Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

All That Glitters

All That Glitters

A friendly, energetic employee
sits me down before my complimentary workout
She’s motivated
to sign me up for $29.99 a month
plus a “one-time $149 contract fee”
plus an annual $5 “enhancement fee”
(I asked. It helps pay for “cleaning and maintenance.”)

Rows of rowing and
shiny – if plastic – elliptical mills whirring
Designed to tighten sculpt lift renew energize
in classes or
in earbudded solitude

We’re sweatin to the Gold-ies
This gym, a starship enterprise
Squeaky clean, pristine
None of the primal potpourri afforded me
by my local community center gym

After pedaling pushing pumping up a sweat
I do due diligence in the changing room
A woman, quietly cleaning the bathroom
She, a little English
I, zero Ukranian
We talk with our hands and eyes

She mops up their leavings
Swiffers their sweat, and most importantly,
is not allowed to take tips
She is paid eight bucks an hour
Always on call, seven days a week

So who’s really sweating
at Gold’s Gym?

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, The Tuesday Platform

It’s true. I went to Gold’s Gym with the shameless intention of getting one free workout, because our local community center is closed this week for an intensive cleaning! Madison’s Goodman Center pays their people a living wage, has no fancy frills, and houses a small – but totally adequate – workout room. The Center also has a senior café; an afterschool and summer program; a food pantry; a splash park and playground in summer; and a loyal, friendly staff.

When we visit a hotel or a restaurant, I always talk to the gutbucket staff. Those holding mops and bus trays. I ask about unions, about pay, about how well they are treated. And Lex and I consume services accordingly.

Stay human, folks. Amy

She’s a Classic (April PAD)

She’s a Classic

She’s a classic
antique, silver

Smooth lines
Smart mouth

Knows the score
Gives what-for

Loves change
Changes for no one
but herself

Reads, learns
Sees, remembers

Shares with abandon
Abandons no one

Wants for nothing
Her needs are easy
Her burden is light

Her way is forward
She never looks back
except, perhaps, to smile

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, the second poem for April PAD. (yesterday’s prompt was “Horse,” and I had nothing. Not even a pony.) The prompt was “The Classics,” but I had another little “dickens” in mind…

Amy

Close Behind (April PAD)

CLOSE BEHIND

I can feel her
close behind
and catching up

There’s a bounce to her step
I can hear it
Fwoop, fwoop, fwoop

Matching my stride
She’s gaining on me
I turn to confront her –

and she’s gone! Turn again to
resume my journey and
fwoop, fwoop, fwoop

How foolish am I
It’s only this:
my ass is following me

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

There’s no fool like an old fool (except a fool who is young at heart, but aging). Put on some weight over the winter; now, with every step, I’m twerking while I’m working.

For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, the first poem, from the prompt “Fool,” for April PAD! Taking up the challenge to compose a poem each day this month. I hope I start getting inspiration from somewhere else besides my BUTT tomorrow…but I am not making any guarantees.

Peace, Amy

Lost Word (ABC Weds)

LOST WORD

I awoke, musing
(first thoughts of morning, always sharpest)
that President Obama’s endorsement
of Debbie Wasserman Schultz was
an implied endorsement of Hillary Clinton
(yes, I actually wake up thinking this stuff)

I then planned a tweet
to that effect
In my mind, typing abbreviated text
(abbrev’d txt)

“Prez hypes DWS; tacet hype of HRC

Didn’t even close the quotes
Stopped short
“tacet”

Is it “tacit”? No, doesn’t look right
Is there a tacet/tacit usage comparison?
Should I google it?
Is “tacit” a word
or a typo?
Or is “tacet” wrong?

At that moment
This very morning, in my bed
I realized, “This is how it can start, with
a lost word.”

Hear this, cruel Fates:

I don’t lose words
I use words
to great effect

(Effect? Affect?
Naw, I’m screwin’ with ya now!)

Poets, writers, artists
write and paint their truth
Individual as brushstrokes

If my truth were
that mental facility would begin to leak
To fallfunnel
an hourglass
emptied
s
l
o
w
l
y

I watched the first grain of sand slip
today
and documented it here

Now, that would be ironic
That precision of loss

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Connie Peters and I play Words With Friends. She asked this week whether I would be doing the April Poem-A-Day challenge. At that time, I told her that depression would probably get the best of me, so NO. After this experience, and her musing that “sometimes, it can help,” I have decided to take the plunge after all.

Thanks, Connie! See, we never know when the little words of encouragement will stick. Friends rock.

Alzheimer’s does not run in my family.  Just the usual shot livers, lung cancer, and other addiction-related stuff that is preventable when you know what’s up.  My real fear is that, since my mom lived a long time WITH fallout from addication, I will have to be put down like an old horse when I am 128.  Find a quiet corner of the garden, you know…

For ABC Wednesday, the letter is L… for loss/lost. Amy

Plaster Cracks

PLASTER CRACKS

One of those unexpected glances
A happenstance mirror
The old lady looking back at me

with curves in places
like her face
and craggly bits about the eyes

Who is this woman? She
looks off her feed, or depressed
No, I replied, it’s just you, ya old bag

Your fault for smiling so much
For choosing to live with your depression
rather than finding a way out

And so I settle into almost sixty years old
I let gravity, cruel mistress, have
her way with me

It used to be boobs and the
skin over my knees becoming
a canopy for bone beneath

Now it’s the more obvious sites
The ones one cannot hide under
clothing, beneath makeup

It’s the glorious blooming of
A New Amy, crone delighting
in the fact that she can still.

make new things, such as wrinkles

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

It’s true. That little sag under my jaw, the crows’ feet that have morphed into Crow Valleys. It’s happening, and I can either get pissed at God (which seems quite useless, and I owe God so much) or dive in, feet first. I choose the dive.

This is for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Play It Again, Toads. One of my poet buddies, Fireblossom, had a previous prompt called, “The Crack in Everything,” and we have written to that prompt. Thanks, Shay, for always being an inspiration! Love, Amy

Patron Saint of Jazz

PATRON SAINT OF JAZZ

She lived in the corner
in the record rack
Her face, flat on an album cover
but spin that vinyl and ooooh

She sang about life
About the sad truth that
black lives didn’t always matter
Especially in the south in the 30s

Her voice gave witness
to a woman’s weary world
Her curls pressed, ironed
Her veins spiraled in junk

Her attitude, defiant
Her circumstance,
forced compliant
by companies and creeps

No one could deny her
power, the flower behind
one ear; the blossom
gardenia, always

The voice got harsher
as did the years, but
Billie was the patron saint
of one little abused white girl

who understood without knowing
there was anything else to be
but to be a musician, or
anything else to do but sing the blues

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Decades before cultural appropriation was a thing, I was a white girl singing blues and jazz (from the age of around 6). I copied no one, truly; probably had more Judy Garland in me than anything. But the feeling, yes. I got that. Grew up around it, heard so many singers and musicians, both black and Anglo, who encouraged me. They never made a distinction about my race, they just said, “Sing it, baby.” The depth of feeling was natural for me, it ran through me like my own blood.

Having said that, I DO “get” cultural appropriation and am PROUD I never thought to copy any of Billie Holiday’s stuff. Too many female singers of all ethnicities adopted the gardenia behind one ear; I always thought it terribly corny and a bit disrespectful.

For Poets United, the Midweek Motif is Patron Saints.

Peace and a spin on the turntable, Amy

Greedy Bastard

GREEDY BASTARD

He was always greedy
Wanting more buildings with his name
emblazoned in new neon
Then, when customers
found flaws and defaulted or fled
he got in bed with the State to
deflate his debt. Bankruptcy,
more than financial, substantial
penalties were paid by ordinary Joes,
like schmoes, we sat by and watched
as he snatched victory from the
jaws of the Street

When his first wife was no longer
trophyworthy, he moved on
And again
And again
Like a rich white kid tiring of a toy
Or a car
he traded his women in
for newer models
Sometimes foreign, sometimes domestic
(sometimes actual models)
All with solid chassis and
that new-wife smell

When he tired of Atlantic City
he moved on to TV
the natural place for such as he
Bombastic, plastic,
spasmodic delivery

When he got fired from TV
he moved on
to the real big deal
And now his greed dictates
that we should grant him
Gold toilets in the White House

Do we really need
to cater to his greed?

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Hey, I have not posted anything about Tr*mp (whose name is a swear in our house, like, “Go tr*mp yourself”).  Sometimes it’s good to vent.

No image, because ewwwwww. Tagged under “Jerks” for ABC Wednesday.

Peace, Amy

A Life Less Weird

A Life Less Weird

would be lacking in gusto
would sap our strength
would pull us under to
the place where normalcy shadows all that matters

A life less weird
is something to be lived by
wonderful, caring people who
just happen to lack that “spark of madness”*
that shines so brightly in
those who robinradiate

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

*Thanks to the late Robin Williams for this phrase. He said, “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

Poets United, thanks for letting me tag along on the “Weird” prompt! There is a lovely flavor to neurodivergence (and thanks to Ian Nicholson for sharing that term, for schooling me through “Barking Sycamores” on how I can relish my own particular groove).  Also, thanks to Saana for enticing me back to Poets United!

When life appears to“trump” fantasy, fantasy actually has the better foothold!

Peace, Amy

If She Were

If She Were

If she were a cuticle
she’d be bleeding

If she were road kill, she’d be
half in a crow’s belly

This country
These headlines
The prospects, so bleak

She’s dog tired
Bone weary

Dog bone busted

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

ABC Wednesday is on the letter “I” and seems to be pointing toward writing one’s own life. Strange to write these thoughts in the third person; yet, to claim all this as mine feels like defeat.

I am hopeful, but this reality is taking its toll…

Peace, Amy

Bridge the Gap (Words Count, Toads)

Bridge the Gap

Thoughts here
Pen there
Bridge the gap

Under cover of covers
Mind unsnuggled and busy already
Journal over on dresser…
Oh, to find courage and brave
the icy sprint in thin flannel
to capture, capsulize this inspiration

Make haste
Bridge the gap

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Mama Zen, you are my hero today. I was winnowing files, shrinking the ever-growing pile of laundry… and then, when I logged on to Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, the “Play it again, Toads” prompt brought back a “Words Count” post from you – Twitter, fewer than 140 characters (this is 114). Since I was in an editing mood, this seemed perfect.

Also, it’s worth noting that I had the first stanza in mind just before falling asleep. I grabbed a paper napkin from the nightstand and scribbled with a stubby pencil. Completed the rest just now at my computer! Peace, Amy


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