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

Category Archives: Therapy

Johann Ink and I were comparing notes on psychiatry today; much of this poem is derived directly from our three-hour conversation. Johann is a budding poet; we are both what is genially called in our society, “mental health consumers” (in other words, we’re both nuckin’ futs!). If you’ve never had the joy, the incredible honor, of being granted a meeting with a real live board-certified psychiatrist… consider yourself fortunate! Amy
(PS This poem also appears at Writer’s Island for NaPoWriMo 12.)

New Shrink Rap
(from a conversation with Johann Ink)

I’m checking in with my new shrink
society having granted me leave
from my sleeve-silky cubicle (AKA “acting normal”)
Now I sit in a leather chair so large
my feet dangle like Edith Ann

Doc is regally ensconced behind
an impressive antique desk
Drawers full of free pens from drug reps
Myriad diplomas staring me down
and sneering, “We’re smarter than you”

He’s new, at least to me, and eager
to change what my last psychiatrist did
He’s ready to rearrange my brain plane
because he has sample of a new drug
(They tested it on lab rats, so, hey, it must of OK for me)

I state flatly, “I want to maintain my current regimen”
He stiffens, doesn’t care to listen even thoug
I’ve been to the brink and back
(while he’s just read about it a whole lot)
Experience vs. experiments: The Great Battle of Which

“Man,” I itch to say,
“if you want to pimp for Big Pharma,
why not go all the way? Get yourself a solid gold chain
and maybe a diamond in your front tooth…
or don’t monster tires and hydraulics work on a Corvette?”

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Two girls in one… both of them me before I got the right mix of meds and therapy.  A not to folks who have the same condition, please know I’m not making fun of those struggling with the manic part.  It’s OK for me to laugh at myself, but I’m NOT laughing at you, truly.  I’m part of NAMI Stigma Busters.  Amy



Leaden footsteps dog my pace
Straining, forcing smile on face
Gravity has conquered me
Hard to muster strength to… be

Wheels are grinding ever slower
Ten more steps to my front door
Dropping bags and sloughing coat
Sitting in a sinking boat

Wow I feel great I’m late for work but it’s
not my fault this jerk on TV was sooooooooo
fascinating I had to watch this invention
and the audience was soooooooo enthusiastic
about it just twelve payments of $19.95 plus
shipping so I called oops that credit card
is maxed, went through three before I hit
the jackpot it’s a juicer that also vacuums
your cat whattaya think about that? Gotta
run run run I’m late for work wait there’s
the Dunkie’s need coffee and a doughnut
first catch you later what’s your name again?

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Bobby Francavillo, an old school buddy, turned me on to this young singer/songwriter.  She’s phenomenal and so is her story… look her up on YouTube for an interview about how, after a car accident left her unable to walk, holistically working 24/7 on her music helped her neurons reconnect her brain and legs, which has enabled her to enjoy a rich, full life.  Her voice is like… if Jean Arthur could sing.  I cannot say enough about her talent, nor thank Bobby enough for mentioning her on FaceBook.  I’ve bought 2 of her releases, and she saved MY mental health in a crowded layover at NYC’s Penn Station.   Proof positive that magic is all around us, healing comes in many forms, and friends are meant to share the best things in life.


Penn Station cacophony
The really big noise of
crunchy humanity made moist
by lack of air conditioning

Bad tempers, worse hygiene that
fails to be tamed by perfumes
each more putrid than the last
and all available at WalMart

I park my pack, stack my stash
under weathered and weary sandals
Pull out headphones, cause
it’s gonna be a long layover

Wheel the reel of my IPod to
Melody Gardot, she of the
quirky scat, scratched slightly
broken voice, sleek songs

Eyes closed. I serenely
accept this comfort
as it’s offered up
in her lazy tones, slowly

Crabby folks suddenly wash away
in a flood of lush love songs
Colors appear beneath my eyelids
Vivid purples and greens

Audio visual mental lava lamp
undulating, glowing jazz
In the midst of Amtrak chaos
Suddenly, vibrant beauty

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The prompt today was “After the Rain.”  Took it to this past weekend in water-starved Philly; a mudslide in Topanga Canyon; and a flood in Attica, in which two people lost their lives trying to save animals from a vet’s office.  But this one seemed apropos for today.


Tears flow steadily surely certainly
Tissues stack teetering telling toppling
Therapist listens nodding knowing nudging
Time passes slowly softly swiftly

Tourist wonders why when how
she was brought to this strange place
of salt water headaches
of stories that go bump in the night

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil