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

Tag Archives: Environment

Outhouses and Holes We Dig

Back in the day,
Mom and Uncle Tom
went out back in the outhouse

Puncture the earth
Dig a big hole
Set the wood frame over it

When it’s full, throw on dirt
Cover the crap
Dig a new hole

Scott Walker’s Wisconsin
operates using much the same
“Business” model

Puncture the prairie
Extract tar sands
Sell to frackers

Puncture the unions
Extract core values
Sell out labor

Puncture public schools
Extract their funding
Sell out low-income students

Puncture The Wisconsin Idea*
Extract the principles
Cripple our prized universities

Puncture our values
Extract choice and hope
Call it free enterprise
Call it Right to Work (for less)

Dig a big pit
Call it a rabbit hole
Scott the Bunny says,
Follow me down
to a world of fantasy follies
Follow me to Washington
I’ll share my vision
with the whole country
and the world

Yo, Scott, that’s not a rabbit hole
It’s where the outhouse stood

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Wrote this a day before Walker’s incredibly awkward press debacle, now making headlines across the US. Roger Green sent me a link; click HERE to see the funniest response by Wisconsinites regarding the “I handled protesters, I can handle ISIS” yuckfest.  Clicking HERE for dverse Open Mic!

*From Wikipedia, a reason we moved to Wisconsin was this:
The Wisconsin Idea is the policy developed in the American state of Wisconsin that fosters public universities’ contributions to the state: “to the government in the forms of serving in office, offering advice about public policy, providing information and exercising technical skill, and to the citizens in the forms of doing research directed at solving problems that are important to the state and conducting outreach activities.” A second facet of the philosophy is the effort “to ensure well-constructed legislation aimed at benefiting the greatest number of people.” During the Progressive Era, proponents of the Wisconsin Idea saw the state as “the laboratory for democracy,” resulting in legislation that served as a model for other states and the federal government. Walker proposed changing the wording (I kid you not). According to the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:

… the governor made the UW System’s mission to “meet the state’s workforce needs.” He also proposed striking language about public service and improving the human condition, and deleting the phrase: “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”

Since he never even graduated college (take that, GWB and your “gentleman’s C” MBA!), he seems to care nothing about the University of Wisconsin, a gem of a college system.


Now you all understand Wisconsin’s pain. Amy

The Autopsy

Fluids drained systematically
First cut delicate
Then deeper, probing for
what’s needed to harvest

Skin ravaged
Insides filled to the gills with pills
Pharmaceutical to the cuticle

The heart unusable, broken
The rest is flotsam
yet spoken of reverently

After all, this was once
our planet

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Free write after contemplating how Wisconsin helps the fracking industry by mining and selling off the ‘perfect’ sand for piercing our earth… and collecting shale farts. Between that practice and the damned Pipeline, how do lowly wind/solar advocates stand a chance? We are muted by Big Money. Peace, Amy

Welcome to my 600th post!! Of course, it must be a rant… where would I be without political commentary disguised as poetry?! Thank you, all my wonderful readers, for keeping me honest and challenging me on the more controversial topics, such as today’s… (drum roll, please, Riley)

Frickin’ Frackers

Relentless, those frackers are going for bear
Digging it deep to get what’s under there

Our potable water, environment, be damned!
Exhaust every option all over the land

Washington monument cracked at its top
Virginia’s first earthquake would not make them stop

Marcellus Shale bed on North P.A.’s border
extends to New York; Andy Cuomo’s no hoarder

He says, “Frack away and to hell with the facts*,”
although we all know methane leaks through the cracks

A Vietnam vet lives in Candor, near where
I grew up with sweet well water; clean, pristine air

This vet served his country and what does he get?
Tap water that lights up, burns like a gas jet

They’re siphoning water to sell back in bottles
I wonder which politic neck I should throttle:

The one who claimed fracking is “clean, natch’ral gas,”
Or our President Obama, for letting it pass

You cannot claim conscience and turn tail on truth:
No water, no farming; no milking. Our youth

inheriting worse that our parents gave us
We Facebook, petition; we Twitter and cuss

But no one will listen will Kochs are in charge
‘cuz they’re corporate energy – they’re livin’ large

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For ABC Wednesday, now on letter F; also for Trifecta, using their chosen definition of “exhaust” as a verb.

One of the lines below my email signature is, “Citizen For Potable Water and AGAINST Hydrofracturing.” This proved problematic for a time, when one of my nephews was working for a fracking company out West; it caused friction between me and a family member… but I didn’t really care about that. The big picture is not how much money a twenty-something is making (and it was the big bucks), it’s whether or not we will leave our grandkids and five generations past that ANY drinking water. At this rate, we’re losing ground.

* For more on the dangers of hydrofracturing for natural gas, see THIS LINK from Peace, Amy

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads gave us a form to work on, the Cinquain, sort of like haiku, but with a different syllabic structure (five lines; 2 – 4 – 6 – 8 – 2). Its inventor was the American poet Adelaide Crapsey. I wrote three: one funny, one environmental, and one about our praise service at church. Enjoy. If I didn’t make the deadline (often the case!), it will be shared on Real Toads’ Open Link Monday!  Process notes below.


What’s In A Name?

myself tonight
wondering how someone
who made this lovely form was named

Skeeter Davis Said It First*

has been hastened by our
wanton disrespect for this gift,
our Earth.

Sing Hallelujah!

My church
Prayers are souldeep
Singing is loudrowdy
When the band starts in to jam, we
“pray twice”**

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

NOTES: Cinquains ideally have a nature theme, similar to haiku; however, Americans generally disregard this, as is our nature. There are other suggested rules, and I didn’t bother with those either. See, I’m more of a “free-verse” kind of woman, and after years of songwriting, being constrained to any form makes me all twitchy. But for Real Toads, I did my best!  Also on the right scrolling column of my poetic haven, Poets United.

* Skeeter Davis’ biggest hit was, “(Don’t They Know) It’s the End of the World?”
** Old saying: When you sing in church, you pray twice. Once with words and again with the joyful noise of rhythm and voices!

For Poets United, who asked for words about gifts, a different take.

MY GIFT TO YOU THIS THANKSGIVING: The gift of awareness, of the lies we have been taught in our schools, of the ways we can open our eyes and take action, even this late in Gaia’s game.

Call me a spoilsport, but, speaking as a person whose ancestors (ugh) came over on the (yikes) Mayflower (apologies to all Native Americans), the Thanksgiving we celebrate every year never happened. Actually, while the indigenous peoples taught the invaders (Columbus didn’t “discover” America, after all) how to plant the seeds and cultivate crops, as well as introducing them to the most hallowed of all indigenous creatures, the turkey… The Anglos paid back by enslaving their hosts, cheating them out of land “rights.”

Native Americans didn’t understand the concept of land ownership – although there were vague understandings of tribal boundaries, tribes would emigrate to the South during cold months and travel North for the yearly planting and hunting. They felt they were guests on this earth, and they treated the environment with much respect, always thinking generations ahead.

It has taken little more than two hundred years for our European ancestors to lay waste to most of this country. Even the pristeen wild fields are now endangered by hydrofracturing (creating earthquakes in order to release “natural gas.” It’s only natural if it’s underground, where it belongs… and drilling through bedrock and water tables is polluting millions of gallons of our only sources of potable water. Soon, you may see yourself buying it all from the Big Guys, who are bottling it out from under us as we speak.).

SO WHY GIVE THANKS? Because we have choices, voices. We can stop war, stop the rape of our environment, stop all the destruction, if only we get off our butts after Black Friday and Turkey Day and the ensuing football games.

WE CAN HOLD OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE. And yes, that includes President Obama, who needs to be reminded that there is no such thing as “clean coal,” same as “natural gas.” We need to start hunkering down on AMERICAN-MADE solar panels and wind turbines, get them onto the main power grid.  We can work for better conditions for the people “on the rez,” from whom we stole the land in the first place.

We need to honor this country, the country we praise, this precious land, the reason we give thanks in the first place.

I will be taking a break this weekend to count my blessings (especially for my community of poets, my groups of rowdy activists, and the results of the last election, as well as Lex, Riley, and my wonderful birth family and family through two marriages). And I will be reading, only. Catching up on what others have commented on my blog, reading work on sites to which I have contributed but whose lists of poets I have not completely read.

Peace now – action to come… Amy

The Dark Side of the Moon

Nuclear plants faced big fines
They’d filled all cave and mines
In Vegas, locals now know
You can gamble AND can glow
Like the bright, full harvest moon

Edict came down from on high
Nuke garbage would now fly
And be stored, safe and secure
In a place with no allure
On the dark side of the moon

Computer parts also flown
With spent missiles to the Zone
That waited in deep space
Old Man Moon’s Janus face
On the dark side of the moon

Flotsam and jetsam were sent up
Poisons, deep-water sludge went up
And rich people paid good money
Ashes placed, “Him” and “Honey”
On the dark side of the moon

As long as folks could view
The same pizza-pie milieu
They wouldn’t burst the bubble
Nor cause a whit of trouble
‘Bout the dark side of the moon

Scientists perturbed
Moon’s balance was disturbed
The orbit now decayed,
There soon was no more shade
On the dark side of the moon

Imagine each frightened soul
When La Luna spun out of control
And the first place it hit
Was Alamos with nuke shit
From the dark side of the moon

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Poetic Asides, the blog that got me started in poetry (thanks, Robert Lee Brewer and all the Street gang!) had an intriguing prompt: Out of this world. I’d been thinking about this concept for a long while. Peace, and keep the moon crap-free! Amy

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

BIG NEWS! Just found out I am one of 49 poets chosen for Poets United’s first Anthology! I am thrilled to be part of such an inspired group of poets. I’ll give you info when it comes out… but for now, it’s all about the good vibes! Thanks to Robert and the Poets United group for choosing my work.

Our first week in Madison, WI, and we got pounded by a blizzard. Thrilling. Brought back memories of growing up at the top of a hill in Apalachin, NY, and praying for a snow day with Kim, Vaughna and the gang!

Full-tilt boogie of a blizzard
A whirling curtain of snow flutters in a stiff wind
Up, down, sideways, manic, tornadic

Drifts recall the dunes of San Juan
But these surfaces are not calm, nor smooth
Small patches plot courses to oblivion

A moment of calm; street lights visible across the courtyard
Suddenly, wind shouts commands
and snow obeys

The Dance of the Seven Veils, inverted;
one layer piles upon the next:
Shards and Shivers

The wind may bellow and billow
But snow takes wing in whispered abandon

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Sunday Scribblings wanted to hear thoughts about December. Long ago and far away, I was a Manhattanite…


Central Park in December
At dusk the sun has dipped below
the stark skyline
casting reflections of blue
on the new-fallen snow

It’s as if even the snow knows
it’s part of an urban landscape
the color of steel and
the crunchy crust it so readily forms
As if to say,
“Hey, there’s nothing fluffy to see here
Move along, now”

Making my way across 72nd Street
the heat of the subway has already risen
and melted this fresh blessing
into muddy pools of rusted slush

It’s City snow, all right
It won’t last the night

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Last night slumped in an armchair
A barely lucid lump of woman
Juiced up on cough syrup to quell
the oncoming bronchial nasties

This morning, hastily dressing for church
Chipper, ready to play both carols
and hipper tunes for kids as they
pieced together ornaments for the church’s tree

Tomorrow is whatever it will be
Be it fancy free or down in the dumps
Crummy weather or fair smattering of sun, it’s still
the gray matter under my gray hair that gets the final say

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil