The Book of Nina

The Book of Nina
(for her parents and Team Nina)

Her last chapter finished too soon
Take a look at her book
Pages of stories, of friendships

Several paintings: Cerulean, Manganese
All shades of blue
White for the waves capping
The sea, the surf, her board,
and suddenly our own feet bare,
warmed by sunned sand

Turn the page and bubbles stream out
When they rise and pop,
her laughter rings out again and again

More and more art…

One page, a pool table
Look closely as the balls roll around
and pocket themselves at the hand of
the pool shark

Sad to see the book’s author
lost so young
with such promise
with so much talent

And yet, we will hold Nina’s book close
Take it out often
Leaf through a life well-lived
Not a moment wasted

And we will scribble our memories
in the margins

We miss you

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The subject of my last, hopeful poem, Nina Fitzpatrick, has passed over to the other side. She was – and is – a formidable presence in the lives of many students at Laguna Beach Institute of Art and Design. Check out her FaceBook page and see her in her glory. She was awake at the time of the accident and even posted a message complaining about all the CT scans…then there came an irreversible swelling of the brain and she ceased connection with the physical realm. although they talked to her and were sure she could hear… her soul suspended between the bed and the beyond.

Nina, like Riley, decided early on that she would never want to be held in a vegetative state and that she wanted her organs donated. Her parents, surrounded by “Team Nina” (Riley and other close friends), were there 24/7, a testament to love and hope – and finally to the heartbreaking act of saying goodbye.

Nina will graduate from LCAD. Students are now pushing harder for an overpass to avoid that unbelievably dangerous crosswalk. Let’s hope the city is shamed into finally taking action. It’s too late for Nina, but she will be watching, I know. BECOME AN ORGAN DONOR if you’re not already.

This will go in as a Memorium to ABC Wednesday, Letter M.  Thanks for reading this. Amy

Candles for Nina (a prayer)

TO ALL MY FRIENDS: This is the reason I’ve been absent the past couple of days. Thanks for your patience. Amy

Candles For Nina

Nina, who is far away
I know you hear my prayer
My heart and soul (my daughter)
is right there, been there

since it happened,
the Horrible Thing
Wrong place, wrong time
The pavement, no springing

up from this blow, it seems
As your friends stared
the ambulance came
Carried you with care

Now Nina, you’re in limbo
Twixt here and no one knows
Through my girl, in spirit,
I’m there, I feel so close

Your friends, angry, crying
and Nina, that’s for you
Sad, praying, lighting candles
And God is right there, too

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Nina Fitzpatrick is a close friend of Riley’s at Laguna Beach Institute of Arts and Design. One moment Nina is a vibrant, artistic, cool woman…the next, it’s moment to moment. It happened in a crosswalk at the school – a crosswalk students have complained about repeatedly, but about which the school did nothing, citing budget concerns. Seriously?  Next thing is a petition… but for know, it’s all about meditation on this young woman.

Riley and Nina and Nina’s parents and all the friends at the hospital. Please keep them in prayer, light a candle, send healing vibes. This girl was given a 5% chance, but she is hanging on, hanging in. A strong person, surrounded by people who love her so much. Amy

How to “Recruit” Straight People: A Guide

How To “Recruit” Straight People

Pink is for girls
Blue is for boys
Girls should be passive
Boys make the noise
Straight Children 001
Girls given dolls
Boys given trucks
Girls are called “pretty”
Boys are young bucks

Betsy gets yelled at
if she steals Bill’s stuff
Billy, a whoopin’ if he
sneaks powder puff

If Billy weeps
while getting the switch
He’s told “boys don’t cry”
and there is the hitch

Billy’s a sweet soul
who dresses in pink
Betty plays hockey
at the local ice rink

Much to chagrin of their
parents who shudder
Their kids are not from
the right cookie cutter

Forward to adults
Billy married, by force
Goes ‘out’ at night
His wife ponders divorce

Bett moved to SoCal
She broke her folks’ charge
On the beach playing volleyball
Smiles – livin’ large

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Illustration also by Amy; please feel free to use it for stereotyping examples.

I hear all about “homosexual recruiting” all the time from “Christians” and FOXophiles; nothing I say can convince them. Societal convention steers kids the “right way.” We are conditioned from birth, which is why so many LGBTQs suffer years of guilt and shame in silence. Some children of the “very Christian” commit suicide.

Support kids when they have the courage to come out of the closet – we did, and our reward is an incredible relationship with Riley. Peace, Amy



grabs me by my big toe
pulls me down slowslowslow
slithers me off the easy chair
through rug’s woolen sheepish hair

cannot fight this downward pass
eyes are foggy ruby glass
cried so long they’re swollen large
gremlindeep is now in charge

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Depression does have a face, and not only the one you see in the mirror. It has claws and a gravity surpassing that of earth. Peace, Amy

The Autopsy

The Autopsy

Fluids drained systematically
First cut delicate
Then deeper, probing for
what’s needed to harvest

Skin ravaged
Insides filled to the gills with pills
Pharmaceutical to the cuticle

The heart unusable, broken
The rest is flotsam
yet spoken of reverently

After all, this was once
our planet

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Free write after contemplating how Wisconsin helps the fracking industry by mining and selling off the ‘perfect’ sand for piercing our earth… and collecting shale farts. Between that practice and the damned Pipeline, how do lowly wind/solar advocates stand a chance? We are muted by Big Money. Peace, Amy

Birthday Bash (The Sunday Whirl)

Birthday Bash

Let’s get the party started!
Food paradise on the table
Platter of hummus and
fresh, warm pita bread
Little cakes with jelly
And for the sweet tooth,
rows of rich truffles

All to celebrate Kelly
who leaves behind her
twelfth year and gears up
for the teenage rage
(a stage for a different page)

Enter candle-lit cake
Death by Chocolate, mmmm
Kelly’s belly will be full
and the gravity of a cavity
looms large in her future
Dad always presents cake

He trips on a rug
Mom tries to catch it
A clean miss and the
mess is in my lap, a
motley mash of icing
and one still-lit candle

I don’t usually cotton
to such antics, but
don’t blame Auntie Ame –
the birthday girl started it:


© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The Sunday Whirl gave us a fun Wordle. The first eleven words were contributed by Barbara Yates Young. The final word, motley, was contributed by Catherine MacGregor, to make it an even dozen.

I went with the premise of the birthday (celebrate, platter, jelly, bake) and simply let it ride from there. Honestly didn’t know this would end up the way it did. Pesky characters are running around in my cranium today! Thanks to Brenda Warren for keeping our Sundays “awhirl”! You can see the Wordle HERE. Peace, Amy

From Whence, and Why

Mom and Blanche

From Whence, and Why
(My Poetic Manifesto… because Gay asked for it!)

I write to give voice
to those without a choice
The homeless, incest survivors
Deep-water depression divers

I’ve been, at one time, all of these
I claim it, no third-person tease
Stated as fact, no truth untold
Some wish that I wouldn’t be quite so bold

Raised to speak raw truth to power
Toe to toe with guys who tower
far over my little Irish ass
(Pardon me, but I can be crass)

Give me paper, a sharp li’l pencil
and life’s underbelly I will stencil
Most people in sight of my spigots:
Racist, homophobic bigots

I’m not important, not myself
My poetry rarely graces a shelf
I drop truth bomb after drone
My words, the only weapon I own

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For dverse Poets Pub, our host Gay Reiser Cannon asked for “Manifestos.” Reasons why we write, our impulses and drives, where it all first came from. I dedicate this piece to my late mother and my grandmother Blanche. The maternal side of my family, shanty Irish, were always mindful of those who had less, whether people of color, LGBT folks, victims of war (especially troops who died and their families)… perhaps because they themselves had been in a position of being homeless and next to starving during the Depression of the 30s.

They also thought Ayn Rand was full of shit. We ARE our brother’s – and sister’s – keepers, and if you deny that, you supply the world with ZILCH. Hence my manifesto. Peace, Amy

New York Doll

New York Doll

There was a time in her prime
when she’d mime drink orders
to cordial bartenders who always
tended to her needs. Never one
for thinking while drinking.

She’d haul a Hal to the juke
and dance dance dance

A chance to prance from
Latin to limbo to limo to
blow snow, no dough, only
her willingness to be ill-used
(not abused in the classic sense;
her men’s tastes not leaning toward
the waste of a pretty face)

The pace of the chase
was hasty and tiring, and so,
rewiring back at the flat, we
would recount the bounty
that shines brightest at 2 am
The night, our flight, our fight
to be noticed in an
bottomless pit
of a city

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This is why having a roommate in the larger cities is important. Who else will listen to your triumphs and tragedies ‘til dawn? This one will be at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads on Monday and dverse Poetry Pub’s Open Mic on Tuesday. I’ll add the links in the next two days so you can click and read some soulful stuff from a vast array of poets. Peace, Amy

So Dangerous He Needs a Soo-da-nim

So Dangerous He Needs a Soo-da-nim
(Racist Homophobes Who Comment on My Blog)

He knows the Founders so well
Sure of Second Amendment intent
He channels Jefferson
in sick séances where
the tea’s past rancid
but the linen is fancy
except for the nibbles
of moths in every closet

He is steady on the mark
with his Glock and his spiel
about black/brown (like
HIS ancestors didn’t
come from Africa too)
About ‘cullahed peeples’
and their unoriginal sins
About ‘faggots who want him
to bend over and take it’
He knows it by their eyes

His guns were loaded that day
He knew the kid, he really did
Must’ve because he’s been
entrusted with innuendo that
spews out his piehole like
a sick gospel. And he lives
right down the block from you

But he keeps swastikas
hidden in the basement
encased in old-growth wood
covered by a Confederate flag
Proud patriot with a
genocidal mind and a blog
He’s so dangerous, he told me,
he needs a pseudonym

Sad, dangerous, sick
little man with a laptop
he uses at Denny’s and also
big guns and bigger dreams
Gonna clean up AmeriKKKa
We won’t know his real name
‘til we see it on the CNN crawl
But the ironic thing is
his mentor’s name
is Jewish.

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

His name is Legion. His mentor is Zimmerman. He trolled (!) my blog for a long while, actually claiming he writes under an assumed name, lest the government shut him down. I, like a dutiful bartender, called him a cab and sent him back to his bunker.

Eyes Wide Open

Amy first kiss 001

Eyes Wide Open

Sweet little Amer’s very first kiss
Quick, get a camera to document this!

Davey Bargetzi was awfully cute
Brown eyes and almost a birthday suit

How many girls can say their first action
Was a photo op for Mom’s satisfaction?

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Completely true story. Like most of my life, staged in front of a live audience!   8^)

Posted at Open Link Monday at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, and, if I remember, I’ll also link it to dverse on Tuesday.  IF I remember, and that’s a crapshoot these days…  Peace, Amy

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