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

Category Archives: Activism

Ginger and the Need

She shambles by in vin-
tage thrift store pin-
stripe threadbare and win-
some smile, rootless, adrift

She spots me, grin-
ning at me with an in-
the-know winkish bin-
there-dived that, too. We kin-

dle fragile friendship, cin-
namon stick in cocoa, fin-
ishing each other’s thought, in-
tuitive, this girl, and worth more.

I have meds, in-
temse therapy; she sin-
cerely deserves same. I win-
ce at her need because din-

ner, doctor, care are in-
trinsic parts of my day. Fin-
ish this sentence: “Homeless Gin-
ger deserves less because ______.”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

We know that many homeless Americans are in dire need of solid therapy and usually some psychiatric care as well. This girl is detached in an odd way – she smells, but not for lack of a bathtub; she’s comfortable in her own aroma soup. She’s off the wall, but no more than I used to be before I got help. She’s homeless and does the dumpster dive; we have that in common from my Bad Old Days.  She is a fascinating human being who deserves better.  The missing piece of this puzzle? Health care for all Americans.

Hats off to De Jackson, AKA Whimsy Gizmo, for the hyphenated fractious quality. De’s freedom with punctuation and wordplay astonishes me, and I know she will not mind my “borrowing” a device from her toolbox. Check her out – click on her name.

Written for the puzzle prompt at dverse, and thank goodness Mr. Linky is still open! Also in the margins at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and in the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Please join with me in engaging the homeless when you have a spare hour. You’ll know whether or not there is a threatening vibe, trust me. There is no sin in stopping the relationship at taking them to lunch and simply listening for an hour… sometimes, that hour is their diamond in an otherwise suck week, and you will be doing a mitzvah.

Peace, Amy


Crowd protesters

True Colors of Madison

Now this was in months past, mind you
Whodathunk that this move would find you

midst masses of rowdy-sprout color
from the bloodred truth to the duller

Not one box yet unpacked, you hightailed
to the Capitol, there you right-railed

‘gainst the governor, Koch Brothers feaster
(though we failed to toss him on his keester)

For the sake of each other’s opinions
They had gathered, the Left and Right minions

And there, near the downtown Radisson,
you found the true colors of Madison.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Hannah, promptress extraordinaire at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, offered us rows and patchwork valleys of tulips for a colorful prompt. I do love flowers, but I found the best colors of my life at the 2012 Madison Pro-Union Protests… red, white, blue, and then some!  For me, color has a voice, and the more “colorful,” the more effective.  I did love the golden glow my camera managed to catch; even the slight blur belies action.

This pic shows an array of color – lots of “Badger Red,” as we are the Badger State and red is the color of our home teams. Then green for peace and any color each person could throw on as we ran out our doors downtown, to wage battle for union rights against a truly clueless, mouth-breathing governor. He prevailed for the time… but we will not be broken. Next election, he’s out on his precious Teapot, if the elections are not once again paid for by billionaires.

Leave it to me to take a peaceful, flower-y prompt and go all political on you. But hey, what did you expect? Black-Eyed Susans? This is me. Peace, Amy


100_1165

TIRADE (More Crap Made in China)

New egg timer, like my mom’s
Worked well two times; third time bombs
(more crap made in China)

Coffee pots are always new
‘cause last year’s just went ker-phloo
(more crap made in China)

Got our broken toilet fixed
One week later, handle sticks
(more crap made in China)

Used to be American-made
Goods that lasted, made the grade
(no more crap from China)

Give our people back their jobs
Screw the greedy corporate slobs
(no more crap from China)

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I mean, really. Is it too much to ask, things that work? Why haven’t we gone to Congress, to the White House lawn, and thrown ALL our crap over the fence in protest? Why aren’t we speaking out about OUR OLD JOBS vs. retraining for “new industry”? This is not the fault of the Chinese PEOPLE – it’s the American multinationals, providing “deep discounts” that people snap up without giving a thought to the enslaved children and underpaid workers who toil for pennies, while the manufacturer makes millions. Think of Bangladesh, too.

We have enough kids graduating to fill the “new industry” jobs… let’s put folks back to work, doing what they already know how to do.

This is my own form, the barlette, which has two or three lines followed by (a comment in parentheses). For ABC Wednesday, which is on the letter “T” for trash… trade… trust???!! Also at my poetic pond, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, and my hangout for all things pencil: Poets United. Peace, Amy


TO ALL: Whatever your faith, I invite you to read this. You may follow a
different path, but it’s really all about living in love.

In Step With Jesus
(For Bob Gwynne and Monica Wahlberg, with love and thanks)

To be in step with Jesus…
Stop. Wait. Listen.

Allow Jesus to choose your stride.
It may be slower; it may take you
down by the riverside or
wash you in rainfall.

You may see yourself
offering a hand to one whom
you wouldn’t have touched
the week before.

To be in step with Jesus…
Stop. Wait. Listen.
Allow the Spirit inside.
Let your soul be enveloped
by the Divine Sofia, Wisdom.

You may see yourself
in sandals, sharing love,
feeding those in need, even
acting up in the
“Temples of Power.”

You will change.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Yes, it’s my 666th post. No, this is not the first horse of the Apocalypse, nor do I believe in “the mark of the Beast,” and I’m not going there with any jokes, either (although 6/66 is when my friend Monica was born, so there you go, one happy coincidence, an early birthday present).

This poem was inspired and written entirely at Sunday morning’s praise and worship service, during which guest “sermonator” Rev. Bob Gwynne (an activist of many years; he and his jubilant wife, Jesse, are respected senior members of our church), gave an excellent sermon about being in step with Christ.

For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Open Link Monday, and the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.  Also, BIG ANNOUNCEMENT TOMORROW, SO STAY TUNED!  (ribit croak gruggle)  Peace to all, Amy


UPDATE:  This was just reblogged by The Real Cie at The Cheese Whines.  Thanks, Cie!  Click the link
to check out more Cie-mantics!

No Blame, No Shame
(a different kind of coming out)

The LGBT tradition of admission
(sometimes to family derision)
is called, “Coming out of the Closet”

The closet, a cloister of treasures
like Jimmy’s high heels and
Ellen’s bow ties: Sanctuary

Once declared, closet is aired,
fairly cleared, faintly scented with
lavender or motor oil, and shame

Mental disorders, the discordance
of synapse each to the next, need
same mother/father confessions

Nowadays, they call it “coming out,”
but why steal a feeling so specific,
resulting in either terrific or horrific.

I call it, “NO BLAME, NO SHAME”
when I get around to telling confused
but Amy-supportive family, friends

Once, we were “possessed by demons,”
the spectre of exorcism (still practiced
by propagandist sects, ignorance exalted)

Later we were ruled by La Luna,
hence, Lunatics, Loony, Moon-tuned
with no room for self-love

Then we were Frankenshocked
thru electric sockets into submission
A rotisserie for the hotheaded

Now we are diagnosed, presupposed
unless war and gore have inflicted
all-too-visible, invisible wounds

No blame, no shame. Nobody can
tell us anymore that we are “less than”
To hell with stigma, guilt, and hiding

I’m simply seeking help to become
the most authentic Amy I can be,
more in control of the blogroll

No blame, no shame. Say it loud,
I have manic depression and PTSD,
but they don’t have me.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Went to the Wisconsin State Conference of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Did you know NAMI started around a kitchen table, as some moms discussed their children’s problems and diagnoses? Once again, proof that I am in a good place. Geographically speaking. Peace, Amy


For Poets United, who asked for words about gifts, a different take.

MY GIFT TO YOU THIS THANKSGIVING: The gift of awareness, of the lies we have been taught in our schools, of the ways we can open our eyes and take action, even this late in Gaia’s game.

Call me a spoilsport, but, speaking as a person whose ancestors (ugh) came over on the (yikes) Mayflower (apologies to all Native Americans), the Thanksgiving we celebrate every year never happened. Actually, while the indigenous peoples taught the invaders (Columbus didn’t “discover” America, after all) how to plant the seeds and cultivate crops, as well as introducing them to the most hallowed of all indigenous creatures, the turkey… The Anglos paid back by enslaving their hosts, cheating them out of land “rights.”

Native Americans didn’t understand the concept of land ownership – although there were vague understandings of tribal boundaries, tribes would emigrate to the South during cold months and travel North for the yearly planting and hunting. They felt they were guests on this earth, and they treated the environment with much respect, always thinking generations ahead.

It has taken little more than two hundred years for our European ancestors to lay waste to most of this country. Even the pristeen wild fields are now endangered by hydrofracturing (creating earthquakes in order to release “natural gas.” It’s only natural if it’s underground, where it belongs… and drilling through bedrock and water tables is polluting millions of gallons of our only sources of potable water. Soon, you may see yourself buying it all from the Big Guys, who are bottling it out from under us as we speak.).

SO WHY GIVE THANKS? Because we have choices, voices. We can stop war, stop the rape of our environment, stop all the destruction, if only we get off our butts after Black Friday and Turkey Day and the ensuing football games.

WE CAN HOLD OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE. And yes, that includes President Obama, who needs to be reminded that there is no such thing as “clean coal,” same as “natural gas.” We need to start hunkering down on AMERICAN-MADE solar panels and wind turbines, get them onto the main power grid.  We can work for better conditions for the people “on the rez,” from whom we stole the land in the first place.

We need to honor this country, the country we praise, this precious land, the reason we give thanks in the first place.

I will be taking a break this weekend to count my blessings (especially for my community of poets, my groups of rowdy activists, and the results of the last election, as well as Lex, Riley, and my wonderful birth family and family through two marriages). And I will be reading, only. Catching up on what others have commented on my blog, reading work on sites to which I have contributed but whose lists of poets I have not completely read.

Peace now – action to come… Amy


Quick note:  I’ve been quite vocal (well, I AM an activist, right?) about the “auto-check” option that WordPress foisted on us without notice, flooding our (and our followers’) email boxes because “Keep me posted on follow-up comments via email” was now automatically checked. Complaints flew this way and that; I posted a series, including a “fix” for the “glitch.”

Apparently, many WordPress followers made their voices heard, and together (go, WPbloggers) we AFFECTED CHANGE. This was a wonderful, peaceful activist movement.  Y’ALL DID IT AND Y’ALL ROCK!  Next time you feel a call to action, take it.  You’ll be amazed at what happens.  As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Amen, ma’am.

AND NOW, ON WITH THE SHOW!

Song of Psychiatry

Paperwork presentation
plus insurance information
Explanation of condition
(that part really saps ambition)

Process of elimination,
might need “bin” incarceration
Finally, the prescription(s)
matching your description(s)

(If you didn’t tell it well,
your mental health goes straight to hell
Then you end up in “The Bin,”
feeling like you’re lost again)

Follow-up examination
Tweaking meds, anticipation
that he’s found the incantations
to relieve these odd sensations

(Ennui and extreme malaise,
lasts for weeks or only days;
MANIC, I could climb a tower
but that wears off in an hour)

Diagnostic confirmation:
Bi-Po PTSD-ation,
winter bluesy affectation…
Happy Light, a true salvation

(All these meds for downs and panics!
I may Kafka into Xanax…
Lex will look for me until
he finds me, morphed into a pill)

Don’t skip therapy’s vital function
Psych meds only, mental unction
Counseling’s for exploration,
finding roots of situation)

Now shrink gives me medication
Spirit gives me meditation
Thus my balance has been struck
(Thanks to doctors, God, and luck)

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter “S.” Also at dverse Open Mic and my poetic haven, Poets United.

NOTES: I have a generally productive, sometimes difficult life, a fantastic husband and daughter who understand all the facets of my chemical imbalance, great friends and a supportive faith community, and I’m not on public assistance – because I have solid mental health coverage. WE NEED UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE. It would half-empty our prisons and save many homeless people from the isolation of despair. I’m an advocate for Health Care For All. How about you?


TO ALL WORDPRESS FRIENDS (and anyone else whose email box has been flooded because of the “email me all comments because I have nothing better to do” box!):  Well, I sent out the “glitch fix” far and wide, and I’ve received some very gracious notes of thanks from folks who were frustrated with WordPress and that “email me followup comments” box being checked.  So I posted on the forums, in hopes of sharing some useful info:

“WordPressers unite! That annoying, pre-checked “Follow comments via email” box CAN BE REMOVED. Took me more than an hour but I think I fixed it.

I can make that entire box go away, so you and your followers will no longer be deluged with unwanted comments. Follow step by step and START from your “Dashboard” (drop-down menu when you hover on your blog name next to the W) and take your time.

Also, if you reblog this info, PLEASE credit my blog, because it took a lot of time and effort. I’m an activist, so working against “the machine” comes naturally, haha. Good luck! Amy Barlow Liberatore  https://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/05/06/antibiotic-for-wordpress-glitch/”

——————————————————————————

THESE ARE THE TWO COMMENTS I RECEIVED. And what a load of crap! My (admittedly snotty) reply follows! Don’t you just love vendors (yes, I paid for all my upgrades) who go to the trouble of putting down bloggers who are simply trying to help? Read on:

thistimethisspace, Member. May 8, 2012, 3:34 PM
“Are you kidding? We regular Volunteers are fully aware of how to use the settings on our blogs.”

kyllingsara, Inactive, May 8, 2012, 5:32 PM

“Hmmm. I don’t get why you’re on WP if I read your post right. Regular WP bloggers also know how to use the settings on our blogs, so I probably won’t credit that find to your blog, sharplittlepencil. But thanks for the “Captain Obvious” moment of coming to the rescue. 🙂
————————————————————————-
MY REPLY:
@ thistimethisspace: You “regular volunteers” aren’t as sharp as you seem to think you are if you didn’t know that this problem was real. HUNDREDS of subscribers are hopping mad and threatening to endure the CAPTCHA of Blogger because WordPress has been unresponsive. Sorry, you failed to impress.

@kyllingsara: “I don’t know why you’re on WP”? Are you aware that I have paid to own my domain name and also paid to upgrade my memory space? You SHOULD credit my blog, for no other reason than that annoying box is still on this page, automatically checked. You have inconvenienced hundreds of bloggers as well as their readers. Take responsibility and admit it. If you read my fix completely, you wouldn’t employ the snotty “Captain Obvious” reference. What kind of people are you that you won’t fix a simple glitch like this.

I’m a former systems coordinator, and I darned well know my way around the “belly of the beast” with every domain I use. This one took lots of time to figure out, and lots of folks have written me, thanking me for doing something WordPress couldn’t be bothered to do. I don’t believe you know as much as you think you do, and your arrogance is just plain rude. Amy Barlow Liberatore, who’s not as dumb as you seem to think.


Irony In The Air

Summer’s here, or so it seems.
Shining sun – the stuff of dreams.
Odd Wisconsin irony,
not a trace of snow to see.

Last year, we were steeped in snow,
flannel-clad from head to toe.
Now I wear a sad array
of summer stuff not packed away…

Ensemble matching? No, I fear,
but T-shirt’s message does ring clear:
As war grows on despite our rants,
Lennon’s pic: “Give peace a chance!”

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter “I.”


The Greatest Aim of Humankind (an acrostic)

Pursue the beating of swords into ploughshares
Etch onto windowpanes, “The time has come”
Aiming to embrace all peoples as one family
Chanting, not dogma, but “Love,” in many tongues
Everyone will cry out, “Enough of war, time to live!”

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For a new site, Poetic Bloomings, to the prompt “a goal-oriented poem.” Please check out Marie and Walt’s new prompt site – I think you’ll love their pace, their vibe. This is also, as always, posted to my oasis from all chaos, Poets United.

Peace, Amy