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

Tag Archives: Nukes

My second April “Poem A Day,” which I am posting at Writer’s Island as well as here. Check out more poets at the Island and at Poetic Asides, which offers a prompt a day as well. Sitting in a cafe, trying to balance our checkbook (and only off by a couple thousand dollars right now…), this came to me. And thus, the clicking on the keys stopped and the lovely, organic scritch-scratch of pencil on paper began… Amy

The Revolving Balance

Balancing finances, fell off wire
Landed in mesh, entwined in string
as random numbers bounced about the calculator
Makes no sense, these dollars

Balancing meds, try not to trip
by “missing” highs and skipping dosages
or using other yummies to alter mood
My hold on the pole determines my dynamics

Balancing “mad at government” with happy home
Guilt over our plenty, while others starve
Well, radiation got to the Midwest – we’re sharing that a bit
It snowed yesterday. He said, “Look, honey, nuclear winter.”

I have to laugh at depressing thoughts to keep my balance
despite the fact the Gilbert Gottfried tweets tastelessly
despite our struggle to bolster union and human rights
despite Japan, Katrina, the Gulf, the war, and rumors of more

Balance is a gift from God bestowed through vessels:
Doctors, friends, therapists
my church family, my FAMILY family,
and by patience in the process of breathing… of being

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This poem is an erasure. I leafed through the Madison Chronicle’s front section, chose four stories (hence the four stanzas), and picked words out in order but at random to form a prose poem (free form). There is another site, Erasures, which offers many paragraphs from famous authors, inviting you to click around and erase (or replace) words to create your own poem. I felt the topics in this particular paper calling to me. Peace, Amy

Monday, March 28 News

Man dumped still bleeding from car
at hospital died, believe stabbed at intersection.
Officials put two plus two together,
the fight nearby minutes before.

Gov. Walker’s budget would cripple network,
force police to close connections,
connect the dots.
“It would be like, you got a horse,
next week a mule,” said the chief. “It
could hurt the network Google.”

Japan’s nuclear plant dismissed,
an associated show. Confidence prompted
overly optimistic Earth,
the level of fury pushing to multiple meltdowns.
Ample waves before and again, clear
important network plates strongly coupled,
storing extra stress.

Weakened minor still around her apartment
but sometimes on her own fell to emergency.
The organ couldn’t matter; that can be
common among the residents,
a service to spring through.
Suffer in silence, afraid, falsely advancing, inevitable.
“It’s fun to hit a waitress as she lay on the floor.”
Help her. Step right up.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The Thursday Think Tank at Poetic Asides asked for poems about “Hope for Japan.”


When the ground beneath her desk rolled like
a carpet shaken of its dust, like
the rollercoaster when Yuki screamed and laughed, yet like
something unnamed and horrible.

She thought, “This is IT.
The final moment, or the beginning of many
final moments.”

Crawling out of her cubicle,
scenes never to be erased from her memory.
Ten minutes before, she and Hayashi had shared a cigarette,
and a kiss, in the stairwell.
Now, he was pinned under a desk, eyes glazed;
a picture of their trip to Kanagawa as they regarded the roses
had fluttered to the ground, settling on his chest.
Was this the last thing he saw? His last good memory?
She prayed it was so.

Then came a blur of
walking nightmare people
bottled water
pictures posted with notes
questions without answers
Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster

And of course, government downplayed the severity of radiation

She and Kenji commuted inland daily from their home in Sendai;
Father enjoyed the view of surf.
Why had Kenji taken the day off?
She knew now her brother was gone, as well as their parents,
swept from earth as waves wiped the chalkboard clean.

Alone. Safe. Not safe. Scared.
A butterfly chose her at random, gracing her
with a dizzying dance of color and life.

“If only I had the mind of an insect,” she thought,
as bile rose in her throat. “At least butterflies hold the key to hope:
Living free for a season, surrendering peacefully to death.”

Her only hope was that the world see, and learn, what her grandmother
had told her, as she revealed the flowered tattoos of her Nagasaki childhood:
Men’s greed and grandiose technology will never defeat the ferocity of nature.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter “I.”  No better time to remember the victims, both dead and slowly dying, in Sendai and other towns in Japan.  No better time to rethink our “commitment” to nuclear power, an option that is doomed to fail us at some point.  Remember Oppenheimer:  “I am become death.”  Remember Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  Remember shirt designs tattooed onto human bodies. Remember Karen Silkwood (RIP).   Remember GREED.

Most importantly:  Remember, no man who owns a nuclear power plant has ever lived anywhere nearby.   Amy




Island, inland,

isotopes, infrared.

Indelible images on the Internet.


If it implodes

the industry, intended to provide

immense power (ideological and industrial)

will implode as well.


Iodine pills, dispersed like incoming radiation.

Imperious platitudes; empirical attitudes (inferred)

Impossible to end nuclear power?

I intend to work to that end, in spite of industry.


© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Looking for _____, says the prompt at Poetic Asides. As usual, my Irish is up!


Swords into ploughshares? Not anytime soon.
We’ve been at war for thousands of years.
Men have fought over women, over money,
marking territory like dogs, changing borders,
shouting orders that (_____) is to blame and
(_______) MUST be annihilated.

Special ops, men made of steel and guts –
many who live to tell the tale, broken and unsure.
Troopers exacted the only death toll at Attica.
Nixon said it was an acceptable loss.
Collateral damage: Arms, legs, burqas,
babies. Baskets full from market, now
bullet-hewn produce strewn on a rocky terrain.

“Meanwhile, back at the ranch,”
Skinheads field-dress a man whose only sin
was a wink at the wrong guy; he is strapped
to the bumper of a cracker truck with the
Confederate flag flapping in the breeze of
the ultimate joy ride – ice-cold beer and
today’s catch dead and mangled, trailing them,
bouncing in the tread marks.

A woman says the wrong thing (again)
and gets what she had coming; he talks to police
and she hides her face, mumbling “mistake” and “sorry.”
A shelter’s bell rings at 2 am:
A mom and two kids barefoot in Buffalo snow,
wrapped only in bedsheets. As they are clothed and
warmed by cocoa and reassurance, they tell of
the boyfriend confiscating clothes and shoes nightly
so they might not leave. Now they fear he is near.

In D.C., no matter who started it, the drones find
their next predator… surrounded by family members.
In return, a boy straps on the gear and becomes
one cell phone call away from the CNN crawl.
Everybody has nukes as long as the US says it’s OK.
Israel walls off Palestinians, we pay for the materials.
If we complain, we are called “anti-Semitic,”
even if we’re Jewish!

Mexican cartels are doing well and causing hell,
while the CIA protects Afghan poppy fields.
But we are made to worry only about people who hope
to clean toilets in America – the least of our worries.

God, Jehovah, Adonai, Allah, Creator
Give us peace, we pray in our churches and temples

We didn’t listen to Moses.
We didn’t listen to Jesus.
We ignore the Five Pillars of Islam.
We didn’t heed the Buddha or Gandhi.
We didn’t follow Dr. King past his death.
We only listen to TV…
Why don’t we listen to God?

(c) 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The prompt at We Write Poems was Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Bleak but possible. Amy


the flash filled the evening sky
blinding us at first
A fireball, unearthly and
something told me to hold my breath as long as I could
Then came strong hot winds from the North
and with it, ash, falling slower than snow
suspended in deathly calm air
the stillness, the dreamlike atmosphere

Today we’re still waiting for Mom and Dad to
come home from work
The generator is working but we’ll need fuel
Tommy said Let’s see what’s up in town
People were stealing stuff from the store
No one was at the checkout so we came away with
cans of fruit and Spaghettios, juice, milk
some eggs that weren’t smashed in the carton
The ice cream melted overnight
We drank it out of the carton
and chugged warm soda trudging back home
through sifting ash in the middle of the street

Tomorrow I pray I wake up
and it will all be a bad dream
But Tommy and Sandy are counting on me
til our folks get home
Sandy cried tonight because SpongeBob wasn’t on TV
(nothing was on TV, I checked)
Tommy hauls out board games we haven’t played
since we got the X-Box
We roll the dice
and wait

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil