Yes, it’s true. I went back to Friday and answered ALL the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads prompts, to keep up with NaPoWriMo (I didn’t have access to a computer at the hotel, but I did write other poems daily). So here come Fireblossom Friday, Saturday’s International Frog Day (yeah, I know… but I chose a toad!), and Sunday’s call for poems inspired by Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (I did one about seeing the movie. Hey, it’s Gregory Peck and Robert Duvall as Boo Radley; what’s not to like?) In order, starting with Friday. Enjoy! And WHEW.

FIRST POEM, “inhabit an animal”

Black Kitty Tells All (for Carolyn Bowes, fellow Kitty Voicer)

Why do they hide me on Halloween?
I bin stuck in this room like they
shamed of me or sumpthin

Rest of tha time
lickin what’s stickin
Clawin up the couch
(got no claws but I
got helldamn hard knuckels)

Oops I did a swear

I tha only cat who LOVE
goin to the vet cuz Dr. Jane,
she luvin all over me
Pritty kitty, she say
Strokin my shiny sleek fur
(I clean it just for her)

Sometime I get a shot
but Dr. Jane is pritty, too
so I don’ mind (much)

At home I get my own treats
This is tha truest story of all tha
stories you ever gonna hear. Reddy?

Mommy say, “Open it!” and I
put my paw around tha handle of tha
Treats For Missy and Not For Gable Drawer
an I pull the drawer open cuz I
smarter than Gable.

But I share him some treats anyway.

I love bein a cat all day
Cept for Halloween, I herd Mommy say
kids do bad things to black kitties then
We don know why.
They must be bunch of bitchholes

Oops, did it agin sorry

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

image from Wikimedia Commons

Fireblossom, Shay, asked for a poem in which you inhabit the skin of another animal. Shay, I know this is not what you expected, but truth be told, Missy was a oner. I could write about her all day and not repeat a line. I used to do her “voice” all the time (my friend Carolyn and I used to do kitty voices at our survival job in NYC – people would plead for us to stop! We’d look at each other, shrink up our shoulders all goofy, and say, “Hee hee hee hee they think they so smart, buttparts!” or some such foolishness.

God, the salad days. I miss ‘em. But I still see Carolyn, her hubby Duncan, and their madly creative daughters, Lily and Fiona, in Chicago. And yes, they have cats, plus a very sweet dog (who is dumb, say the cats). Amy

SECOND POEM: The Toad one.

Tell it to the Marine Toads

Cake gig in Bermuda
Got my own ‘scootah’
(Don’t be a yokel,
talk like a local)

“Watch out for toads,”
warning of the road
Marine toads on street
Poisonous, not sweet

Also quite slow
And that, even though
the speed limit’s lower
the traffic is slower

Fall off your bike
and scrape your chin
Next day you’ll know
the pain you’re in

Even dead, they secrete
poison in their “meat”
Flat as flat, concrete
retains this sad treat

But ‘specially keep them
From dogs, who eat them
Behind the eyes,
their poison resides

and dog will wake
with bad belly ache
Toads on the road, dead
flattened by mopeds

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Bermuda “road toads” (called that because they are usually seen flattened on the road) were imported by some guy named Vesey, in hopes they would control the insects in HIS yard. Like they were gonna stay there. Like they would not multiply. But the genius of the Marine Toad’s anatomy is twofold: They can tolerate and breed in the brackish salty ponds around the island (no freshwater ponds there), and they secret a toxin behind their eyes as a method of self-defense. I flipped off my moped once, slid on the pavement, and got coral sand bits in my elbows and knees, plus some toad poison, which survives long after said toad is squashed. UGH. I do think they’re cute, though!

FINAL POEM, the Harper Lee prompt

Of Mockingbirds and Mayhem

My folks couldn’t afford a sitter
so they’d bundle us three in the back
of our Rambler, girls and blankets
and go to the drive-in, secure in the fact
that we would fall asleep during the
first feature, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Instead quietly we absorbed the movie,
Atticus shooting that rabid dog, the folks
in the balcony telling Scout, “Stand up…
Your father’s passing by.” I cried. Then
came the second feature, when we were
supposed to be sound asleep: Elmer Gantry

Between falling in love with Burt Lancaster,
seeing what cheesy preaching was like
(we were Episcopal, the “frozen chosen”)
And oh! the scenes with Shirley Jones in
her little slip and long hair. You might say
this was our first dirty movie, at our age.

Next day, Mom knows we’re all in our
room, which usually means mischief
She knocks on the door: “Come in, Elmer!”
We’re all in slips, sipping ginger ales out of
champagne glasses. “What on earth do you
think you’re doing?” asked She, horrified.
“We’re Slip Girls,” we replied, in unison.

“We sit around all day, waiting for Elmer.”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

True story. This upshot of this free verse piece was not inspired by “Mockingbird,” but if that movie had not been on the bill, if our parents hadn’t drunk all the babysitter money, if
“Mockingbird” had not been so wonderful that three girls (11, 8, and me, 5) actually stayed awake for it… we would never have learned how to dress up like prostitutes! Amy