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

Tag Archives: Music

Summertime 60s

Back in the 60s
Not the Beatles 60s and
before Carnaby Street
and Twiggy and Verushka

The Roger Miller 60s
Peter, Paul, and Mary
Nat “King” Cole
Peggy Lee still made the charts

Radio was on all day
Mom was calmer then
Her heroes had not
been gunned down yet

“Trailer for sale or rent”
Most songs, we’d sing along
Drinking coffee and
listening for the mailman

“Is that all there is?”
Yep. And it was enough

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

dverse Poets asked for the theme about each poet’s hisTORY. I poked along on this one and missed the chance to link this poem there, but do visit dverse and read some amazing poets!

Sure, there were difficult aspects to my childhood. Many of you can relate to parts of THAT story. But this felt right for the prompt, and it’s good sometimes to accentuate the positive. Peace, Amy


Poetry Is

Poetry is essential.
Poetry is shimmering words strung into Christmas lights.
Poetry is mediocre.
Poetry is regimented when set in a form.
Poetry is a bunch of words put together because it made no sense as prose.
Poetry is magical.
Poetry is reflective, as the moon reflects sunlight.
Poetry is only as good as the poet.
Poetry is music when set in a form.
Poetry is the first step of a long, slow dance.
Poetry is best when read aloud.
Poetry is a piñata ripe for the baseball bat of critique.
Poetry is provocative.
Poetry is a song in search of a melody.
Poetry is no longer recited by schoolchildren.
Poetry is imaginative when set in a form.
Poetry is a way to get through the grey days.
Poetry is resting in the folds of my soul.
Poetry is a force for changing the world.
Poetry is first written on a cocktail napkin.
Poetry is dangerous in the wrong hands.
Poetry is imagination at play.
Poetry is cheating on its anthology with a pulp fiction novel.
Poetry is cutting like a switchblade.
Poetry is addictive.
Poetry is stacks of spiral notebooks filled with scribbles.
Poetry is poetry is poetry.*
Poetry is a picture in less than a thousand words.
Poetry is messy.
Poetry is what keeps you up at night.
Poetry is a rant tantrum glorious rave.
Poetry is not a Kardashian.
Poetry is slowly moving across a random mindscape.
Poetry is the smoother of rough edges.
Poetry is an edible mud pie.
Poetry is altogether descriptive of the human condition.
Poetry is steeping and swirling in a teacup.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

*With thanks to Gertrude Stein: “Rose is a rose is a rose.” I never understood that until I realized she was speaking of a woman… quite cynically.

“List” poems are simply taking a word and describing it in different, interesting ways – not all necessarily in agreement, as you can see by the different references to forms.. Recently, a couple of sites have taken on this prompt. I thought I’d give it a try for Open Link Monday at my pond, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, as well as dverse Open Link Night tomorrow.

What do YOU think poetry is? Feel free to chime in. Peace, Amy


He Was Eating and Drinking
(Click to play with ITunes or Windows Media Player)

He Was Eating and Drinking

Not like a thief in the night
Jesus came down
Walking his disciples
Straight through the heart of town
Even when he whispered
You heard about it for miles around

(Chorus)
‘Cause he was eating and drinking
With the sinners and the slaves
He was healing and praying
With the rich and the depraved
He was suffering and dying
So we could be saved

(Chorus)

No one expected to see
A king with no crown
Riding on a donkey
Straight through the heart of town
The fat men in their fine robes,
They couldn’t wait to put Jesus down

(Chorus)

How could this Messiah be
Beaten and broken down?
Dragging his cross
Straight through the heart of town
‘Cause God knew his suffering
Would lead his followers Heaven-bound

(Chorus and rowdy out!)

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Song published © 2009 Beehat Baby Words and Music

This prompt was found at Margo Roby’s Wordgathering Free-For-All Friday, where she generously supplies a whole lot of prompts. The fabulous Mary Kling at Poetry Jam wanted the usual/unusual or anything else… You can find Mary’s site HERE. Also, as always, it’s at my poetic haven, Poets United If the song doesn’t work on your computer, please email me at my blog name @gmail.com, and I’ll send you an mp3!

I have to say, the contrasts in this story of Jesus’ ministry seem to go against the grain. He was more than unusual; he was radical, discomfiting, altogether loving, and nondiscriminatory. He was a prisoner of conscience, executed by the Roman State. Amnesty International would have been all over his case if he lived now, right?

This song was produced in Binghamton, NY, at a very, very cold studio in March 2009. I’m on keys, Scotty Compton is on bass, and Mike Ricciardi is on drums. (Drums were added later, then the song was mastered.) Someday I’ll get this praise and gospel stuff on a CD, when the dosh is ample and the corn is high… and the moon is blue!  Blessed Pesach and Easter to my Jewish and Christian friends, and to everyone else, peace.  Amy


Poem never made it to my blog until now – yet it was my first proper freestyle rant (on gentrification of L.A.), written while I was hanging with Riley, Marcia and Jesse on a trip to SoCal.  Reason I’m putting this up?  A friend of mine needs a KICK IN THE BUTT to jump-start writing her own stories of those years.  God, I miss it so, the Boardwalk, the cheap breakfast, the neverendingness of it all…  Amy

Venice Then and Now (1979, 2012)

We were free spirits, flowing with our Karma
Floating in a pot-scented breeze
But now it’s all money disease
Dis-ease about security sucks marrow from bone
Creativity from full-blown, fine, eclectic minds

The intersection: Hollywood & Vine… correction: What I Owe vs. What Is Mine
In your soul, the blues; on your mind, the dues
Paying for the right to live here, by the whispers of waves
Near palatial pavilions of the potently paid
Praying we could once again live back then, back when all was sensual, all serene
And the Venice Boardwalk a little less Green

Rave all we want, the money’s moved in
It’ll never move out ‘til tsunamis tumble Venice back to the trashy look

of hash-clouded, bearded marginals
Undulating madrigals with open guitar cases
Accepting quarters from faces unlined by gotta do gotta go gotta take this call

It’ll take the fall of L.A. to get it back to stay
No matter how much money they spend, there’s always more expense
for parking meters, Margaritas, Mercedes-Benz
What became of the real-deal drifters, grifting their way through a shroom-filled haze
Jingles and Frank and ragged reggae days
Muscle-bound bods of men well-oiled, well-pumped, unshod
Stores with honey-drenched Haagen Dazs in paper cups with wooden spoons
A pennyweight on a Mylar balloon –

we sent it skipping ghostlike toward the Venice Canals

Now they’re scum green
But the ducks don’t mind, they’re doing fine
Today I said hi and they called back
Money can’t make ‘em go anything but QUACK
If ducks = local charm, then why not beach bums, doing no harm?
Charm, like beauty, in beholders’ eyes
No room for human clutter, sweep ‘em in the gutter
like Rudy’s 42nd St., makes me shudder

The rich have L.A. well in hand
No handouts, no hand-me-downs, just put ‘em out, put ‘em down
Set down roots upon roots much deeper, roots of hippies without beepers, laptops,

Blackberry speakers attached to the ears of societal sleepers

Cops in Oakwood busted humble places – put those grandmas on their faces
Fat cats watch the breaking story – 5:00 talking head in her glory
Unless it’s your grandma’s face on the floor, it’s a sound byte, nothing more
And folks who really give a shit don’t have time to protest it
Scrimping, scraping takes its toll – staying, praying Rent Control isn’t eaten whole
by well-heeled leeches who want their condos near the beaches

Rich vs. Poor, at the boiling point
God, this city needs a joint

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Friends, this is the time of year when the pastor and his wife are very, very busy, so I will be taking a break between now and around New Year’s Day. But I had to post this poem at Real Toads’ Open Link Monday and at my poetic oasis, Poets United. This event happened today… it reminded me that there is so much to be grateful for, even as the nation mourns this week’s gun violence.

Take a moment to hug your kids and PLEASE let them know that, no matter what their friends say on Facebook, the world is NOT coming to an end on the 21st. I’m serious – kids are committing suicide and having panic attacks over the Mayan stuff. OK, a poem, like I promised!

MARIAN, MERLIN, AND ME

Marian
in her twilight years, and yet
the youngest soul in our church

Merlin
beloved husband, now at peace
and Marian said, “Amy, please play”

Singer
behind the piano at the funeral home
with songs, all familiar to this jazz baby

Gospel
to Anne Murray and “Wing Beneath My Wings,”
closing with “My Way”

Marian
said, “I want lively songs for Merlin,
no ‘old rugged’ anything!”

Merlin
left words to live by: “Pace yourself,”
“Nothing’s worth getting that worked up about.”

God
take Merlin into your arms and
shelter Marian’s strong but wounded heart

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I was honored to be asked by Marian, our favorite “praise band fan” at Lake Edge UCC in Madison, to play for her dear husband’s funeral. When I found out what she asked for, I was amazed. A really rocking gospel tune I had written, “Closer Than Close,” and “My Way,” delivered in the Sinatra style: uncompromising and rousing…

I am blessed to know this woman, who wanted a true celebration of her husband’s life, and twice blessed to minister with my husband, Lex. In the midst of the tragedies of the past weeks, there was something about being at a funeral where people were free to tell funny stories about Grandpa, or free to tearfully say that none of her friends at school even HAD a great-grandpa and how lucky she was to have known him… All of it, the tears and the joy, echoed by the baby grand. As ABBA wrote, I say to God: “Thank You for the music.” Blessings and peace to you all, Amy


Music in Mind… Thanks to My Fan

Flip on a fan
and in its breeze
vague Beach Boys harmonies
No lyrics, simply voices
floating through my mind

Open a window
and birdsong reigns
with backup vocals
from faraway sirens
in my stream of consciousness

Is it the meds?
Hallucinations?
No worries here; they are
benevolent offspring of
my inner sanctum of melody

Don’t switch off that fan, honey
It’s singing my song…

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter “F” – and as always, at my harmonic hangout, Poets United. Peace, Amy


Corner Shelf Onstage

Young: First round on me
Stay ‘til last call
Partied hard,
some success

Now: Wiser,
ready for rowdiness, revolution

Dichotomy:
Shy, depressed or
Manic, obsessed with
peace, poetry, politics,
my past

And always singing…

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For the whimsically titled Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, the challenge was to write a poem about yourself in 35 words or less. Peace, and please do come to the Garden – you’ll meet interesting poets and photographers and other artists!


Heart.
Muscle.
Pump.
Can be defeated by eating “to your heart’s desire,”
yet your heart desires it not,
only your want to fill
that empty spot.

Heart.
Symbol.
Red.
A child hangs his Valentine on the fridge,
only to find the dog
thought it interesting;
she nuzzled it down, chewed it to bits.
He runs crying to Mom.

Heart.
Soul.
Passion.
She now grants access carefully. Her heart
has been broken before,
but it healed, gained resilience.
The scars may show,
but she will live
to love again.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads: We were asked to post the song that helps us through our heartbreaks and write a poem about it. This prompt caught me by the tear ducts.
The YouTube track is, of course, Rickie Lee Jones (not “Ricky,” spelled wrong on the title page). Tom Waits wrote this song for her, and she sang it every night as the encore during her first national tour. I went to this song for solace time and again, in the years before Lex. She is a treasure trove of writing talent on her own, but here is where an angel’s voice meets the song the actual writer could never sing to great effect.


Lance at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog (yes, there’s a picture of Fight Club on the home page, but it’s all good fun) wanted folks to write poems, 100 wds, to particular songs he’d picked out. On this Mother’s Day, I HAD to write a paean to my own fave dance song by one of the great bands of the 80s. Listen and imagine me and Riley barefoot on the dance floor, with Lex watching us, rolling his eyes…! Can’t think of a better Mother’s Day post for my girl, who made this particular holiday one worth celebrating when she was born in ’88. Love you, Riles.

 

BOP ‘TIL WE DROP

Punch out the time clock and
pile in the back of the Chrysler, baby
Don’t need GPS, and I don’t mean maybe

Half a mile away you hear the
THUMP THUMP
Pull up SCREECH my God this is a
DUMP DUMP
But the B52s are locked and loaded
and the room sounds like something just exploded it goes
BUMP BUMP

We shimmy the shit off our shoes
We all shimmy sharp at the Shack

If we’re gonna waste our time
we’re gonna waste it well
waste it wildly, hell bent for leather

Gonna bop ’til we drop at the Shack

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


CHANTEUSE DELUXE (have a listen, then read the poem)

What drives her to carry on so?
No limit to grandiose gestures:
Hand thrust heavenward as she
sings of graces she cannot touch
(yet seems to know well).

Delivery of gut-bucket blues,
growled, a feral cat in heat.
Singing is her salvation;
her masquerade; her comfort;
her inherent, inherited blessing
(born of a curse).

Tapping into sources of drama
most would never dare; airing
her truth with power, to power
(and always with a whimsical smile).

Striding through dark, abandoned
psychic hallways and caverns
where others might tiptoe
(their flashlights, shivering beams).

Her early demons gifted her,
then she was lifted from hell
by an undercurrent of free-flowing jazz.
She follows in footsteps of her people
(unhinged but brutally honest souls).

She is compelled to prize a pearl
(from the slimiest of shells).

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
PROCESS NOTES: A barlette is my own creation; this one has a longer form. Normally, the barlette runs three lines plus (a commentary line). This long forms allows more flexibility before the comment line.
PERFORMERS: Carol Ackley is a longtime and very dear girlfriend who was coaxed to the mike for an impromptu duet; we had not sung together in years. “Since I Fell For You” is one of my favorite standards. Sax solo is by the great reed man/percussionist/composer/musical powerhouse Rob Weinberger, who is also my former husband and father of our little Drummer Girl and artist, Riley Dunn.
PROMPTS: For Sunday Scribblings #311 (honest) and The Sunday Whirl: Carry, Singing, Follows, Drives, Hallways, Drama, Limit, Gestures, Hand, Delivery, Inherent, Sources, Previous, Drives.