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

Tag Archives: Neighbors

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

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
(theme from “Misterrogers”)

Nan is outside watering pots of basil
she shares with our whole building.
Her boyfriend planted the sunflowers
that gaze right back at me as I write this.

Mohammed is heading out for school
on the new bike his cousin gave him.
He’s studying to be an engineer,
and his uncle is ready to take him on board.

Ra’jel came by and dropped off two dishes…
Ethiopian cooking, so hot it will peel the skin
off your tongue, but so good with a cold beer.
And the warm, sticky bread, like heaven.

Honey! You’re home early. I already got the mail,
just junk, but why do folks leave most of theirs
on the floor of the mail room?
(“Because they know you’ll clean it up.”)

We’ll have a swim in the complex’s pool
before cooking out on the patio…
but we’ll wait awhile, because right now
Demond and Yasir are going at it with squirt guns.

I love this building. It’s like the United Nations
except that everyone gets along pretty well,
and when we don’t get along, we wait a spell
for the hurt to heal… and try again.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I will always be grateful to Captain Kangaroo and Misterogers for presenting to children the peaceful side of life, filled with positive lessons, crafts, and the occasional giggle. Also, Fred Rogers (please don’t post that he was a war hero, check first!) wrote the theme song, which he sang while putting on his sweater and sneaks. I wanted to keep the poem as sweet as the song, in answer to a prompt at Poetic Bloomings, a new site. Hope I succeeded! This is also at Poets United – go read some other poets there as well! Amy