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

Category Archives: Poets United

The Thirteen Floor

Oh, my mind resides
on the Thirteenth Floor
at the Riverside
back behind a door

made of oak and spruce
in Victorian style
and I keep it loose
here behind my smile

All my friends are here
cyber-found and true;
others will appear
when the moon is new

We’re expecting you

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Poets United wanted poems about the number 13, in poems of exactly 13 lines.

I counted them twice.

Peace, Amy

Babes in Toyland

We weren’t spoiled kids
my sisters and I

Modest presents
under the tree

One year I got
my first and only Barbie

That summer, we got
all our Barbies together

and made them into
Nazi hunters, bringing

bad Germans to justice
(no wonder I married a Jewish guy)

Best of all, my sis
made me a dollhouse

Really, a trollhouse
back in the days when

you could score a troll doll
for a buck, back when

inside the house was
my favorite playground

She worked with balsa
and with crates

designed bedrooms
with ornate curtains

and cool furniture
She also made them clothes

She toiled in secret and
when she unveiled it,

I gotta tell ya,
it was the biggest present

I had ever received…
and the best.

After all these years,
I have this to say:

Thanks, Jo, for
giving me the gifts

of your time and
your loving heart

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For the Thursday Think Tank at Poets United: Playground

Lost Soul

He shuffled by, jeans grazing the sidewalk
I caught a whiff of
part bottle of cheap wine,
part bloody confrontation from
last night, carved on his cheek

As his garbage-bag suitcase thumped behind,
he spat in the gutter.
DTs setting in, he twitched
in a crooked gait, a gurgle
singing from deep in his gut.

Before I could stop him to offer a breakfast,
he vanished through a paint-shredded doorway.

My mom would’ve said,
“His porch light’s flickering.”

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For The Sunday Whirl (with thanks to Brenda Warren for assembling the Wordle and Mike Patrick for the words): Gutter, flickering, twitched, vanished, crooked, bottle, bloody, gurgle, sidewalk, thump, carved, caught. Also at my poetic touchstone, Poets United.

Our First Actual Date

I fumble pouring beer from the pitcher
We banter:  Work, our daily bread, church
His gentle way assures me that
he doesn’t expect this date to end up in bed

We’re long-time friends, he respects
my role as a single mother, and my kid likes him
Then a simple glance, and we realize
we’re meant for each other

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Dedicated to my husband and partner of almost 14 years, Lex.
For Three Word Wednesday (words in bold), and the heartbeat my collective work, Poets United.

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

For ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter “A as in Amy.” There were two of us on State Street today, plus a Michael and an Alex (who is probably muttering, “A is for Alex, guys”). Also posted at my fave poetry saloon, er, salon, Poets United.

After All

Old friends, long time since last
we shared a table in a café

We talk old days, school,
kids when they were anecdotal fodder

Then politics, the dumbing down of America
The Hemlock Party and educating barbarians

Unions, pros and cons
Dems, Reps, Libs, and Cons

The future… they visited Glacier Park
and saw mostly wildflowers and a bit of ice

But after all our kvetching and laughter, it ends in this:

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Abusive Remains

Each has their own version of What happened and How,
but most importantly, Why.

Emptied of shame, I still wonder.
Am I sure in my memories?
Have I scratched theme enough to bleed,
to tear a hole deep through to
the beating heart that still skips a beat
when HIS name is mentioned?

Did HE really hang the moon?
Was HE blameless,
HE was, after all,
Should I feel guilty? Was I mistaken?

Perhaps I was demon-possessed after all.
One good exorcism and I’d be like new.
One dip in the blood of the Lamb and I’d be reborn… or so she says.

Except, as I drift off to sleep on some nights,
my head still tilts back slooooowly and
my mouth opens and
I am choked in that brutal rhythm.

It was real.
It happened.
It remains.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Poetic Asides asked for poems on the word “Empty,” and ABC Wednesday, rather than reverting to another alphabet, started over with “A.” Also posted at the STELLAR blog, Poets United. Come to all these sites. Meet my genius friends!! Amy

Teacher Says

There was only one reason really to think about
going into fifth grade and start smiling about it

I was getting Mr. Hansen, the teacher I was hoping for

I’ve seen him in his classroom
so tall
so handsome
that five o’clock shadow always, even in the morning
like Don Draper
(Mom tapes Mad Man and I sneak peeks)

I sat up on hot summer nights
imagining chalk sliding across the board
in smoooooooth strokes
It gave me shivers, wishing the chalk was his hand
and I was the chalkboard

School started and I wore my new earrings
because Mom let me pierce my ears for my birthday

Last Thursday afternoon, I asked for extra help
with math – we’re starting to study all the different angles
(My sister calls me obtuse but I still don’t understand why)

He smiled and I could tell he liked that I asked him
For a few minutes, at his desk, just the two of us
Then he brushed his hand on my leg and said,
You shave your legs. That’s pretty grown-up of you.
I blushed and muttered thank you and tingled all over

We’re gonna do the math thing once a week
He said he’s got a way to show me how right angles work
but I shouldn’t tell anybody because the other girls
might get jealous, you know how young girls are, he said
I said, don’t worry, it’ll be our secret

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Wrote this today, no prompt, just something that was in that huge grab-bag of scraps I keep by my desk.  It’s like Felix the Cat’s Bag of Tricks – I reach in, pull out a few scribbles, and expand one of the thoughts into a complete poem.  Such is the work of this poet.  It will, as always, be on Poets United, the poets’ collective.  Peace, Amy

ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter, “Z”! (Do we start on the Cyrillic alphabet now?) Also at the poetic collective, Poets United.

This poem is based on the phenomenon that effectively destroyed my piano-bar career… Amy

Zithromax (Think Before Lighting Up Indoors)

A smoky club, the trapped wait staff
take your orders and get the shaft.

While you puff a cig or two,
others do just as you do.

You can leave and breathe fresh air;
singers, barkeeps, stuck in there

Low-wage job with no insurance;
Z-pac samples help endurance.

When you blithely light that match
think of what the workers catch.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The Poets United prompt was Loneliness. This was my take on it. Peace, Amy

In My Solitude

He’s gone out the door for yet another
long, dour weekend with his mother

I am left to my own devices
TV never quite suffices

Hating the quiet, the isolation
I head out for café consolation

Alone in a crowd, it’s win, win again
Just me and my journal, my mind and my pen

Could call up some friends and do a flick
Then toast and get toasted until I’m sick

But I decide not to pick up the phone
The comfort: Control is mine alone

I hear music vaguely beguiling my mind
See dancing figures upon the blind

Phrases now pop up from deep recesses
These help assuage any “home alone” stresses

And with synesthesia, quick movement of eyes
Creates haunting noises that always surprise

I pray, I eat takeout, and sure, I do miss him
But sometimes a girl needs a break on a whim

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

(Synesthesia affects me this way: When I move my eyes side to side, there follows a tracking, sort of metallic noise, not unlike the Six Million Dollar Man jumping sound. Sorry, it’s a US TV reference, my out of country friends!