, it’s about jobs and…” (sigh)

Wisconsin’s Burden (Stale Pale Male Scott Walker)

Scott Walker for Prez?
Vote for him at your peril
He’s blind to injustice
His heart has gone sterile

Dim, inarticulate,
slack-jawed mouth-breather
If he ran for dogcatcher,
wouldn’t vote for him either

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons by Gage Skidmore; attribution HERE.

People on FOX talk about Scott Walker like he’s the new Ronald Reagan.

I rest my case. The “trickle down” from those policies requires toilet paper… from a company owned (as are Walker and Paul Ryan) by the Koch Brothers.

He (along with equally optimistic Paul “Mr. Schu on Glee” Ryan) are BOTH from Wisconsin. Walker has never worked a job in his life, other than nursing off the taxpayer teat since forever. Walker is running for another term as governor (remember 100,000 protestors at the Capitol Dome in 2011? Yeah, let’s do that again.), and he fully intends to ABANDON that position (or at least totally neglect it) to try for the White House. Even if he still sucks, he won’t be there.

Mary Burke is my choice for governor. Mary Burke ran her family’s business, Trek Bicycle, a nationally known concern that turns out quality bikes. She knows budgets; she understands the need for women to have reproductive care (oh, you don’t favor poor and low-income getting advice from Planned Parenthood? No free condoms? No free birth control pills? Then shut the hell up about “too many babies,” unless you’re willing to adopt them ALL). She knows how to balance a budget. She doesn’t LIE about job creation, and she donated a bunch of money to The Road Home, a path for families from homelessness to housing. YOU GO, GIRL!

Peace, Amy

To-Do List

To-Do List
Candle.JPG
Scour bathtub, walls, etc.
Set aside bubble bath
Find candles, matches
Freeze sundae glasses
Find Sinatra mix CD (Reprise cuts, Jobim bossas)
Run hot bath, extra bubbles
Kick off sneaks, rinse stinky feet, etc.
Brush teeth
Boot up sound system, insert mix CD
Call Lex, tell him come home ASAP
Pour Capital Amber into sundae glasses
Set beers, candles on table by tub
Put cat in closed room with treats
Hit “Play”
Greet Lex at door (red nightgown?)
Let nature take course

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
“Candle” by Christoph Michels – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Shay’s “Fireblossom Friday” at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads challenged us to make a list, any list that spoke to us. I’ll be away for two days and when I come home, I will have just missed Lex, who’s attending his family reunion this weekend, so…

…this was the only list worth making.    ;^)    Hope Y’ALL have a fun night!  Peace, Amy

Blinded by the Pattern (dverse)

Blinded by the Pattern

Front room blinds
Lines and ever more lines
Perfect symmetry, vertical, straight
Setting sun squeezes through, says it’s getting too late
Too late for punishing gym workout
Too late for art workshop
Pajamas

I don’t care
I’ll sit here in my chair
Imagining pushups and treadmill
Feign guilt at missing tonight’s yoga (I’m so ill)
Wish giddyap would trump inertia
Blinds help me stay blind to
this pattern

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of WikiCommons, thanks to photographer Petrolli, who graciously uploaded the file for all to use! License can be viewed HERE.

Victoria C. Slotto is the bartender at the dverse Poets Pub, and her prompt was ‘patterns.’  This poem is called, I believe, a triquain, relative of the cinquain.  My syllable scheme for each stanza was 3 – 6 – 9 – 12 – 9 – 6 – 3.  Thanks to the Toads for turning me on to the form, even though I didn’t participate in their take on it!!

I spend many days watching various arrays of sunlight as they stream through the venetian blinds. By the time I’m done pondering their endless lack of diversity (!), I find it’s simply too late to go out.  My new therapist suggested replacing “should” in my mind (as in, “I should go to the gym”) with WANT TO (“I want to go to the gym”). It helps me, honestly! She also said (and I love this), “Stop ‘shoulding’ yourself.” Get it? Got it? Good.

Peace, Amy

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