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

Category Archives: Poetic Asides

At Poetic Asides, the prompt was, “Maybe _______.”  (Fill in the blank.)  After realizing I’m 54 and there’s so much behind me, this poem spilled out like tequila.  I even ate the worm!   Amy  (P.S. I am officially posting all NaPoWriMo posts at Writer’s Island.)

Maybe Now

If not then
when time was fluid and forever
when ripe fruits were there for the picking
and flowers spilled out our window-boxes
as palms shuddered in the warm California breeze

If not then
when every day was an adventure yet to come
when we were fools
and innocence had run from us, scared
and jaded juices thumped in our veins

Maybe now
now that we have grown older
now that we have learned the meaning of “folly”
we will look back with the leisure of age
and see it all had meaning

And our worst mistakes are behind us
or not

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Poetic Asides offered an interesting prompt, “Never again.” This is a hard one to read, but I hope it will give someone, anyone out there second thoughts if they ever consider taking their own life… Peace, Amy

Finale

Suicide
Bloodletting bride of
isolation
Over-rated solution to
confusion
Delusion tells you it’s
the only way out
(“Please proceed to the nearest exit”)

Psych meds assuage the
doubt
Numb it, dumb it down
But for the dedicated
deathbound
Hounds of hell at their
heels
In the end
it’s the end.

A final farewell to friends, family
Never mind who finds you
dangling
Don’t worry, your mom will bleach
the bathtub
But the sight will frighten and
haunt them forever

Never say never – again, I say:
Pick up the phone
Make the call
You are loved

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


At Poetic Asides, the prompt was, Celebrate. Could not think of a better celebration than the day two of my dearest friends were united in love and dignity. Amy

Celebrate Today
(For Christopher Kennedy and Jimmy Ricketts)

Christopher and Jimmy
both in tuxes, Dapper Dans.
Not the groomsmen,
but the grooms.

I’m running around in
a dress tight as Saran Wrap
(and just as pliable).
My heels click click click busy busy…

So light the candles!
Bring on the guests!
Family and friends;
Amy’s taking requests

at the baby grand with candelabrum
As I sing, I meditate on the wax
slowly slinking down the tapers.
This is real romance.

The pastor was beautiful;
the buffet, sublime.
Every state should have gay marriage –
their catering businesses would thrive.

I sing the song I wrote for their wedding,
“The Best I Have To Give.”
Then Jimmy yells, “Do the Santa song!”
I grin and launch in.

It’s my rendezvous with Kris Kringle
Naughty but nice. The glasses clink
and the newlyweds share a little peck.
Nothing gross like at straight weddings.

A tasteful affair from beginning to end,
all couples dancing, bubbles in the air.
I remember Mom saying that true love
is marrying your best friend. Amen.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


For NaPoWriMo, I took up the Poetic Asides prompt, “Don’t ____ _____,” in which we are to fill in the blanks. So many well-intentioned folks unwittingly forward viruses by forwarding messages. My pet peeve is chain letters: They often come with the assurance that “God wants us to live abundantly,” (as though God’s abundance has anything thing to do with filthy lucre) and then tell you that you MUST forward to 128 people in the next 3 seconds and your ‘money wish’ will come true. Yeah, God’s all about the money, guys. That’s why Jesus lived in a diamond-encrusted palace! Amy

Don’t Forward Emails

Please
I’m begging you
No more kitten and kitten and cute kitten and cuter kitten pix
No more e-cards with prancing bears

For the love of God
No more Rick Warren quotes
No more assurances of God’s love (as if I don’t know that already)
No more “Obama is Muslim” warnings

For the sake of my sanity
No more chain letters threatening an outbreak
of bubonic plague if I don’t forward it to 12 friends
No more Chicken Soup

Please
I’m on my knees
When next you a forward a forward
Skip me. There, I’ve implored.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Poetic Asides wanted “spring” poems; Sunday Scribblings asked for “free.”  A twofer!  Amy

FREE AS A BOUNCING BIRD

Up – flying free
Down – springing back
Up by my toes
Down – springing back
Up, heaven knows
Down – springing
Up but not so well
Down – splat! on my fanny
Up a little
Down, Up, Down, spring, sprang, sproing – whew!

Trampoline

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/ Sharp Little Pencil


For Poetic Asides’ “Spring” prompt, and for Three Word Wednesday (Dual, Identical, Volley).  She was the world’s first superstar, captivating us – whether as a Hollywood home-wrecker, star of one of the biggest box-office losers of all time (Cleopatra, in which she met her match, Richard Burton… so who really lost there?), and finally, fulfilling her promise as a person of influence by becoming one of the world’s most vehement activists in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  God rest and keep you, Elizabeth Taylor.

Liz (Farewell)

Young Elizabeth, whose eyes were
dual violet gemstones, capturing the hearts
of a generation: Velvet Brown
astride her beloved racehorse, Pie.

Liz. the National Bitch who stole Eddie Fisher’s heart
from America’s Sweetheart, Debbie Reynolds
Sexy Liz, who married seven times
(including twice to an identical husband, Richard Burton).

Elizabeth Taylor, survivor of disease,
bad press, bad marriages… redeemed by activism;
who threw an early volley at HIV/AIDS,
challenging the world to spring into action.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


This takes some explanation.  To begin with, my generation has a problem with the word “queer.” It ranks up there with the “n” word and the 6-letter “f” word in our sense of disparagement of people who have to work much harder in this world, controlled as it is by white, straight men.

Joseph Harker, one of my favorite poets (see his blog on “Poets I Love”), posted to a prompt to “answer” a poet of yore. He chose Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We So Cool” with an interpretation that included the word “queer.” My daughter, Riley/Laura, taught me that I am the first to chide people for “not changing,” and that since she identifies as “gender queer,” I will have to adapt. So my understanding of the queer world (and well as the “Q” word) has indeed expanded. Parents, it’s not always YOU teaching your kids – it goes both ways!

Then someone posted a homophobic rant about “Village People” and damnation, so I replied in a poem, riffing off Joseph. Long explanation – loaded with controversy – I welcome any and all comments on this one.

You Are Queer (with love to Gwendolyn Brooks and Joseph Harker)

You are queer. You
are dear. You

live free. You
please me. You

speak out. You
whisper, shout. You

are loud. You
are proud. You

were dates. You
find mates. You

live longer. You
grow stronger. You

catch hate. You
know fate. You

are shoved. You
are loved.

(c) 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


We are moving from the Buffalo area to Wisconsin, as Lex has been called to a new church.   Lake Edge UCC offers Lex new challenges, and the Madison area is alive with cultural possibilities. Only sad part, leaving St. Paul’s UCC, Lex’s first church, and Attica friends who have become family to us… Peace, Amy

MOVING

All day I lay paralyzed
Panic-stricken by the massive undertaking
of a major move

The task is like a ton of marble
meant to be chiseled
reshaped into shippable form

The more I chip away
the farther the flotsam flies
Last chance to cherish tsotchke before unpacking again

Now the room is a frenzy of
forgotten details, floating memories
Taunting bytes of mislaid input

Cable movers – nail down days
Valium for the cat, pet-friendly motels
Electric stop here electric start there

Change car rental ALL insurance
Ensuring my mental collapse, or at least
a surging synapse

Graph paper at the ready, grid lines map
our new home – orderly oragami
I’m so anal it’s damned convenient for the movers

Around 4 pm I am clueless in clutter
cup of decaf by my side and
comforting cat on my lap

Then a skitch of that endless marble flicks my face
Embedding itself in my ear, burrowing
into my brain. The cycle begins again

And who the hell moves from snowy cold Buffalo
to blizzard-ridden frigid Wisconsin
And in mid-January, yet?

I’m blaming God, who is laughing Her butt off in Heaven
After all, She issued Lex’s call to ministry, and now She chortles,
“I’ll get you, my pretty… and your little cat, too!”

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Well, I did manage to sneak on Poetic Asides (click on today’s prompt to see others’ work), as well as Jingle and Sunday Scribblings this week. So in the midst of my move, here is my take on Robert’s prompt: RECEIPT. Apropos, no? Peace, Amy

MEMORANDUM

TO: Poetic Asides and my blogging buddies
RE: Receipt of my intent to change locales

To Poetic Asides, to all I have befriended
No matter where I am, my journey with you
has not ended, nor will it

But God has called my Pastor Lex to a new place
To do a “new thing,” as is his calling
From cold, snowy Attica
To colder, blistering Madison, WI
Moving in Mid-January:

This shows that God possesses not only a
great sense of humor
But a well-developed sense of irony as well
(Jews knew that already)

While I shall remain scarce until
the move is completed, I will check in
from time to time. PA is my “fix” when
life mixes turmoil with tinsel
and thunder with a lightening of spirit

May you all have a blessed Christmas
A peaceful Hanukkah (where the heck is my dreidel?)
…and a happy Festuvus (for the rest of us)
No matter what your reason for celebrating this season
pray for peace above all

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


SILENT AGREEMENT

As she lay dying
The nurses stopped by to say goodbye
and ordered an ambulance,
sending her home to die in her own bed
as was her wish.

“Here,” whispered Doris, “you’ll need this.”
Slipping me an impossibly large bottle of Valium.
“It might be days… save you a trip to the drug store.”
And so armed with ambulance, copious drugs,
and the “DNR” in my pocket, we set out for home.

Mom had lived a life of addictions:
Smoking, drinking, unnecessary prescriptions,
moaning about minor pains to a doctor
whose only function in life was to sign Rxs.
She was 69; looked 85 but pregnant, her liver shot.

Only two hours later, she died
after receiving a single crushed Valium stirred into juice
and sluiced into her mouth via straw.
My sister and I took the 199 Valium left over and,
in silent agreement, flushed them down the toilet.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil