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

Tag Archives: Naming Constellations

Midsummer moist, midcity malaise until
block party can be heard two blocks away
Grab a sixpack from the fridge and
amble on over, no invite needed

Scrambled egos debating
Elvis vs. Beatles which
morphs into
Beatles vs. Stones
Who’s the host? The entire
block, sweaty from setup and
quenching thirst with first
bottle that passes
Kids and Popsicles, boys
chase girls and some chase
other boys

“Steamed clams up!” shouts
a generously endowed Tejana
Her radio channel is Mexican; it
blares trumpets and voices and
drums, overtaking Mumford & Sons
next door (Mumford’s mom is mellow,
doesn’t seem to mind)

Generosity here, tamales and
samosas, curries and jello,
the United Nations of food

Drinking local microbrews or
sipping red wine in jelly jars;
soda, water, soda water
Everything free and donations
pour in from neighboring blocks

Dancing, commence
Drum circle, all welcome
Serious rhythm, bone deep and
daring anyone to stand still
Swaying to the beat, one kid
picks up a djembe and beats
a scribbled, disjointed pathway
No one tells him to do different

Block party, where police kindly
cordon off the street and some
come in to join the fun
Block party, kind of like a rave
without the pesky Ecstasy
Just noise and sweat and
as they say in Brooklyn:
It ain’t the heat
It’s the humanity

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Joseph at Naming Constellations put up some pieces for ekphrastic poetry last year, and I revisited the prompt. I chose a Pollock, “Autumn Rhythm,” which caught my sense of smell and sound, rather a piece based on synesthesia as much as the ekphrastic prompt. I could immediately hear the drums and laughter, smell the clams in the steamer… This prompt was a feast for all my senses. Thanks, Joseph, and please find more poets answering this prompt HERE.

This can also be found at the hedgelines of Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and my poetic block party that never ends, Poets United.  Peace and steamed clams, Amy

The amazing Joseph Harker of Naming Constellations asked for a personal hymn (or hymns), starting with something we have never heard a hymn written about… it’s a long prompt, so check it out HERE. These are the fruits of my labors, my three hymns in the heart of a Sunday night.  I will also post this on Tuesday at dverse Open Mic Night and at Poets United.  Thanks again, Joseph.  Peace, Amy

Hymn to Her

Trapped in the overgrown patch
called my garden. Titan prairie grasses
tickle the screens, engulf potted plants.

I, the prairie avenger, armed with
scissors, hacksaw, kneepads, and gloves
shape, tame, make symmetry of chaos

forgetting that grasses once ran wild here
long before my aim of a forced, polite posyland.
Blessed are those who walk in Her overgrown path.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


This is my shrine
It’s wholly mine

A framed reproduction of Kinkaide’s kitschy two-story clapboard
in muted tones, Photoshopped with images of prostitutes. The
ice cream truck parked out front says “Gone Fishing”;
silhouetted against a shade, Mr. Softee is obviously hard.

This is my shrine
It’s wholly mine

This may seem odd for inclusion in my confusion of a
work space, but, with other talisman… a rainbow glass fish,
pads and pencils, Riley at seven – little hippie in Lennon glasses,
all these stir my imagination, invite the spirit in to dwell within

this sinner.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Give Me But One Chance

Give me but one chance
to teach another to dance

To look upon others
not as “them” but as brothers

Give me a servant’s hands
fulfilling needs, not commands

Help me to hold close those
whose ribs I can feel ‘neath clothes

Keep me awake, aware
to go where others never dare

Keep me just off kilter
so I possess no societal filter

And thus remind all humankind
our common threads are the ties that bind

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Gotta go now
Wanna sing but day job pays bills
Run to catch the ‘bway
Pressed against other cogs in the car
We’re a movable beast
You can taste the air in here
and that ain’t a good thing

Gotta hurry up
Stop by coffee shop, grab a bialy and
some hot dark that speeds through veins
and makes brains go pop
In my cube 7 x 7
Hamster Heaven but Human Hell

Gotta run to help fix the copier
Maintenance can’t reach the tricky places
My fingers are nimble
I can take apart anything and I
joke with the guys and let them see some leg
as I crawl on the floor doing their job
I make soul-sucking misery look fun

Gotta go home to my wretched box
So square even the wallpaper is plaid
Swear to god it’s plaid
Gig tonight, no pay but exPOSURE
Pose in the mirror, pouty pretty

Gotta get to the gig
Back on the ‘bway downtown
This city is laid out in perfect lines
The A, B, C
The 1, 2, 3
The RR, bastard child of the rest

Follow the tic-tacs to find
a place to be, to become, to behave
but still believe it’s lasted
as long as it has
Here in the Gotham Game

Gotta go again
Shouldn’t’a drunk so much water
Surviving the City is easy
as long as you graph the clean bathrooms
on your mental map

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Joseph Harker’s “Naming Constellations,” an ekphrastic poem (written to an image or inspired by same). I chose the Piet Mondrian piece, “Broadway Boogie,” but to tell the truth, I didn’t notice the name before I wrote this – I picked the image because it made me nervous, and that reminded me about deadlines and there was also a resemblance to subway maps! So there you go. Thanks, Joseph; you’re an inspiration even when you don’t throw us a prompt.  (This is also in the “ticker tape” of poems at Poets United.)

Two notes:  The ‘bway’ is not Broadway; it’s our old nickname for the subway (or the tube, for my European friends).  The City is always and forever New York; no real New Yorker would ever refer to it as The Big Apple, either – unless you’re a surviving vaudevillian, for whom that expression had true meaning, because playing New York City was indeed getting a bite of the “big apple.”  Bit of history for you!

The painting is a low-resolution image and is in no way fully representative of the original piece. Mondrian, a superb talent; this is meant in tribute to his work, not a “snatch and grab.” Peace, Amy