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

Tag Archives: Country Life

Summer Treasures Remembered

Silence is for remembrance, thoughts of her childhood.

Summers… The dappled pony on Aunt Beth’s farm, riding at a canter back to the house. Shucking corn, peeling skin from squash, separating rind from dead-ripe melons. The tang of lemonade, made from scratch. Braised ribs from Moody, the steer who kicked and broke her wrist. Dinners on a platter; breakfast straight from Grandma’s cast-iron skillet.

There was no tomorrow, at least not until Ma came to collect her and the boys, back to the fast-paced, grimy city, home.

She switches gears to five years ago when, after careful moral inventory, she chose. Rejecting city life for the solace of the country cloister. Truth is transitory; choosing the habit over skinny jeans, long sleeves over skimpy T’s. Her chestnut hair fluttered to the floor, shorn like a sheep at Beth’s farm. Her simple cell: table with wash basin, lamp, bed, cross overhead.

A final goodbye to family as she enters the authenticity of spiritual life, simplicity over audacity. Ma lingers at the cloister gate, remembers how little Sandy (now Sister Joan) took catechism class so seriously. Sister Joan smiles from two floors above, then joins her order in preparing a home-cooked dinner to be driven into town for the homeless.

Shuck, peel, braise, remember.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This was for Kerry O’Connor’s Get Listed at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads; words can be found HERE. Yes, I took liberties with the word “malinger,” but hey, my Iroquois name would be “Plays With Words.”  Kerry said to use two or three, but I went to town and used ’em all!

My BFF, John, was at one time a brother in the Franciscan Order; later, he became a priest. Now he’s thoroughly enjoying life as an ex-priest/healthcare worker, moonlighting as a piano bar player in Philadelphia. Man, John can SING. He even performed “New York, New York” at his ordination party (including key change, per his instructions to the band). Peace, Amy


Wonder, Wander

Young girl lies in tall grass
loves seeing flowers from underneath
Queen Anne’s lace, a parasol in sunshine
Timothy grass swinging above her
She wonders why buttercups shine thing
under her skinny chin

Mother looks out the back window
at her daughter and wonders where
life will take her in ten years
Will she also marry and submerge
in the suburbs, eager for her next drink

Billy finds Ginny in the field
Offers her a bite of his apple
“Ha,” says Ginny, “you’re Eve”
He grins, lies down beside her
innocently, wondering
when he will be attracted to girls

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Poets United Think Tank Thursday, the prompt was “Wonder.”
For Trifecta: Three 33-word stanzas, each describing the thoughts of one person connected to the next. I chose the situation each was in, mirrored against the naivete of youth versus the bitter truth of the suburban housewife. This is me, my Mom, and my best friend, John (who finally figured it out: Never!)

Another take on the Writer’s Island prompt, Embark. The journey many of us would love to undertake.


O, to travel through time…

To the Harlem of Langston Hughes
To feel jazz wash over me and see
faces reflecting the culture of America

To the never-was Wessex of Hardy
To view broad expanses of countryside
and drink warm ale wearing home-sewn clothing

To trace the footsteps of Jesus, follow his sandals
to the lake share, witness the dropping of nets,
the spark of belief in a widow’s face

To occupy even the worst seat at a concert
featuring Jacqueline du Pre or Glenn Gould
To see Billie at Carnegie; Judy at the Palace

To hear firsthand Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”
echoing through every hidden corner of
streets in the Beats’ Greenwich Village

O, to travel through time!

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Sometimes you get a prompt from a blog… sometimes from the moon above. Peace to you all, Amy


Solstice birthed a full moon
A bulging butternut squash
cleaved open to reveal pale orange flesh

No bleak midwinter’s night, this
My world illuminated by moonbeams
peeking through slits of hastily closed drapes

The moon reminds me of life
Life waiting its turn under downy blankets of snow
Life in stars half hidden by a light cloud cover

Life behind facades of houses on Main
as I make my way back from the market
where bored cashiers wish me “Happy Holidays”

Life beyond this Moon and beneath it
To be lived gratefully, audaciously, fully
with a child’s abandon and faith in tomorrow

(c) 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This is a poem from my first, self-published chapbook, DANCE GROOVE FUNHOUSE, available now! Read details to the right to order one for yourself! (Shameless self-promotion) Amy



Lazing after lush, lazy sleep I am
awakened by a lark
perched beneath my bedroom window
serenading me of the day to come
Thank you, God, for this blessing
the wakeup call from heaven
Birdsong on a Saturday morning


Working 9-5
Long into the night, I tossed and turned 3 a.m.
The alarm will grant me 6:45
Then it starts
That stinking bird
Sackful of crap that will undoubtedly be dispensed
on my windshield
If only I had
an airgun

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For this Sunday’s prompt, we were asked to write about the harvest season. I gazed at a picture of Riley playing in fall leaves during her first Autumn, and the words fell like the proverbial fall leaves. Please check in at Sunday Scribblings to see other poets! Amy


She was three
and had never seen falling leaves
never heard the crunch as crumpled tossaways
made munching sounds under her feet

“Mommy, where is the sand?”
Ah, Puerto Rico
The only land she had known thusfar
We had moved back to my hometown

“The beach is far from here, mi nena
Look above at the sunshine
streaming through the colors!”
She said it looked like a rainbow, una arca de iris

My daughter fell in love with Fall
and she a September baby, born on Labor Day!
We left behind the everyday glare of the tropics
for a land of constant change and atmospheric delights

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

BAD INHABITANTS! BAD! (For Jingle’s Blog)

After years of neglect
the elemental truth is this:

We have failed
as stewards of our planet
as guardians of
the seventh generation to come

Our rain is acid and
wells polluted as we drill for
The Next Big Thing to power our
Next Big Honkin’ Truck We Don’t Need

Industry, single drivers, and cow farts
Too many vehicles, not enough trees
Too much red meat, not enough veggies
have rendered the air toxic

Farming was once a family business
Now CAFOS and Con-Aggravation
slosh our ground with liquid shit
Poverty rapes the rain forests

Driving up SoCal’s Highway 1
some whack job flicks a butt out the window
That spark becomes a flames becomes a wildfire
becomes death and destruction

Water, Air, Earth, Fire
Elements of the earth
Elements of our dearth of desire
to let the seventh generation be born and have their say

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Spring brings budding trees
sprouting fresh leaves, lushly
Green shade and shelter

With fall comes color
Magnificent, authentic
Trees turn their true shade

Crimson, golden, peach
Each are their natural hue
Green’s for chlorophyll

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Dad, Uncle Tommy, and Grandpa Bill
invited me to go fishing with them
I was only five and quite honored
Turned out I was in charge of the beer
Keeping it tied to the rowboat
immersed in the chill of the lake
They whispered their jokes and told me
that fishing is all about patience
Tossing out the line and waiting for a nibble
If you didn’t get a fish the first time, you tried again

You grow up, you adapt those lessons learned
to your adult life
In matters of faith, I remain a patient fisher
Living each day as though I’m tossing out a line
quietly, calmly, carefully
If someone nibbles, I let them
If they grab the line with gusto, I share my journey
And sometimes, if the water is just right
We float in a rowboat side by side
quietly chatting, sharing what God has offered us

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

CIRCLES (You know, for kids*)

My sister brought it home
we all fought over it
until Dad wisely bought enough
for all three sisters to have their own

Three grade-schoolers shimmied, did the hula
Pint-sized Balinese dancers
practicing the ancient, seductive art
of the hula hoop

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

* Special kudos to whomever can name the movie reference first!