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

Tag Archives: Hippies

Poem never made it to my blog until now – yet it was my first proper freestyle rant (on gentrification of L.A.), written while I was hanging with Riley, Marcia and Jesse on a trip to SoCal.  Reason I’m putting this up?  A friend of mine needs a KICK IN THE BUTT to jump-start writing her own stories of those years.  God, I miss it so, the Boardwalk, the cheap breakfast, the neverendingness of it all…  Amy

Venice Then and Now (1979, 2012)

We were free spirits, flowing with our Karma
Floating in a pot-scented breeze
But now it’s all money disease
Dis-ease about security sucks marrow from bone
Creativity from full-blown, fine, eclectic minds

The intersection: Hollywood & Vine… correction: What I Owe vs. What Is Mine
In your soul, the blues; on your mind, the dues
Paying for the right to live here, by the whispers of waves
Near palatial pavilions of the potently paid
Praying we could once again live back then, back when all was sensual, all serene
And the Venice Boardwalk a little less Green

Rave all we want, the money’s moved in
It’ll never move out ‘til tsunamis tumble Venice back to the trashy look

of hash-clouded, bearded marginals
Undulating madrigals with open guitar cases
Accepting quarters from faces unlined by gotta do gotta go gotta take this call

It’ll take the fall of L.A. to get it back to stay
No matter how much money they spend, there’s always more expense
for parking meters, Margaritas, Mercedes-Benz
What became of the real-deal drifters, grifting their way through a shroom-filled haze
Jingles and Frank and ragged reggae days
Muscle-bound bods of men well-oiled, well-pumped, unshod
Stores with honey-drenched Haagen Dazs in paper cups with wooden spoons
A pennyweight on a Mylar balloon –

we sent it skipping ghostlike toward the Venice Canals

Now they’re scum green
But the ducks don’t mind, they’re doing fine
Today I said hi and they called back
Money can’t make ‘em go anything but QUACK
If ducks = local charm, then why not beach bums, doing no harm?
Charm, like beauty, in beholders’ eyes
No room for human clutter, sweep ‘em in the gutter
like Rudy’s 42nd St., makes me shudder

The rich have L.A. well in hand
No handouts, no hand-me-downs, just put ‘em out, put ‘em down
Set down roots upon roots much deeper, roots of hippies without beepers, laptops,

Blackberry speakers attached to the ears of societal sleepers

Cops in Oakwood busted humble places – put those grandmas on their faces
Fat cats watch the breaking story – 5:00 talking head in her glory
Unless it’s your grandma’s face on the floor, it’s a sound byte, nothing more
And folks who really give a shit don’t have time to protest it
Scrimping, scraping takes its toll – staying, praying Rent Control isn’t eaten whole
by well-heeled leeches who want their condos near the beaches

Rich vs. Poor, at the boiling point
God, this city needs a joint

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


“You’re…” EEEEEK! uh…

Mammograms are the only day
when it doesn’t suck to be moi
I take ‘em out, I flop ‘em on
the glass, and they squish like foi gras

Then came two voice mails
on the same choice day
from the same office.

And suddenly my world morphed
from “as controlled as possible with meds”
to head-spinning dread, fed by
one freakin’ phone call.

All I must do is careen
back to the scene of the crime,
primed sans deodorant and scent,
rank with my own odor and fear.

It may be one mammo;
it may need more ammo.
a big needle thrust
to left of my bust.

“They’ll take the sample
with ample drama, mama,
and a big-ass needle, so
close your eyes and tell them
you have PTSD,” my beloved
survivor friend says.

“Then set phasers on STUN -it sounds
like a staple gun or Pac-Man as it
chomps in search of tissue.
Make them issue enough painkillers
to knock out a horse.”

“Of course,” I reply,
she laughs, knowing I
am immune to OTCs*
thanks to the 70’s…

…during which I imbibed
enough pharmaceuticals to
peel the cuticles off
a gorilla’s thumbnails.

It’s this Wednesday, folks,
please pray it’s a hoax,
and Old Leftie is “clean,”
if you know what I mean.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

* OTCs are “over the counter” drugs like Advil, Tylenol, and aspirin. I could take a whole bottle for a headache and it would do nothing for the pain… but the Advil would trash my liver!

Sunday Scribblings asked us to come up with a poem about a “Eureka moment.” This is the down side of that concept, and we’re hoping and praying it has a happy ending! Will keep you posted. Also at the one office where nothing ever hurts… Poets United! Peace, Amy


The Last Time I Danced

Grocery store run
Jeans with a big raggy hole
where my knee protrudes
Tan sneaks with pink shoelaces
(no big panama with a purple hat band…
but then, that’s a long time ago)

Chugging along with a cart full of
healthy foods for our responsible diet
and in consideration that we are both
in our 50s now and then

over the intercom

“Dancin’ in the Street”

Martha and the Vandellas,
none of that Mick and whosis crap

Another woman looks at me from
the cereal section and then we both
lay excited eyes on a dude in
Harley jacket and old boots
trolling the Gatorade

Who’s on first?

As if you have to ask

I take the lead line, inciting the riot

The three of us break into song
and dance like the freaks we were
like the freaks we still are
with every ounce of hippie left in us

She’s showin her tat of Marley on her
left arm, he’s swappin a picture of Jesus
on the back of his neck and me, I got no marks
but smile lines chiseled on my cheeks

We’re reeling in total abandon and
oblivious to the folks at either end of the aisle
Even the vegetable guy left his post
And at the fadeout, we’re fading out too
back to our carts as though nothing happened

The other shoppers burst into applause
and we all run back together in the
middle of the aisle to take a bow and
hug each other like there’s no tomorrow

Haven’t seen them again
Perhaps we were all each other’s angels
if only for that moment
Reminders that you can always let that
freak flag fly high enough to glide
as long as you keep enough freak inside

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For dverse, who called for Carefree Hours, or the last time you did something out of pure delight. This is delight, rebellion, and a three-person unplanned flash mob all in one package! Also for “Strange Bedfellows” at Sunday Scribblings and “Walk of Life” at Poetic Bloomings. I don’t walk; I dance, and as for strange bedfellows, I thought it would be nice to have them be total strangers with something in common but NO business dancing in the middle of the grocery store!! Peace, Amy


While I am editing several poems on the public protest over workers’ rights here in Madison, I need to take a break and answer a call to a prompt. Too much politics leads to personal unrest, and self-care is a huge part of successfully managing my manic depression… so meditation and writing are a big help!

At We Write Poems, we were asked to write about “safe places.” I was a rover in my twenties, and these are but a few of the places were I laid my head to rest…

Safe Havens

An unheated, leaky garage at an old rocker’s compound

A couch in a flophouse

The egg-crate pads laid on the floor of a nudist commune

Haystacks in a barn, as we helped with the harvest

Marcia and Jesse’s closet, the door unhinged (as was I),
the most comfortable vortex of all…

The beach in Venice, where I lay under an umbrella of starts
watching the slivered silver moon dance through my tripping eyes

An SRO, hot plate heating Chunky Beef Soup

Looking back at these havens, all were safe
Some were filled with love.
others with the scent of cow patties
and the sweat of an honest day’s work.

And still others bore the sweetness of smoke
from Mendocino County’s finest…

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


This one was inspired, in a way, by the Kafka Metamorphosis, but… well…  GAFBers, this one’s for you!

READY, SET, BLOW

I started off so fat
carefully dressed in white
that clung to my body
like Travolta’s ice cream suit.

OW! That burns,
but I am comforted by kisses
lips caressing me,
I am passed from friend to friend.

I’m the life of the party.
Glowing like the star of the show,
as the lava lamp flows,
bloop… bloop… bloop…

Minutes later, spent.
They’ve used me until I’m
a scrap of my former self
Now, indignity. Out comes the roach clip.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Our word at Sunday Scribblings this week was CURIOUS.

CURIOUS GEORGETTE

She trudged through our high school halls, lost
Aimless, claiming no one as her love,
let alone as her friend.
Defenselessness, defensiveness, born of low self-esteem…
Her mirror reflected no redeeming qualities – only questions.

She never knew we admired her aloofness.
It seemed like proof that you could survive high school
without a claque to back your every utterance

Graduation for Georgette was a slam of her parents’ back door
and a bus to the Left Coast.
The most she could score was a waitress gig,
but the tips were sometimes rolled in papers
or powdered, in neatly folded, palmable packets.

This was bliss. The otherworldly state, what was missing.
Communal living, easy giving
A belonging, a sense of family at last.
She offered her body to many men and
contracted various venereal diseases.
Still, she was pleased that she was wanted (though warted).

Dabbling in acid: Placid conversations with river frogs.
She produced artwork – optical delusions infused with
confused contortions of her new reality.

The hissing kiss of hashish in a hookah led to opiates of a wide variety,
side-winding her to limited life choices.
Not heeding her inner voice
(with its annoying mantra: “CAUTION!”),
she finally gave way to the needle.
Super Georgette, the heroin of her own life story.

Curiouser and curiouser.
Down the hold, harasses by nasty queens (and other tarts)
who wanted their money, honey.
Mad slatterns offered a spot in their stables,
and she complied… lied to her parents when she’d call for money
“I’m behind in my rent”
(I make rent using my behind)

smaller and smaller georgette shrank
until one day, shanked and shriveled,
she ceased to be at twenty-three.

Curiosity killed the kitten.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Dedicated to the GAFB/HiPockets/Poppy Star reunion 2010, with love to all, Amers

WITH ABANDON

Abandon hangups
all ye who enter here

Abandon your present
your what-happened-since-then
Embrace the ever-present past

Pick up a tambourine
Beat it til your hands bruise
Sing til it hurts
Play til your fingers remember
where their callouses were

Laugh til you cry
Live like it’s your last day on earth
Like it’s the end of your shift

Grab a cold beer, flop down here
and tell me all about it

We remain gypsies
no matter what path we chose
The world will never see anything like it again

Time and place
Ribs and space

Perrrrrrfection

Amy Barlow Liberatore
Santa Monica, August 15, 2010 (the morning after)


TEACUP

Sad Lisa was a hard-headed woman
She was miles from nowhere
on the road to find out
where the father and son had gone

Had they boarded longer boats
Sailed into the night fog, into white
She brews tea for the tillerman and whispers
But I might die tonight

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore
From Cat Stevens’ “Tea For The Tillerman”


True stories are always the best!

WHERE YOU FIND IT (SoCal Christmas)

That winter we were broke
Broken into bite-size pieces by our
Topanga Canyon appetites
Doobies opium hash wonka windowpane
drink snort smoke toke more more
wasting days and wastrel nights

By Christmas Day we had nothing
to give our friends
but canned vegetables
lifted from the local market
wrapped in the funny papers

Presents taped carefully, lovingly
exchanging gifts with one another
as though we had each one of us found treasure

Opened the cans and found a pot
to make Stoner Soup

The most generous Christmas of my life

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil