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

Category Archives: Women

It’s been awhile since I posted one of my songs. This is about the time she sees her old love at a party and they end up making out in the coatroom. (And most of this story is gloriously, embarrassingly true.)

CLICK HERE  Loving You Today (song by Amy Barlow)

#singer #songwriter #OldGirl #GAFB #StillGotIt #strangerthanfiction


Cronifiscence (For Rose)

Used to be, we rough and ready, time-tested but never bested
full-breasted, not-begging-your-behested ladies
were frowned upon, looked down upon as
past our prime
‘More to be pitied than sensualed’

But now we gather in pools of lactic estrogen
to reminisce about dime phone booths
penny candy and two-bit boyfriends
our first quarter centuries marked by
debauchery, doubtless laughter
the ember of roach-clip glowworm
impromptu meetings on the streets
so far below downtown, we were crowned by
halos of cannabis smoke rings

Might be on city subways with melted portraits in windows
crashhurtling then lurching to stinky stop stations

Or southern streetcars harvesting magnolia scent
sliding over tracks greased by funk and fancy

We hail from many lands, form a tribe that
transcends countries of origin, societal strata
We are crones in the best sense of
that beleaguered term – we defy restrictions
Protest “wrinkles as afflictions”
Deny quaint references to “women of a certain age”

We ARE Women of a Certain Age
Certain that we have been there
Certain that we burned our bras and will do so again
if our daughters and all fertile women are denied
choices and voices – we will make noises, so watch out, boyses
We are certain that the world is better with us in it

Our experience has honed us into
magnificent, beneficent, sensible, sexy creatures
We have earned our crowns
We don’t do boundaries or borders

We are found art

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Just in:  Added to Poets United’s Poetry Pantry for Sunday!

Rose Preston is a jewel. She lives in New Orleans, born in South Africa. She’s the kind of woman who will save a lovely object d’art for years until she finds the person who needs it… in this case, a lovely card with shining giraffe for her girlfriend’s birthday. I, too, collect bits of this and that (often sending to my old buddy Sidnie), just waiting for the right time, the right hands into which I place that little treasure.

Rose lives. I mean, this woman is traveling home in two weeks, then she’s going on SAFARI! Holy schmoley, that’s living. She was once charged by a baby elephant and, defying odds, snapped “my National Geographic photo,” only to later accidentally delete it… when she was high. I mean, really, kids, this is my kind of girlfriend. God willing, neither of us (nor any of the other fantastic women I spent time with in New Orleans!) will ever grow up, never stop ranting and raving and reveling in our lives.

Now if only I could download the damned pix off my “smart” phone, I’d include her picture.  Later, I shall have to edit her image in. Peace, Amy


Letter to Blanche

Dear Grandma Blanche,

I know it’s been a long time
since I have written
I was only seven
when you met heaven

But I want you to know
in case you’re not watching
that as I grew
I was more like you

Sure, crossword puzzles and
acrostics and such we share,
but playing by ear?
Piano, my dear!

That gift of gab we were
both born/cursed with
Talking to all
Talking to walls…

Yes, I got that, too
Manic depression, haunting
Sometimes “crazy,”
sometimes “lazy”

in the eyes of others, that is,
bound as they are by convention
They don’t see through
like we do

Thanks for teaching me manners,
That conversation with your hostess is never
better than your words
with servers of hors d’oeuvres

Thank you for the music knack
the restless spirit, the lifelong struggle
And if I learn it
Let me earn it

Love, Amer

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

dverse Poetry Pub wanted us to harken back to the age of writing letters. I’ve been writing more letters lately, if only to help the struggling post office. But writing a letter to someone dear who’s dead is a challenge.

I write about Blanche, my maternal grandmother, a lot. Gone for some 50 years, I still feel her presence in my life. She had that knack of talking to people where they were, no matter what race, gender orientation… she spoke truth to power and often ending up in a cruel sanitarium for doing so. She is my HERO. God rest your soul, Blanche. Love, Amy

This is also “in the margins” at my poetic lily pad, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.


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


Diva Heart in Denial

Her heart was not one that accepts age as
progress toward wisdom a crown of silver
Hot flashes were mere preludes

In tinny wraps, her stylish tinted glints of
highlights, long tresses still brisking bare shoulders
in waves of tragic peroxide passion

The insidious flaps under arms, on her belly,
her lazy limbs and gut splitskinned and resewn
A Bonwit Teller Raggedy Ann

French tip the perfect nails; affix false lashes:
Color her vivid. Boy Toy Nick not allowed to drift far
He stands flexed, assurance of her youth, her comeliness

She will not go gentle into that good night
but brittle, breakable, frightened, but
always with a mirror at hand

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For the Sunday Whirl (Wordle belw; thanks, Brenda!) and Trifecta, which wanted a poem about heart as personality or disposition. Also at my poetic salon, where we’re all GORgeous, Poets United. I’ve known women of means who have had their faces lifted so many times, their noses begin to turn inside out, a slight ring around each nostril.


Real Women

Real women have curves
nerves of tempered steel
Watching promotions
granted to men of
lesser talent,
their hearts stolen by
lesser loves
until…

Real women revel in truth,
revive opinions stifled
again and again,
say their piece and
back it up with actions.

Some women shape the future
by giving the world
the next wild, willful
generation of humanity,
nurturing and guiding.

Others act as guides,
spiritual doulas,
friends who also nurture
the character of those children.
The Aunties Extraordinaire.

Real women love.
We love to love.
To make love, to share body and soul.
Even when swallowed by self-doubt,
surfacing with the pliable beauty
of sirens,
assured,
assuring,
ascendant.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Photo from History Central, archival shot of the inimitable Mae West, who once said, “No man ever loved me like I love myself.”
For dverse Open Mic Night, because real women ROCK!


Please be sure to read the explanation at the bottom of this post; otherwise, I’ll have every single stay-at-home mom mad at me, and that’s not my intention!! Peace and an Oreo dipped in milk, Amy

Housewife Envy*

I have always envied housewives.
Each morning, pulling crisp aprons
from drawers under counters crowded
with kids’ art awaiting a place on the fridge.
Willing the bacon to crisp, flipping
hotcakes on a Revere-ware skillet.
Had I but known that it only took
one drunken prom night spree in
the back of his souped-up Chevrolet,
just blooming at the shotgun wedding…

I, too, could include myself in the
year-round bliss of Tupperware parties;
Bloody-Mary-and-Bridge afternoons;
summer months spent gazing out the
window watching our neighborhood’s
rowdy, mud-caked munchkins until
Fall. Then, one by one, my own brood
would thrill to new lunchboxes and
come home smelling of crayons and
some other kid’s egg salad sandwich…

I wish I’d realized that to spurn those
high-school advances of Jimmy Parker
was like shredding my ticket to ride;
I would not feel so darned ignorant now.
Housewives get all the real news from
their husbands, entertainment from TV.
They subtract their own little extras from
the shopping list to stick to the budget,
and the only balls they need are made of
cotton, to wipe off Noxzema each night.

But here in this smoke-filled piano bar,
as another twenty drops in my tip jar, I
abandon the sting of this jealousy and
face reality: I’m stuck traveling to cities
like Hamilton, Bermuda, wearing a daring
cut-down-to-there number, making my
way in the world. Always on the move,
waiting for the crowd to feed me their
electricity through our mutual umbilical
cord of jazz, wisecracks, and dry martinis.

If I were a housewife, I would be pampered,
cared for, and I’d only have to spread my legs
once in a while and put up with the sting of
unschooled sex. I might wonder about the
uncertain lives of girls like me, who constantly
have to update their passports, who buy their
own jewelry from this year’s collection, who
hustle their way through airports to catch a
plane to the next destination, the next show…
If only I were a housewife, I’d be lucky.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
*IMPORTANT NOTE: I hold the greatest respect for mothers who are able to stay at home with their children; in fact, I consider it the most noble of pursuits. The “housewives” moniker is insulting to me as a feminist, because I believe staying at home is a viable CHOICE among many choices. But a prompt is a prompt, and since the poem presumes that all stay-at-home moms do is sit on their asses eating bonbons, sucking up booze, and watching soaps, I will accept all criticism. Please know that, after my years as a single working mother, I was indeed envious of moms who could be with their kids after school.

For Trifecta, “tongue in cheek,” and The Sunday Whirl: Housewives, Months, Year, Ignorant, Subtracting, Sting, Rind, Balls, Fall, Drawers, Spurn, Electricity.


To my friends,

Just so you’ll understand my absence, my computer has been giving me the Blue Screen of Death (followed by The “Blue” Screams of Amy) and it’s going to have a Time Out at the repair shop.

Thanks to all for their prayers during yesterday’s second, third, fourth, and fifth mammograms, which reveal NOTHING!  “Old Leftie” is clean as the proverbial whistle.  Amen.  Thanks also to Carolyn for her wonderful advice (as expressed in “You’re EEEEK!  uh…”) and thank God I didn’t need most of it… this time.

Please say a prayer tonight for all the uninsured, who are unable to breeze into the clinic knowing they have insurance coverage like ours.  Pray for a national health plan that covers everyone… and if you have to give up your cosmetic surgery so that some kid doesn’t have to die from whooping cough, think about it… isn’t it worth that much?  Health care is a RIGHT, not a privilege.  We spend a thousand times more on bombing Afghanistan (and yes, Iran is next) into the Stone Age than we spend on health care.  Tea Party, please research, thanks.

See you in a few, and again, thanks for your support.  I love you all madly, as The Duke would say.  Peace, Amy


FREE SPIRIT SPEAKS

You knew this about me before we first met
True, I’m your companion, but nobody’s pet

No leash will I wear, nor “She Is Mine” collar
So what, when I wander, gives you right to holler?

Can’t Alpha Male Tantrum me into submission
Rant all you want to, but it’s my tradition

A part of my birthright – we’re radical women
His water is warmer… and I’m goin’ swimmin’

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For dverse Form For All: Framed Couplets (first and last words must rhyme in each couplet!)

Also at my poetic hearth and home, Poets United.

Photo courtesy of Superstock.com, providing free images (for the time being!).


From A Wordling Whirl of Sundays, Brenda Warren’s creation.  Prompt words in bold.  Also at my poetry resting and nesting place, Poets United. Peace to all, Amy

Renata’s Scarves

Renata’s scarves hold exotic stories.
One reveals a temple, columns casting shadow on light.

A gossamer veil with sparks in its threads
etches a pattern that glints when held to the lamp.

But the most telling of all:
A tangled sky-blue sheath, slit down the center,
where his knife cut clear to her thighbone.

Demons and diamonds,
serpents and stardust.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil