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

Plaster Cracks

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

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

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

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

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 (Words Count, Toads)

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

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.

The Man Who Mistook Jesus For An A.T.M.

THE MAN WHO MISTOOK JESUS FOR AN A.T.M.

And he makes a good living
Preaches the Gospel of Abundance
like it’s all about actual money

Mistakes manna for mammon
Money managers for martyrs when they
lose it all in the latest crash

Dave says the poor have bad habits
Tosses Bible verses like piñata candy to the
starving, staring sycophants who pay for the privilege

Dave is so white in his chambray shirt
(Get it, he’s a blue-collar guy with
a blue-blood bank account, all cash)

But being white is a given in his world
Because Jesus was clearly a white Christian
who whispered the Holy Password to Dave

Dave can unlock the Vault for y’all
But first, like it was with the Pharisees, you have to
change your money at the temple door and

sacrifice to a False Idol in denim

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads gave us Oliver Sacks; rather, his titles serve as a jumping-off point for our poems today. YES! While I will always question the presumed wisdom of psychiatrists, there is room for a little Dr. Sacks in my world. Of course, it was The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat that caught my eye.

Dave Ramsay is a shyster who once had some very good ideas about paying down debt, but that quickly morphed into a pseudo-preaching addiction. We took a seminar, and it helped, but there was a lot of Fundie crap to ignore. And Dave himself, a blowhard of the first degree… who would not recognize White Privilege if it bit him on his Dockers.

I was going to write something along the lines of The Candidate Who Mistook Me For Someone Who Gives a Shit, but the Republicans have gotten too much ink…

Amy

SONG: Livin’ On The Minimum Wage

Livin’ on the Minimum Wage
© 2014 Music & Lyrics by Amy Barlow Liberatore/Beehat Baby Words & Music
Dedicated to the fight for economic justice in the USA

CHORUS:
Livin’ on the minimum wage
Slavin’ for the man who don’t need more
Bet he never felt what it’s like to be poor
My life’s a story of this sad age
I’m livin’ – givin’ – livin’ on the minimum wage

St. Vinny pray for me and mine
Jeans and sneaks and hoodies I’ve gotta find
Squeezin’ every dollar ‘til the eagle screams
Fight in pantry lines for the rice and beans
Where’s my golden ticket? Want a golden ticket!
Where’s my golden ticket? Need a golden ticket!

CHORUS

Does my congressman know what it means
WalMart and McDonald’s don’t pay beans
Put ‘em all together, it’s full-time work
If my kids get sick, then my boss is a jerk
“Doncha got a sitter? You should have a sitter!”
If I had the money… SURE I’d have a sitter!

CHORUS

Waitin’ in the clinic with the kids today
Cut off my Medicaid, now I’ve gotta pay
Why they tryin’ to tell me I make too much
Daycare, rent, food, gas, and such
Man, they make it harder. Why they make it harder?
Life is getting harder… I won’t be a martyr!

CHORUS

I wrote this song (think “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” vibe for music… sorry, I don’t have a recording) for a Justice and Witness Ministries event at our United Church of Christ here in Madison, WI.  Have we all worked minimum wage/maximum effort jobs?  Sure, in our teens, our twenties, maybe… But nowadays, I see parents, grandparents, all slaving for a buck.

We need to do better by our workers.  This is America, a country of immigrants who seem to have forgotten that we stole the whole deal from the Tribal Nations and then “imported” human beings like cattle to build it up for free.  We need to regain a sense of humility and compassion.  That’s my Labor Day prayer.

For ABC Wednesday, I for Income Inequality!  Amy

Studio Quandary (ekphrastic)

STUDIO QUANDARY

Not what I thought I’d paint this day
Not at all, the dizzying colors and
figures from last night’s dream

I tossed the covers
Stirred the maid from her rest
Even woke my wife in the next room

A dragon gave chase and I
was naked screaming running
Bare and barely missing his fiery, explosive tongue

Now the dream is slowing settling on wood
The creature and my whirling flaccid flesh
And a phrase I still don’t understand: Barney & Friends

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Imaginary Garden of Real Toads gave us this Rembrandt, “Artist in His Studio.” I put myself in his cobbled boots and decided to give him a little scare… and myself a chuckle! Amy