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

Category Archives: Faith


The weasly guy from “Mad Men” and
Demi Moore in drag?! Pass the cranberry sauce!

ThanksGIVing?

Here’s to my Mayflower descendants who
enslaved indigenous people.

Here’s to Wrong-Way Columbus, who
first allowed them to show how to grow food.
(Then he enslaved them.)

Here’s to Columbus Day, which
celebrates the schmuck above.

Of course, there’s always
another side of the Judas coin.

It’s a great day to spend with family,
gorging on food and getting tipsy.

It’s a great day to celebrate the
American version of football.

But this year, 2013, we have
a special treat in store:

Retail workers ripped from their
families to work on pre-Black Friday.

Come to think of it, just about
everything Thanksgiving is BS…

especially what they taught us in school,
that “the Pilgrims” (um, the Settlers)

and the “Indians” (who were here first)
dined together and had lots of fun.

Want to see fun? Take a trip to a local
reservation. And I don’t mean the casino…

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At this, the 11th hour, I implore you, DON’T GO SHOPPING ON THANKSGIVING! It’s not fair to the employees. Of course, Lex and I will boycott all the Big Box stores putting this hokum over on America… but at least let the stores be empty on a national holiday. How about it?

And take a moment to pray for “American Indians,” whatever the hell that means. Just because they have casinos doesn’t mean squat – the guys at the top make all the money, after they pay off their Malaysian bakers for funding the building. And that takes years!

For ABC Wednesday, “T,” and “in the margins” at Poets United and Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.  With hope, Amy


Sofia (anaphoric poem for a young soul)

Sofia’s sisters will write their symphonies
for the world in their world

Sofia’s song lies within, beautiful, sonorous,
hard to explain, yet unfailingly lovely…
filled with illusions and wonder

Sofia’s favorite pastime is looking in the mirror
God gazes back at her, through her eyes and
in her infectious smile; a face that is
a reflection of the face of God

Sofia’s sisters will have a different kind of freedom
Roaming the world, seeking their separate destinies
But she is the lucky one
Destiny has found her and
God holds her in strong arms

Sofia, your every breath is counted
and you will never be alone
Your name means wisdom and, though hidden,
it is real, a labyrinth that dwells deep and swells wide.

Sofia. Your witness is simply being; your song is of the soul.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I had written this poem for Sofia, the daughter of my friends Daniel and Joy, during a visit to San Antonio years ago, but it never saw the light of day until this blessed move to our new home next to our church. My posting will be sporadic, but I’ll read more than I post for a few days on breaks from unpacking.  This is at dverse, Poets United, and the garden I have sorely missed, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.

dverse asked for Anaphoric poems, which have repeated words or sounds. I decided to use the name which became a song for playtime: Sofia.

When we were visiting, Sofia, who had a difficult delivery and will never function in “our ways” past a young age, delighted when I played with her. The song was “So-FIIIIII-aaaaa…” followed by long, silly phrases:
So-FIIII-aaaaa sits on the floor and plays with her box of stuff
(giggles)
So-FIIII-aaaaa picks up the box and dumps all the stuff on the floor
(dump and giggle)

On and on through picking up plastic horses and puzzle pieces to dumping it out again. Hers is a pure existence, and the reason she has a happy life lies with her family. Danny and Joy are parents who, when faced with the birth of a child who would never learn to read or write, refused to lock her away. Her sisters, Veronica, Eva, and Carmen, love her for who she is, and Sofia is safe from caring when they pass her milestones; they are all equally loved by their parents and their larger family as individuals. This is a family of deep faith and a strong sense that they have been blessed by God with Sofia. My heart this day is with Daniel and Joy, with their able girls, and with that specially abled young woman, Sofia. Paz, y con mucho amor, Amy


Summer Treasures Remembered

Silence is for remembrance, thoughts of her childhood.

Summers… The dappled pony on Aunt Beth’s farm, riding at a canter back to the house. Shucking corn, peeling skin from squash, separating rind from dead-ripe melons. The tang of lemonade, made from scratch. Braised ribs from Moody, the steer who kicked and broke her wrist. Dinners on a platter; breakfast straight from Grandma’s cast-iron skillet.

There was no tomorrow, at least not until Ma came to collect her and the boys, back to the fast-paced, grimy city, home.

She switches gears to five years ago when, after careful moral inventory, she chose. Rejecting city life for the solace of the country cloister. Truth is transitory; choosing the habit over skinny jeans, long sleeves over skimpy T’s. Her chestnut hair fluttered to the floor, shorn like a sheep at Beth’s farm. Her simple cell: table with wash basin, lamp, bed, cross overhead.

A final goodbye to family as she enters the authenticity of spiritual life, simplicity over audacity. Ma lingers at the cloister gate, remembers how little Sandy (now Sister Joan) took catechism class so seriously. Sister Joan smiles from two floors above, then joins her order in preparing a home-cooked dinner to be driven into town for the homeless.

Shuck, peel, braise, remember.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This was for Kerry O’Connor’s Get Listed at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads; words can be found HERE. Yes, I took liberties with the word “malinger,” but hey, my Iroquois name would be “Plays With Words.”  Kerry said to use two or three, but I went to town and used ’em all!

My BFF, John, was at one time a brother in the Franciscan Order; later, he became a priest. Now he’s thoroughly enjoying life as an ex-priest/healthcare worker, moonlighting as a piano bar player in Philadelphia. Man, John can SING. He even performed “New York, New York” at his ordination party (including key change, per his instructions to the band). 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


Let Your Heart Take the Reins

In Biblical times, the “heart”
was actually one’s gut.
To “know in one’s heart”
was to feel in the region
of the solar plexus the nexus
of thought and emotion,
an ocean of intuitive knowledge.

If you get that pain
in the pit of your stomach,
stop. Listen to your
better angels; let your heart
guide you, provide you with peace.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Kim Nelson at Poets United’s Verse First wanted a poem, in fewer than 13 lines, about our passions. Mine do not include brevity, so this was a good challenge for me!

Interpreting the Bible to relate to modern-day times is a passion of mine. So many folks use the Bible, as my friend Ben recently wrote, as a weapon… slandering gay folks, denying poor women health care. All the things Jesus decried when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself…” Loving God brings me closer to doing the right thing. It’s hard, having manic depression and PTSD, to find that quiet place, but the ache in the pit of my gut I always pay attention to! Peace, Amy


Pride and Pettiness (and the Gospel of Matthew)

There are in this world
people who gossip and
believe not in consequences

Care not of feelings
Worry not of redemption
I feel sorry for them

Living self-contained,
self-serving lives, not
penitent for own faults

Gossip is the stuff of
cowardice; direct talk is
the only right course.

If you love me, tell me
If you hate me, tell me
Don’t go behind my back

And remember, when you
point a finger at me, you
point three back at yourself

Matthew 18:15-16 says to
speak to the person directly
A tribute to righteous living

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Three Word Wednesday
gave us Penitent, Tribute, and Believe; ABC Wednesday is up to P. Also at Poets United, where there is never any backbiting or pettiness, just poetry!  Too many communities, not just Christian, are prone to gossip, to not speaking directly to the person they are mad at or have problems with. Just a reminder from The Word. Peace, Amy


The amazing Joseph Harker of Naming Constellations asked for a personal hymn (or hymns), starting with something we have never heard a hymn written about… it’s a long prompt, so check it out HERE. These are the fruits of my labors, my three hymns in the heart of a Sunday night.  I will also post this on Tuesday at dverse Open Mic Night and at Poets United.  Thanks again, Joseph.  Peace, Amy

Hymn to Her

Trapped in the overgrown patch
called my garden. Titan prairie grasses
tickle the screens, engulf potted plants.

I, the prairie avenger, armed with
scissors, hacksaw, kneepads, and gloves
shape, tame, make symmetry of chaos

forgetting that grasses once ran wild here
long before my aim of a forced, polite posyland.
Blessed are those who walk in Her overgrown path.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Shrine

This is my shrine
It’s wholly mine

A framed reproduction of Kinkaide’s kitschy two-story clapboard
in muted tones, Photoshopped with images of prostitutes. The
ice cream truck parked out front says “Gone Fishing”;
silhouetted against a shade, Mr. Softee is obviously hard.

This is my shrine
It’s wholly mine

This may seem odd for inclusion in my confusion of a
work space, but, with other talisman… a rainbow glass fish,
pads and pencils, Riley at seven – little hippie in Lennon glasses,
all these stir my imagination, invite the spirit in to dwell within

this sinner.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Give Me But One Chance

Give me but one chance
to teach another to dance

To look upon others
not as “them” but as brothers

Give me a servant’s hands
fulfilling needs, not commands

Help me to hold close those
whose ribs I can feel ‘neath clothes

Keep me awake, aware
to go where others never dare

Keep me just off kilter
so I possess no societal filter

And thus remind all humankind
our common threads are the ties that bind

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


I missed church this week because I was down with the flu. So it’s only right that, I should post a revised version of a religious “food-for-thought” poem I wrote long ago.. Whether you agree or disagree, ALL comments are respected and appear unedited on this blog (unless you use the F word or something really tacky like that). Only hateful comments which are directed at OTHER bloggers will be deleted; hateful comments directed at me are fine, I don’t mind the heat and I love all haters (which just kills them!).

Also posted at Poets United, the poetic collective. Peace to all, Amy

ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE

When confronted with yet another conundrum,
the umpteenth tease to ensnare the “troublemaker,”
the Learned Ones asked,
“Should we pay tax to Rome?”
Jesus replied, “Give to http:Caesar that which is Caesar’s;
give the rest to God.”

If we wiped “In God We Trust” off every coin,
all forms of currency,
would God be offended?
Cease to exist?
Wipe a soon-to-be-designation “sinful city” off the map?
(Those pastors never predict; they only proclaim)

“Under God” inserted in the Pledge in the 1950s
assuring all that we were not a Godless nation
(like those Commies in Russia)
Would God disappear from our lives should we
revise the pledge, restoring it to the original?

If the Word is written on our hearts
why do we need it minted as well?
What reassurance does it give the poor man
who inserts In God We Trust into a slot machine
hoping to stave off foreclosure?

God is our Creator, and genderless:
This is my personal belief, not a universal truth.

Do schoolchildren, reciting the Pledge by rote,
paying no particular attention to one word over another,
believe in God more because God’s name is in it?

No Godless person am I
nor spiteful
Just pondering what I read in my Bible today

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


With The Sunday Whirl, wordler-in-chief Brenda posed the words in bold – a baker’s dozen.  Also, Sunday Scribblings wanted us to write on the word “Captivate.”  These are both Sunday-based poems, the second being a haiku.   Also posted at my poetic home away from home, Poets United.

FOR THE SUNDAY WHIRL

Sunday Praise Service

Hot coffee to stir the ominous ache in her weary bones. 
She chooses an emerald empire-waist dress;
the illusion of a full front covers
the void of her shrinking frame.

Time to observe the celestial, to worship the Divine.
As her sandals flip, flop, flap into the sanctuary,
a kid jostles past her up the balcony stairs to sit with his mom.
She smiles, remembering her own scrambles up there;
the rhythm of life is upbeat and present
here in this church.

Church services are usually holy pantomime, but
not here.  The sermon moves her – and the music?
It rocks like the ages!

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

““““““““““““““““““““

FOR SUNDAY SCRIBBLINGS

Televangelists Are Full Of Crap

Captivate
with delusions of riches,
Joel Osteen.

Captivate
with tales of earthly wealth,
Graham Junior.

Hold captive
those prisoners of Rapture,
who crave flight.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


OK, I had a HUGE blast of energy after the sun came out, my cough abated, my lungs cleared, and I rode a bike for the first time in 7 years! THREE, count ’em, THREE poems today, so scroll all the way down. One haiku, one thumping Trump (hey, who doesn’t wanna do that?), and a final meditation to bring it all to a proper close. Peace to all who visit this blog, and remember, the Mayans didn’t predict Cortez, so quit sweating 2012!   Amy

First, for ABC Wednesday and that pesky letter, “O,” as well as Sensational Haiku Wednesday:

“O” is for Obama

Birthers, just admit
since proof of birth has been shown:
You hate his black skin.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

———————————

Now, this is for ABC Wednesday and any blog that included prompts about idiots, f***wits, greedy rich straight white men, and egotists in general:

Obnoxious and Overbearing

Reporters live for this crap
(as Murrow turns slowly in his grave).

The brave blond/redheaded billionaire,
multiple times bankrupt
(and that’s just financially speaking)
arrives in his airbus.

Airbrushed hair sculpted to his scalp
(paging Mr. Softee!).
Face like a sphincter
mind like a gumball machine
mouth like a garbage disposal
spewing mindless accusations about
Place Of Birth and how Proud He Is Of Himself
that He forced the airing of Proof,
the truth that our president is…
well, our president.

TV reality show host,
scion of the sleaziest game in town:
Casinos (the house always wins,
but he still manages to go belly-up again and again).
Three wives (so far), but he’s rich again;
there may be more.

Anderson Cooper’s,
Jon Stewart’s, and
Stephen Colbert’s
collective wet dream:

Trump/Palin 2012!

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

—————————————————————-

Finally, for Three Word Wednesday, using the words, Foolish, Mercy, and Relish. It’s Threefer Friday. Freaky Friday. A good Friday. Peace, Amy

Dry Bones

Bones weathered, dry, sun-bleached
Souls weary, drained, damaged

Who will raise them?
What will give them life, the power
to give and to receive love?
How will they rise from death?

Miracles happen.
The Bible says Ezekiel witnessed
the stop-action resurrection
of a thousand Jack Skellingtons.

Miracles happen
when we see ourselves
in the eyes of the homeless, the starving, the addicted.

Miracles happen
when we see past
our plasma screens, Starbucks, Mastercards
the restaurants we relish,
the foolish ways we overextend ourselves…
and show mercy to those who have nothing.

Miracles happen
when we listen to
our better angels.

Look past things of this world,
take on the burden.
Walk that mile.
Reach out to those who need your touch,
and your sorry, dry bones will be renewed.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also posted at my NaPoWriMo home, Writer’s Island, and at Poets United. Thanks to Rob at Writer’s Island for giving us all a prompt-free space for posting. Allows all of us to use prompts and ideas from different sites, as well as free writes from our own musings. A real blessing to me this year! Kudos, Rob.