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

Category Archives: Motherhood

One Last Good Day (for Mama)

One last good day
(seems like yesterday)
we sat in her hospital room
drinking coffee and
shooting the shit about
the old days and Blanche and
all that was impossible to believe
yet still hysterically true…

Crow’s feet clung to her eyes.
Her lover of 40 years, Bel-Airs,
left crack-etched scars on her lips
so rooted in her nicotine habit.

Next day, she eroded, the disease
wove its coma cocoon, strength
so scarce at the last.
This stasis, this vegetation…
Her body, temple turned cell,
imprisoned her soul.

Lord, in your mercy, you
rained down her release.
Amen.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The Sunday Whirl’s Brenda gave us an interesting list, and somehow it turned into this true story of my mother and me. On that last good day, I gave her permission to die, which she craved more than I knew until I said the words. She teared up and said, “Really?”

My mother, Charlotte, went through hell during her final hospitalization, and I’m glad she’s been at peace for 21 years. This also appears at Open Link Monday for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, where I suspect Charlotte’s spirit is hiding amid the ferns, looking for a book of matches… Amy


Yes, it’s Mother’s Day on MY planet, too! Riley is deep into finals, doing so well in art school. If it were not for her going to full term, I might see this day as just a Sunday to miss Charlotte, my own mother, and mourn the two babies lost before Riley. Today, it’s a TWOFER!

So first up, Poets United’s Poetry Pantry wanted posts for moms. Second, Poetic Bloomings called for computer-generated lists of anagrams of our own name – and a poem written with ONLY those words that appeared on the list. Well, “Liberatore” just about blue-screened my computer, so it’s my birth name I used.

FOR POETS UNITED

Mama, Mommy, Mom
Amy and Laura, one day old web
Mama,
tell me story ’bout
going to Sleepytown
and then we gonna
say prayers.
I love you, Mama.

Mommy,
can I join the Brownies?
Really?
Mommy,
can we go over my
spelling words?
Cool!
Mommy,
they want me to play
softball – maybe pitch.
Can you –
You’re gonna be an
assistant coach?
Wow, Mommy,
you are so busy
but you always have
time for me.
You rock!

Mom,
just a text for now,
I’m in the middle of finals,
but I’ll call you tomorrow.
Happy Mother’s Day,
dear mother, I love you
more than chocolate!

Now matter what name Riley called me,
I was always there for her.
And I always will be.
That’s the blessing of being a mother.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image from Amy’s collection, “Riley, one day old”

———————————–

FOR POETIC BLOOMINGS  (anagram poem)

All in My Name
(Amy Louise Barlow)

I’m a bluesy limbo mouse
Alias, lousy bellow yowl

Bosomy ruby allure, yum
My morals: slim, wily, muley

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


BABY’S BEGINNING

And though she knew
the marriage was doomed
in her womb there was a seed

that grew steadily
until that glorious night
at the Chinese place

The Quickening
The moment a soul
enters the body and

like Elizabeth’s child,
baby leapt for joy
(so did her mom!)

Blessed with a gig in
Bermuda, piano bar
No star, but paid the bills

(and his too, as he
withdrew into his shell
back in Queens)

Every time mommy
played Duke Ellington
baby’s feet kept time

Fast songs or slow
Kicking perfect rhythm
My covert metronome

And when at last
she emerged from inside
her eyes so wide, so black,

I knew they would stay brown and
I knew we would be together
weathering any storm

Mothers who nurse know
the most beautiful sight
is the top of the baby’s eyelids

as they shut tight
working on their task
nuzzling at the breast

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Image by Mahalie, used by permission of Creative Commons
For Sunday Scribblings, “In The Beginning…” Also at my poetic playpen, Poets United!


Next, updating the huge backlog of your comments.  But just to assure you that I’m back “for real,” here is a poem.  (PS This was updated thanks to my buddy Mike, who caught a typo in the second line.  Bravo for second pairs of eyes!)

I always told Riley, “Just because you’re my only child doesn’t mean you owe me grandchildren, like some sort of karmic payback.  And when it’s time to take away my car keys, you have my permission NOW, while I’m still together… same thing with putting me in assisted living or a nursing home.  Only one caveat on that…”

Retirement Plan
(For my daughter, with love and zero guilt!)

When I grow too slow for races
Should I live to be quite dull
And my conversation brings a yawn
And my wheelchair you must pull

Waste no time on guilt, my dear
You have complete permission
To send me to a nursing home
I’ve only one provision:

First send me on a cruise ship
To see Alaska’s shore
I’ll slip, unnoticed, overboard
And be a mermaid once more

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Two poems – I hope both will bring a smile.

ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter X, and with a nod to Gary Larson of “The Far Side.”

Instrumentation (haiku)

Welcome to Heaven
Here is your full Steinway Grand
Hell?  A xylophone.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

 

Three Word Wednesday words:  Bump, Transfix, Knuckle.  Odd set of words, but here’s mine!

The Thump

My pregnancy was no mere baby bump.
More like a lump, and a thumper to boot.
Alone in the evening, we
(baby plus me) would sprawl on the bed, shirt lifted up.

A sight to tranfix Mesmer himself,
the balloon-within-a-balloon,
my belly encased her home,
my womb.

I’d poke, she’d kick back.
I’d sing, she’d sway to an internal rhythm.
Her foot would push against the edge of her universe,
like a knuckle bulging inside a glove.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Two for ABC Wednesday.  Two divergent subjects:  Innocence and Iniquity.  First, free verse; second, another “snowball poem,” with a descending number of syllables, one through ten.  Don’t ask me why, but this form has me spellbound. Thanks to Joseph Harker for letting me know the name of the form!

Welcome

Welcome to the world
little wonder, who
worked her way
from my womb,
winding through the waterslide
into the waiting hands
of a woman who already knew
we two would make it work
without him.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

————————————

Witch

She’s
a witch,
there’s no doubt.
Vipers emerge
from her mouth; venom
paralyzing those who
get in her way, considered
inconvenient or bothersome.
You’d never guess, beneath her perfect
new frock lies a heart cold as charity.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Also posted at the poets’ collective, Poets United


Sunday Scribblings gave us a simple prompt: Free. Also, Writer’s Island gave us Inseparable. So this is a twofer. Amy

A Mother’s Ferocious Love

Trapped like animals in their jungle village.
Strapped one to another: Young mother, daughter and son.
Shoved into ships, below deck,
so cramped, no room to stand.

The voyage was grueling.
Thin gruel was their mainstay.
These white masters with their whips at the ready
as steadily, her people died of fever and starvation.

The sound of the whippings, the whimpering.
Her son, finally succumbed to the wasting disease.
Now, as she wondered whether this boat would ever find land,
and she herself felt gripping pain in her gut.

Up on deck for the hosing down,
she clutched her baby girl in her arms,
inched her way to the rail and, in an instant,
they were both overboard, taken by the sea.

Her son had already been given to the water
after his death, tossed over like garbage.
At least now she and her baby girl would join the boy,
inseparable forever, engulfed in the endless waters. Free.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Jingle asked us to write about pastimes this week for Poetry Potluck. I love going through this box of treasures, so much that I put it in the chapbook (shameless plug, see right column!).

Hope it gives you a smile! Amy

THE PRECIOUS BOX

My mother’s “precious box” held sentimental doodads
The box was left to me when she died
Inside were Grandma’s fake diamond screw-back earrings
(“Real ladies” didn’t pierce their ears in those days)

Grandpa’s ring, raw turquoise set in carved silver
Girl Scout leader pins, Dad’s cuff links
A clip-on bow tie from Mom’s singing days
And a skeleton key, antique silver, dim patina

For years I’ve pondered what lock would respond; where the “open sesame” lay
A room in a past apartment? The front door to a secret house?
A desk filled with dusty volumes of Kipling and Whitman
Perhaps a cache of cash?

Somewhere there is a house, a door, a drawer
Whose treasures will remain hidden
Because I hold in my palm
The answer to a question

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


At Sunday Scribblings (glad I’m back on course after a break), we were given a one-word prompt: LIMITS. Click the Scrib link and then on the poets’ names (which are linked to their blogs) to check out other folks! Peace, Amy

HAD IT UP TO HERE

I’ve had it up to here
‘cause my daughter, who is ‘queer’
is not welcome in my sister’s home

I’ve taken all I’ll stand
from all those who would demand
that I discard my kid like a dead battery

I’m telling all the world
she is perfect, she’s my girl
If you don’t love her, please don’t waste your prayers

On Riley or her mom
because we know we are BOMB
and anyone who doesn’t get it can get stuffed

I tried to make this rhyme
to some extent, it is fine
but I couldn’t rhyme “battery” with “flattery” because that concept is entirely absent from some people’s hearts. But at least it’s truthful!

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Story from my days as a single mother in a mostly married city… Amy

WOMEN, WOMAN

In a sea of Marthas
she remained the Magdalene
Neither wanton, nor wayward, still
different, misunderstood

Her gestures of sisterhood
looked upon as threats by
the many married mommies
who kept their men on short leashes, well-heeled

Had they taken time
to listen to her thoughts
How she cared for their town
How she admired their ability to maintain stability

They might have warmed to her
But women are women, and
wives are wives, gathered in hives
And single mothers lead separate lives

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil