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

Tag Archives: Motherhood

Bobbi’s Mom

After the weeping wears down,
the fog of loss and regret

After the last interview (because
inquiring minds want to know)

After the blur of has-been celebrities
trading her confidential secrets for
visions of their own names in print

After her life has been ransacked,
laid out in pieces like a tacky
Hollywood lawn sale, as customers
lay claim to a bit of her charms

We will remember the girl who had to
grow up too soon, the bronzed beauty
with the punk-ass husband who put a KICK ME sticker
on her back and showed her his belt

and helped her to addiction she couldn’t kick
We will honor the icon – but let’s not forget
she was a daughter, a mother, and a fragile soul
No one can outrun an Achilles’ heel

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The Sunday Whirl: Belt, Fog, Sticker, Interview, Weeping, Visions, Blur, Ransacked, Confidential, Customer, Charms, Trade.

Rest in Peace, Whitney. You will never be forgotten.


Lindy at Poetic Licensee wrote a lovely poem today, memories of her mother. I promised her I’d blog a poem I wrote a year ago about my mom, because we had some bits in common, so here it is… This was also part of my chapbook, Dance Groove Funhouse. Thanks, my new friend Lindy, for reminding me of this one! Peace to all, Amy

THE WRINGER

I was the baby so I
spent a lot of time with Mom
watching her perform the mundane tasks
of suburban housewifery
that would eventually lead her to alcoholism

But back then they were fun
The radio was always on
Roger Miller singing King of the Road
We’d sing along
She taught me to harmonize when I was four

Downstairs to do laundry
A humungous circular washer, a wringer
And a clothesline out back
To her this was heaven
having survived the Depression

All these conveniences
meant just for her
In those days, she saw her life as luxurious
And she saw me as company
and the only friend around

After poking a stick into the washing
to make sure the detergent had really dissolved
She drained it and refilled to rinse
Man, she really took the stick to that
Everything had to be clean, perfect, worthy

But the best part
Before the hanging on the line with wooden clothespins
(Someone should invent something with a spring,
she said absentmindedly one day
Her mom was a genius, too)

Was the wringer
The clothes being strangled as they
gave up almost every drop of their being
I pretended they were bad people who were being punished
I prayed for them but secretly relished their fate

Back then it was easy
We’d go upstairs and have coffee (mine was mostly milk)
She light a Lucky and we’d sit
gazing out the window to the fields beyond
Soundtrack by The Lettermen and Peggy Lee

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also at my poetic touchstone, Poets United.


Next, updating the huge backlog of your comments.  But just to assure you that I’m back “for real,” here is a poem.  (PS This was updated thanks to my buddy Mike, who caught a typo in the second line.  Bravo for second pairs of eyes!)

I always told Riley, “Just because you’re my only child doesn’t mean you owe me grandchildren, like some sort of karmic payback.  And when it’s time to take away my car keys, you have my permission NOW, while I’m still together… same thing with putting me in assisted living or a nursing home.  Only one caveat on that…”

Retirement Plan
(For my daughter, with love and zero guilt!)

When I grow too slow for races
Should I live to be quite dull
And my conversation brings a yawn
And my wheelchair you must pull

Waste no time on guilt, my dear
You have complete permission
To send me to a nursing home
I’ve only one provision:

First send me on a cruise ship
To see Alaska’s shore
I’ll slip, unnoticed, overboard
And be a mermaid once more

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Outstanding WHAT?

Why am I limping around a hospital
in a gown open to show the whole world my ass

with a belly as big as a piñata
screaming “ICE CHIIIIIPS!!”?

Ah yes, the joys of birthing
in 98-degree September.

The baby will be born on Labor Day,
an ironic detail…

That’s what I get for
outstanding ovulation!

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

(For Sunday Scribblings, variation on “Standing Ovation,” also posted at Poets United.)


Two poems – I hope both will bring a smile.

ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter X, and with a nod to Gary Larson of “The Far Side.”

Instrumentation (haiku)

Welcome to Heaven
Here is your full Steinway Grand
Hell?  A xylophone.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

 

Three Word Wednesday words:  Bump, Transfix, Knuckle.  Odd set of words, but here’s mine!

The Thump

My pregnancy was no mere baby bump.
More like a lump, and a thumper to boot.
Alone in the evening, we
(baby plus me) would sprawl on the bed, shirt lifted up.

A sight to tranfix Mesmer himself,
the balloon-within-a-balloon,
my belly encased her home,
my womb.

I’d poke, she’d kick back.
I’d sing, she’d sway to an internal rhythm.
Her foot would push against the edge of her universe,
like a knuckle bulging inside a glove.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Two for ABC Wednesday.  Two divergent subjects:  Innocence and Iniquity.  First, free verse; second, another “snowball poem,” with a descending number of syllables, one through ten.  Don’t ask me why, but this form has me spellbound. Thanks to Joseph Harker for letting me know the name of the form!

Welcome

Welcome to the world
little wonder, who
worked her way
from my womb,
winding through the waterslide
into the waiting hands
of a woman who already knew
we two would make it work
without him.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

————————————

Witch

She’s
a witch,
there’s no doubt.
Vipers emerge
from her mouth; venom
paralyzing those who
get in her way, considered
inconvenient or bothersome.
You’d never guess, beneath her perfect
new frock lies a heart cold as charity.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Also posted at the poets’ collective, Poets United


Sunday Scribblings gave us a simple prompt: Free. Also, Writer’s Island gave us Inseparable. So this is a twofer. Amy

A Mother’s Ferocious Love

Trapped like animals in their jungle village.
Strapped one to another: Young mother, daughter and son.
Shoved into ships, below deck,
so cramped, no room to stand.

The voyage was grueling.
Thin gruel was their mainstay.
These white masters with their whips at the ready
as steadily, her people died of fever and starvation.

The sound of the whippings, the whimpering.
Her son, finally succumbed to the wasting disease.
Now, as she wondered whether this boat would ever find land,
and she herself felt gripping pain in her gut.

Up on deck for the hosing down,
she clutched her baby girl in her arms,
inched her way to the rail and, in an instant,
they were both overboard, taken by the sea.

Her son had already been given to the water
after his death, tossed over like garbage.
At least now she and her baby girl would join the boy,
inseparable forever, engulfed in the endless waters. Free.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Jingle asked us to write about pastimes this week for Poetry Potluck. I love going through this box of treasures, so much that I put it in the chapbook (shameless plug, see right column!).

Hope it gives you a smile! Amy

THE PRECIOUS BOX

My mother’s “precious box” held sentimental doodads
The box was left to me when she died
Inside were Grandma’s fake diamond screw-back earrings
(“Real ladies” didn’t pierce their ears in those days)

Grandpa’s ring, raw turquoise set in carved silver
Girl Scout leader pins, Dad’s cuff links
A clip-on bow tie from Mom’s singing days
And a skeleton key, antique silver, dim patina

For years I’ve pondered what lock would respond; where the “open sesame” lay
A room in a past apartment? The front door to a secret house?
A desk filled with dusty volumes of Kipling and Whitman
Perhaps a cache of cash?

Somewhere there is a house, a door, a drawer
Whose treasures will remain hidden
Because I hold in my palm
The answer to a question

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


At Sunday Scribblings (glad I’m back on course after a break), we were given a one-word prompt: LIMITS. Click the Scrib link and then on the poets’ names (which are linked to their blogs) to check out other folks! Peace, Amy

HAD IT UP TO HERE

I’ve had it up to here
‘cause my daughter, who is ‘queer’
is not welcome in my sister’s home

I’ve taken all I’ll stand
from all those who would demand
that I discard my kid like a dead battery

I’m telling all the world
she is perfect, she’s my girl
If you don’t love her, please don’t waste your prayers

On Riley or her mom
because we know we are BOMB
and anyone who doesn’t get it can get stuffed

I tried to make this rhyme
to some extent, it is fine
but I couldn’t rhyme “battery” with “flattery” because that concept is entirely absent from some people’s hearts. But at least it’s truthful!

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Story from my days as a single mother in a mostly married city… Amy

WOMEN, WOMAN

In a sea of Marthas
she remained the Magdalene
Neither wanton, nor wayward, still
different, misunderstood

Her gestures of sisterhood
looked upon as threats by
the many married mommies
who kept their men on short leashes, well-heeled

Had they taken time
to listen to her thoughts
How she cared for their town
How she admired their ability to maintain stability

They might have warmed to her
But women are women, and
wives are wives, gathered in hives
And single mothers lead separate lives

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil