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

Tag Archives: Anticipation

Teacher Says

There was only one reason really to think about
going into fifth grade and start smiling about it

I was getting Mr. Hansen, the teacher I was hoping for

I’ve seen him in his classroom
so tall
so handsome
that five o’clock shadow always, even in the morning
like Don Draper
(Mom tapes Mad Man and I sneak peeks)

I sat up on hot summer nights
imagining chalk sliding across the board
in smoooooooth strokes
It gave me shivers, wishing the chalk was his hand
and I was the chalkboard

School started and I wore my new earrings
because Mom let me pierce my ears for my birthday

Last Thursday afternoon, I asked for extra help
with math – we’re starting to study all the different angles
(My sister calls me obtuse but I still don’t understand why)

He smiled and I could tell he liked that I asked him
For a few minutes, at his desk, just the two of us
Then he brushed his hand on my leg and said,
You shave your legs. That’s pretty grown-up of you.
I blushed and muttered thank you and tingled all over

We’re gonna do the math thing once a week
He said he’s got a way to show me how right angles work
but I shouldn’t tell anybody because the other girls
might get jealous, you know how young girls are, he said
I said, don’t worry, it’ll be our secret

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Wrote this today, no prompt, just something that was in that huge grab-bag of scraps I keep by my desk.  It’s like Felix the Cat’s Bag of Tricks – I reach in, pull out a few scribbles, and expand one of the thoughts into a complete poem.  Such is the work of this poet.  It will, as always, be on Poets United, the poets’ collective.  Peace, Amy

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

Honeymoon and Garlic (Writer’s Isle, Sun. Scribs)
Drove upstate after The Big Date…
Honeymooning in the most
romantic, exotic destination
his heart could conjure:
A state park near Ithaca, NY.
(I knew this was the beginning of the end.)

My idea of camping is:
Where do I plug in my hair dryer?
Dire situation: Pitching the tent
(bitching to myself about the
rocky terrain. And the park.
I had definite ideas about tent poles.
In general and in specific.
Now he was bossing me around
telling me how I had the doohickeys
upside down, here, let ME do it,
like it takes Einstein or a similar genius
(meaning him) to put the damned thing together.
My betrothed, until death do us part
(until I strangle him, I’m already thinking).

Stoking the fire with damp wood –
smoking grey and choking the cook (moi),
I began begetting dinner.
A large pot for boiling water.
A skillet, olive oil shimmered as
garlic and onion swam
in the hot, shallow pool.
Clams next; a pat of butter.

Folks at the next campsite stared.
Dad yelled, “What the hell ya cookin’?
Sure smells good!” But he was kinda snarky about it.
I chirped back, “Linguine with white clam sauce,”
shaking a bottle of homemade vinaigrette
to drizzle over crisp romaine.
Guffaws from the the old fart as he
shook his head. Then he whispered,
loud enough for me to hear,
“City folk,” burning his mystery meat wieners
on the disgusting camp grill.

His wife looked to me with longing,
grinning her approval at my audacity.
I shrugged back, as if to say, You pitched your tent,
now you have to eat his wieners.
(My husband had ridiculed my choice
of uppity food, no gratitude. He did like
the Corelle plates, environmentally correct.
But he didn’t help clean up, just meandered off
to commune with nature
or talk to some animal who understood him.)

Unzipping the “honeymoon suite”
for a 3 a.m. leak in the bushes,
I gazed at the pinspot-littered sky.
“Why?” I whispered to God.
“Why did I just sign up for a divorce?”

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Sunday Scribblings, the call was for the theme “manifesto.” This seems apropos as we approach the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am killer-diller of all manifesto proclamation days… you know what I’m talking about: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!


No matter what the resolution
I always messed it up
I confess, I’m mistress of the
revolution against New Year’s promises
all broken by Valentine’s Day

That year of the grapefruit diet
I fainted in the street
Lack of protein, said the doctor
Thus began the evolution of my desire
to quash sad manifestos

Friends who “will quit smoking on January first”
Suck ‘em up Dec. 31
Like a junkie determined to
wrench the monkey from his back
but keeps the tourniquet as a memento

Gyms are packed that first week of the year
Then one by one, they peel off
petals of a fading rose
that shrivels for lack of water
or that packet of crap you’re supposed to dissolve in the vase

Let’s face it.
New Year’s resolutions are
useless self-sabotage
Setting yourself up for failure
before the hangover even kicks in

(c) 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Well, I did manage to sneak on Poetic Asides (click on today’s prompt to see others’ work), as well as Jingle and Sunday Scribblings this week. So in the midst of my move, here is my take on Robert’s prompt: RECEIPT. Apropos, no? Peace, Amy


TO: Poetic Asides and my blogging buddies
RE: Receipt of my intent to change locales

To Poetic Asides, to all I have befriended
No matter where I am, my journey with you
has not ended, nor will it

But God has called my Pastor Lex to a new place
To do a “new thing,” as is his calling
From cold, snowy Attica
To colder, blistering Madison, WI
Moving in Mid-January:

This shows that God possesses not only a
great sense of humor
But a well-developed sense of irony as well
(Jews knew that already)

While I shall remain scarce until
the move is completed, I will check in
from time to time. PA is my “fix” when
life mixes turmoil with tinsel
and thunder with a lightening of spirit

May you all have a blessed Christmas
A peaceful Hanukkah (where the heck is my dreidel?)
…and a happy Festuvus (for the rest of us)
No matter what your reason for celebrating this season
pray for peace above all

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Meaning no disrespect to The Reason For The Season; simply pointing out that most folks have all but forgotten why they celebrate Christmas in the first place. My one cynical Christmas poem, dedicated to the true memory of that feisty, loving, prophetic man who started out a babe in rags.


Have yourself a merry little American Christmas
where mall-bound mauling marauding shoppers claw for
the latest imported Chinese toys
lead-laced crap for girls and boys

O little town of Bethlehem
creeping with hordes of consumers
No visions of Visa bills dancing in their heads
They’re masters of their MasterCards

Mary, did you know your baby boy
has turned into an excuse for excess
for booming business, parental stress
the backbone of a spineless economy

Joy to the world! The Lord & Taylor window
has a “holiday display” with Santa and reindeer
Deck the hall with Hallmarks from family and friends
and other folks we forget about the rest of the year

A day to plow through a thousand presents
overturn overstuffed stockings
stuff ourselves til we crash in front of
the new 52-inch plasma TV we bought on credit
It’s a wonderful life

Crosby Christmas never ceases
but for God’s sake
please don’t mention Jesus

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

My old friend George is about to embark on a journey most of us would envy… the kind where, when we’re old and sitting in a nursing home with a bib catching our drool, we rasp, “I should’ve done that, taken that trip, dropped it all and gone off to discover why I’m here and what life could have been.”

He stopped off for a last visit with Lex and me before liftoff. I scribbled these lines in hopes that he has a safe voyage and finds what he’s looking for… or it finds him!  Godspeed, my courageous brother.


Can there be
a better place
than what’s around the bend?

Goodbye once again,
and cramming into
his car, fairly brimming with

all the necessities.
A few luxuries:
DVDs to play once there

Sojourning toward Someday,
Will it end,
this road, this exquisite journey?

Or will he
touch down lightly
where peace and love collide?

Where he feels
alive at last.
At present, tense – but future…

Don’t give up
on these dreams
of belonging in the world.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This came from a “wordle,” a group of words you can form into a block of art; to create one yourself, click HERE.

Thanks to whichever poet’s blog contained the block (and I apologize that you remain anonymous, I was all over the place today).   I can’t reproduce it here, but all the words from the block are in bold. Enjoy! Amy

FIRST TIME (wordle)

Smoldering like an ash-pit and
lush with promise, but
clunky teenage moves
His one hand, awake, cupped my breast
The other was passed out under my back
then resurfaced to hold my head for
a quick nibble at that well-hung boy
The First Time


Last night slumped in an armchair
A barely lucid lump of woman
Juiced up on cough syrup to quell
the oncoming bronchial nasties

This morning, hastily dressing for church
Chipper, ready to play both carols
and hipper tunes for kids as they
pieced together ornaments for the church’s tree

Tomorrow is whatever it will be
Be it fancy free or down in the dumps
Crummy weather or fair smattering of sun, it’s still
the gray matter under my gray hair that gets the final say

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil