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

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We are moving from the Buffalo area to Wisconsin, as Lex has been called to a new church.   Lake Edge UCC offers Lex new challenges, and the Madison area is alive with cultural possibilities. Only sad part, leaving St. Paul’s UCC, Lex’s first church, and Attica friends who have become family to us… Peace, Amy


All day I lay paralyzed
Panic-stricken by the massive undertaking
of a major move

The task is like a ton of marble
meant to be chiseled
reshaped into shippable form

The more I chip away
the farther the flotsam flies
Last chance to cherish tsotchke before unpacking again

Now the room is a frenzy of
forgotten details, floating memories
Taunting bytes of mislaid input

Cable movers – nail down days
Valium for the cat, pet-friendly motels
Electric stop here electric start there

Change car rental ALL insurance
Ensuring my mental collapse, or at least
a surging synapse

Graph paper at the ready, grid lines map
our new home – orderly oragami
I’m so anal it’s damned convenient for the movers

Around 4 pm I am clueless in clutter
cup of decaf by my side and
comforting cat on my lap

Then a skitch of that endless marble flicks my face
Embedding itself in my ear, burrowing
into my brain. The cycle begins again

And who the hell moves from snowy cold Buffalo
to blizzard-ridden frigid Wisconsin
And in mid-January, yet?

I’m blaming God, who is laughing Her butt off in Heaven
After all, She issued Lex’s call to ministry, and now She chortles,
“I’ll get you, my pretty… and your little cat, too!”

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

My old friend George is about to embark on a journey most of us would envy… the kind where, when we’re old and sitting in a nursing home with a bib catching our drool, we rasp, “I should’ve done that, taken that trip, dropped it all and gone off to discover why I’m here and what life could have been.”

He stopped off for a last visit with Lex and me before liftoff. I scribbled these lines in hopes that he has a safe voyage and finds what he’s looking for… or it finds him!  Godspeed, my courageous brother.


Can there be
a better place
than what’s around the bend?

Goodbye once again,
and cramming into
his car, fairly brimming with

all the necessities.
A few luxuries:
DVDs to play once there

Sojourning toward Someday,
Will it end,
this road, this exquisite journey?

Or will he
touch down lightly
where peace and love collide?

Where he feels
alive at last.
At present, tense – but future…

Don’t give up
on these dreams
of belonging in the world.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

A universal truth, given poetic form by yours truly! Have fun, Amy


Soap scum, sloughed-off cells and scunge
Hair of questionable origin
The bathtub, basin of family grunge
Gloves and gas mask, I’m going in

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

IN PRAISE OF SLOW COOKING (for De and Justin Jackson)

Lex minces garlic
and chops onion on a small cutting board
We love the sound of the knife
thunking the wood.

I brown the chicken in olive oil,
nudging the cutlets, easing in
a bit of broth after the first turn,
poaching with herbs from my potted garden,
a splurch of wine, a pinch of pepper.

Now we divvy veggie duty:
He, the mushroom expert,
peels, washes, slices thin
with a knife we wish was
up to the quality of our endeavor.

I’m the Carrot Queen, the
Broccoli Barlow Baby.
Rice is already on,
scented with saffron.

Whatever the meal, we cook
together. Slowly.
We need only the kitchen,
time, talk, and the bumping of butts
as we faux-fight over space.

Cooking is only half the fun.
Then comes enjoying
a slow-cooked meal
with family and friends.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Another Poetic Asides “location” poem, but my blog is able to handle the Spanish, so here it be!!


Autumn in tropical climes
held no charm for me…
only a reminder that, once again,
I’d missed the falling leaves of October.
My little girl had not yet seen
the glory of leaves
tangerine, blood orange, marmalade,
Nature’s display, a free buffet

One call to my sister and a week later
the magical package arrived.
“¿Qué tal, Mama?” cried Laurita,
my little Irish Jewish Puertoriqueña.
Overturning the box,
waxed leaves spilled onto the tabletop.
“¡Amarillo, rojo, todas las colores!” squeaked Laura.

We taped them to the white plaster walls
as though they were falling from a tree in heaven.
Random patterns of second-hand Autumn.
My child’s first dance with the leaves,
we filled the house and neighbors came
to marvel at our living fresco.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Big Tent Poetry, we were asked to think long and hard about our dwellings… then write about a favorite place. I knew right away where my heart lay.


In times long passed,
the kitchen hearth was
the heart of every home.
Scent of drying herbs
a potpourri of potted and garden delights.
Fresh-baked bread beckoning.

Perhaps a rocking chair for Gram
as she sat and choreographed
the preparation of the evening meal.
And always, a pot of coffee.

Our own kitchen is quite small,
but the walls, tomato red, stir appetites.
We collaborate on meals:
Here’s the wooden board, I’ll chop veggies
while you brown the chicken.
You, the king of piecrust, rule the rolling pin
while I slice apples and stir in spices.
Occasionally, we bump butts, laughing.
Small space, but a romantic place.

Our kitchen is the heart of our home.
Rented, but ours, still
because we’ve made it so.
The cat watches longingly from his perch
awaiting his shre.
We cook, bake, talk, share
and pray over the meal we prepare,
for patience, for love to loom large
over the rest of the world. As for me and mine,
we are at peace.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil