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

Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Manly Men

There, he looked again,
right at me.
At my crotch, for God’s sake.
He’s at the table across from the bar
near the bathrooms.

Maybe he thinks I’m
“that way.”
Maybe the little queer
thinks he’ll score.
Who can blame him? I’m a stud.
I work out twice a week.

But God, he must
think I’m some kind of
perv.

Here he comes,
right over to the bar,
brazen little nancy boy.
I could buy him a few
drinks, get him out back
and beat the shi-

“Mister?” the young man says
softly.
“Your fly is open.”
He walks to the door,
greets some guy
They hug and grab a drink.

Maybe I should work out more.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Kerry at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads requested we write poems from the first person point of view using a narrator whose unreliability becomes clear to the reader through the course of the narrative. Also, ABC Wednesday is up to M, and, as always, it’s up at my favorite LGBTQ-friendly cafe, Poets United.

Remember, never judge the book without reading it first. Or something like that. I’m so sick of homophobes, and this is an example of well-deserved ego deflation (and shrinkage!). Peace, Amy


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


Going the Distance:
“Who Do You Think You Are, Amy Barlow Liberatore?”

Let’s hear what everybody else says first:

“You were born 40 and you’re working your way backwards,”
said my mom, when I was 7

“Charmful little armful,”
said my musical mentor

“She can SANG!
said our African-American piano player

“Get that bitch off the podium!”
snarled the Buffalo cop at a peace rally

“Please don’t say that about your dad,”
cried my mom, when I was 35

“You’re not a dyke, why should you care?”
asked a Fundie at a PRIDE rally (when I challenged their ‘God Hates Fags’ sign)

“Good thing you can sing. Your dancing sucks,”
joked my friend at a big band concert

“You’re not a victim; you’re a survivor,”
said my therapist

“You wear manic depression well,”
grinned my psychiatrist

“You have the soul of a dinosaur,”
said the oracle Sidnie

“Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel,”
say bloggers (with a wink)

“PLAY ‘FEEEEELINGS’!!”
slobbered countless drunks at my piano bar

“You’re just a gay man trapped in a straight woman’s body,”
said Jeffery, may he rest in peace

“You’re going to hell for encouraging those homosexuals,”
say… too many people to mention

“If you’re going to hell, it’s gonna be in a FABulous handbasket,”
giggled Jason

“Thanks for the lessons,”
said my BFF (and only he will understand that comment)

“I have no dramatic coming-out story because you were so accepting,”
laughed Riley

“She’s a pain in the ass,”
said the FBI agent, flipping through my file

“Take it off! Take it off!”
cried Christopher after I sang a comedic song about stripper envy

“Because she questions my authority,”
said the principal to my mother, as I sat in detention

“You are SO worth it,”
says my husband, over and over again

My life is chaotic peace.

I’m a sharp little pencil, still writing my life.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Poetic Bloomings (“Who Do You Think You Are?”), for Sunday Scribblings (distance), and for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.


I don’t normally re-blog, but The Dark Globe had a reasoned, enlightening view on LGBTQ rights and the Constitution that did NOT include religion.

It’s a well-crafted essay by a person who is NOT “pro-gay,” nor is he “anti-gay.” Intriguing, and I heartily suggest you read and comment. Peace to all, Amy

Gay Rights in America.


Sorry I didn’t post for two days, but here’s a slice of life from a teenage girl’s point of view.

UGLY.

Mirrors are cruel.

They never say she’s
the fairest one, yet she
dares another look.
She doesn’t see
herself, she only sees:

Ugly.

Horrible acne, festering, hideous.
A lump is in her throat as she
steps back for the full-length view.
Flat chest, not the
jiggling fullness boys like.

Hips SO not there.
And her hair, a disaster
of biblical proportions;
not really blonde,
not exactly brown,
more like puddles after
a long, soaking rain…
or the worms that come out to
get squished on the sidewalk.

And the scars on her wrists,
constant reminders that she
tried to rid the world of
this pustule of a person.

Rubbing lavender lotion on her
warm belly (at least I’ll smell good,
not that they’ll get very close),
then, donning the final insult:
the glasses.
(Bifocals at 16. I mean, really?)
She sneaks downstairs for breakfast
before catching the bus to school.

Her mom, who is of course GORgeous
and dressed the same, pours juice.
See her hands, perfectly manicured,
her flawless skin, and long,
auburn hair pulled back carelessly
in a scrunchy. Effortless.

She measures herself against
the impossible, easy beauty of her mother.
(I’ll never be that pretty, never.)

Mom turns and says,
“Paul, remember your biology test today.
Oh, look, you’re wearing the shirt
I got you at the mall!” A kiss on the forehead.
“My handsome boy. Don’t break any hearts today!”

Don’t worry. She won’t, not while
that worrisome bulge is in her jeans.
The thing that doesn’t belong on a real girl.

Gym today… she shudders,
takes a bite of a muffin,
feels the Adam’s Apple
bounce with the swallow.

Ugly.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Sunday Scribblings, the prompt was “Costume,” (and, indeed, that’s what this teenager wears every day) and ABC Wednesday is on “U.”  Also posting to dverse Open Mic Night, where a collection of more than 100 poets usually post their favorite poems of the week.  All descriptions, all diverse subject matter, all manner of poets.  Look for Aaron Kent, if he has posted a spoken word, too!

NOTE: Life is more than difficult for transgender teens; it’s often impossible. Too many kids commit suicide, caught in the confusion of their gender identity and an undefinable shame about how they are built vs. who they know they are. As with other teens with gender identity confusion, they are constantly on guard, worried their secret will come out. This “young man” yearns to go the the prom in a dress with cleavage. Who can blame her? She is, in her heart, a girl who happened to be delivered into the wrong body. Pray for our kids. High school sucks for straight kids – imagine yourself in this kid’s shoes. Peace, Amy


DECLARATION OF AN ALLY OF THE QUEER COMMUNITY

Queer. That word stops
folks from my generation
dead in their tracks.
We don’t say that word.

Queer.
Always an insult, the word shouted
by football players before stuffing a
loafer-light boy into a wastebasket.

Queer.
Not right. Wrong.
In Matthew Shepard’s case, dead wrong.
Tied-to-a-bumper wrong.

Queer.
The word my daughter uses
in identifying her orientation.
She dresses boyish but loves women.

Queer.
They’re here. Your accountant, your dentist,
your kid’s teacher (not the one with the
porn on their computer, either).

Queer.
Homophobes use it to describe
boys other than their own sons, who
ship out in the Navy to prove they are “real men.”

Queer.
Mom explained it when I was five.
No graphic descriptions of sex,
just, “Uncle John loves Uncle Tony.”

It’s simple.
People are people.
Half the sexual acts straight couples do
could get them arrested in Mississippi.

Queer.
They’re here. Get over it.
They are committed couples.
They adopt kids straight couples don’t want.
They rehabilitate crack babies.
They are wonderful neighbors.
They shop; they pay taxes.
Some are slobs, some are fashionable.
Some drink wine, some drink beer.
Some go to church, some don’t.
They are human beings who are
capable of love, of compassion,
of snottiness, of loyalty.
They deserve life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness.

Just like you.
Just like me.
Just like everybody else.

Amen.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter Q.

And no, that is not a picture of me.  It’s me in 20 years or so!


Wonder, Wander

Young girl lies in tall grass
loves seeing flowers from underneath
Queen Anne’s lace, a parasol in sunshine
Timothy grass swinging above her
She wonders why buttercups shine thing
under her skinny chin

Mother looks out the back window
at her daughter and wonders where
life will take her in ten years
Will she also marry and submerge
in the suburbs, eager for her next drink

Billy finds Ginny in the field
Offers her a bite of his apple
“Ha,” says Ginny, “you’re Eve”
He grins, lies down beside her
innocently, wondering
when he will be attracted to girls

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Poets United Think Tank Thursday, the prompt was “Wonder.”
For Trifecta: Three 33-word stanzas, each describing the thoughts of one person connected to the next. I chose the situation each was in, mirrored against the naivete of youth versus the bitter truth of the suburban housewife. This is me, my Mom, and my best friend, John (who finally figured it out: Never!)


Many followers of the Christ assume only they are going to Heaven. Even worse, within Christianity, there are pickers and choosers; they claim to speak for God and freely condemn all sorts of people, just like the Pharisees did in their day. So this is dedicated to the harder hearts among Jesus’ legacy, sure the Rapture is just around the bend and rubbing their hands in delight and/or angst about all us miserable folks who are surely going to Hell.

Honey, Hell is right here on earth… just look in a crack den. I don’t believe in the Rapture. Jesus said love God and each other. God is LOVE! Can I get an “amen”? Amy

A THOUSAND YEARS

A Fundie sighed
that if I died
today, I’d go to Hell

“How do you know
just where I’ll go;
and when we’ll hear that bell?”

Until the “Rapture,”
let us capture
what God bids us to do:

Doing justice
living kindness
and walking humbly, too

End it today?
Guess I’d say
I truly have no fears

I live as though
the earth will go
another thousand years

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Image by Monty Propps at b3ta


Whoa, babe, first day of PAD (Poem a Day, all April), and it’s a trifecta!  Process notes below, but first, the poem.

REFLECTOR BABE

If I could have one power
it probably would be
a magic mirror carried
all over town with me.

If someone shouted, “N*****!”
I’d take it from my purse
to hold it up before them
and then they’d want to curse;

for they would see a black face,
they’d stare quite quizzically.
And then I’d asked them plainly,
“Do you see what I see?”

Or bullies shoving gay kids
into the garbage bin.
My mirror’d show them how they’d look
once they had been tossed in.

The rich would see the homeless,
the cheaters, a square dealer.
Oh, with my mirror, I might have
the powers of a healer.

For even if they didn’t change,
perhaps they’d take some time
reflecting on their ways, o Lord!
Would that not be sublime?

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Sunday Scribblings (reflect), Poetic Bloomings (super hero), and Poets United’s Poetry Pantry. I thought about the prompt “reflect” and, rather than render another reflection about politics, child abuse, depression, or whatever the heck was on my mind, I’d use the mirror image. Then Blooms wanted poems about super heros, and since I had already posted “Volume Control Grrrl” (with a flick of my wrist, I could render booming car stereos mute, as well as people loudly discussing their gall bladder operations while I’m trying to eat at the next table), I thought this would be more in keeping with my values. And Poetry Pantry? Hell, I post EVERYTHING at Poets United, because they are my Gang of Many Wonderful People! Peace, Amy


As the New Year approaches, I felt the time was right to post this, based on a person (whose name has been changed) who hung around Court Street in Binghamton, NY, back in the 70s. I didn’t know her personally… but she was different.  And she was persecuted for it. This year, let’s be kind to everyone – especially “The Others,” those whom we may not understand, but who are just as worthy of respect as the next person.  Let’s make this the year we put an end to homophobia and prejudice against all who buck the stereotypes.

Here’s the story of a fighter. Peace, Amy

FRANCES BY NIGHT

Frances took a lot of shit
back when cross-dressing was even more misunderstood
On Saturday nights, she’d dress to the nines
Scarves, handbag, nails done, bejeweled pumps
The Pink Cadillac was the only bar in town that would serve her
Sometimes she’d get bounced early for
flouncing around the married guys too much
(They were undercover, like the CIA)

This was back in the day of “those bars”
When you came in the back door and showed ID
Humiliating for closet cases, but worse for Frances
who had to show her license with her real name, Frank
It set her on edge every time, and she had a mouth on her

A few cocktails would set her right
She’d be fine ‘til closing time
If no prime escort took the bait
she’d wait as long as she could
before leaving for good (or for worse)

Fag bashers staked out the back door, on their beat
Ready to beat the crap out of “the little whore”
Yelling, “Frankie! Frankie!”
No cops were ever around that part of town
despite the shouts of the frantic rumble

She put up a good fight, that little queen
for all the mascara and cashmere, she was a scrapper
Her Georgette Klinger lipstick smeared on the knuckles
of some macho boy who really only wanted to touch her
but couldn’t admit it in front of his buddies

“Frankie,” they’d shout, “we’re coming for you”
“Boys,” she’d retort, “do come!
You need it more than I do”

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also at my poetic hearth and home, Poets United, for their Poetry Pantry.