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

Tag Archives: Message

A Wordling Whirl of Sundays gave us some great words:  Fading, flew, hurtles, limbs, clears, toss, turned, reaching, fresh, flossed, flecks, and siren. Thanks, Brenda, for a good challenge! Also posted at Poets United, the poets’ collective.

Unexpected Turn

Her mom’s car hurtles down the road,
windows down, fresh air, CD player cranked.

Amanda glances at her IPhone and waves it, yelling:
“Mindy says she just flossed her butt with a new thong!”

Cath is a new driver wishing they’d be quiet.
(Wait’ll they get their licenses, then they’ll understand.)

Amanda and Kara, texting like mad, oblivous to
the nerves of the new driver, who clears her throat.

Flecks of sunlight obscure her view.
(Damn, I shoulda worn my shades.)

“SHUT UP, GUYS!” she finally yells,
reaching the limits of her patience with her friends.

A deer darts across the road; Cath swerves and
heads straight for Mrs. Hardy’s fresh-painted fence.

They hit the ditch first and flip,
tossturned as limbs fly in slow motion.

The ambulance flew, sirens screaming,
but Kara and Cath were already fading.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

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.

Something I’ve been wanting to say for a long time… ever since I saw a Confederate flag flying at the same height as an American flag in a redneck’s front yard – in upstate New York. Amy

Black History… Month?

Here’s the mystery:
Why only one month for Black history?
Relegated to February, one month
to cover an entire race that rose from
being imprisoned on slave ships, dragged ashore in shackles
to making indelible marks on all of American society

Who suffered their families broken first by
slave owners and later by well-intentioned
but fatally flawed Welfare, driving dads away

Whose call and response field songs, codes for escape
shaped a new tradition of gospel in churches
Who created jazz in all its magnificent manifestations
Who literally built the White House (ironically named)
Who built the South and suffered under the Confederate flag
Whose voices and actions loom large in the tapestry of our nation

The witness of Sojourner Truth (“Ain’t I a woman?”)
The poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Rita Dove, Maya Angelou
The voices of Billie, Bessie, Ma Rainey, Leontyne Price, Marian Anderson
The brass of Louis, the class of Duke
The shy brilliance of Strayhorn, the in-your-face of Miles
The Harlem Renaissance, producing unfathomable beauty and power

The perseverance of the Negro Leagues
The courage of Jackie Robinson, the sleekness of Jesse Owens
The contemporary finesse of Venus, Serena, Tai Babilonia, and yes, Tiger

Courage under fire.
The energy of Crispus Attucks, fighting British troops
The Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen
There was never a war fought by America
that didn’t include Black troops

Philosophy and social justice.
The words of Frederick O. Douglass
The wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The burden shouldered by Coretta after his burial
The grassroots activism of Rosa Parks (no, she didn’t just decide
she was tired – it was a planned act of nonviolent protest)
The battered, brutalized child Emmett Till whose death
shone a light on lynchings all over the South
Listen, can you hear it? “Southern trees bear a strange fruit…”

Our ancestors, for we all came from that continent, regardless of
how far our tribes were scattered around the globe
reduced to one month, when Sylvia’s Beans go on sale at the market
and kids hear about George Washington Carver and peanut butter
and a few lines about Rosa, Martin, and how “Lincoln freed the slaves”
A little blurb about Bill Cosby on TV, Louis Armstrong singing “Hello, Dolly”
And that’s that

Black history is OUR history.
From slavery to freed citizens
From abolitionists to suffragettes
The struggle, oppression
and one triumphant moment on an election day
(Indonesian, my ass)
The music, the invention, the philosophy, the art, the daring

One month? Really?

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

CHARMING THE SNAKE (for Thursday Tales)
He spoke only in monotones
His voice, the flute
And I, foolish cobra
drained of venom
danced to his tune
his orders
Performing at his whim

That day has passed
I found my fangs
Reclaimed my venom
And dance to my own tune
Pity the snake charmer
He is always left with
an empty basket

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

SHE DIDN’T CHANGE (for Laura/Riley)

She was brilliant
Head of the class, sassy
Audrey-Hepburn beautiful
Powerful sense of justice
Rhythmically gifted
Constantly questioning authority
Doodling in the margins of her homework
Nose glued to a book or
to Japanimation on the tube

One day she decided
to tell me the truth,
that she is not straight
She calls it “queer”
(“Lesbian sounds like I emigrated.”)

And that’s the day I knew
My daughter is
Destined to illustrate a graphic novel

In no particular order, these qualities
And guess what?
In my eyes
In the eyes of her family
She didn’t change
She adjusted her horizon
and we adjusted with her

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
previously posted at Poetic Asides

At Poetic Asides, the prompt was the word “agree.”
This poem questions the ‘right/wrong’ assumptions… especially for fellow followers of the teachings of Christ.


This I have been called
and rightly so
for insisting that Jesus
never charged co-pays for healing
never turned away the poor
challenged us to take care of
those less fortunate than ourselves
to pray for our enemies
to accept people for who and what they are
(love your neighbor as yourself)
to never judge, pointing out another’s splinter
without inspecting the log in your own eye
to shun violence
to turn the other cheek, and
that condemning any part of God’s creation
or any person God created
is to condemn a part of God

Yeah, I’m pretty disagreeable sometimes
but I never seem to run out of friends

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

More Poetic Asides hijinks on the theme “Ready/Not Ready.” Hey, it’s Election Day. Timing is everything.


My girlfriend said their great retirement home
will be built on the edges of Seneca Lake
She picked out the fabrics, the flooring, and all
No detail neglected, no room for mistake

Then came the crash of his 401-K
and panic seized both in an iron vice grip
Reverting to scarcity, selling the Rolls
Cancelling their spring Caribbean trip

They’d counted on Washington, ‘cause they fed campaigns
that killed rules for banks and left gaping loopholes
Then scare tactics spindled by media wonks
diverted attention from loosened controls

She whines that their mansion is now underwater
Not from Katrina – hell, they’re Northern white
But what to be scared of and who is to blame?
Rushing to judgment, without due hindsight

Now I and my husband have never played stocks
We always have rented and lived within reason
So we didn’t sweat when the big banks collapsed
(but many walked out on their homes and claimed treason)

No gambling, no losing; no panic, no sweat
We have all we need: Roof and food and cheap cable
Do you remember the Bush call to for ownership:
“Everyone should buy a house” (even if they’re not able

to figure the finances, understand risk, and
above all, to never trust salesmen at banks,
who said, “Zero credit? No problem, sign here.”)
It is to these policies we said, “No thanks.

We’re happy to “flush down the toilet” our rent
Cause when a pipe breaks, there’s a landlord to call
We don’t care for Disney, the cruises, vacations
We wonder if folks know true values at all

Family, friends, an occasional potluck
Every Christmas our presents are set:
Gifts to the pantry, to Heifer and others
And thanks to the Lord, all our needs have been met

If life is a journey, the world a big stage
Let’s act as a troupe, never leaving behind
our neighbors who need more than they can scratch up
Whether welfare or mortgaged, let’s keep them in mind

The Great Equalizer has left ivory towers
and lives off our taxes, as has been the custom
He gets a free pass on the hardship he caused
‘Cause Fox blames it all on the “Socialist Muslim”

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Another “Seven Sins” theme for Jingle Poetry – this one, acrostic.

S.E.V.E.N. S.I.N.S.

Volcanic temper

Nodding off in church

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This is a challenging piece. We were called on to write from another’s perspective at Poetic Asides, so I chose to embrace empathy and try to envision how a young man might strap on the gear and become a suicide bomber – to see the part of him that truly believes he is a martyr, dying for his faith. Would appreciate comments, but please DO NOT see this as an endorsement for his cause; I am a pacifist, so this was hard to write. Amy


They started it with their MTV and harsh music
polluting the minds of our youth
Their unholy values, grasping for money and power
at the expense of the poor, the widows, the orphans
Insisting our precious resource, the
sand-sheltered oil under our land is theirs
Needed to run their large shiny cars and industries

I have been prepared at the madrassa
Made a video stating my reasons for doing this
Said my goodbyes and made a list
of beloved family and friends who,
because of my courage,
will be assured a place in heaven.

This is my destiny; I was chosen for this honor
by men who have taught me from childhood
all the important tenets of the Qur’an
How infidels must pay for
the evil they bring into this world
for murdering our mothers and children
for coveting what is not theirs to have

I follow the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him)
Because of my sacrifice and my courage,
my family will be provided for and proud of me

I am being strapped into my gear; then I will
head to the shopping mall
where revealing Western clothes are
polluting the values of our women
(Reema, how lovely she looks in hijab and modest linens)
and hip-hop music
(Reema, dancing dizzily with her sisters
to a nasheen by Dawud Wharnsby Ali)

I will see Reema again in Heaven
Surely she will die a virgin and wait on me there
popping figs into my mouth as I recline at her feet

I am a man and today I prove it
It is time. I enter the mall
Shoppers carrying bags
American soldiers patrolling the halls

And then I see her
Reema, gazing in a store window
I want to shout, to get her out of here
but as the words leave me mouth the ———-

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore

Thanks to Robert at Poetic Asides for this prompt. The bitter truth from my personal perspective…


It’s already ablaze
with hatred’s haze

Militias are loading
targets exploding

Cities burying
drug mules carrying

comforting balm
expensive calm

Families crying
boys and girls flying

home from Iraq
in a flag-draped sack

Young girls abort
coat hangers, contort then

succumb to the rust
and they’re dust to dust

Praying with raw knees
does nothing to ease

the truth that is clear:
The fire is here

(c) 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore