ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (haiku)
Face like a barn door
Heart of a lioness; she
craved justice for all
Franklin got the press
But her work on behalf of
others is legend
© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter “E,” and for my poetic haven, Poets United.
Eleanor Roosevelt was, in my opinion, the greatest First Lady in history. Not only was she an invaluable advisor to her husband, but she constantly fought for human rights, for women’s causes… and she did so knowing that she was neither “comely” nor possessing of any powers other than her own personal tenacity. She loved Nancy Hickock (AKA “Hick”) for years, and although her embarrassed family attempted to destroy any evidence of that relationship, many letters survived. Franklin, likewise, had extramarital affairs; however, they remained a couple committed to the common good.
Eleanor is a hero of mine. A class act, a diplomat, she could talk to haves and have-nots with equal comfort and lucidity. She was, as they used to say, “a game girl,” ready for anything. God rest her soul. Peace, Amy
THREE! This poem answers three prompts: We Write Poems (Against the Grain), Writer’s Island (Tribute), and Sunday Scribblings (Big).
Larger than life, yet in her own mind, just doing her part. One of my all-times heroes, and right now, we need all the heroes we can get. Amy
Big Little Woman
To a woman who lost it all
Widowed, her children dead from dread disease, the flu pandemic.
After her kids perished, she nursed neighbors.
To a woman who rose from grief and chose
to take up the burden of others:
Mothers, fathers, children, all laboring side by side
in factories, in fields, on farms, long hours for pennies,
as their cruel, crafty masters garnered a tidy profit.
Fat cats whose fortunes were secure.
Rich men whose better angels whispered, “Show love, compassion.”
But Greed and Hubris shout down angels.
They blot out God in a frenzied cloud
of green ink and gold coins numbering 30 and more.
Still, this widow woman knew nothing and cared less
about her own comfort. Others’ welfare trumped wealth
in her sensibilities, as she saw the rich exploit the masses.
She trod into the mines and the mills.
She talked in the fields, where the hopeless
worked long hours under punishing conditions.
She spoke of dignity (if she’d stopped there,
she would never have seen a jail cell).
She spoke of fairness (watch it, lady).
She shouted about rights (ah, the gloves were off now).
She stirred the pot, this big little woman,
pistol under her petticoat, taking on police
sent by their rich masters.
She was the voice of unions, the midwife of labor.
Let’s raise a toast in tribute to this hero,
who warned us that labor leaders should never
wear fancy suits or become rich off their organizations
(a fact that speaks volumes today)
and who taught us that, no matter what
the rank and file must be protected:
Raise your glasses high to Mother Jones.
Since I wrote about Barbara Stanwyck recently, I thought I’d give you one on another of my favorite stars! Peace, Amy
deemed a house rentable
if she could take
an ice-cold shower
and come out refreshed.
She took the shower
without first informing
the real estate agent
After all, it was her decision
and she felt entitled
She’d simply emerge from the bathroom
wet towel around her fiery red hair
© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Another take on the Writer’s Island prompt, Embark. The journey many of us would love to undertake.
O, to travel through time…
To the Harlem of Langston Hughes
To feel jazz wash over me and see
faces reflecting the culture of America
To the never-was Wessex of Hardy
To view broad expanses of countryside
and drink warm ale wearing home-sewn clothing
To trace the footsteps of Jesus, follow his sandals
to the lake share, witness the dropping of nets,
the spark of belief in a widow’s face
To occupy even the worst seat at a concert
featuring Jacqueline du Pre or Glenn Gould
To see Billie at Carnegie; Judy at the Palace
To hear firsthand Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”
echoing through every hidden corner of
streets in the Beats’ Greenwich Village
O, to travel through time!
© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Looking for _____, says the prompt at Poetic Asides. As usual, my Irish is up!
LOOKING FOR PEACE
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
BALL OF FIRE
She started off in Brooklyn
Ruby Stevens was her name
Petite, brown-eyed, brunette, lithe
She was destined for fame
First it was those small parts
The best friend or the maid
Then they saw beneath the sheen
there lay a bright-edged blade
Some years further down the road
Changed her style, her dress, her spiels
Stood tall to kiss Gary Cooper
Seven books beneath her heels
Throughout the years she played ’em all
from tough-as-nails jive dancer
to executive and old West rancher
to cute and sly romancer
But the role of hers I love the most
was never shown on screens:
Simply being Barbara Stanwyck
playing cards with the boys ‘tween scenes
© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil