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

Tag Archives: Feminism


This bundle of cells
inside my body
must be protected
from me

This knot of matter
matters more
than the human host

My uterus must be guarded
lest my brain decide otherwise
since my brain is flawed
because I am only a woman
and you know better
and babies must be born
and intra-uterine ultrasounds are cool
(not a form of rape)

Even though the condom broke
The Pill failed
The boyfriend abused
The husband wanted and took
The father fathered
The stranger raped

Even though I know I
cannot raise this child in love
in security and hope
and the schools you provide
will never educate
and the help you will offer
is skewered by bitter judgments

After all that, you have
no words of condemnation or obligation
for the sperm donor
for the “father”
(who will never be a father)

My uterus must be protected
from my logical brain

Lord, save me from Christians
who believe pro-birth is pro-life

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Sometimes it has to be political. Sometimes it’s so obvious.  You are welcome to comment, but please don’t SCREAM AT ME IN ALL CAPS.  And no foul language, because everyone knows what a prude I am!

For ABC Wednesday, once they post today, E for Extremist.  Also for Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will find an abundance of diverse voices.  Give these sites a try.  Take the leap!  Amy

Amy Bermuda cropped w  Bev

From Day One, I was
a wild child.
Well-schooled but wayward.
Never pleaded for parental pardon.

Worldly wise wisp
wrapped in ribbons,
wants to be unspooled,
twirled, awhirl with

winsome, wastrel wiles.
Wishes for what she wants;
wants more than she gets;
gets what’s coming to her,

all the while knowing
there’s way more in store.
Her wickedly wanton waylays
wend their way into herstory.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Wrote this for the “Wild Woman” prompt at Ella’s Edge in the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. Also posted at Poets United, in the Poetry Pantry, and for Sunday Scribblings… their prompt was “energy,” and if this doesn’t fill the bill, I’m in big trouble. ALSO, Poetic Bloomings is celebrating 100 posts, and they wanted a “celebration of self.” Oh, yeah, honey!!

NOTE: I was feeling pretty down until I read Ella’s prompt. I summoned my inner Sherry Blue Sky, Shay/Fireblossom, Lady Nimue, Jae Rose, and a few more … and before you know it, I was as Edgy as Ella! Thanks, you wonderful wild women, o ye of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Rants. (Don’t look now, but Gretchen Leary is catching up to us!)

Finally, about that photo. It was taken in Bermuda at the Princess Hotel, where I was artist-in-residence for two seasons. Didn’t know it yet, but I was newly pregnant with Riley when this was shot. My girlfriend Bev, from the cast of their Dreamgirls-type show, is with me. (I still have the skirt, for Halloween costumes. I’ll wear it as a head wrapping!) Peace, Amy

Having been passed over for The Rapture – oh, it’s been rescheduled for October now. How many millions has this crotchety fool made, donated by suckers who want to “be right”? I am now Left Behind (nice behind, and I’m most assuredly Left!) to ponder not the End of Days, but the Beginning.

(And guys, please this is “to laugh.” I love y’all, as you know from my comments on your posts. Couldn’t avoid having some fun with this one, especially after all the crap creation (and the banks and oil companies) have put us through during the past few months.) Amy

Creation, From a Woman’s P.O.V.

First there was God.
A grey-haired, bearded Dude who created
the heavens, the waters, wind, rain, tornadoes, and dirt.
Also the platypus, ostrich, and armadillo,
just for shits and giggles.

Then He made cows, pig, sheep, and other
exploitable creatures, for food and, well, stuff.
But who, thought the Dude, would be able to
exploit them to the max, and with the most
barbaric methods? MAN! And I’ll make him
Just Like Me, except he’ll have to wait for
the beard and the grey to set in.
Like Me, but a facsimile.

God named him Adam, later saying, “It’s short for
A Damned Mistake,” after the H-bomb leveled Hiroshima.

Then the man was lonely, so God created Dog.
But the man was not lonely in that way, so God said,
“Here let me show you how to inflict maximum pain
in the animals I gave you (but go easy on the dog),”
and performed non-anaesthetized surgery,
grabbing a rib out of the man’s side.

“OMG!” screamed the man.
“What?” said God.

The rib somehow got turned into a woman named Eve
(short for, “Eventually the pain will stop,” meaning the surgery).

Then came the Great Apple Debate: Who really did worse?
Eve, for talking it over with the snake and deciding to take the apple,
or Adam, for saying, “Whatever,” and eating without thought,
then blabbing to God that it was all Eve’s fault?

Adding insult to hasty judgment, Eve not only needed
more clothing than the Adam; she got a monthly bout with cramps,
as well as nauseatingly painful childbirth, when God could have
let her drop ‘em like tadpoles. But NOOOOOOO…

God didn’t bother to create marriage;
Adam and Eve just went at it.
Two brothers: One killed the other.
Dudes are violent, women suffer.
Creation was a crappy deal for females
and has pretty much remained so since Day Six.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This Creation prompt will appear (if I remember) on next Wednesday’s “We Write Poems” blog; it will automatically feed to my poetry home, Poets United. Peace to all, Amy

Ah, the beloved Wordle landed once again at Big Tent Poetry. Like a Rubik’s cube of words, except there is no right or wrong way to assemble it. Check out Big Tent to see others’ work. Peace, Amy

Parade of Smiles (Big Tent Poetry)

The parade of smiles, boyish slips of things
that turn out to be teenage girls,
seems to defy explanation.

I gasp as they slump by,
stick figures who should be
waking to full womanhood.

I question silently their choices
of salad over Chinese in the food court
and hope they get enough protein and fats.

My daughter’s love of moccachinos speaks volumes
about her state of mind and body.
She may be a tangle of emotions…

but her body is aflame with curves.
Thighs with musculature and form;
she is aware of herself and fully awake.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Sunday Scribblings (glad I’m back on course after a break), we were given a one-word prompt: LIMITS. Click the Scrib link and then on the poets’ names (which are linked to their blogs) to check out other folks! Peace, Amy


I’ve had it up to here
‘cause my daughter, who is ‘queer’
is not welcome in my sister’s home

I’ve taken all I’ll stand
from all those who would demand
that I discard my kid like a dead battery

I’m telling all the world
she is perfect, she’s my girl
If you don’t love her, please don’t waste your prayers

On Riley or her mom
because we know we are BOMB
and anyone who doesn’t get it can get stuffed

I tried to make this rhyme
to some extent, it is fine
but I couldn’t rhyme “battery” with “flattery” because that concept is entirely absent from some people’s hearts. But at least it’s truthful!

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Another Poetic Asides take on “forget what they say,” this one with no holds barred!


Call me too tolerant for
respecting those of other faiths.

Call me a bad Christian
for saying that God created us all equal, including Jews and Muslims and Taoists and Buddhists and non-believers.

Call me a bleeding heart
for wanting everyone to get health care.

Call me an alarmist
for insisting that hydrofracking is dangerous.

Call me an n***** lover (and they have)
for supporting an African-American president.

Call me anti-civil rights
for wishing to disband self-styled militias.

Call me anti-Constitution
for insisting semi-automatic weapons are not needed to hunt.

Call me a coward
for being a steadfast pacifist.

Call me a moron
because I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth.

Call me a bad mother
for not trying to talk my daughter out of being lesbian.

Call me a bad American
for pointing out that “under God” was added during McCarthy’s reign of terror and anti-Communist hysteria.

Call me a bad liberal
for listening to Rush and Glenn at least once a week.

Call me unbalanced
because I’m a responsible mental health consumer.

Call me a socialist
for wanting the rich to pay more into the kitty.

Call me a snob
for encouraging kids whose only adjective is “fuck” to dig deeper in their brain pan.

Call me a traitor
for believing a former president should face charges for ordering waterboarding and lying about WMDs… and laughing about it publicly.

Call me a bra-burning bitch
for having the temerity to insist on equal pay for equal work.

Call me naive
for wanting undocumented aliens to be granted citizenship (hey, if it was good enough for Reagan, it should be good enough for the Tea Party).

Call me whatever you want.
I stand by my values, no matter the consequence.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Our Poetic Asides challenge was “Forget What They Say.” My kind of prompt, Robert! Click on the link to see what others came up with. As for me…


Old age ain’t for sissies, said Bette Davis
and she was doggone right
Boobs hanging so low I have to
set ’em in rollers at night
and shoved into “woman-friendly” bras daily
The way they swing wouldn’t make Frank
sing “ring-a-ding-ding”

Took up yoga to get flexible
advice courtesy of my physician
(not “Physical,” thanks anyway, Olivia)
Noticed that, in the Down Dog position
my skin of my thighs draped off my legs
like a curtain valance, but at least
I kept my balance.

That is, until the Salutes to the Sun,
when I grandly and loudly fell on my face,
laughing so hard I snorted at my own contortions.
This got other 50+ women chortling and
soon we were all flat on our mats doing
what older girls do best: Sharing a laugh
about ourselves, on our own behalf.

We finished class and Betsy blurted:
“A latte! Who’s with me?”
Soon around a table filled with decadent desserts
(which we dutifully split, counting calories somewhat)
we decided: Stay with yoga class, stretch at night,
walk in pairs or groups, eat (almost) right.
But never skip dessert: Old age ain’t for sissies,
nor for grumps, nor frumps. Just real women,
having our say and doing it (cue Nelson Riddle):
“Oooooooour Waaaaaaaaaay!”

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Warning!  This is about condoms and sexual responsibility and the futility of abstinence education!! Hey, I tell the girls, “No umbrella, no singin’ in the rain!”


In this age of The Pill
Please remember, the thrill
isn’t all it is cracked up to be

While you scope out the cuties
Do be mindful that cooties
will be waiting if you’re condom-free

There are Abstinence teachers
and well-meaning preachers
who will tell you to marry ‘fore “sailin'”

If you take my advice,
you will think once or twice
about abstinence and Bristol Palin.

It’s not only the babies
but some toxic “maybes”
passed on through that condom-free sex

HPV, Herpes, AIDS
the Incurable Shades
will haunt all who do not “man up,” Tex.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Americans hold dear our freedom to vote.
And rightly so.
We take for granted the ease with which
we breeze into polling places to cast ballots.
No death threats or intimidation
(except for people of color
when the majority of Anglos don’t step up
and ensure their rights, too).
And it’s been almost one hundred years
that I, a lowly woman, got the vote!

Free and fair…
until a presidential hopeful
and his golfing buddy discussed voting machines.
“I have a new-fangled computerized one.
It’ll put the mechanized ones in the museum!”
New York State had foolproof levered machines
(tallied after unsealing by all parties for certification
and carted off to the county hub intact).
No chads, no room for error.
You’d have to dump the machine in the river
to get rid of the votes!

Dieboldt: Planned obsolescence for
that which was never obsolete,
replaced by computerized gizmos,
many without paper trails,
most so vulnerable they are hackable, even by teens.

The golf partner promised the presidential hopeful,
“I’ll deliver Ohio for you.”
And that he did.
Now my beloved state has mothballed
perfectly functional, foolproof levers
in favor of “Never Say Nevers.”

We have only our lack of information and action to blame
for the shameful fact that,
although we can vote,
it is no longer guaranteed
that our vote will be counted, reflecting our choice,
or changed overnight
by interests more powerful than those of freedom.

We’re looking forward! We’re making progress!
We’re hurtling headlong into
a new golden age of fraud and abuse.
President Palin and Vice President Palidino?
That would serve us right, I suppose.

I’m going to vote today,
and pray that tomorrow –
whatever the outcome (sincerely) –
the votes were counted fairly.
But in the back of my mind,
Bush and Dieboldt practice their putting…

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
previously published at Poetic Asides and my blog

WHATEVER COMES (for Poets United)

Whatever you think about me
I am human
I have feelings
Feelings that have been stomped on
or caressed
depending on the person and circumstance

I am an American from Europe
whose white skin
and heterosexuality
and youth in the suburbs
gave me advantages
over those who weren’t dealt the same cards
or even given cards from the same deck

I am a woman who still doesn’t have
the same Constitutional rights as males
but who can vote and speak her mind
who doesn’t have to wear a burqa
who doesn’t risk being stoned to death
because she dared leave the house without her husband

I am not threatened by TV personalities
who admit they don’t believe half their hate speech
(they are just doing what their sponsors tell them)
who have no degrees in journalism
(one a college dropout, the other a deejay)
They don’t speak from their hearts
but from their wallets
and they freely admit it
Sure, it’s mercenary and incites violence
But it’s a living

Powers of such as these are limited
only by the willingness of their listeners
to be sheep, to blame the least in our society
for their current woes
(this time it’s Mexicans and gays; last time it was Jews;
before that, Armenians, before that…)

When Jesus was surrounded by “unclean” street urchins
he told the disciples not to chase them away
but to let them come closer
He didn’t want them deported to another town
He didn’t call them unclean or unworthy
He didn’t charge co-pays when healing the poor
He acted out of love

He also raised a ruckus
that resonates to this very day
for to love one’s enemies is an almost impossible task
and to love one’s neighbor,
harder still when he brags he ran them over,
but they were “just Mexicans”

Jesus was hung because of words
and all his words were loving
If our poetic world was only Whitman, Dickinson, Dickens
bereft of Ginsburg, Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks
how poor this world would be

Provocation is healthy
What makes one’s blood course faster
makes one’s mind more nimble
Sure, I get provoked
But I stand by my right as an artist
to call out powerful hate-mongers

Plato banned poets because
he claimed they drew their inspiration
from imaginary worlds

Those of us who draw from the real world
do so in the name of justice
of compassion for the Other
regardless of religion or color
regardless of the consequences
in spite of whatever comes

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil