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

Tag Archives: Drugs

Crystalline

The perks of being a backup singer
were the free drugs supplied
by folks who’d tend to linger

after the show, back in the hotel room
Finest weed from finest seed
Took her right back to the womb

Times change, from rage to new rage
Thai to cocaine, then rock in a pipe
First hit flew her to an infinite stage

The saddest moment she’d ever know
was a bright shining synapse pinging
Gogogogogogogogogogo

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore


The Door to Deceitful Delights

The door to deceitful delights
she discovered within as she was
plied with that first fizzy fun punch
Pried open wider by a toke of particularly prime pot
Finally flung open with the abandon possessed by
twenty-something Immortals

This same door had dwelt
in her mother and others long passed
Smothering, smoldering smoke and
various places to place opium
by hookah or
by whodahthunkit

Twenty-something was wise
She grew tired of wasting time
Time to grow up
We can’t all be Peter Pan
or Tinkerbell, even

She shoved her full weight against the door
Forced it shut and with it all the shit, shove-stored
She knows she could open it again
on a whim or over a heartbreak

But she willingly tossed the key
into a pool of other bad memories
where she chooses not to swim
knowing she’d only sink like a stone

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For dverse Open Mike Night (check out the links!) and my poetic hearth and home, Poets United.


ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter, “Z”! (Do we start on the Cyrillic alphabet now?) Also at the poetic collective, Poets United.

This poem is based on the phenomenon that effectively destroyed my piano-bar career… Amy

Zithromax (Think Before Lighting Up Indoors)

A smoky club, the trapped wait staff
take your orders and get the shaft.

While you puff a cig or two,
others do just as you do.

You can leave and breathe fresh air;
singers, barkeeps, stuck in there

Low-wage job with no insurance;
Z-pac samples help endurance.

When you blithely light that match
think of what the workers catch.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


First, SORRY if I have not responded to your comments these past few days. Our daughter is visiting and that’s a lot of giggling, soul-searching, cafe and/or bar time out of my day!! I promise to catch up soon, so please know, if you’re offended, hey – so is everyone else!

Therefore, I offer/proffer a TWOFER! First for Poetic Asides (“don’t start that again”); the other, for ABC Wednesday (brought to you by the letter “U”). And, of course, at Poets United, my heart. Love and peace, Amy

First, Poetic Asides:

Don’t Start Doing That Again

Think first.
Remember.

Exhalations to renovate reality.
Perforations to perceive perfection.
Condemnations from family, friends.
Intimidations from drug dealers

Remember.
Think first.
It ain’t worth it.
Run.
Fast, baby,
run as fast as you can
to your NA meeting.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

PS to all: Thank God I never succumbed to the needle. It would have been the end of me, for sure.
___________________________________________________________

Second: The letter “U”, ABC Wednesday

Ugly Duckling

Under mirror scrutiny,
every flaw uncovered.
Ubiquitous plague of teens
(zits), seem unique to her.

Up and down university steps,
unaware how her ass undulates
as underclassmen (and women)
ache to uncover what lies beneath.

Unable to see her utmost beauty:
Her undercover laugh, her catlike grin,
her undeniable, ironic humor.
Now, an ugly duckling…

Ultimately, she will become a swan.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


For my third day of National Poetry Writing Month, I decided to follow a prompt, because it called out to me. Sunday Scribblings asked for poems about messengers. This is for my mother, who beat the devil and was sober the final 10 years of her life. She’s been gone 21 years now, but when I need her, just like Blanche (her mom), she is there for me. In her weakness and in her strength, so many lessons. Miss you, Mama.  Love, Amer

Message in a Bottle

For the first time in years
(and so welcome, this occasion)
seated across the kitchen table with Mom.

For the first time in years
(since I had headed west for a spell)
she was not drunk – not even tipsy.

There was a message in
the absence of a gin bottle on that table…
Gordon’s had been her steadfast companion

Now we sat and looked each other in the eye
“Amy,” she said kindly, “there’s a scratch in your voice.
You need to stop smoking pot.”

For the first time in years,
we spoke singer to singer, our voices had always been
our beauty, our careers, our all.

“I sobered up,” she said slowly, “cold turkey.”
It was true – too ashamed to go to a clinic,
knowing so many people in town.

Dad had gone to her door several times each day,
listening to the retching, passing in black coffee
and soda crackers for a solid two weeks.

But for me, quitting a joint a day was easy.
And so the message was clear: No more bottle for her,
no more buds in Buglers for me. Saved my life, she did.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


A last gasp for Three Word Wednesday, here at my computer on Monday morning! This is an “Amy: The Lost Years” SoCal poem. Remember… and learn. Amy

Mellow Times (3WW: Mellow, Breeze, Tickle)

Mellow times, man, those days
that stretched into nights into
breakfast served up by Ruby.

Stoned to a stupor, we’d loop-de-loop our way
into that café at daybreak. The breeze held
a lingering languor of cannibestest ever.

It tickled my throat, but instead of a cough,
it coaxed from me a bawdy chorus of
“Gimme A Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer,”

right there on Brooks Court as we
sidewindedly search for that java and huevos rancheros.
Hash brown mornings, hash pipe nights.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


While I am editing several poems on the public protest over workers’ rights here in Madison, I need to take a break and answer a call to a prompt. Too much politics leads to personal unrest, and self-care is a huge part of successfully managing my manic depression… so meditation and writing are a big help!

At We Write Poems, we were asked to write about “safe places.” I was a rover in my twenties, and these are but a few of the places were I laid my head to rest…

Safe Havens

An unheated, leaky garage at an old rocker’s compound

A couch in a flophouse

The egg-crate pads laid on the floor of a nudist commune

Haystacks in a barn, as we helped with the harvest

Marcia and Jesse’s closet, the door unhinged (as was I),
the most comfortable vortex of all…

The beach in Venice, where I lay under an umbrella of starts
watching the slivered silver moon dance through my tripping eyes

An SRO, hot plate heating Chunky Beef Soup

Looking back at these havens, all were safe
Some were filled with love.
others with the scent of cow patties
and the sweat of an honest day’s work.

And still others bore the sweetness of smoke
from Mendocino County’s finest…

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Home, sweet home, Madison, WI and Lake Edge UCC. What a lovely reception for us both – you’d think I’d have a more uplifting poem today, but I felt compelled to put this entry in.

This is a cautionary tale… any teen who thinks Pharming is cool and that shoving substances up their nose is fun should think twice. I know; I’ve been there, and this entry is, sad to say, all too true, from many years ago when I was incredibly stupid (and, of course, immortal – weren’t we all?). Parents, talk to you kids. Cop to what you did and let your kids know what’s out there is King Kong compared to the spider monkey shit we did.

NIGHT SHIFT AT TONY’S

Silence of the grave.
The dissipated, pasty-faced coke dealer in his lair: A
hermetically sealed apartment.
No light, save lamps; no breeze, stale air.
No windows open, lest the cool breeze
of Venice Beach disturb piles of priceless product.

It’s all about balance, really.
Delicately spooning precious powder
from bag to scale, wordlessly persevering
during each transaction. Accuracy rules.

Tony’s in the zone.

His place stinks vaguely of chemicals and
days-old takeout – plus a trace of evil.
I mule for the whole crew back at work.
He accepts the cash, hands over the stash.
I smile; he grits his teeth and says take the back stairs.

Tucking the baggie in my bra, I make my way back to work
behind closed doors. Tamp the coke onto the mirror,
razor it into proper sections; every granule counts.
I obsessive-compulsively trustworthy,
entrusted to split the parcels.

Why do I make the run? Because I’m so disgustingly honest.
I fill, never spill, never nick off the till,
and emerge with portions of potion for
my anxious co-conspirators.
We scatter like roaches for hidden dark corners and
restroom stalls, emerge smiling,
frozen-gummed and destined to perform at peak
for at least an hour.

Once Tony cut the stash with laxative and we all
spent our high on the toilet, but we still went back for more.
We paid good money for this slavery and couldn’t make our way past it.
Not in those days, the blinding midnight sunrise of Colombia on Westwood.

Then there was Sam, shaking hands spilling his stash.
He ended up snorting it off the filthy men’s room floor.
I mean, really.
How low can you go?
Try cocaine and you’ll find out.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


SILENT AGREEMENT

As she lay dying
The nurses stopped by to say goodbye
and ordered an ambulance,
sending her home to die in her own bed
as was her wish.

“Here,” whispered Doris, “you’ll need this.”
Slipping me an impossibly large bottle of Valium.
“It might be days… save you a trip to the drug store.”
And so armed with ambulance, copious drugs,
and the “DNR” in my pocket, we set out for home.

Mom had lived a life of addictions:
Smoking, drinking, unnecessary prescriptions,
moaning about minor pains to a doctor
whose only function in life was to sign Rxs.
She was 69; looked 85 but pregnant, her liver shot.

Only two hours later, she died
after receiving a single crushed Valium stirred into juice
and sluiced into her mouth via straw.
My sister and I took the 199 Valium left over and,
in silent agreement, flushed them down the toilet.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF GREGORY?

It started off like usual, boy and girl meet,
make the trip to City Hall, marry.
Start a family with a beautiful boy.
Then Mom relapses, synapses lost to
crack addiction come back to haunt her
like Jacob Marley, chains and all.

Dad bails, few details known of his whereabouts,
so Mom goes to work and leaves Gregory in the house.
When the State workers came, they found him,
three years old, still in a crib, pillows packing him in
“to keep him safe,” mutters Mom, as she is
taken into custody (so is her son).

A year passes; Gregory waits for foster parents,
but he is no poster child for adoption. First,
they see his bright blue eyes and big smile…
then ask, “Why doesn’t he walk around?”
Workers explain that he just learned to crawl;
crucial development of muscles was delayed by the crib.

All potential parents pass him up like a misfit toy
until one day, the right couple comes along.
They see him as a creation of God, worthy, worth the fight
to take him to therapy, get him walking upright.
Take him to worship – he’s the church’s bright, shiny penny.
Pastor says, “You can’t spell ‘congregation’ without ‘Greg’!”

Finally, the big day, the whole church goes to court
to support the new family, to make it legal. Gregory looks
regal in his little suit and tie, smiling, smiling…
The joy on his face, applause when the papers are signed.
Gregory was put on this earth by a sick mom and a deadbeat dad,
but he knows he can always count on his two moms.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil