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

Tag Archives: Apalachin

Where I’m Comin’ From

Look back at the burbs
White enclave; promise of the GI Bill
Manicured lawns, manacled wives who
drank a dram during the drudgery of
The Soap Trinity (Laundry, Dishes, The Edge of Night)
We were their kids, who tried not to notice

We ran scattersplat wild and messy as anything
Hair flying, legs booblaboobla gearing up to race
Kickball, swimming, badminton in a harsh breeze
Barbies hunted Nazis in the woods (we had badass dollies)
Anything was possible; everyone was some shade of pale
…except when my family hosted a jazz party

Singin’ & Sippin’ – white was not a prerequisite
for fitting in; all that mattered was the lushlife music
Screw being eight, ditch that perfect smooth hopscotch stone
Pocket a church key, cuz beer bottles will need opening
and the grownups’ll be too drunk to open their own
Time for goldenbronze fortunes to be shouted and whispered

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
The prompt at dverse Poets was “Where Are Your From?” We all wrote a poem about the soil from which each of us sprang. Mine dawdled at home base for our kickball game; but eventually, I found my way to the party. And in all honesty, once I’d found it, my heart never left! Amy

Little Amy Squnting 001


No, it’s not Appalachia
It’s Apalachin
Like apple achin’
In the sticks, with
cows munchin’ grass
over back of Lisa’s house

Kitty caught a mouse
and laid it under
the rear tire of our car
The guts went squishin’
I’m wishin’ Beth was there
She’s one for the messy stuff

There was a mob meeting
years ago, the REAL mob,
the Mafia, on the other side
of town and police raided them
for tax stuff, I dunno, but
Mom says we got a reputation

The Klan was real busy
two towns over, and Mom said
they are fools who wear
dunce caps and I think she’s
right because she’s always right
and you better know that…

Otherwise, you get The Squint
or get called “Sadie” or
worst of all, really, is when
she says, “T’ain’t funny, McGee,”
(some old radio show) and then
you know you’re in trouble, kiddo

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

dverse called for poems that are uniquely ours. This is I, the queen of lofty speech, speaking from the front yard of 55 Brookside Avenue, Apalachin, New York, in 1962. (I was already scared of cameras, afraid they’d flash; early sign of PTSD.) The only thing I couldn’t get in was Mom’s Midwestern way of saying “roots” and “roof” with a short “oo.”

Also “in the margins” at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and Poets United. Peace, Amy

Blanche, Ruth, Grandma Herrick 001
Grandma Blanche, Ruth’s mom, and Ruth, “back in the day”

Rasslin’ and Roller Derby with Ruthie

She’s two glasses into
Dad’s homemade saki
and it’s only noon.
“Gettem! Crushem!”

Auntie Ruth, banging on her tray,
rocking her wheelchair with
with fearsome might, and she’s
pretty tight. Saturday Rassling.

“That fight, we shoulda had
money on it, Amer,” she smiles.
I’m 12 and her best companion
since she moved in with the family.

“Where’s the National IN-quirer?”
I wave it and remind her, “First,
Roller Derby, then, the world news.”
Time for Joanie Weston, Amazon.

Old-school roller derby, women
big as fridges scooting, scrapping,
scraped up and bruised. Unlike the
rassling, these girls are out for blood.

“That Joanie must be hell on her husband,”
she snickers, clicking her false teeth.
“One more snort, Amer.” I fill her
punch cup with Dad’s toxic moonshine.

“Ruthie, something tells me Joanie Weston
isn’t married,” I offer. “You remember
Aunt Frank?” Frances, the loner sister in
cowboy boots with a femme friend.

“Yup. You think it’s that way with
Joanie?” I nod assuredly. “Well,” says
Ruthie thoughtfully, “then I hope she has
a nice girlfriend, like Frankie did.” Wink.

Roller Derby ends; Joanie and her team are
victorious once again. “And now,” parking
my sneaks on a table, “The evening news.”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image from Amy’s collection; please do not copy family photos.

Another from Mom’s side of the family, the irrepressible Ruth Stoll, sister of Grandma Blanche Laughlin. Auntie Ruth moved in with us after her 98-year-old mother died. Ruthie would get so potted on saki that all the wooden baseboards were scratched up from bad steering!  She was a pistol and kept the whole family hopping, especially on penny-ante poker night (we used the same pennies over and over again and put them back in the cup when we were done).

For ABC Wednesday (R) and my two poetic roller rinks, Poets United and Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.