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

Category Archives: Prose

Folks, until I figure out how to make a separate Prose page on this blog, I’ll post here. This is Part II of a futuristic story I’ve been working on. No zombies, no vampires, no mutants eating people’s brains, although there has been a breakdown of infrastructure because of what they call The Big Thing.  This is simply a story of one girl who’s trying to resist the temptations of a new society controlled by The WiRE, which resembles the Net, all your downloads, YouTube, and IGlasses, all in one neat operation – if you’re willing to have it implanted in your frontal lobe. She’s called a Throwback for a reason. She’s a survivor and an archivist of the Before. See Part I HERE.

The Throwback (story of a girl in the Someday) Part II

The Way Back When Café was in the Former district, the back-alley streets filled with secondtwelfthhand shops, coffeehouses, bars that served a semblance of what was once known as beer, and other places frequented by Throwbacks. “Ah,” murmured Jordan to herself, “the place the WiRE forgot.”

She was the last of her Circle to arrive. Bethinal waved and Jordan pointed to the counter – “Beloved bean first!” Grabbing a hot cup of brew, she joined the gathering in back. Comfortable chairs, sofas, the golden light of an antique lamp, jazz on the Box… all they could ask for in a meeting place.

“Jay,” motioned Cinda, “sit.” The two hugged and she wedged in between Cinda and Zack.

“So did you hear who flipped?” said Newt, resident keeper of all random gossip. “Zander Benton.”

“Zander?” shrieked Bethinal. “I was almost there with him. He was coming ‘round, said he was gonna check out our Circle and maybe join us.”

“Nope. He’s not only installed the WiRE, he’s Feed XR2.3 now. Games, illusions, sextation, even.” He saw Bethinal flinch and said, “Sorry, Betha. I didn’t know you were on for him. I begged him not to give in, but his parents wanted Zander in the Agency, and you ‘need to read the Feed’ for that.”

Two Feeders were outside, checking the café out. One of the joys of being WiRED was to “thump Throwbacks.” They entered, in that synched bop peculiar to the Plugged – they were obviously on the same input canal. The tall one with blue hair worked his lower jaw to turn down the volume within his head. “So, this a Nola nook?”

Jordan raised her mug. “Sure is. Care to unplug and share some actual conversation? Oh, wait,” she grimaced, hitting her forehead. “I forgot. You can’t unplug and the volume only turns down so much.”

“Why’d we wanna waste time when there’s so much more up here,” he sneered, pointing to his forehead.

Smug little surfer, thought Jordan. “All that’s ‘up there’ is what the Agency gives you. It’s like ultra-refined brain sugar. I’ll bet you haven’t had an original thought in months.”

Tall Blue’s face darkened, and Short GreenHead assumed the “Yeah, what he says,” pose. “You GranolaHeads think you’re big rebels. Truth is, you are living in the past – so far back you could never catch up to us.” He suddenly twitched his shoulder and said to Rust, “Get that?”

“Thanks for the bump, Stone. Stomp on Friday, at the Dome. Should be maze.” He turned to Jordan’s Circle and said, “See what you’re missing?  You don’t get news flashes.  You’re nowhere, you’ve got nothing to offer.”

“Oh yeah?” Jordan popped open the snaps on her shirt and bared her breasts. “I got a helluva a lot more to offer than you’ll ever get. Have fun offing with your imaginary friends at the Sextation in your cranium!”

Blue Hair stepped back and tapped his friend’s shoulder. “Let’s flow. Fist off, Nolas!” he shouted, slamming the door behind him.

“Another Circle, another interruption,” sighed Jordan, slowly snapping up her shirt, giving her friends something to ponder. Peace made dreaming possible, and she knew most of them would have sweet dreams that night.

They talked for an hour or so, then joined hands as Jingles lowered the music out of respect for the ritual. “Creator, thank you for our combined will to resist forces that would enslave our minds and erase the precious past. Let each of us be mindful, do good, and stayclear.” Jordan then joined them in a group LetGoFirstDareYa, the hug of all hugs. “Keep Peace,” they all murmured before scattering down the alleyway.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

“In the margins” at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and Poets United. Please, offer any constructive critique – especially you prose writers! I’m new at this. Peace, Amy

Halloween for Black Kitty (Six Sentence Stories)
Image Courtesy of WikiCommons

I don’t understand my peoples today. Kids runnin round in scary cloths and bloody faces like movies. Mommy stackin lots and lots of candy by front door that I always try to get out of. Daddy stabbin a bit orange ball and takin out guts those smell worse than the litter box. Mommy say peoples crool to black cats on Hell Or Ween but not Calico Stripums or Siamese Diva. Now I gotta sit alone in back room watchin Animal Planet but they showin lions makin babies so that OK.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Josie Two Shoes has a new Thursday challenge, Six Sentence Stories. Thanks, Josie, for the invite to participate.

This post is dedicated to the memory of our late black cat, Missy. She was a hoot and always told great stories, this being one I had to write from memory… I should have transcribed all her narratives!

Also “in the margins” at my poetic House of Horrors, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. Peace and Happy dia de los muertes, Amy

Brian, Abbreviated

He walked into the party like… yacht. Abbreviated man, missing pants, unembarrassed, but bare assed. Cake, PUNCHy punch, kids screaming H.B.D!

Serenaded by open mic readers, feted by muses, celebrated by blogosphere. A party to be remembered; a personality destined to move mountains, if only by click click click on the keyboard and constant commenting.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At dverse, Brian Miller wanted 55-word stories to celebrate his birthday. I even borrowed one of his deVICEs to pay tribute. My comments about his sense of humor and his dedication would be longer than the story so I’ll stop. Happy Birthday, my friend! Peace, Amy

The WiRE Part I

Here on Roo’s Island, beneath the rot-rusted trolley bridge (unstable, but no one had actually plunged to their death in years); here at the calm elbow bend of turned benches in Rock Park, Jordan could bear life as it was, in the Now.

Her Agency shift just finished; sorting the castoff crapfeed of the rich, separating Styrofoam from oily bits of foiling and whathaveyous.  This place was her reward, her retreat, her parkit.

Although The Big Thing had laid waste to millions of people and many species of wild animals, plus many rabbles of butterflies – the heartbreak of that lay heavy – they thanked the Creator for honeybees whose hives still functioned, for bats that survived. There was still the shabblestone lane, a hazard… once smooth red brick, now jagged, tearing at her tragictrashed sneaks. Her shoes were sturdy and loyal, but they were also more duct tape than canvas.

Jordan could bear it here, imagine a bluebird perched on the blind light pole, part of the lost heaven her Gram described for her daily, like a multi-faceted mantra. “Oh, the meadow,” Tilly would sigh, her delicate parchment hands navigating tea from pot to cup. “It was all so green, until the Powers got fractious and on a flashnight, there was a lion’s roar… but what do you know of lions?” Tears in her eyes.

“Jordan,” she continued, “you are the keeper of those days. Are you making accounts?” The granddaughter nodded. “Good. This – how do you always say it – this ‘crassdoggish’ world will need to know how things were before the Agency, before the quadrants, and most of all, before the WiRE. Promise me you’ll never tap into it, Jaybird.”

“Tilly, you’re my grandma, and you raised me well. I’ll be a Throwback ‘til I die. I’ll stay freeclear and keep peace.” Her grandmother poured more tea in a silent prayer of thanks.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I have been toying with the idea of this story for a long while, as I ponder our dangerous future and watch kids all but implant cell phones into their brains. The loss of peace has been weighing on me. Then Brenda’s Sunday Whirl Wordle gave me bits and pieces that seemed to string together with a common rhythm to give me that hardest part – an actual beginning. Thanks, Brenda, for the feast of words!

This also appears “in the margins” at Poets United and at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Open Link Monday, where I am the second-newest toad in the whole danged place. Congrats to LaTonya for joining us; Mary had to bid us adieu because she has so much to accomplish. Mary will be missed, and we will look forward to what LaTonya is up to! Peace, Amy

Hamlet and Juliet in A Midsummer Twelfth Night’s Sonnet on Shakespeare’s Birthday
(with apologies to Will)

In my salad days, when I was green in judgment,
not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty,
I was a dish fit for the gods.

Now I’m in my prime, set up with a posh little Upper East Side co-op and a hefty trust fund from Daddy… plus a live-in honey who’s fast losing his sweetness. Nothing in his life becomes him, and nothing will come of nothing.

He awoke, rounded with a little sleep. “Ay, me…”

“I have not slept one wink,” I bitched, rubbing my sore bottom. “What a piece of work is man! Do you think I am easier played on than a pipe?”

He leapt from the bed. “That is should come to this! Why, only last night you cried, A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

“True it is,” I countered, “that we have seen better days. Yet brevity is the soul of conscience, and the” (wince) “parting was such sweet sorrow.”

He was pi-i-i-issed. “Tempt not a desperate man, for delays make dangerous ends.”

(Now I’m thinking, “MY end got all the ‘danger’ last night… He hath eaten me out of house and home, and he thinks too much, with a lean and hungry look. There’s daggers in men’s smiles, and… is this a dagger I see before me?”)

I pointed to the door. “Out, damned Snot! Out, I say! Men of few words are the best men, and your tale is told by an idiot.”

“The course of love never did run smooth,” he stammered. “Shall we meet again?”

(Trying to live down the riddle… Q: ‘What do you call a bass player without a girlfriend?’ A: ‘Homeless.’)

He continued, “Don’t forget, dearest, we have a palimony agreement. You’ll pay a great deal too dear,” he grinned, “for what’s been given freely.”

“The game is up.” I stamped my little bare foot and caught a splinter. “This is the worst!”

He tried to rustle up tears as he packed. “There words are razors to my wounded heart. I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for Daws to pick at.”

(I knew that has-been “Mork and Mindy” chick Pamela Daws was after him, ever since the gig at the China Club.)

“In my mind’s eye,” I said, thinking of the money I’d have to pay this jerk, “shall I compare thee to the dogs of war? A borrower with a dull edge? The world is grown so bad, the fool doth think he is wise.”

I escorted him to the door. He shambled out, his bass hanging on his back like a monkey. Then, turning back to me, he whimpered, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s-” SLAM!

Peace at last. “I like this place, and willingly would waste my time in it.” Then, cutting the first of many checks I’d have to pay my new ex, I grumbled, “But first… let’s kill all the lawyers.”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

It’s the Bard’s birthday! He’d be three days older than water today.  This is also (and this is so tragically Shakespearean) the anniversary of his death, so he deserves something special.   Imaginary Garden With Real Toads asked us to have our way with him (well, with his writing, anyway), but I gathered so many snippets from so many plays and sonnets, if I tried to do citations, they would run longer than the piece itself. I leave it to you, my oh-so-savvy readers, to separate the Will from the chaff.  This will also be posted to dverse Open Mic Night.

NaPoWriMo #23 and still ticking! This form, which employs lines from other writer(s) re-ordered to create a new poem, is called something or other, but dang, I can’t remember. Paging Viv!! Peace, Amy

Now and Then

New guy on the block.
He sits at an outside table and
eyes my scarf with the absolute contempt
usually reserved for racists and politicians.

(Hmmm. I grab a coffee,
sit at a table near him, knowing he’ll
start talking. Everyone does, with me.)
He starts right in with

“Do you know I am Armenian?”
No, I didn’t, cuz we’ve never met.
C’mon over and sit awhile with me. I’m Amy.

“I’m Armand. Do you know about
scarf you wear? You should.”
No, tell me about it, please, Armand.

“That scarf is from Muslims.
Same pattern Arafat wore, that dog.”
Yes, I know, but what does that have to –

“Many years ago, Muslims drove
Christians out of Armenia. You wear
this symbol like it’s just a scarf.”

(I reflect on Freud. Sometimes a scarf is just a – )

“Where you buy that thing?” he spits.
On the street in New York, from
a really nice homeless guy. Besides,
it’s cotton and I’m allergic to wool, so –

“Well, it off-fends me grrr-reatly,” he stammers,
“I wish you take it off. Glad Mama not here.”
Come inside the café with me, then, it’s cold out here.

(We sit; I’ve bought us a round and some pastries.
He was stuttering before; now he’s calmer.)

Why does my wearing this upset you?
“It reminds me of the atrocities.”

Tell me more, cuz I’ve never heard about this.
“They don’t teach Armenian Genocide in school here?”

Um, no.
“Figures. OK. In 1915, Muslims tie Armenians
together with rope, march them into desert. Leave
them to die. They rape many women, throw
babies into river, shoot fathers in front of families.”

Good Lord, I didn’t know that.
Did your mother lose people?
“Parents, the sister, brothers, many cousins.
She still light candles for them.”

I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine…

(We sit in silence, bonding over strong java.
He is teacher; I am student.
I slide the scarf into my purse, for now.
Later, I’ll head for the library.)

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Armand was right. In 1915, extremists who called themselves Muslims (note the distinction between my phrase and the media’s “Muslim extremists.” There is a world of difference, just as the most radical members of the Christian Right should be called “extremists who call themselves Christians”) emptied whole villages in the region called Armenia, long a haven for Christians in the Middle East. The atrocities were not deemed strategically important enough for America to intervene; even the British ambassador could not urge England to do anything.

The Armenian Genocide served as a “blueprint” for the plans of a failed art student from Austria to foment terror against many “others,” including Jews, gay men and lesbians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, those with mental disorders, and on and on. His name was Aloys Schicklgruber, but we know him better as Adolf Hitler.

As for the scarf, Armand and I continued conversing until he understood that I was not wearing it as a political statement. He also thanked me for learning more about the Genocide, because, as a homeless man from another country, he is usually disregarded.

The Turkish government steadfastly refuses to apologize for the incident; in fact, they fund many American colleges where Turkish professors teach revisionist history.

For the trifecta weekend challenge, to use the word for an animal as a verb, in exactly 33 words. Here are two offerings.

The first is about my mom; the second is an homage to mi viejo San Juan. Peace, Amy


Started at 14, in classic fashion, behind the barn. Later, her children badgered her: “Quit smoking, Mom!” It was the wanting to quit that was missing. She Cameled herself to an early grave.


Don’t know much Spanish, but the girls down the hall, they’re roommates, both Puerto Rican, clingy moms back home. Not a day goes by without one yelling to the other, “¡Llama tu madre!”

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil