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

Tag Archives: Country Life


The girls are taking it with them
The secret shame, the reasons why
The scattered scars of late-night carving
The feeling fat starved unpopular neglected
Unprotected sex with unworthy boys
One took the bun and the oven too

They’ve left it all behind
School, grades, finals, college apps
Took off debt-free; no degree, no debris
No suitcases or makeup bags
No books or beanie babies collected at the mall
perhaps on weekends when they still hung with girlfriends

The farm is minus one pair of helping hands
And the family room, one less Bills fan
The market, one less cashier
The camp, one less counselor
Their school stripped their lockers of all reminders
and called in counselors because

Two girls left our town forever this month
No notes, no clues, no cries for help, no cues
Each in her own way on a different day, in a different way
Finally having their say: This is my life and I’ll do what I want
And that they did – one with drugs, one with a rope out back
They’re gone and they took it all with them

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

We were prompted to write about a fork in the road; a change in direction; a crossroads, and the path taken – or not taken.

As usual, I took a different path… on the prompt!  Enjoy a bit of whimsy.  Amy

SILVER WHERE (Writer’s Island, Imagine)

Humid sultry unbearable walking-through-hot-water August midday
Trying to catch even the echo of a slight breeze
Wandering in the shade trees of Topanga Canyon
A glint

A glimmer of shiny something
half-hidden under leaves blown to the side of the road
during yesterday’s languidly moving air
A fork

Did someone toss it out the window with their takeout Chinese
forgetting that it came from a drawer in their home
(the ants feast on leftover Boiled Tripe and Things in a nearby discard0
Was there a fight and it was flung in a rage? From a moving car?

Or was it Julia Butterfly Hill, who takes environmentalism so seriously
she packs knife, fork, spoon, napkin, cup, and plate in her handbag
lest she be served on styrofoam with plastic utensils
Did her legendary self wander this road? Did the fork get tired of wandering?

Did it share tearful, tarnish-inducing goodbyes
with her fellow knife and spoon
before skinnying out a hole in the bottom of Julia’s bag?
The fork is with me today; I shine it often and smile at happenstance

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore, Sharp Little Pencil

At Poetic Asides, we’re filling in the blanks: “The Meaning Of _______”


At three, summertime meant
my sisters stayed home all day
We’d play together, the whole neighborhood
Every mom our mom, watching over us

At five, summertime meant
No more Kindergarten
No more snacks or naptime giggles
I missed my new friends and wondered about first grade

At eight, summertime meant
a nice, long vacation
Swimming in the backyard
Sneaking sips of beer at Mom’s jazz parties

At twelve, summertime meant
the awakening of my body, my first cramps
Denied the pool because I couldn’t navigate tampons
and Mom didn’t want to talk about it

At sixteen, summertime meant
School friends would drive out to see me, the country mouse
I didn’t have to miss them all summer
Backgammon with my best friend John til dawn

At twenty-five, summertime meant
lots of gigs – weddings, bar mitzvahs
Sweating out Village piano bars for extra cash
Saving money because August is dead in the City

At thirty-four, summertime meant
Puerto Rican beaches with my baby girl
Her first swims were off the shore, in my arms
We were always salty, sweating, smiling

At forty-nine, summertime meant
hard times for my girl as she
battled disturbing trends of mindset
She, solitary; me, worried; doctors, experimenting

Now it’s my fifties and summertime means
Hot flashes accentuate the humidity
My days are my own and so is my illness
Tricking myself into getting outside for sunshine

No matter the person, summertime means
different pleasures at different ages
different pressures at different ages
Seasons are like mood swings, summertime having the advantage of sun

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore, Sharp Little Pencil


there was a time, long ago
when i thought it was wasn’t worth it
this living thing

so hard to catch my breath
standing in one place slackjawed, staring
forcing, willing myself – one step, then another
finally achieving the second floor

but why did i come up here?
something about cleaning or laundry or
taking a nap instead – then be up all night writing
ceiling fan whirling overhead my only company

But this morning I woke up and was alive all day
Wrote letters, paid some bills
Crafted poems, worked on my blog
Went outside for an actual walk

My neighbor was mowing her lawn
The scent filled me with memories of our yard when I was a kid
Lying in the grass next to the wildflower riot
of the Back Forty, past the carefully mown grass

Queen Anne’s Lace, milkweed, sumac
Timothy grass, pussywillows, wild lilac trees
Black-eyed Susans swaying flirtatiously
As a light rain fell in a rainbow mist

The colors of the yard after the shower let up
Golden light cast stark afternoon shadows
Grass glowed lemon-lime
The indomitable magnolia bush was ablaze

I lay on my belly
Inspecting Indian Paintbrush and
Wild violets, small miracle of
Haphazard, brilliant, fulsome Nature

We could leave our bikes in anybody’s yard
Dogs belonged to all of us, and we belonged to them
Everything seemed possible then
And today, it still does

When the dark days hit
I accept them for what they are
I am familiar by now with the depths
I can see in the dark, dimly

I cannot smell the fresh-cut grass
From that distant place
I can’t roll in wildflowers
Those things are out of reach, cut off

But not forever – it only feels that way
Hang out hang in hang on
It will slough off like snake skin
Scaly, dead, useless

And I will emerge reborn
Senses awakened, songs of life
Reverberating, a chord struck
From deep within

© Amy Barlow Liberatore, 2010, Sharp Little Pencil