Omaha, Nebraska

Seated in the squalor that was
Council Bluffs in those days,
the big city seemed far away.

Even if she got there, someday
how would she find a job
that could pay? Really pay?

She dug up some money,
got a gown downtown and
she could pass for 21 (at 16).

She knew she could sing, then…
She dipped into Mama’s purse
and cursed herself for doing it, but

Mama wouldn’t miss the compact
as she was currently in the mental ward.
“I’m gonna look older, live bolder.”

And Dad was using his daughter
in ways that would not win him
Father of the Year awards.

So she packed up her pack,
left before Dad got back,
and boarded the ferry one day.

Hotel Blackstone hired her
at first sight and first song,
and yes, they would pay, hooray!

In years to come, she would
travel around, by bus, by car,
by train (not by plane).

She owed her start in large part to
Omaha. And Council Bluffs?
Only if there was a funeral.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter “O.” Also at my poetic hangout, Poets United.

Image courtesy of “Heaven’s Gates,” but DAMN!  This singer in the photo is an absolute ringer for my mom, Charlotte, in those days, when she sang as Patty Long and later as Jan Long (Binghamton already had one Patty Long!).