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

Tag Archives: Beginnings

Two for ABC Wednesday.  Two divergent subjects:  Innocence and Iniquity.  First, free verse; second, another “snowball poem,” with a descending number of syllables, one through ten.  Don’t ask me why, but this form has me spellbound. Thanks to Joseph Harker for letting me know the name of the form!


Welcome to the world
little wonder, who
worked her way
from my womb,
winding through the waterslide
into the waiting hands
of a woman who already knew
we two would make it work
without him.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil



a witch,
there’s no doubt.
Vipers emerge
from her mouth; venom
paralyzing those who
get in her way, considered
inconvenient or bothersome.
You’d never guess, beneath her perfect
new frock lies a heart cold as charity.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Also posted at the poets’ collective, Poets United

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

At We Write Poems, a prompt went out: Write a poem about writing a poem. You never know when or where the inspiration will strike. I’ve long since given up on sitting down and deciding to produce something… and yet, the more I write, the more I want to write!

This poem is also posted at Writer’s Island, where I’m posting daily for National Poetry Writing Month. Amy

Prelude to a Poem

Teapot screams meeeeeEEEEEEEE
demanding attention
Drip of the French Press into the mug
Pressing grounds through as
ground falls from under my feet
taking me back to that cafe in the Village where…

Drifting with the breeze down State Street
Lots of UW students hang and hacky-sack here
Whole lives ahead of them
One potent whiff of a fattie gives me
a contact high and suddenly I’m on Venice Beach…

We march in solidarity with unions at
Madison’s Capitol Dome
The golden statue atop is called Miss Forward
The governor inside is called Mister Backward
My anger at injustice boils inside my gut
I plop down on the pavement and start to
scribble on the back of my sign…

Startled awake, sweating, full-body tremble
recalling those nights when
a little girl was tucked in tight until
HE decided it was her turn
I switch on the light – it’s NOW, dammit, not THEN!
I pick up a pen…

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Carry On Tuesday gave us an interesting prompt: Somewhere within our poem, we were supposed to use the phrase, “But that is the beginning of a new story.” I decided to write an account – only the names and genders of kids have been changed – of an actual story, told to Buffalo’s DIVA by DIVA: A Celebration of Women, a group of “gals” who glitz up and tell stories, sing songs, and raise funds for Cornerstone Manor, run by a wonderful woman named in the poem.

Learn more about Cornerstone Manor, and maybe even throw a few bucks their way!  Trust me, it’s worth every penny you can spare: CLICK HERE.

Gimme Shelter

Two girls with this man, and he let her bring her boy into the family.
He was so righteous (at first), so good with her son (before the whippings),
and kind to the girls (she caught him, that was the breaking point).

He had been the answer to her every prayer, the man of her dreams.
Now she realized that, with some prayers, the devil tends to
listen in on the party line, get in on the action.

Nowadays he nightly, neatly folded up their clothes, seized their shoes,
and put them under lock and key before going out to party every night.
This ensured his family would be there when he decided to come home.

This night, she could only see with the one eye not swollen shut.
He shut her up real good before slamming the door behind him
and going out to party with who knows who, who knows where.

Her son, still awake, said, “Mom, enough, OK?”
He’d tried to pry them apart; now, blood dripped slowly
down his chin, like a leaky faucet. He’d tried his best.

He was just sprouting his first proud whiskers and
thought he could take on The Big Man, but he found out
it wasn’t gonna happen. Not this year. He hugged his mother.

So they woke up the girls, wrapped themselves in bedsheets,
pried open the side window, and climbed out. Their feet fell
into three inches of Buffalo February, brutal snow and ice.

Mom carried baby Keesha and her son offered Kendra
a piggy back ride, sacrificing his own natural speed
to take on the growing five-year-old as his load.

They made their way to the women’s shelter two miles away.
Mom rang the bell and Dr. Laura (not that woman on the radio, thank God)
hustled them inside and drew the blinds. She called for help.

Soon, they were covered in blankets; their feet were washed
in warm water (Jesus washed his disciples’ feet). Injuries were
tended to (when I was sick…) and clothing found (when I was naked…).

This shelter for battered women and children had no scheduled
“date of departure”; families left when they were ready. In days to come,
the girls let go of some of the trauma and began to play with others.

Her son enrolled in a new middle school, hoping
he could stay under the radar and not be found by his stepdad.
And if found, he vowed not to give up his mom’s location.

Mom chats with her peers – they’ve all been there. Now they
begin classes on computers; they are coached for interviews
and given donated professional clothes for a new start.

These miracles are the blessings of Cornerstone Manor.
She found work downtown. Soon, her survival skills showed
a unique talent for relating to others facing trouble.

“What about social work?” she thought, as she leafed through
pamphlets for local community education programs.
But that is the beginning of a whole new story…

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This is another double prompt, courtesy of two sites from Poets United: Poetry Tow Truck (my first time there) wanted a poem based on the beginning and ending words (in caps), two lines from “At the Doll Hospital” by Robin Ekiss (from the book The Mansion of Happiness) which, when read vertically, form a full sentence. That’s the best I can do in the way of explanation… just go with it!

Also on the Poets United page, I found Sepia Saturday, and these both blend to fit the poem that follows (sorry, I can’t figure out how to recreate the picture here, but if you follow the link you’ll see it there!). Enjoy. Amy
Blanche and Bill

AMONG the regulars at the café, WHERE
SOphie and Ruth frequently stopped, their friend WILL
(MANY girls fancied him) met Ruth’s sister, Blanche. SHE,
EYES big and brown, was considered a real FIND.
FIXED them up, Sophie did, bless HER.
IN June the Blanche and Bill forever sealed their TENDERNESS.
GLASS covers their wedding portrait, where they look a bit grim,
but they laughed the same laugh and loved like no couple since.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil Continue reading

At Writer’s Island, the prompt is “Foretell.” This is my second of two! Enjoy a true moment… Amy


pulls up an ankle sock and
turns to the grown musicians

“In B Flat,” she whispers, “one-two-three-“
and launches into “K-K-K-Katy”
Two choruses, much applause

She’s found her spot:
Face to the crowd, in front of the band
Selling the song

No fortune teller could have read her palm
Nor Tarot deck have been laid
any better than this

© 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 Jingle Poetry, we were asked to write about AMBITIONS. Having just moved to a new city and state (state of mind as well as geographical), I’m ALL ambition this week! Enjoy, Amy (PS What a month to move to Madison, WI! Super Bowl champs, but most importantly – no one was seriously injured. Amen.)

Making it Home

Boxes unpacked
Stuff sorta stored
Cat comfortably curled in
his new niche

Even the throw rugs and
coffee paraphernalia
have found their place

Pictures yet to hang,
but that takes
thoughtful placement
and permission from the wall
to be pierced by a nail

But until tonight,
as we snuggled in the delicious intimacy
of true lovers,
jigsaw pieces in a perfect fit,
this apartment was not Home.

(c) 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

At the Poets United Thursday Think Tank, we were asked to put forth a poem about forgiveness…


Humbly consider your own part
in whatever caused the rift

Take a breath before you start
Don’t allow your words to drift

Take the blame for your wrongdoing
Let the person hear your sin

Silence, key to real renewing
God forgiving, God within

This time may not seal the deal
ending in a warm embrace

But if you want the wounds to heal
You’re started at the perfect place

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil