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

Tag Archives: Free Speech

Journalism and the Bush Years

Misinformation was the most potent weapon
of the Bush Regime. How soon we forget.

Remember him clowning at the Press Club?
Journalists laughed with him, not at him.
(The new crop of undereducated – but
photogenic – media types are a sorry lot.
Unlike Morrow, they’re not hired for their brains;
unlike Cronkite, they’re not to be trusted.)

“No WMDs under here!” he bozoed, to
wave upon wave of pandering giggles.

While I, the Christian,
and my Riley, the Jew,
and our friend Muna, the Muslim,
used to sit on her porch and drink “ka-hway”
(which is Arabic coffee powered by something
stronger than nuclear fission could EVER produce;
this bunker-buster brew with thick black syrup on the bottom
is the stuff of dreams except you never go to sleep
until two days later and even then
you are still talking VERY fast).

On 9/11 we sat in her kitchen and cried.
Later on Muna’s porch
(all too soon snarled at by passersby)
we sipped her coffee
and cried some more.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Also at the poetic oasis, Poets United.

Last Stop on the Erie-Lackawanna

She sits on the train and stares at the passing hillsides.
Animated visions of towns she long since left
are whizzing by, their whispered plea, “Come back,
you are still thirsty for that bottle of mistakes,
come partake and we will sustain you.”

Bad memories, resilient buggers.
Aching for revenge that will never be hers,
she stands on the platform of the caboose
and, hearing the thrumming of the engine, wheels at full-tilt pace,
she decides this may be her stop after all.

(c) 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore

Many thanks to Brenda Warren at Beyond the Bozone for the Wordle. As usual, a cheerful offering from yours truly…!
The words were:    revenge, aching, train, thirst, thrumming, visions, resilient, sustain, animated, hillsides, whispered.

OK, I had a HUGE blast of energy after the sun came out, my cough abated, my lungs cleared, and I rode a bike for the first time in 7 years! THREE, count ’em, THREE poems today, so scroll all the way down. One haiku, one thumping Trump (hey, who doesn’t wanna do that?), and a final meditation to bring it all to a proper close. Peace to all who visit this blog, and remember, the Mayans didn’t predict Cortez, so quit sweating 2012!   Amy

First, for ABC Wednesday and that pesky letter, “O,” as well as Sensational Haiku Wednesday:

“O” is for Obama

Birthers, just admit
since proof of birth has been shown:
You hate his black skin.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Now, this is for ABC Wednesday and any blog that included prompts about idiots, f***wits, greedy rich straight white men, and egotists in general:

Obnoxious and Overbearing

Reporters live for this crap
(as Murrow turns slowly in his grave).

The brave blond/redheaded billionaire,
multiple times bankrupt
(and that’s just financially speaking)
arrives in his airbus.

Airbrushed hair sculpted to his scalp
(paging Mr. Softee!).
Face like a sphincter
mind like a gumball machine
mouth like a garbage disposal
spewing mindless accusations about
Place Of Birth and how Proud He Is Of Himself
that He forced the airing of Proof,
the truth that our president is…
well, our president.

TV reality show host,
scion of the sleaziest game in town:
Casinos (the house always wins,
but he still manages to go belly-up again and again).
Three wives (so far), but he’s rich again;
there may be more.

Anderson Cooper’s,
Jon Stewart’s, and
Stephen Colbert’s
collective wet dream:

Trump/Palin 2012!

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Finally, for Three Word Wednesday, using the words, Foolish, Mercy, and Relish. It’s Threefer Friday. Freaky Friday. A good Friday. Peace, Amy

Dry Bones

Bones weathered, dry, sun-bleached
Souls weary, drained, damaged

Who will raise them?
What will give them life, the power
to give and to receive love?
How will they rise from death?

Miracles happen.
The Bible says Ezekiel witnessed
the stop-action resurrection
of a thousand Jack Skellingtons.

Miracles happen
when we see ourselves
in the eyes of the homeless, the starving, the addicted.

Miracles happen
when we see past
our plasma screens, Starbucks, Mastercards
the restaurants we relish,
the foolish ways we overextend ourselves…
and show mercy to those who have nothing.

Miracles happen
when we listen to
our better angels.

Look past things of this world,
take on the burden.
Walk that mile.
Reach out to those who need your touch,
and your sorry, dry bones will be renewed.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also posted at my NaPoWriMo home, Writer’s Island, and at Poets United. Thanks to Rob at Writer’s Island for giving us all a prompt-free space for posting. Allows all of us to use prompts and ideas from different sites, as well as free writes from our own musings. A real blessing to me this year! Kudos, Rob.

At We Write Poems, a prompt went out: Write a poem about writing a poem. You never know when or where the inspiration will strike. I’ve long since given up on sitting down and deciding to produce something… and yet, the more I write, the more I want to write!

This poem is also posted at Writer’s Island, where I’m posting daily for National Poetry Writing Month. Amy

Prelude to a Poem

Teapot screams meeeeeEEEEEEEE
demanding attention
Drip of the French Press into the mug
Pressing grounds through as
ground falls from under my feet
taking me back to that cafe in the Village where…

Drifting with the breeze down State Street
Lots of UW students hang and hacky-sack here
Whole lives ahead of them
One potent whiff of a fattie gives me
a contact high and suddenly I’m on Venice Beach…

We march in solidarity with unions at
Madison’s Capitol Dome
The golden statue atop is called Miss Forward
The governor inside is called Mister Backward
My anger at injustice boils inside my gut
I plop down on the pavement and start to
scribble on the back of my sign…

Startled awake, sweating, full-body tremble
recalling those nights when
a little girl was tucked in tight until
HE decided it was her turn
I switch on the light – it’s NOW, dammit, not THEN!
I pick up a pen…

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Sunday Scribblings gave us a simple prompt: Free. Also, Writer’s Island gave us Inseparable. So this is a twofer. Amy

A Mother’s Ferocious Love

Trapped like animals in their jungle village.
Strapped one to another: Young mother, daughter and son.
Shoved into ships, below deck,
so cramped, no room to stand.

The voyage was grueling.
Thin gruel was their mainstay.
These white masters with their whips at the ready
as steadily, her people died of fever and starvation.

The sound of the whippings, the whimpering.
Her son, finally succumbed to the wasting disease.
Now, as she wondered whether this boat would ever find land,
and she herself felt gripping pain in her gut.

Up on deck for the hosing down,
she clutched her baby girl in her arms,
inched her way to the rail and, in an instant,
they were both overboard, taken by the sea.

Her son had already been given to the water
after his death, tossed over like garbage.
At least now she and her baby girl would join the boy,
inseparable forever, engulfed in the endless waters. Free.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Poets United, the Thursday Think Tank prompt was Ghosts.   Everyone should have a favorite one, right?  Amy

So Near

The spider web draws past my cheek
I know she’s near
A whisper in the back of my being
A tug on that loose thread on my sleeve
A feeling of longing to see her again

She’s here, unseen but wholly present
when I need her most,
conjuring a smile from my sullen face,
reminding me that death is not the end,
but a beginning.

Blanche floats along
with the cloud of witnesses
especially for my benefit.
I am not afraid, for she is my angel:
My reminder of connection to the eternal.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Here in Madison, we are fighting for unions and for fairness – PEACEFULLY.  Don’t believe the FOX BS.  There have been no laws broken, except by the Governor and the Legislature.  Please read and remember – I have been there, on site.  I tell you the truth:  There are no marauding throngs of thugs (unless the Gov. decides to plant them, as he has admitted on tape to considering); there have been NO windows broken at the Capitol Dome (that report was retracted.)  In fact, the Gov. ordered the window jambs sawed off to prevent them from being opened, patently illegal and a safety risk – this is why the “cleanup” of the Dome is up to $7M.

Yes, I’m an activist, and proud of it.  So sue me.  Make a lawyer rich with another frivolous lawsuit!  For ABC Wednesday.  Amy

Here, Heroes

Have you heard?
Hope is heralded here in Madison.
Hands up if you heed the Constitution.
Hands up if you’ve heard about Mother Jones,
Headlining the cause of unions
with the heart of a lioness.

Heading to the Capitol Dome,
heeding our call as citizens
to have our grievances heard.
Head of Wisconsin, the poster boy
for hubris, hedonism, and dishonesty.
Have you heard?  Do you care?

Heads up:  Greed is heading for
your hometown next.
Wisconsin is ground zero:
It will halo out from here.
Jesus said, Help the hungry, the homeless…
or are Hannity, Beck, and Hagee your only heroes?

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

… at least I hope I won’t! Voices are for pleading the cause of justice. And for singing! Thanks to Three Word Wednesday for the prompt: Abrasive, Loss, Handful


She’s always been a handful, that Barlow girl
Opinions up the wazoo
and a mouth on her, too

Not the type you’d ever want to curl
up next to for quiet talk
She’s one to squawk

about injustice, poverty, and greed
She never stops
She never drops

the subject, will never heed
warnings from friends
that this stuff ends

with FBI files, a permanent docket
She says what they can bite
if they have the appetite

Her heart is a silver locket
filled with blood and heaven
Film at eleven

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Three Word Wednesday asked us to create a poem using Educate, Object, Silence. Mine seemed to go toward the political side of the spectrum. Interesting that “object” takes both the verb and noun forms.


The object of failing to
educate our youth
is to silence dissent

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


In opposition to corporate domination,
three options are clear:

Educate those around you
about the history of abuses;

Object publicly, speaking
truth to power; or,

Keep your silence, avoid roiling waters…
and wait for them to come for YOU.

(c) 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

There’s going to come a day in the near future when anti-war protests will start up again.  Even if I have to start them.  In the meantime, just as a reminder of how “free” we were during the Bush years, a snapshot of a Buffalo city protest, “back in the day.”

ORANGE MESH (the Bushista years)

We are herded behind
the orange mesh fence
hastily erected by minions to protect
Dick Cheney from our opinions
Residents vs. the vice president

Local police, paid overtime (by our side) to ensure
there will be no crime, no ordinance breached
such as burning and looting and freedom of speech

We are cattle herded into our enclosure, our stall
Orange mesh strangling the voice of the people
encasing us, muffling our rage, this cage

“Why not trample it, stampede the Code Orange?” says I
“Because.” My friend points to
snipers on the roof of an old Buffalo landmark
Our turf is their turret

We have changed species
We are sheep bleating
shorn by orange nylon and rubber pylons

© 2008 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil