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

Tag Archives: Mother Jones

Mary, Queen of Rights

Raise your voices as one
to a woman who lost it all:
Widowed, children dead from dread yellow fever.
After kids perished, she nursed neighbors.

To a woman who rose from grief and chose
to take up the burden of others:
Mothers, fathers, children, 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 the likes of 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; she saw only exploited masses.

She trod into the mines and the mills.
She talked in the fields, where the hopeless
worked long hours under punishing conditions.
She could juggle advocacy, jailings, and public speaking;
she was, indeed, “the most dangerous woman in America.”

She spoke of dignity (if she’d stopped short there,
she’d never have been slapped in 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 to break up strikes.

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 fatten up through union dues
(are you listening, gentlemen?).
A woman who taught us that, no matter what
the rank and file must be protected:

Raise your glasses high to Mary “Mother” Jones.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Trifecta, which tossed us the word “juggle” in the sense of handling many tasks. Perfect for this subject, no? Also for dverse Open Mic Night.

In our house growing up, Mother Jones was a patron saint. Social justice is only achieved when regular folks get together to affect change. If anyone could be considered “just folks,” it was Mary Jones. I wonder what she would think of some of our union leaders today? For as the rich demonize unions and spit on the rank and file, they should really address their complaints to greedy union bosses, something Mother Jones warned us about in her autobiography.

Remember, it’s not the average wage slave at fault: It’s corrupt bosses, bought off by the likes of the “usual suspects,” the ALEC crew and the Kochs. UNION YES!

In the words of Mother Jones, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” Amy

Photo used by permission of the Women’s Rights Museum.


Well, I have to thank everyone who has expressed concern about my health (both physical and emotional) recently. You have buoyed my spirits greatly. I may never be free of mental disorders, but… “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Truly blessed to know such talented, giving spirits. Thank you all. And now, two poems for two different sites. Love and peace, Amy


We can differ without having to defer.
We can hold out and still not halt.
We can accept and still imagine.
We are human. We can adjust.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Three Word Wednesday (Differ, Halt, Imagine), and at Poets United.


Leaders… and bleeders

For all the teachings
of Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed;
For all the wisdom
of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Rachel Carson;

One would expect a more peaceful world.

For all the writings
of Rumi, Buddha, Howard Zinn;
For all the actions
of Mother Teresa, Mother Jones, and Susan B. Anthony;

One would expect a world filled with justice.

Yet for every peaceful action,
there is a virulent, violent reaction.
For every step forward,
there is the rumble of a clattering machine,
rolling over the footprints of those
who act on behalf of good in this world.

For every machine,
there is a master.
For every master,
there is a burning need to bleed the life from others.
And for that burning need, that hubris,
the rest of us are sacrificed
on the altar of Capitalism and The Global Market.

One would expect better from humankind.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads; also at Poets United.