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

Category Archives: Violence

Wisconsin Tragedy (Slenderman)

Where does real begin?
At a mother’s breast
First dip in a pool
First lick from a puppy

Where did unreal begin?
Remember Bambi
The shotgun off-screen but
your parents were there
to hold your hand and
dry your tears and
talk about how movies aren’t real

Where does the new unreal begin?
Parents turn on the TV
and tune out their kids
The video games seductive
Playing pimp or dealer with
a steady aim and BLAM
And all the women are whores

Where does real begin now?
The Internet, shady Slenderman
A sick fantasy with lots of fans,
lots of kids, is calling the shots
The stabs

Real is unreal
Fantasy is reality
Parents are clueless
Kids rule their own worlds
Worlds of pain and loneliness
Worlds their parents don’t
care to think about

Boomers, we were lonely too
But we had trees to climb
and time and time
…and time

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For ABC Wednesday, the letter “W.” I wish this was not a true story. I wish it did not involve 12-year-old girls trying to kill their friend because some sick person told them to do it and they believed in Slenderman more than God.  For those who aren’t in the States, two girls were convinced by a fictitious character (whose stories are all over the Internet, written by hundreds of people) that to enter his “club,” they had to kill someone.  Whoever created Slenderman in the first place is sick enough, but whoever dangled this bloody carrot should rot in jail.  The girl survived.  Her friends (being tried as adults) left her for dead but she crawled to a roadside.  She is home now, but psychologically, who knows what is in store for this poor kid?

This was in the suburbs. Waukesha is in the heart of the Christian Right, Paul Ryan’s land. I pray for the soul of my state, even as I reside in the “hippie district.”

Peace, Amy


I Stand My Ground With My Words

Why was the life of a black youth
walking through his “white” neighborhood
snuffed out by an old man’s bullet?

Fear. Racism. Because Zim had a gun.

When did “standing your ground”
mean wielding not words,
but a weapon?

Bad laws. NRA lobby $$.

When will we decide to
engage in conversation and reject
vigilante injustice?

When we resume being human.

We’ve been in collective PTSD
since 9-11, and brown and black folks
have lost ground since then.

Don’t tell me it’s not racism.

Hearts have hardened by war
and lies and this horrid Congress,
divided and divorced from reality.

They have armed guards.

Try this on for size: If you cannot
stand your ground with words, you’re
not mature enough to own a pistol.

Your possessions are not worth a life.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
‘Nuff said. For Poets United’s Poetry Pantry, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Open Link Monday, and dverse Open Mic Night.


Prelude to a Nightmare (a nocturne)

I remember bedtime prayers to Him
Resting in peace until
lifted on devil’s wings
by another Him and hidden
No cry in darkness,
only strangled fear
stifled invasion of trust

Today, I still pray
He rests in peace now
No longer do I fear
his dry hands, betrayal
Lifted on angel’s wings
Cry of forgiveness
in the blessed peace
of moonlit prayer

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image through Wikimedia Commons: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

PTSD isn’t just for veterans, people who survived 9/11, or Katrina and Oklahoma victims. Night terrors and phobias often plague adults who were sexually abused as children. Years of therapy led me to the path of forgiveness. Dad no longer controls me, and my prayers at night always include him, for all the good things he taught me, including a love of words and poetry.

The rest is out there in a bubble, outside my body and my psyche, yet available for inspection, now that I’m stronger.

This was written for Kim’s prompt at Poets United (I remember…) and also for Kerry’s “Nocturne” prompt at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.  Peace, Amy


Little Lajwanti Lost (Brothels of India)

Plucked from family tree
nowhere near ripe
Sold to brothel
Dignity denied
She aches, lacerated
Beaten if she says “no”
Infected if she says “yes”
Enslaved since she was five

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I saw a PBS special last night that changed my life. Although the perpetrators of violence against women in this film are mostly dark-skinned, it’s not a racist film – those who know me understand I’m open and outspoken about my own childhood sexual abuse, and we have plenty of work to do around the unearned shame of victims and survivors Stateside. This is about girls in Asia and Africa who lack support of any kind, who through no fault of their own are disowned by families after being raped, who are sold by families or total strangers into prostitution… and the brave women and men who risk all to come to their defense.

“Lajwanti” is a Hindi name that means “a sensitive plant.” I chose the name for the specific irony of the fate of mostly lower-caste girls. The sex slave trade in India is protected by local police bribery and fought by a lion-hearted woman named Somaly, who as a young girl was sold into slavery and now runs a refuge for the girls they are able to spring from the brothels. She says, “They are me.”

The PBS special about the film, Half The Sky, is not to be viewed with popcorn and brewskis. It is a brutally frank account of violence against women, from culturally sanctioned rape to girls as young as five sold into prostitution worldwide. From the brothels of India to the rape of girls as young as two years old in Sierra Leone (where to “devirginize” a girl is a matter of pride for the man), this film also shows some real-life heroines who deserve our support. Please click the link above to learn more.

There are stars, beginning with George Clooney’s commentary, along with several female stars traveling to witness and comfort the rescued girls. A tremendous scene: A former prostitute who was rescued, now aged 15, confronting a roomful of men and quizzing them on why condoms are useful. She even shows them how to open the packet without damaging the contents and looks them straight in the eye. Like I said, lion-hearted women.

If you want to help this vital movement on behalf of half the world’s population, visit THIS LINK.

As a “little white suburban girl” who was used for sex by her own father, I can tell you this: Look behind the siding of houses in your own neighborhood. Men who use girls (and boys) without conscience are everywhere, often trusted family friends or family members, scout leaders, upstanding clergy, teachers…

I am eternally grateful for this prompt, from Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, where Mama Zen asked for a poetic drama in 30 words or less, and Roger at ABC Wednesday (L). Also at my safe haven, Poets United.

Peace, Amy


Three Word Wednesday gave us Gag, Maintain, and Omit.   Also at Poets United, my poetic community of friends. Peace, Amy

 

Who’s Crying Now?

The only way he could shut her up
was to gag her with a bandana.

The only way he could maintain control
was to try tying her to a chair

The only mistake he made was to omit
searching her pockets for pepper spray.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil