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

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LOST WORD

I awoke, musing
(first thoughts of morning, always sharpest)
that President Obama’s endorsement
of Debbie Wasserman Schultz was
an implied endorsement of Hillary Clinton
(yes, I actually wake up thinking this stuff)

I then planned a tweet
to that effect
In my mind, typing abbreviated text
(abbrev’d txt)

“Prez hypes DWS; tacet hype of HRC

Didn’t even close the quotes
Stopped short
“tacet”

Is it “tacit”? No, doesn’t look right
Is there a tacet/tacit usage comparison?
Should I google it?
Is “tacit” a word
or a typo?
Or is “tacet” wrong?

At that moment
This very morning, in my bed
I realized, “This is how it can start, with
a lost word.”

Hear this, cruel Fates:

I don’t lose words
I use words
to great effect

(Effect? Affect?
Naw, I’m screwin’ with ya now!)

Poets, writers, artists
write and paint their truth
Individual as brushstrokes

If my truth were
that mental facility would begin to leak
To fallfunnel
an hourglass
emptied
s
l
o
w
l
y

I watched the first grain of sand slip
today
and documented it here

Now, that would be ironic
That precision of loss

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Connie Peters and I play Words With Friends. She asked this week whether I would be doing the April Poem-A-Day challenge. At that time, I told her that depression would probably get the best of me, so NO. After this experience, and her musing that “sometimes, it can help,” I have decided to take the plunge after all.

Thanks, Connie! See, we never know when the little words of encouragement will stick. Friends rock.

Alzheimer’s does not run in my family.  Just the usual shot livers, lung cancer, and other addiction-related stuff that is preventable when you know what’s up.  My real fear is that, since my mom lived a long time WITH fallout from addication, I will have to be put down like an old horse when I am 128.  Find a quiet corner of the garden, you know…

For ABC Wednesday, the letter is L… for loss/lost. Amy


PLASTER CRACKS

One of those unexpected glances
A happenstance mirror
The old lady looking back at me

with curves in places
like her face
and craggly bits about the eyes

Who is this woman? She
looks off her feed, or depressed
No, I replied, it’s just you, ya old bag

Your fault for smiling so much
For choosing to live with your depression
rather than finding a way out

And so I settle into almost sixty years old
I let gravity, cruel mistress, have
her way with me

It used to be boobs and the
skin over my knees becoming
a canopy for bone beneath

Now it’s the more obvious sites
The ones one cannot hide under
clothing, beneath makeup

It’s the glorious blooming of
A New Amy, crone delighting
in the fact that she can still.

make new things, such as wrinkles

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

It’s true. That little sag under my jaw, the crows’ feet that have morphed into Crow Valleys. It’s happening, and I can either get pissed at God (which seems quite useless, and I owe God so much) or dive in, feet first. I choose the dive.

This is for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Play It Again, Toads. One of my poet buddies, Fireblossom, had a previous prompt called, “The Crack in Everything,” and we have written to that prompt. Thanks, Shay, for always being an inspiration! Love, Amy


PATRON SAINT OF JAZZ

She lived in the corner
in the record rack
Her face, flat on an album cover
but spin that vinyl and ooooh

She sang about life
About the sad truth that
black lives didn’t always matter
Especially in the south in the 30s

Her voice gave witness
to a woman’s weary world
Her curls pressed, ironed
Her veins spiraled in junk

Her attitude, defiant
Her circumstance,
forced compliant
by companies and creeps

No one could deny her
power, the flower behind
one ear; the blossom
gardenia, always

The voice got harsher
as did the years, but
Billie was the patron saint
of one little abused white girl

who understood without knowing
there was anything else to be
but to be a musician, or
anything else to do but sing the blues

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Decades before cultural appropriation was a thing, I was a white girl singing blues and jazz (from the age of around 6). I copied no one, truly; probably had more Judy Garland in me than anything. But the feeling, yes. I got that. Grew up around it, heard so many singers and musicians, both black and Anglo, who encouraged me. They never made a distinction about my race, they just said, “Sing it, baby.” The depth of feeling was natural for me, it ran through me like my own blood.

Having said that, I DO “get” cultural appropriation and am PROUD I never thought to copy any of Billie Holiday’s stuff. Too many female singers of all ethnicities adopted the gardenia behind one ear; I always thought it terribly corny and a bit disrespectful.

For Poets United, the Midweek Motif is Patron Saints.

Peace and a spin on the turntable, Amy


GREEDY BASTARD

He was always greedy
Wanting more buildings with his name
emblazoned in new neon
Then, when customers
found flaws and defaulted or fled
he got in bed with the State to
deflate his debt. Bankruptcy,
more than financial, substantial
penalties were paid by ordinary Joes,
like schmoes, we sat by and watched
as he snatched victory from the
jaws of the Street

When his first wife was no longer
trophyworthy, he moved on
And again
And again
Like a rich white kid tiring of a toy
Or a car
he traded his women in
for newer models
Sometimes foreign, sometimes domestic
(sometimes actual models)
All with solid chassis and
that new-wife smell

When he tired of Atlantic City
he moved on to TV
the natural place for such as he
Bombastic, plastic,
spasmodic delivery

When he got fired from TV
he moved on
to the real big deal
And now his greed dictates
that we should grant him
Gold toilets in the White House

Do we really need
to cater to his greed?

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Hey, I have not posted anything about Tr*mp (whose name is a swear in our house, like, “Go tr*mp yourself”).  Sometimes it’s good to vent.

No image, because ewwwwww. Tagged under “Jerks” for ABC Wednesday.

Peace, Amy


A Life Less Weird

would be lacking in gusto
would sap our strength
would pull us under to
the place where normalcy shadows all that matters

A life less weird
is something to be lived by
wonderful, caring people who
just happen to lack that “spark of madness”*
that shines so brightly in
those who robinradiate

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

*Thanks to the late Robin Williams for this phrase. He said, “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

Poets United, thanks for letting me tag along on the “Weird” prompt! There is a lovely flavor to neurodivergence (and thanks to Ian Nicholson for sharing that term, for schooling me through “Barking Sycamores” on how I can relish my own particular groove).  Also, thanks to Saana for enticing me back to Poets United!

When life appears to“trump” fantasy, fantasy actually has the better foothold!

Peace, Amy


If She Were

If she were a cuticle
she’d be bleeding

If she were road kill, she’d be
half in a crow’s belly

This country
These headlines
The prospects, so bleak

She’s dog tired
Bone weary

Dog bone busted

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

ABC Wednesday is on the letter “I” and seems to be pointing toward writing one’s own life. Strange to write these thoughts in the third person; yet, to claim all this as mine feels like defeat.

I am hopeful, but this reality is taking its toll…

Peace, Amy


Bridge the Gap

Thoughts here
Pen there
Bridge the gap

Under cover of covers
Mind unsnuggled and busy already
Journal over on dresser…
Oh, to find courage and brave
the icy sprint in thin flannel
to capture, capsulize this inspiration

Make haste
Bridge the gap

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Mama Zen, you are my hero today. I was winnowing files, shrinking the ever-growing pile of laundry… and then, when I logged on to Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, the “Play it again, Toads” prompt brought back a “Words Count” post from you – Twitter, fewer than 140 characters (this is 114). Since I was in an editing mood, this seemed perfect.

Also, it’s worth noting that I had the first stanza in mind just before falling asleep. I grabbed a paper napkin from the nightstand and scribbled with a stubby pencil. Completed the rest just now at my computer! Peace, Amy


Bright Brit (For Alan Rickman)

That smooth sotto voce baritone
A voice for the ages
The prominent proboscis
Teeth that said, “Yeesss, I’m from England”

Slightly sibilant ‘s’
A peculiar British drawl
The singular instrument that was his voice

Hilarious or reserved
Alien or Austin
Wizard or Will Shakespeare
He was all of it, and sublime

We lost a good one that day
but the work lives on
in velvet couplets
and spells cast

© 2016 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Had to come out of the cold to pay tribute to a wonderful man. Alan Rickman was one of my favorite actors. Yes, there was the loss of Bowie, but Rickman’s talents touched me in unexpected ways. I fell in love with him in “Truly Madly Deeply” (no commas in that title – see the film to find out why).

Lex and Riley and I quote his Dr. Lazarus from “Galaxy Quest” incessantly – “By Grabthar’s Hammer… what a savings,” and “…five curtain calls!”

Rickman had the knack of being droll when others were chewing scenery. He was a generous actor and colleague. He stayed true to the same woman for 50 years! Who even does that in the performing arts?!

I miss him. Thanks to ABC Wednesday for hosting my scribblings, the first in months.


From the Brooklyn Museum; photograph by Margaret, used with permission

Dance of the Vessels

They wait to be asked
asked to dance
asked to grab coffee
asked to participate

in the dance of the vessels
each filled in her turn with
disappointment, with joy
with whatever he chooses

They were told that if
they waited long enough
and stayed shiny, attractive
they would be chosen

See the restless vase
rustling her dust
edging closer to the edge
She will fall and break, in a

glorious shower of shards
and a mischievous giggle
They will clean up and toss her
Better to jump than to fall for it

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Margaret Bednar is a Toad.  Well, a member of the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads…and for this prompt, she offered up some lovely photos of vases.  I chose the group on shelves, but there are quite a few images of vases at the site, along with links to some dandy poets.  Why not head over to the Garden and try your luck?  Thanks, Amy



Listen to Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto interpret Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “O Grande Amor”

Bossa

The beat is bossa
Songs with names like Dindi, pronounced ‘Zhinzhi’
Like fingertips stroking a five o’clock shadow

Stan Getz on sax, the American who
fell south and south again into Brazil
and landed in the lap of
hypnotic undulations of la bossa nova

His singular sax
wobbly, clarinettish vibrato
smoking breath of a dryer reed
(listen to Dusty match that menthol
on “The Look of Love”)

Here, meeting the challenge
of Gilberto and Jobim
(‘Zhilberto’ and ‘Zhobim,’ say it)
O Grande Amor

Chords minor and descending
never resolve until that solo,
the punchy, punchdrunk Getz

the aaaaaah of post-coital cigarette ash

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I landed “north and north again” into the land of cooking from scratch and scritching in my notebook, sketches that are on my Instagram account, @amybarlowjazz. If you enjoy ink drawings of anxiety attacks, well, hell!  You’ll love my stuff!  Also political commentary using an old airplane barf bag… it’s complicated.

My first poem coming back on the scene is for ABC Wednesday, with thanks to Roger Green, who always stays in touch, even when I’m not posting.  Peace, Amy