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

Category Archives: Teens

First Time, No Charm

Fifteen
and the only girl in her class
who hadn’t “done it” yet

Sharp gossipy tongues
of her peers rendered her
brittle, an underachiever

Sure, she had the fever, but
no boy had the charm, the
romance she longed for

Fearing she would develop
a discernible crust beneath which
no one would wish to explore

she began to wear shorter skirts,
willowy legs bending, swaying
as a breeze blew through her branches

She spied one guy, gave him the eye
that said, “I want,” and he knew he’d be
Her First, and thus accoladed by his buds

That night, they threw down a blanket
Some pot he’d rustled up for the occasion
dilated their pupils, lazy balloon eyes

A few harsh kisses, some fumbling
some mumbling, but not calling her name
He opened the packet of the sheik sheath

Almost exploding as she put it on him
(like the banana in health class) and then he
crushed her with his weight, piercing her

It was all of ten minutes, leaving her with
the wound that never needs mending
And an unbearable feeling that there must be

more than sex than this, a barbarian invasion
Otherwise, why would musicians bother to write
love songs?

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For The Sunday Whirl: Sheaths, Explode, Unbearable, Fever, Willows, Crust, Mending, Breeze, Piercing, Brittle, and Rustle. Click on the blog name and see what everyone else got from this interesting group on the Wordle! I am glad to say this is NOT autobiographical.

I’ve chosen this poem for dverse Open Mic Night. Also at my home base for all things poetic, Poets United.


TO ALL MY WONDERFUL READERS: If you are uncomfortable with the growing phenomenon of “cutting” among young women, please skip this – or scroll down and learn. There’s a new, hopeful trend among teens and 20s of tattooing the word “Love” on one’s inside wrist as a reminder, either for themselves to not cut, or in solidarity with and compassion for those who do. Peace, Amy

 

Bleed

Awesome with a razor
She’s straight-edge all the way
Cuts in patterns
Endangering her health
for the sake of
force-feeding her psyche

She sees no hazard
in this habitual ritual
She knows what she’s doing
She gets in lots of practice

She’s waited all day to
be alone with the one…
The blade that understands
her pain and her release
The pain she cannot name
and isn’t ready to claim

Today, perfect lines, sleek
and hardly bleeding at all
Tomorrow, she’ll wear
a long-sleeved hoodie
in the torrid noonday sun

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For ABC Wednesday (B) and for Three Word Wednesday: Cut, Endanger, Hazard.
Girls who are numb to the world because of depression or other mental disorders, may cut themselves in order to feel. The warning signs are long-sleeved shirts in the hottest weather, parents finding an Exacto knife or other sharp instrument under her bed… just know they are in need of help, not irredeemable nor incurable. They are hurting themselves because they were hurt, and getting down to the problem starts with counseling. Peace, Amy


It may be the wee hours of Monday, but it’s never to late to answer ABC Wednesday‘s prompt for poems using the letter “Y.” This goes out especially to my high school buddy and still great friend Michael Weil, who visited from Potsdam, NY (think colder than Madison!) with super wife (and also old friend) Amy Jo and verrrrry cool son Alex today, along with new friends Paul and his partner Dean. Mike and I reminisced about the ever-abundant supply of Yuengling beer at our house, and how he just “converted” to their Black and Tan variety. I had actually written this “snowball” poem days ago, but now I HAVE to post it, right? Safe travels, you “Weil things!” Amer

Also at the poetic collective, Poets United.

YUENGLING

Sun,

summer,

cold Yuengling.

Man, our basement

fridge was full of it.

Easy access for teens

to grab a brew, hit the pool,

and bask in alcoholic bliss.

Mom never kept inventory, so

we drank, swam, laughed, and tanned all summer long.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


A Wordling Whirl of Sundays gave us some great words:  Fading, flew, hurtles, limbs, clears, toss, turned, reaching, fresh, flossed, flecks, and siren. Thanks, Brenda, for a good challenge! Also posted at Poets United, the poets’ collective.

Unexpected Turn

Her mom’s car hurtles down the road,
windows down, fresh air, CD player cranked.

Amanda glances at her IPhone and waves it, yelling:
“Mindy says she just flossed her butt with a new thong!”

Cath is a new driver wishing they’d be quiet.
(Wait’ll they get their licenses, then they’ll understand.)

Amanda and Kara, texting like mad, oblivous to
the nerves of the new driver, who clears her throat.

Flecks of sunlight obscure her view.
(Damn, I shoulda worn my shades.)

“SHUT UP, GUYS!” she finally yells,
reaching the limits of her patience with her friends.

A deer darts across the road; Cath swerves and
heads straight for Mrs. Hardy’s fresh-painted fence.

They hit the ditch first and flip,
tossturned as limbs fly in slow motion.

The ambulance flew, sirens screaming,
but Kara and Cath were already fading.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


ABC Wednesday had us up to the letter “M,” while Three Word Wednesday‘s words were: Evident, Illusion, and Tragic.  Here is an example of why we must always remember to tell our girls they are worthy and wonderful – and our boys, too.  Amy

Megan’s Mind

Her illusion was her reality
That they stared at her in school
That every zit was a tragic flaw
That her muffin-top was the subject of gossip

She had never been kissed (not even at summer camp)
Mirrors served as evidence, judge, and jury:
She was a blight, a sight unworthy of the world
But she had no real friend to share the verdict with

The school was abuzz Monday morning
Why did Megan hang herself Saturday night?

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Home, sweet home, Madison, WI and Lake Edge UCC. What a lovely reception for us both – you’d think I’d have a more uplifting poem today, but I felt compelled to put this entry in.

This is a cautionary tale… any teen who thinks Pharming is cool and that shoving substances up their nose is fun should think twice. I know; I’ve been there, and this entry is, sad to say, all too true, from many years ago when I was incredibly stupid (and, of course, immortal – weren’t we all?). Parents, talk to you kids. Cop to what you did and let your kids know what’s out there is King Kong compared to the spider monkey shit we did.

NIGHT SHIFT AT TONY’S

Silence of the grave.
The dissipated, pasty-faced coke dealer in his lair: A
hermetically sealed apartment.
No light, save lamps; no breeze, stale air.
No windows open, lest the cool breeze
of Venice Beach disturb piles of priceless product.

It’s all about balance, really.
Delicately spooning precious powder
from bag to scale, wordlessly persevering
during each transaction. Accuracy rules.

Tony’s in the zone.

His place stinks vaguely of chemicals and
days-old takeout – plus a trace of evil.
I mule for the whole crew back at work.
He accepts the cash, hands over the stash.
I smile; he grits his teeth and says take the back stairs.

Tucking the baggie in my bra, I make my way back to work
behind closed doors. Tamp the coke onto the mirror,
razor it into proper sections; every granule counts.
I obsessive-compulsively trustworthy,
entrusted to split the parcels.

Why do I make the run? Because I’m so disgustingly honest.
I fill, never spill, never nick off the till,
and emerge with portions of potion for
my anxious co-conspirators.
We scatter like roaches for hidden dark corners and
restroom stalls, emerge smiling,
frozen-gummed and destined to perform at peak
for at least an hour.

Once Tony cut the stash with laxative and we all
spent our high on the toilet, but we still went back for more.
We paid good money for this slavery and couldn’t make our way past it.
Not in those days, the blinding midnight sunrise of Colombia on Westwood.

Then there was Sam, shaking hands spilling his stash.
He ended up snorting it off the filthy men’s room floor.
I mean, really.
How low can you go?
Try cocaine and you’ll find out.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


At Three Word Wednesday, we were given:  Buckle, Evade, and Wedge.  OK, I fudged a bit on “wedge,” but art requires slight adaptations here and there…  Enjoy!  (You probably won’t if you were ever subjected to this bullying.)

WEDGIES

The ultimate teenaged bully stupid stunt.
Grab the nerd by his buckle
so he cannot evade this torture
Then pull on his underwear waistband. Hard.

Next to swirlies (those delightful dunks
headfirst in a flushed toilet, which can be
perpetrated on either gender), performing wedgies
is the sign of the true moron.

The wedgie-wanton often become
successful used-car salesmen and
captains of dart leagues at beer-soaked bars.
They rarely, if ever, get laid… let alone married (for long).

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


This came from a “wordle,” a group of words you can form into a block of art; to create one yourself, click HERE.

Thanks to whichever poet’s blog contained the block (and I apologize that you remain anonymous, I was all over the place today).   I can’t reproduce it here, but all the words from the block are in bold. Enjoy! Amy

FIRST TIME (wordle)

Smoldering like an ash-pit and
lush with promise, but
clunky teenage moves
His one hand, awake, cupped my breast
The other was passed out under my back
then resurfaced to hold my head for
a quick nibble at that well-hung boy
The First Time


At Poetic Asides, we were asked to write about stacks. Stacking, unstacking, stacked decks, stacked (you can guess), unstacking, dismantling. Click on the Poetic Asides blue link to read them all! Here’s one of mine, attempting to form a poetic pyramid!

GYM CLASS

Never picked for
basketball or soccer.
Short, uncoordinated, shy.
The leftover, default choice.

I excelled in this singular activity:
The Pyramid. I was so little and so light
they proclaimed me The Ultimate Top Block.
(For just one class a year, they found me of use)

Sturdier girls lined up below like so many
Dawg House cheerleaders, and proudly
bearing the brunt to come… five rows
I had to carefully ascent to claim my
place as “Cleopatra’s Crown” (hey,
this was gym class, not history!)
A sudden sniff from Row Two.
Sue sneezes and CRASH!

Our proud
pyramid
reduced
to rubble:
A jumble
of giggling
Jenga Jills.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


At Poetic Asides, today’s prompt, “No one wants _____,” brought to mind an incident so funny, so ironic, so disgustingly true… and to think I volunteered to edit the copy for the yearbook and was turned down. The principal said, “I have professional secretaries to do that work.” Riiiiiiiight…

No One Wants (or likes) (or should depend on) SpellCheck

Savior of those who type in haste?
Harbinger of the lazy mind?
Neither.
It’s just SpellCheck, here to stay. Like the flu.
Example #25,286:

Parents participated in the yearbook
by writing personal notes to their graduates.
Mine included a line employing the vernacular:
“You’re gonna do great things!”

Fresh off the press, she ran all the way home
to show me an impressive array of signatures.
She had made lots of friends, and they all
noted she was “HOT!,” “Valedictorian,” and “Out!”

Turning to the parent’s dedications, she said,
“In the words of Al Jolson, ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!'”
There, bearing my signature, was the side-splitting line:
“You’re gonad do great things.” GONAD??!!

SpellCheck, ShmellCheck.