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

Category Archives: Nature

BOYCOTT Monsanto (especially RoundUp)

Honeybees have my heart
They toil and twirl
Gather and gossip
Buzz and build
Hive and jive

Dandelions earn my smile
They play and paint
Persevere and pop
Sway and spread
Grow and blow
(..seeds on neighbors’
lawns and then man,
are you in trouble
because EVERYone
wants a super double
pristine green lawn)

Dandelions and
honeybees are
best friends! The
flower provides a bit
of power to the
insect in early Spring
when (if one were to
inspect one’s garden)
there are no other
blooms to help
the bees boom.

Don’t RoundUp!
Spare the dandelion.
Don’t buy Monsanto!
They spray craven
substances that can
blow like snow over
fences into defenseless
organic farms.

You like life on this planet?
You can’t do it without bees.
You CAN do it without Monsanto.

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, freely shared by photographer. View original and license HERE.

For a song by my late friend Marques Bovre about Dandelions, click the player. Hope it works!

I didn’t know until recently that the lovely yellows popping up so early in spring are also practically the only source of bits of pollen for the honeybee, helping it to survive until the pollen-rich flowers bloom. That goes for bees cultivated by keepers as well as wild honeybees.

Without honeybees, OUR species would all be gone within weeks. THAT is how crucial bees are to our environment. So even if you like green, green grass, hold off cutting the lawn until the first dandelions wilt. And never EVER use anything from Monsanto. The chemical glyphosol, main component in RoundUp, has been found in breast milk!

Let the dandelions’ freak flags fly!  Thanks to Poets United for the prompt, BOYCOTT.  Man, they have my number, huh?  Amy


Thunderstruck

Thrill of ozoned air
freshbursting scent
as one slate cloud
butts heads with another

Firmament’s daring exchange
First chains of switchblade
streaks; thunder strikes
from clouds’ loud clash

In love with customary
pelt of hail I walk
To stop me is to defy
another force of nature

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of Scotto Bear (free media use) at Wikimedia Commons, License detail HERE.

For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Michael (AKA Grapeling) gave us a list of words. To see that list, along with links to myriad original contributors, please click HERE.

City or country, I have always been fascinated with the random, dangerous, glorious free fireworks of thunderstorms. I know it’s probably stupid to walk down the street in one, but I figure with my various brain spasms, a little lightning wouldn’t hurt. In fact, it might help! Peace, Amy


Back and Forth

Sometimes I lean toward the field
Jovial grasses invite me to abandon the chase
grasp grassy terrain, drink in the scent
of lilac, honeysuckle; witness the
fluid flit of hummingbirds

Yet there is a rough road to pave
Real life
Sturdy construction of countless lives
Lunch-houred, launched, propelled into
the known now and
the uncertain future

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

OK, somehow, I found my way back to the Sunday Whirl, and so glad I found this group of words: Lean, Field, Paving, Terrain, Jovial, Sturdy, Launch, Propel, Countless, Scent, Chase, and Fluid. The list seemed to divvy up the two worlds of my years as a single mother… lollygagging in a field with Riley (not often enough) and chasing the almighty buck so my girl could have endless luxury… such as jeans, T-shirts, and a new lunchbox every fall! Peace, Amy


BITTER HOPES (The Tsunami, Sendai)

When ground beneath her desk rolled like
a carpet shaken of its dust, a terrifying
rollercoaster, Yuki screamed at
something unnamed and horrible

She thought, “This is IT…
The final moment, or the beginning of many
final moments”

Crawling out of her cubicle,
scenes burned their way into her memory
Ten minutes before, she and Hayashi had shared a cigarette
and a kiss in the stairwell
Now, he was pinned under a desk, eyes glazed;
a picture of their trip to Kanagawa
where they regarded the roses
had settling on his chest
Was this the last thing he saw? His last good memory?
She prayed it was so

Then came a blur of
walking nightmare people
bottled water
pictures posted with notes
questions without answers
Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster

And of course, government downplayed the severity of radiation

She and Kenji commuted inland daily from their home in Sendai;
Father enjoyed the view of surf.
Why had Kenji taken the day off?
She knew now her brother was gone, as well as their parents,
swept from earth as waves wiped the chalkboard clean

Alone Safe Not safe Scared
A butterfly chose her at random to grace her
with a dizzying dance of color and life

“If only I had the mind of an insect,” she thought,
as bile rose in her throat
“At least butterflies hold the key to hope:
Live free for a season, surrender peacefully to death”

Her only hope was that the world see, and learn, what her grandmother
had told her, as she revealed flowered tattoos of her Nagasaki childhood:
Men’s greed and technology will never defeat the ferocity of nature

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fireblossom at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads wanted stories of loss. I took the loss of others and, in so doing, resurrected an old poem, because the last line haunts me. This was originally written (and much wordier) in 2011, before Fukushima. Turns out technology doles out terror in equal quantities… that also includes the effects of global warming. And humankind’s terror is reversible, but that is not in sight right now…

Peace, Amy


American Prairie

Wisconsin’s prairie blooms in green
with occasional glimmers of silver grass
shivering in soft breezes and
pierced by deep violet clover

Dead trees, grey and
stalkstill as gravestones,
still force a new branch or two
The root of Jesse sprung anew

They refuse to give in to death
Stubborn as Midwesterners,
tough; hard to break, tenacious
Never say die

As daylight wanes and red sets,
we cruise Route 69
Around every bend,
a simple feast of foraging

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Marian introduced us to the music of Tim Eriksen, a uniquely American folk artist, and asked us to conjure poems that reflect Americana. This morning, I would have been stumped, but as luck would have it, we took a day trip to New Glarus (yeah, our favorite brand of beer is made there, and oh, did we have a bit of fun!) and marveled at the breadth of the prairie grasses. Verdant, vibrant, strumming those heartstrings like Tim’s guitar, here in the breadbasket of America. I am so proud to live in Wisconsin (except for the politics, which we took a day off from monitoring for peace of mind).

Peace, 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

 



Artwork by Chelsea Bednar, used by permission of artist

In the Forests of Time

In the forests of time
grows a tree of great stature
and mythical powers

A statue and a garden and
a haven for those who crave
a little time

The Key of Life stands guard
ensuring time is not wasted
but hasty exits are seldom

Linger in this forest with me
as we examine the footprints
of the mysteries of life

Take a branch, any branch
Hunker down a spell
Lost in the growth of time

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Chelsea Bednar is an up-and-coming artist; she lent us use of this image for Margaret’s “Artistic Interpretation” prompt at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. I was inspired by the clocks and the small ankh on the left side, known as the “key of life.” For more poets’ interpretations, click HERE, and for Chelsea’s website, click HERE. Also for dverse Open Mic Night.  Peace to all, Amy


Hydrangeas on Block Island, 1988
Image by Joanne Bergenwall,
licensed under Wikimedia Commons

Blooms began to give way to age
as summer heat set in, bushes and
hedges of hydrangea, a veritable
fantasy of violet on the small island.

The guys were gigging there and I
was large with Riley, up early each
morning to watch blossoms adorning
the pathway to town. I walked down

to the gate and set out around the block
taking stock of purple bunches, hung
on branches like ornaments. The most
lovely stage of the hydrangea is in its

swan song: Faded to a pinkish hue as
crisp brown edges form, they look like
the silk inside of my Grandma’s purse.
Violet, you were never lovelier than

that summer, me in full childbearing
bloom, you holding on long enough
to strut your stuff and bring me peace
before the band awoke, grumbling.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Riley’s father had a gig on Block Island, just off the coast of Rhode Island. I skipped a lot of the performances, preferring to sit on a rocker on the front porch and talk to our hostess about our baby to be. We’d watch as an elbow or foot almost punched through my thin summer dress, chatting. We spoke of the bushes, and violet was the choice of everyone on her block. In Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, the character Shug declared, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” I think she was onto something.

This was for Kim Nelson’s “violet” prompt at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.  During my meditation today, I was whisked back in time, when I was in as full a bloom as the flowers.  Peace, Amy


(NOTE: This instrument, called the hang, is pronounced “hong.” Click on the video before you read the poem!)

 

ZEN MAN

Find him in nature
a shaded nook where
trees whisper stories of
the ancient ones.

Matthew finds a
perfect perch and
carefully lifts his hang,
its song to share.

Nimble, careful,
deliberate fingers seem
carved from soft wood,
burnished brown.

He conjures chords,
soothing harmonies,
unearthly sounds, yet
so natural: Soul songs.

In this moment there is only
Matt, the hang, and strains
of unrestrained bliss;
the gods conjured his gift.

And we, who were
a moment ago merely
bumps on a log are
lifted to a higher place…

Musical, ethereal, reflective, mindful.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Perfect moment for ABC Wednesday to feature the letter “Z.”

Also, Kim Nelson at Poets United (my poetic shady nook) asked for poems about reflection.

My cousin by marriage, Matt Venuti, is a soulful musician. Please visit his site, www.mattvenuti.com, for more videos and information about his art. He also plays the EVI and a variety of other instruments, but the hang has his heart at present.

He is also one of those musicians who didn’t get into it so he could drink and smoke on the job! He’s a gentle soul, utterly sincere, and wildly talented… yet humble. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience him performing live.

Peace from a lucky cousin, Amy


This is my first post for Poetic Bloomings, begun as a joint venture by Marie Elena and Walt, two of the first poets I met at Poetic Asides.  Their story is unique in that they have never actually met – but collaborate often.  They are seeking poems of beauty and goodness; they post prompts.  They are accentuating the positive, so I’m probably the last person they will expect to see, LOL.  Peace, Amy

Deer One

She drifts blithely through the trees
just beyond our parking lot.

She is the only, lonely deer of Tenney Park,
situated between apartment complexes which
must seem to her monoliths inhabited by aliens.

I call her Deer One.

Neighbor Lynne, soft spot for all living things,
feeds her birdseed, her snack of choice.
I know they say we should not encourage species
to live where they should not be, but frankly:
She was here first. We built around her habitat.
She is a Native American.

The other day, I spied Deer One
and she spied me.
We froze in one of those moments of
curiosity (mixed with dread on her part, perhaps).

I backed into my apartment and retrieved
the ripest apple I could find and,
gently,
rolled it across the parking lot.
It skipped the curb, landing at her feet.

I could swear she smiled at me!
I went to my car, humming, “When I See An Elephant Fly.”

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil