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

Category Archives: Sunday Whirl

He sits in comfort, here in the crammed confines
of the sweaty summer subway
As they say in Brooklyn, “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humanity.”
The ticket is a token, but the price is man-spreading white guys
in fine shoes, slick hair, and no car
So lame, these day-trading types
Maybe if he were eight months pregnant (as I am),
he would understand the pull of gravity, that need for a relatively clean bathroom… relatively soon
But he occupies the space of two people
Until I whisper, “Give me your seat, or I swear I will
pee on your shoes so hard the tassels will shrink”
Thus, my discomfort is avenged

© 2021 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For The Sunday Whirl, and damn! I used almost all the words! It feels like winning.

And thanks to my Luka for their contribution, by way of residence in my womb at that moment

Birthday Bash

Let’s get the party started!
Food paradise on the table
Platter of hummus and
fresh, warm pita bread
Little cakes with jelly
And for the sweet tooth,
rows of rich truffles

All to celebrate Kelly
who leaves behind her
twelfth year and gears up
for the teenage rage
(a stage for a different page)

Enter candle-lit cake
Death by Chocolate, mmmm
Kelly’s belly will be full
and the gravity of a cavity
looms large in her future
Dad always presents cake

He trips on a rug
Mom tries to catch it
A clean miss and the
mess is in my lap, a
motley mash of icing
and one still-lit candle

I don’t usually cotton
to such antics, but
don’t blame Auntie Ame –
the birthday girl started it:


© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The Sunday Whirl gave us a fun Wordle. The first eleven words were contributed by Barbara Yates Young. The final word, motley, was contributed by Catherine MacGregor, to make it an even dozen.

I went with the premise of the birthday (celebrate, platter, jelly, bake) and simply let it ride from there. Honestly didn’t know this would end up the way it did. Pesky characters are running around in my cranium today! Thanks to Brenda Warren for keeping our Sundays “awhirl”! You can see the Wordle HERE. Peace, Amy

Boulevard Noir

I was a crumb, out of a job again,
feeling fallow, hanging out with the other writers at Schwab’s.
An obsolete automobile, titanic and shiny as a new penny,
pulled up; we were slack-jawed, admiring the grandeur.
In front, a bald chauffeur; his passenger, a forgotten icon, Silent era.

She offered me a job, plus room and board.
(Around repo time, one swallows one’s pride and hides
one’s rambunctious side, replacing it with unctuous politeness.)
I approached a mansion at the address she gave me.  Rang the bell;
the stately old house echoed, hollow, eerie.

Her butler took my coat and placed my fedora on the hat-rack.
Who could know that, within one month, I’d be
avoiding her embrace in the palatial garden and
waltzing her around the grand ballroom at a party
“Just for the two of us, my darling…”

And who could predict I’d end up face down her in “cement pond,”
blood lacing the water around my bobbing, lifeless body?

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For The Sunday Whirl and at Poets United.

The Sunday Whirl gave us words that appear in bold. All I could think of was parents scouring the Norwegian countryside in search of their children.

Also posted at Poets United, my home away from home.  Peace, Amy

Twisted Youth

(In Memory of Victims and Honor of Survivors of the Massacre in Norway)

How does a young man’s mind twist this
marvel of humankind
into reprehensible ideologies?

Not in the blink of an IPod spewing neo-Nazi music.
More likely, scattered, parentally unsupervised viewings
of YouTube videos, which cast people into castes:
Good and Evil.

It clouds his judgment…
and soon the blast of a bomb and
whirr of bullets rain down on Norway.
Desperate residents search for the living,
but first, they must scan the dead.

Americans pull their curtains closed
and say it can’t happen here.
But it already has:

Racial violence, rendered legal by racist politicians.
Hatred of immigrants, shots flying at the southern border.
Brutalized or murdered gays, lesbians, transgender people,
some hanging from trees, some trailing from bumpers of trucks.
Timothy McVeigh, the coward who chose death over apology.

Young minds raised in racist, ignorant homes.
It’s here, not just in Norway or the Middle East.
Can’t gild this fetid ditch lily:
Face the shame of homegrown terror.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

With The Sunday Whirl, wordler-in-chief Brenda posed the words in bold – a baker’s dozen.  Also, Sunday Scribblings wanted us to write on the word “Captivate.”  These are both Sunday-based poems, the second being a haiku.   Also posted at my poetic home away from home, Poets United.


Sunday Praise Service

Hot coffee to stir the ominous ache in her weary bones. 
She chooses an emerald empire-waist dress;
the illusion of a full front covers
the void of her shrinking frame.

Time to observe the celestial, to worship the Divine.
As her sandals flip, flop, flap into the sanctuary,
a kid jostles past her up the balcony stairs to sit with his mom.
She smiles, remembering her own scrambles up there;
the rhythm of life is upbeat and present
here in this church.

Church services are usually holy pantomime, but
not here.  The sermon moves her – and the music?
It rocks like the ages!

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil



Televangelists Are Full Of Crap

with delusions of riches,
Joel Osteen.

with tales of earthly wealth,
Graham Junior.

Hold captive
those prisoners of Rapture,
who crave flight.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Poetic Asides had an interesting prompt:  Sound.

I don’t often indulge in haiku, but Sensational Haiku Weds. on You Know… that Blog? posed a single word: Wish.

So it’s one cynical and one hopeful. Both are also at the poetic collective, Poets United, where I think my interview is still posted as well! Peace, Amy

FOR POETIC ASIDES (also posted on their blog)

Snap, Crackle, Plop

The sizzle of a full-pound burger hitting the grill
The crackle of a Snickers bar just dropped in a deep prayer
The burble of Mountain Dew as it glugs from a 2-liter bottle
The pop of an opened Pringles can

The crunch of hot, salted french fries.
The hiss of whole milk foaming for a macchiato,
another hiss for the extra whipped cream
The snap of a third or fourth Twix bar.

The plop of millions of butts onto sofas
for “Dancing With The Stars,”
plus whatever else will fill a full four hours
of family television viewing.

The click of the computer mouse
as Facebook meets Farmville.
The thumbpunch on a keypad, texting
from a comfy chair at the Internet café.

The huff-puff of labored breathing
and murmured swears as the businessman
struggles to climb a single flight of stairs
(elevator out of order).

These are the sounds of obesity.
The sounds of Americans feeding not only their addiction,
but the corporate coffers of people so rich, they
laugh all the way to their next liposuction appointment.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil



Wishing and Doing

Wishing on a star
mimics prayer, save but one thing:
Invoking God’s name

Praying for world peace
Will not ever be enough
We must work for it

We must all cry, Stop!
Take it to the streets, until
real peace is world-waged

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil