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

Tag Archives: NaPoWriMo

Last day of Poem a Day, or National Poetry Writing Month. It’s only fitting that I should “pass the torch,” in the form of a poem about our girl Riley, the artist. I’ve included one of her recent works, so PLEASE respect her copyright on this. For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, an “A to Z” write.  Enjoy! Proud Mom Amy, who also took the picture years ago, when she was three.

Riley Little Artist

Portrait of the Artist as a Little Girl
Artist, budding
Crayons, drawings,
echo from goodgone hours

I just kindled logical moppets’s
newfound outlet
(preference, quietude)

Riley, shading timber umber
Visioning whales,
xysts, yurts… zebras

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Girl Chases Soldier

Painting by L.R. Weinberger © 2013, all rights reserved.
Used by permission of artist.

Yes, it’s true. I went back to Friday and answered ALL the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads prompts, to keep up with NaPoWriMo (I didn’t have access to a computer at the hotel, but I did write other poems daily). So here come Fireblossom Friday, Saturday’s International Frog Day (yeah, I know… but I chose a toad!), and Sunday’s call for poems inspired by Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (I did one about seeing the movie. Hey, it’s Gregory Peck and Robert Duvall as Boo Radley; what’s not to like?) In order, starting with Friday. Enjoy! And WHEW.

FIRST POEM, “inhabit an animal”

Black Kitty Tells All (for Carolyn Bowes, fellow Kitty Voicer)

Why do they hide me on Halloween?
I bin stuck in this room like they
shamed of me or sumpthin

Rest of tha time
lickin what’s stickin
Clawin up the couch
(got no claws but I
got helldamn hard knuckels)

Oops I did a swear

I tha only cat who LOVE
goin to the vet cuz Dr. Jane,
she luvin all over me
Pritty kitty, she say
Strokin my shiny sleek fur
(I clean it just for her)

Sometime I get a shot
but Dr. Jane is pritty, too
so I don’ mind (much)

At home I get my own treats
This is tha truest story of all tha
stories you ever gonna hear. Reddy?

Mommy say, “Open it!” and I
put my paw around tha handle of tha
Treats For Missy and Not For Gable Drawer
an I pull the drawer open cuz I
smarter than Gable.

But I share him some treats anyway.

I love bein a cat all day
Cept for Halloween, I herd Mommy say
kids do bad things to black kitties then
We don know why.
They must be bunch of bitchholes

Oops, did it agin sorry

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

image from Wikimedia Commons

Fireblossom, Shay, asked for a poem in which you inhabit the skin of another animal. Shay, I know this is not what you expected, but truth be told, Missy was a oner. I could write about her all day and not repeat a line. I used to do her “voice” all the time (my friend Carolyn and I used to do kitty voices at our survival job in NYC – people would plead for us to stop! We’d look at each other, shrink up our shoulders all goofy, and say, “Hee hee hee hee they think they so smart, buttparts!” or some such foolishness.

God, the salad days. I miss ‘em. But I still see Carolyn, her hubby Duncan, and their madly creative daughters, Lily and Fiona, in Chicago. And yes, they have cats, plus a very sweet dog (who is dumb, say the cats). Amy

SECOND POEM: The Toad one.

Tell it to the Marine Toads

Cake gig in Bermuda
Got my own ‘scootah’
(Don’t be a yokel,
talk like a local)

“Watch out for toads,”
warning of the road
Marine toads on street
Poisonous, not sweet

Also quite slow
And that, even though
the speed limit’s lower
the traffic is slower

Fall off your bike
and scrape your chin
Next day you’ll know
the pain you’re in

Even dead, they secrete
poison in their “meat”
Flat as flat, concrete
retains this sad treat

But ‘specially keep them
From dogs, who eat them
Behind the eyes,
their poison resides

and dog will wake
with bad belly ache
Toads on the road, dead
flattened by mopeds

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Bermuda “road toads” (called that because they are usually seen flattened on the road) were imported by some guy named Vesey, in hopes they would control the insects in HIS yard. Like they were gonna stay there. Like they would not multiply. But the genius of the Marine Toad’s anatomy is twofold: They can tolerate and breed in the brackish salty ponds around the island (no freshwater ponds there), and they secret a toxin behind their eyes as a method of self-defense. I flipped off my moped once, slid on the pavement, and got coral sand bits in my elbows and knees, plus some toad poison, which survives long after said toad is squashed. UGH. I do think they’re cute, though!

FINAL POEM, the Harper Lee prompt

Of Mockingbirds and Mayhem

My folks couldn’t afford a sitter
so they’d bundle us three in the back
of our Rambler, girls and blankets
and go to the drive-in, secure in the fact
that we would fall asleep during the
first feature, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Instead quietly we absorbed the movie,
Atticus shooting that rabid dog, the folks
in the balcony telling Scout, “Stand up…
Your father’s passing by.” I cried. Then
came the second feature, when we were
supposed to be sound asleep: Elmer Gantry

Between falling in love with Burt Lancaster,
seeing what cheesy preaching was like
(we were Episcopal, the “frozen chosen”)
And oh! the scenes with Shirley Jones in
her little slip and long hair. You might say
this was our first dirty movie, at our age.

Next day, Mom knows we’re all in our
room, which usually means mischief
She knocks on the door: “Come in, Elmer!”
We’re all in slips, sipping ginger ales out of
champagne glasses. “What on earth do you
think you’re doing?” asked She, horrified.
“We’re Slip Girls,” we replied, in unison.

“We sit around all day, waiting for Elmer.”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

True story. This upshot of this free verse piece was not inspired by “Mockingbird,” but if that movie had not been on the bill, if our parents hadn’t drunk all the babysitter money, if
“Mockingbird” had not been so wonderful that three girls (11, 8, and me, 5) actually stayed awake for it… we would never have learned how to dress up like prostitutes! Amy


Hamlet and Juliet in A Midsummer Twelfth Night’s Sonnet on Shakespeare’s Birthday
(with apologies to Will)

In my salad days, when I was green in judgment,
not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty,
I was a dish fit for the gods.

Now I’m in my prime, set up with a posh little Upper East Side co-op and a hefty trust fund from Daddy… plus a live-in honey who’s fast losing his sweetness. Nothing in his life becomes him, and nothing will come of nothing.

He awoke, rounded with a little sleep. “Ay, me…”

“I have not slept one wink,” I bitched, rubbing my sore bottom. “What a piece of work is man! Do you think I am easier played on than a pipe?”

He leapt from the bed. “That is should come to this! Why, only last night you cried, A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

“True it is,” I countered, “that we have seen better days. Yet brevity is the soul of conscience, and the” (wince) “parting was such sweet sorrow.”

He was pi-i-i-issed. “Tempt not a desperate man, for delays make dangerous ends.”

(Now I’m thinking, “MY end got all the ‘danger’ last night… He hath eaten me out of house and home, and he thinks too much, with a lean and hungry look. There’s daggers in men’s smiles, and… is this a dagger I see before me?”)

I pointed to the door. “Out, damned Snot! Out, I say! Men of few words are the best men, and your tale is told by an idiot.”

“The course of love never did run smooth,” he stammered. “Shall we meet again?”

(Trying to live down the riddle… Q: ‘What do you call a bass player without a girlfriend?’ A: ‘Homeless.’)

He continued, “Don’t forget, dearest, we have a palimony agreement. You’ll pay a great deal too dear,” he grinned, “for what’s been given freely.”

“The game is up.” I stamped my little bare foot and caught a splinter. “This is the worst!”

He tried to rustle up tears as he packed. “There words are razors to my wounded heart. I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for Daws to pick at.”

(I knew that has-been “Mork and Mindy” chick Pamela Daws was after him, ever since the gig at the China Club.)

“In my mind’s eye,” I said, thinking of the money I’d have to pay this jerk, “shall I compare thee to the dogs of war? A borrower with a dull edge? The world is grown so bad, the fool doth think he is wise.”

I escorted him to the door. He shambled out, his bass hanging on his back like a monkey. Then, turning back to me, he whimpered, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s-” SLAM!

Peace at last. “I like this place, and willingly would waste my time in it.” Then, cutting the first of many checks I’d have to pay my new ex, I grumbled, “But first… let’s kill all the lawyers.”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

It’s the Bard’s birthday! He’d be three days older than water today.  This is also (and this is so tragically Shakespearean) the anniversary of his death, so he deserves something special.   Imaginary Garden With Real Toads asked us to have our way with him (well, with his writing, anyway), but I gathered so many snippets from so many plays and sonnets, if I tried to do citations, they would run longer than the piece itself. I leave it to you, my oh-so-savvy readers, to separate the Will from the chaff.  This will also be posted to dverse Open Mic Night.

NaPoWriMo #23 and still ticking! This form, which employs lines from other writer(s) re-ordered to create a new poem, is called something or other, but dang, I can’t remember. Paging Viv!! Peace, Amy

The Hourglass

“Like sand through the hourglass,”
so goes the daze of my life…
a hazy mix of meter and mantra:

Shy shy little girl;
emerges from shell
only if she’s to sing.

Singer takes to the road,
works with the rude,
hangs with the rowdy.

Faces the raid of AIDS
on the dearest friends,
the dearest men…

Mentors anxious daughter
from dread-the-world to
worldly wise vixen,

fixin’ to show them all,
to know them all,
to grow from within.

I am all in this timekeeper:
A grain of salt or truth falls,
skims the surface of my past.

Don’t care how much is left
to sift and flow, but the
bottom bits… these, I know.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Hourglass image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Day 22 of NaPoWriMo! PAD (Poem A Day) in April…

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads has Open Link Monday, so I will post there a wonderful prompt from my friends Walt and Marie Elena at Poetic Bloomings, “Time Flies.” When I thought of the hourglass, the next “tape” from the Music of My Life was the theme to an old soap opera, along with its catch phrase: “Like sands through the hourglass, so go the Days of Our Lives…” and I was off and running for my pencil.

Hope all had a good weekend. I know I’m enjoying a break in the Wisconsin snow-spits of the past few days. Peace, Amy

Second poem of the day, I could not resist the dverse prompt about Spring, which means play, gardening, general silliness coming as a consequence of long Wisconsin winters, and… wordplay! Amy

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Midwesterners aSPiRING to a quick thaw
as laSt year’s caPRIs cliNG to our memories

We know that SPRING is not far behind
and we’ll Soon bitch about sPiRitING away
A/C to ward off intenSe PeRspirING

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, my April Poem A Day hangout, wanted poems about “melting,” but with an interesting twist: NO use of words like hot, cold, fire, or ice! So my original thought, “What a world! What a world…” a la the Wicked Witch was out the door. Ditto romantic heat. So I turned to… the news. Also at my hearth and home, Poets United.

Boston Meltdown

“We’re stuck in our house,
Diane,” she tells ABC News.
“Trying to figure out what’s
for dinner. My husband’s
defying the cops, going over
to the butcher shop… that guy’s
gonna make a mint, Mike’s
buying filet mignon.”

“And how do you feel
about this ordeal?” intones
Sawyer, safe in the studio.

“What ordeal? This is America,
and yeah, now we’re on lockdown.
My confidence in personal freedom
may be melting around the edges,
but now I kind of understand what
Afghanis go through every day.”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Based on an ABC News interview of a Cambridge, MA resident. I am glad they caught the second suspected bomber alive, and I hope he makes it to trial. Peace, and prayers to all in Boston and West Texas, Amy

Susie Clevenger at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, my April Poem-a-Day hangout, asked simply for poems of encouragement. Who deserves more encouragement than a brilliant, beautiful daughter as she prepares to graduate college? This is also at Poets United, a source of endless encouragement for me.  Peace, Amy

For My Daughter As She Enters The Real World

Laura pensive
Sure, there will be chaotic days,
storms, trials, and simple
In the wider world, you’ll see
fights, flights, frights.
(Some people are best at being their worst.)

All these will be moments in
your timeline; some will leave
scars – but those heal with time.
Others will transcend reality with
luminous grandeur, majesty.
Some moments will simply be.

Hold onto patience. Be kind
to fools, for they know not.
Most of all, be patient with yourself.

Be mindful in all you do.
Remember that, no matter what,
there is love even in
crevices of broken bones or
wedged in the cracks of
distortion’s thin places.

There is peace in silence.
There is beauty waiting for
you to bring it into being.
There is God in everything,
especially you.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Boston (sort of a rondelet)

There are no words
for fear, for gut-deep grief

There are no words
to give us much relief
from action of the thief

There are no words

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The irony of having at least some words for what happened yesterday does not escape me. But Imaginary Garden With Real Toads asked for a Roundel or Rondelet. Of course, I looked back and the prompt and realized my syllable count is not right, but I think it IS uniform. A poem with a repeated refrain, and you know what? To hell with the rest of the form!

THANK YOU, Toads, for giving me an avenue for words to express my grief. As for the “thief,” I don’t want him/her/them put to death. Jail for a lifetime to ponder this tragedy is much worse punishment.

With many prayers for all, including the perpetrator/s – that those who did this awful thing own up and confess to it, and that we may begin to understand why, because I don’t get it at all. Peace, Amy

Two-Gear Gal

Got two gears
Speedy and Gonzonked
Today feels orange, time to

Mind did a hit and run
Curse, put ‘er in reverse
Survey the carnage
which looks like me

Time to drive
to the station
and on my knees
confess, I guess

But then this lass
Runs out of gas and
smack into my barcalounger
Time to

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads pays homage to the poet Billy Collins (for more on him, click HERE). He often uses humor to mask the deeper meaning. Can you guess my vehicle in the poem above? Also for NaPrWriMo (two #13s today), and appearing in the side margin of my favorite rumble seat, Poets United – proud to be a member!


Jiminy Was Right

She sits up
sweat drenched, crying
Doesn’t mind pix with smeared makeup

After a miscarriage and abortion
she didn’t think a baby could emerge

Her first child suckles
Proof that dreams come true

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Trifecta asked for exactly 33 words about a “dream come true.”

Many women experience misfortunes when it comes to timing pregnancy, carrying a baby, and actually coming to full term. I’ve held the hands of friends who were going to terminate a pregnancy – even paid for one, whose boyfriend was beating her. I’ve said “I’m sorry” and cradled sobbing girlfriends in my arms like she was my own child. The miracle of childbirth is a dream come true – a dream deferred for some. For others, they “drop ‘em like tadpoles,” lucky women!

The song, “A Child Is Born,” was written by jazz legend Thad Jones, with lyrics by Alec Wilder.  Peace, Amy