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

Tag Archives: Christianity

Now and Then

New guy on the block.
He sits at an outside table and
eyes my scarf with the absolute contempt
usually reserved for racists and politicians.

(Hmmm. I grab a coffee,
sit at a table near him, knowing he’ll
start talking. Everyone does, with me.)
He starts right in with

“Do you know I am Armenian?”
No, I didn’t, cuz we’ve never met.
C’mon over and sit awhile with me. I’m Amy.

“I’m Armand. Do you know about
scarf you wear? You should.”
No, tell me about it, please, Armand.

“That scarf is from Muslims.
Same pattern Arafat wore, that dog.”
Yes, I know, but what does that have to –

“Many years ago, Muslims drove
Christians out of Armenia. You wear
this symbol like it’s just a scarf.”

(I reflect on Freud. Sometimes a scarf is just a – )

“Where you buy that thing?” he spits.
On the street in New York, from
a really nice homeless guy. Besides,
it’s cotton and I’m allergic to wool, so –

“Well, it off-fends me grrr-reatly,” he stammers,
“I wish you take it off. Glad Mama not here.”
Come inside the café with me, then, it’s cold out here.

(We sit; I’ve bought us a round and some pastries.
He was stuttering before; now he’s calmer.)

Why does my wearing this upset you?
“It reminds me of the atrocities.”

Tell me more, cuz I’ve never heard about this.
“They don’t teach Armenian Genocide in school here?”

Um, no.
“Figures. OK. In 1915, Muslims tie Armenians
together with rope, march them into desert. Leave
them to die. They rape many women, throw
babies into river, shoot fathers in front of families.”

Good Lord, I didn’t know that.
Did your mother lose people?
“Parents, the sister, brothers, many cousins.
She still light candles for them.”

I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine…

(We sit in silence, bonding over strong java.
He is teacher; I am student.
I slide the scarf into my purse, for now.
Later, I’ll head for the library.)

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Armand was right. In 1915, extremists who called themselves Muslims (note the distinction between my phrase and the media’s “Muslim extremists.” There is a world of difference, just as the most radical members of the Christian Right should be called “extremists who call themselves Christians”) emptied whole villages in the region called Armenia, long a haven for Christians in the Middle East. The atrocities were not deemed strategically important enough for America to intervene; even the British ambassador could not urge England to do anything.

The Armenian Genocide served as a “blueprint” for the plans of a failed art student from Austria to foment terror against many “others,” including Jews, gay men and lesbians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, those with mental disorders, and on and on. His name was Aloys Schicklgruber, but we know him better as Adolf Hitler.

As for the scarf, Armand and I continued conversing until he understood that I was not wearing it as a political statement. He also thanked me for learning more about the Genocide, because, as a homeless man from another country, he is usually disregarded.

The Turkish government steadfastly refuses to apologize for the incident; in fact, they fund many American colleges where Turkish professors teach revisionist history.

An Existentialist Speaks

We’re all in it


Alphabet pasta bits
swirling in chicken broth

A sand dune of human grains
awhirl, subject to
the wind’s whimsy

A night sky filled with wandering stars

Stasis in motion

We do what we must in our
earthly bodies without regard for
The Big Judgement fairy tale

Some argue that life without God
is meaningless
a void

They seem so sure and
squint hostilely at
my assertion that
all of that “redemption” crap
is pointless as a salt lick
on the I-90

Mom thinks I’m worse than
an atheist; she’s worried
I didn’t pay attention in
catechism class.

She’s right.

Lost in the stars
We’re all in it


© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

NaPoWriMo #3, for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, where Kerry asked for poems about Existentialism. Also, Three Word Wednesday gave us Argue, Lick, and Squint. Kim at Verse First for Poets United wanted poems with a “body” theme, whether a group or a single body. I hope I gave her both!

Existentialism is far from my own path, but I can see how people become isolated, believing there is no God, no consequence in the end, no hereafter, and no particular reason to have faith in anything.  I can’t get my mind around it completely, but I gave it a try!