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

Tag Archives: Forgiveness

I Beg Your Pardon… really

For my sisters, who have had to
put up with my leftie ranting and
defense of my gender-queer daughter…

I beg your pardon

For my daughter, who had to
endure a childhood with a single mom
who was not yet diagnosed as mentally ill…

I ask your forgiveness

For my husband, who has seen me
through hell and back, fat and thin, and
bears my depressions with understanding…

I’m sorry I’m a high-maintenance partner

For my dead parents, about whom I write,
who defend their actions, their hideous
alcoholism and abuse of their daughter…

I regret nothing

Finally, to myself, for all the mistakes, the
mysterious paths I’ve chosen, the years of
drugs, the booze, and the frozen career just thawing…

I repent. And I sharpen my pencil once again.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Fireblossom Friday at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads asks for poems about repentence. I won’t go into the God thing here. I’m keeping it tangible and earthbound. Shay, you rock! Peace, Amy

Prelude to a Nightmare (a nocturne)

I remember bedtime prayers to Him
Resting in peace until
lifted on devil’s wings
by another Him and hidden
No cry in darkness,
only strangled fear
stifled invasion of trust

Today, I still pray
He rests in peace now
No longer do I fear
his dry hands, betrayal
Lifted on angel’s wings
Cry of forgiveness
in the blessed peace
of moonlit prayer

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image through Wikimedia Commons: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

PTSD isn’t just for veterans, people who survived 9/11, or Katrina and Oklahoma victims. Night terrors and phobias often plague adults who were sexually abused as children. Years of therapy led me to the path of forgiveness. Dad no longer controls me, and my prayers at night always include him, for all the good things he taught me, including a love of words and poetry.

The rest is out there in a bubble, outside my body and my psyche, yet available for inspection, now that I’m stronger.

This was written for Kim’s prompt at Poets United (I remember…) and also for Kerry’s “Nocturne” prompt at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.  Peace, Amy

This happened long ago and far away, but the memory still stings. Mental health consumers, take note. Amy

Dark Place In An Old-Time Church

Once upon a time, I, Sunday School teacher and wife of the preacher
asked for prayers for my falling, frail state of
misdiagnosed psychiatric overdose.
What a head-first dive into the greasy gruel of the gossip pool.

Mental illness was whispered there with vague disgust.
These were tough folks, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”
Could spare no time for a mental lapse
Manic = panic = Someone Else’s Family

Treat diabetes with insulin
No reason my skin should’ve been thought thin
Imbalance of a chemical nature, a different nomenclature
My bootstraps are still pharmaceutical

Incidental mental quirks, deep emotion runs
through my family like Drano through pipes
creative, self-deprecating, frustrating, flustered
mermaids – hilarious but precariously perched on the rocks

It was no a sin, this place I was in,
and not theirs to judge,
for as they whispered uneducated superstitions behind me back,
they were also mocking Jesus’ message of love

I sing praise to the God who has seen me at my lowest and pulled me higher.
While I was wrapped in darkness
God lit the fire, showed me the light, and
got me from uptight to upright

They stared as I took my fall;
I scared them all, even as I forgave them in my heart.
Upright eventually, but when would I fall again?
And then – when would I mend?

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Also posted at my poetic home, Poets United.

Re-posting, as the first version kept re-starting in the middle of the line. This was a prompt for a will from Poets United. Please click on their link and read some other poets’ thoughts as well! And don’t worry – rumors of my impending demise are (hopefully) simply rumors!! But that dark humor runs in the Irish side of my family, and I embrace it heartily.

Last Words

These are the last words you will hear from me
as I have recently ceased to be

To my sisters, I leave my rainbow flags
To my parents, I leave forgiveness in bags

To Jack, pour the bourbon – I’m headed your way
To Sarah Palin, read a paper at least once a day

To RJ, Sheila and Colette, three copies pristine
a pic of my bum on a xerox machine

To John, all the books full of music and lyrics
To Leslie, the “Dead Man’s Eyes” hysterics

To Christopher, HAH! You thought I’d outlive you
Now whom shall you the baby grand give to?

And know that I’ll be in great company
With Jeffery and Jimmy and Bill and Marcie

To Marcia and Jesse, my thanks for the light
To Greggie, close your eyes and I’ll be in your sight

To Sweeney, my rants and my ravings and Lex
Your best buddy – don’t take him to Mme. Orr’s for sex

To GW Bush my wish for long life
to witness his hubris, his headstrong-caused strife

To Barack, prayers for peace and a tougher demeanor
To FEMA, that they FINALLY clean up Katrina

To elected officials, no more of my protests
But FBI, I’ll rally, in spirit at best

To Lex, all my love and may you find another
To Riley, long life and my pride I’m your mother

My girl, find someone who deserves all you can give
To challenge and cherish as long as you live

And after the tears have finally been shed
Remember, I’m dancing… I’m just overhead

So raise up a toast to the girl with the brass
Recount all the ways I’m a pain in the ass

Sing out the songs, pass ’round a doobie
I’m headed to heaven in slippers of ruby

(c) 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At the Poets United Thursday Think Tank, we were asked to put forth a poem about forgiveness…


Humbly consider your own part
in whatever caused the rift

Take a breath before you start
Don’t allow your words to drift

Take the blame for your wrongdoing
Let the person hear your sin

Silence, key to real renewing
God forgiving, God within

This time may not seal the deal
ending in a warm embrace

But if you want the wounds to heal
You’re started at the perfect place

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Story from my days as a single mother in a mostly married city… Amy


In a sea of Marthas
she remained the Magdalene
Neither wanton, nor wayward, still
different, misunderstood

Her gestures of sisterhood
looked upon as threats by
the many married mommies
who kept their men on short leashes, well-heeled

Had they taken time
to listen to her thoughts
How she cared for their town
How she admired their ability to maintain stability

They might have warmed to her
But women are women, and
wives are wives, gathered in hives
And single mothers lead separate lives

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

OK, I know I’ll get heat for this one… another “stacking” poem for Poetic Asides.


What is holy about the Holy Land?
The Dome dominated by one faith
as Americans do little except contribute
to Israel’s continued building of a wall
choking off Palestinians under slabs of
mentality and political polemic.

“It’s in Israel’s defense and protects American interests.”
It prevents Arabs from getting to the doctor.
How Christian, how Jewish, how holy is that?
And Americans, who cannot feed and clothe
and care for their tired, poor, hungry,
are footing the bill for the contractors.

People who defend Palestinian rights
are called “anti-Semites,” even the Jews who
choose to show mercy on Islamic people.
As though the heads of the State of Israel
speak for all Jewish people around the world.
Tell that to Jews who think Zionism is just another power grab.

Apocalyptics take joy in much of this,
feeling we’re stealing ever closer to the Rapture,
sure they know the year, if not the day and hour,
surer still that they and they alone
will ascend with Jesus, patted on the head,
and to Hell with everyone else!

Until true Godliness prevails, when
Jews, Christians, and Muslims remember
they all worship the same God,
Jerusalem will remain divided at its heart.
So many languages, so many translators,
but no one is listening in Babel.

Spare me your prophesies and Revelation.
If you really love Jesus, you have to love us all.
If you really follow the Torah, you have to love us all.
If you really follow the Prophet Mohammad, you have to love us all.
Israel is not real estate; Israel is a people.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Looking for _____, says the prompt at Poetic Asides. As usual, my Irish is up!


Swords into ploughshares? Not anytime soon.
We’ve been at war for thousands of years.
Men have fought over women, over money,
marking territory like dogs, changing borders,
shouting orders that (_____) is to blame and
(_______) MUST be annihilated.

Special ops, men made of steel and guts –
many who live to tell the tale, broken and unsure.
Troopers exacted the only death toll at Attica.
Nixon said it was an acceptable loss.
Collateral damage: Arms, legs, burqas,
babies. Baskets full from market, now
bullet-hewn produce strewn on a rocky terrain.

“Meanwhile, back at the ranch,”
Skinheads field-dress a man whose only sin
was a wink at the wrong guy; he is strapped
to the bumper of a cracker truck with the
Confederate flag flapping in the breeze of
the ultimate joy ride – ice-cold beer and
today’s catch dead and mangled, trailing them,
bouncing in the tread marks.

A woman says the wrong thing (again)
and gets what she had coming; he talks to police
and she hides her face, mumbling “mistake” and “sorry.”
A shelter’s bell rings at 2 am:
A mom and two kids barefoot in Buffalo snow,
wrapped only in bedsheets. As they are clothed and
warmed by cocoa and reassurance, they tell of
the boyfriend confiscating clothes and shoes nightly
so they might not leave. Now they fear he is near.

In D.C., no matter who started it, the drones find
their next predator… surrounded by family members.
In return, a boy straps on the gear and becomes
one cell phone call away from the CNN crawl.
Everybody has nukes as long as the US says it’s OK.
Israel walls off Palestinians, we pay for the materials.
If we complain, we are called “anti-Semitic,”
even if we’re Jewish!

Mexican cartels are doing well and causing hell,
while the CIA protects Afghan poppy fields.
But we are made to worry only about people who hope
to clean toilets in America – the least of our worries.

God, Jehovah, Adonai, Allah, Creator
Give us peace, we pray in our churches and temples

We didn’t listen to Moses.
We didn’t listen to Jesus.
We ignore the Five Pillars of Islam.
We didn’t heed the Buddha or Gandhi.
We didn’t follow Dr. King past his death.
We only listen to TV…
Why don’t we listen to God?

(c) 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

It’s November Poem A Day (PAD) at Poetic Asides.  Today, we were asked to write on the theme of closing a door or turning a page.  We’ll be here all month – try the chicken cacciatore!   (Ba-dum-DAH!)  Amy


Close the door on yesterdays
Memories can burn
sure as acid
etching pain into your very bones
Strange Celtic text
something about Dad
something about trust

Close the door on yesterdays
People who hurt you
and in return were abandoned
deprived of your vitality
and also your venom
You don’t plan to study the language
There’s no point now

Turn the page
See a life unburdened by the past
where forgiveness reigns
in beauty
in hope
in trusting the words of one who
forgave so much more than you endured

(c) 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore