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

Category Archives: We Write Poems


Today, I’ll stroll to Mary’s place.
The patio screen scritchscratches with my departure.
Why lock it? Next Door Nan will be at home.

Sneakers on grass, bristling the sunburnt ground cover
The brush of palm fronts bending to grant me passage
And all along the way, crickets chirping

Now my sneaks scrape along the sidewalk,
past Pete the shoe repair guy, who waves.
“Time for that again?” he jokes.

“Yupper,” I shout, as my finger makes
little circles around my ear. “I’ll bring my
sandals over tomorrow, hope you can save ‘em!”

A profusion of orange flowers, “ditch lilies” they call them here,
but I dead-head the wizened, faded flowers,
pitch them into the fray, mulch for another day.

(Someday, I will be wizened and faded, too –
but if they want to toss me into the mulch pile,
they’ll have to catch me first!)

Finally the clip-clop upstairs, into the waiting room
with the fountain that always makes me need to pee.
Then, the soft inhale of a door opening:

“Amy?” smiles Mary, my therapist.
“Let’s do this sucker,” I laugh, and whoosh!
The door shuts. Tears to be shed, secrets to keep.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For We Write Poems‘ prompt, Walk. Also on display at Poets United! Peace, Amy

A Piku, according to We Write Poems, is like a haiku except for syllablic form: 3,1,4. Most folks who read my work know my disdain for writing in forms, simply because I’m so undisciplined (although an occasional shadorma, haiku, or limerick may emerge). I prefer free-wheeling, come-what-may poetry, but what the hell?

Apologies to Hammerstein, plus Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh (they did best lyrics) for the title…! Also posted at Poets United. Peace, Amy

I Won’t Piku (Don’t Ask Me)

I hate math.
and always will.

A Piku?
A Manga sprite:

round, smiling, pink

But instead,
poetic form.

Don’t like forms,
I won’t do it.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Creation Circles

Circling dew-drenched winds
Particles settle, drawn into a core
Water seeps over to shore
and upward to the clearing sky

A sphere, then
Slowing moving, a circular wholeness takes shape
Revolving, arcing around a star
as other spheres form

In the waters, moving creatures differentiate
Unique beings, yet still part of the whole
They swim, consume, reproduce
as nature will allow

Some beings are drawn to the shore lines,
dwelling near coral reefs for eons
until fins lengthen, gills morph into lungs,
and land beckons them to a new home.

They reproduce as they did in the sea:
Those with penises plunge into waiting wombs;
babes pop from the penetrated and drink milk
from that parent’s body as they learn to live.

Some come to shore without gender.
They adapt as they must to continue the species.
Some beings take to the air, darting into water
to devour their forgotten cousins.

There is a Creator of all this fecund beauty
Whether it is Nature or God or Gaia or a
legend born of necessity to explain the world…
We will only know when we leave this place

Once there was a void of intermixed, intermittent
molecular flotsam floating, flung far and near
Now there is something so ancient, so precious,
all humans do is fight about where it came from

But I know this much…
It is and
it is beautiful and
it is worth preserving for as long as we deserve it

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For We Write Poems (Creation) and my poetic home, Poets United

Writer’s Island wanted an answer to the prompt: SIZZLE. Perfect time of year to contemplate that notion! Also posted at my poetic home-away-from-blog, Poets United. Peace, Amy

Summer Sizzle

Surrender your boots and your tight-knitted cap
This summer, silk underwear’s taking a nap

Let’s throw all the earmuffs into winter storage
And stock up on ice cream, forsaking hot porridge

Unpack all the swimwear and beach towels as well
Sunscreen 64, lest I burn all to hell

The long winter’s passed, all we see is sunshine
Surrender to summer, a true state of mind

The burgers will sizzle out on the gas grill
We’ll put local microbrews on ice to chill

And speaking of “sizzle,” because I’m so teeny
Just wait ‘til you see me new hot-pink bikini

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Give it up
Push it away
that ego, whispering “me me me”
(like a bad soprano warming up)

Let it go
Open your mind
Listen to the echo
(the voice that says the world revolves around you)

Let it in
Breathe it in
Creation, the Creator, who loves you
(and only wants you to give love back to the world)

Come full stop
Close your eyes
Let love catch up to you
(you were running too fast anyway)

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
This is in response to a challenge from We Write Poems (make up a prompt/form that may be used in the future. I call this Formulaic: 3 + (x) = Poem) and my poetic home, Poets United.

Women’s Work
(a cento, from Carl Sandburg’s “Working Girls”)

over the way, the women who know each one the
lunches wrapped in newspapers under their arms
so here are always the others, those who have been
going, so many with a peach bloom of young years
arms that passed around their waists and the fingers

woman life I feel a wonder about where it is all
on the downtown streets
that played in their hair

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore

From We Write Poems, a prompt for a cento: Another poet’s writing, taking only certain lines and rearranging them to form a new poem. These lines are from my favorite poet, Carl Sandburg, and his poem, “Working Girls.” Also posted at my poetic home, Poets United, where you can find a plethora of amazing poets on their right sidebar, constantly updating with links.

No Limit To Tears

Powerful, the cry of anguish.
Happens at the end of your rope.
That heaving, full-moon cry,
the howl of a wounded animal.

After Death has taken another,
the scythe merciless and swift…
or sometimes wielding a precise,
torturous scalpel.

When Death strangled Mom, my tears
fell faster than ducts could release them;
my head filled with salt water,
clogging my brain, my mind.

Tears poured forth in a torrent,
flooding the room.
I floated in that pool for hours until,
gut-sore, I was washed back to my room.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For We Write Poems (Take it to the Limit), and Poets United.


Teetering on the rim
of crystal so thin
a butterfly’s wing could
send her tumbling back
down, down, down
into the glass carnival

Where distorted lens
meets bloodshot eye
Where feet lose footing,
sliding on the gloss
Where beating on the wall
can cut you to the bone

Where they can look in
but she is alone
trapped in prisms
of sunlight’s whim
Where is she’s not careful
she will be burned to an ashen memory

The limits are clear,
but not so the options

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For ABC Wednesday, the letter “P”; for We Write Poems, “Take it to the Limit,” and, as always, at Poets United, the home of so many wordsmiths, for Thursday Think Tank: Monsters. If you visit these blogs, either click on the “comments” button to access the work of plenty of amazing poets, or at ABC, simply click on a face! Peace, Amy

Written this morning. I was so bummed about being confined to bed and missing Easter services, and this was my spiritual exercise for the day… Big day for Christians, but every day should be a day to celebrate each other, hand in hand, faith joining faith to seek peace in this troubled world. This will also be at Poetic Asides, where Robert asked for prayer poems. Amy

New To This Church

He hangs out near the front door,
unsure about entering, what with
seeing men in suits and ties and
women dressed up, hats and all.

And here he is in raggedy jeans
and a tie-dye shirt his buddy gave him.
The VOA fixed him up with an army jacket
and boots broken in so much, they’re almost broke as he is.

He considers his options: Lingering on another park bench
like the one he slept on last night…
Or maybe he’ll leave to find Gus and Sandy
near that cheap coffee shop again.

An old lady sniffs as she passes.
He must smell a little ripe.
“Well, it’s Sunday, I’ll give it a try.”
And as he slips inside, Jesus takes a seat in the back pew.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also published at Writer’s Island (My April Poem a Day home) and Poets United. Please click these links to discover a lot of talented poets!

Two in a row for We Write Poems: “I do my laundry when…” One fun, one serious.

These are also at Writer’s Island and Poets United. Peace, Amy

Laundry (haiku)

I do my laundry
when I damned well feel like it.
I am self-employed.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


I Do

“I do.” My laundry:  When he needs his lucky shirt
for Dart Night with the guys.
And despite my long hours at work,
I end up cooking every meal.

He reclines his spine on the sofa
without a “thank you” for the chips and dip and beers I
serve his buddies while they sit and swear at the ref’s bad calls
and don’t call it a day until after 10 p.m.

“I do” sealed my fate until the swearing
was no longer aimed at the refs, but at me and
the bowl of dip just missed my head
falling in clinks and plops to the just-mopped floor.

Darts no long reserved for the board:
He’d found a new target.

It wasn’t always like this. In our early days,
kisses and promises of blissful years ahead.

Words I believed until my lips met
with his fist; until sunglasses became basic makeup.

“I do” sounds lovely at the altar, but so hollow when
promises melt and mingle with the salt and blood at my feet

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil