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

Tag Archives: Pain

Migraine Final

The Migraine Speaks (much to my dismay)

Yes, that ball bearing behind your right eye
It is I
Thief of thoughts
Barbed-wire butchery
Trailing tacks and nails and
prickly pins
I’ll stick in your head
‘til you wish you were dead

I strike with little warning
and lots of retching and tears
and pulling of the blinds

I am your migraine
You are my prisoner
(until the meds kick in)

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I have not shared much in the way of my artwork, but lately I’ve taken up drawing as therapy. The picture above was drawn during a migraine, so it was quite a feat for me.

For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Open Link Monday, plus dverse Open Mic, and ABC Wednesday later this week… “M” is for migraine.


Following years of extractions,
protracted dental procedures
that chanced to finance
dentists’ kids’ tuition,
here’s the fruition:

End of line for teeth like mine
Complete comeuppance
(come-out-ance?) of my
upper floor of teeth (the basement
to remain untouched beneath)

Oh, doctor, pray thee
go gentle into that good right
side; succumb that gum with enough
anesthetic to render a rhino redundant
Gas me gutless

The final result, partly insult
My smile replaced;
our savings laid waste

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

You know I will write about anything when you read this one, right? Yes, I will join the “upper denture” group this week, after years of secondhand nightclub smoke plus poor access to dental care rendered my upper rack wretched and wrecked.

For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Open Link Monday and dverse’s Open Mic Tuesday.  And if I’m absent over the weekend, it will be because my face looks like a cauliflower and feels like the aftermath of a prizefight!  Peace, Amy

Hellish Mind Music

Exquisite pain
Migraine music

Satan’s symphony
starts slowly

Building, blinding
to crescendo

Muted applause
at its end

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, all permissions given by Searobin, creator

At Poets United, Kim introduced us to William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow,” a simply gorgeous poem of only eight lines and no punctuation. Read it HERE. She asked us to build in the same form a poem in which every word matters. I woke up with said migraine, so it became my subject! Ah yes, art is pain… pain is art…

This also appears near the hedges bordering the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. Peace, Amy

Dentists and Origami

Dentists cling to
ass-slinging phrases:
“Only $3,000,” and
“We prefer implants,” or
“It’s easy, and it’s only $2,700!”

You are entering a world of pain,
paralyzed in their sterile chair,
these hair-raising inestimable estimates
tossed off like freshly folded
origami vampire bats
circling the cubicle,
jugular-bound to bleed you dry

Count the scales on
his alligator shoes
Take notes, the personal pix
of Peruvian vacation with
family, a long row of
perfect pearlies

The iron-clad irony:
We pay,
they play

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Isadora at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads asked us to use one of our favorite movie lines in a poem… Just saw “The Big Lebowski” for the first time in years, and although it’s irredeemably filled with swearing – haven’t heard that many F words since labor – John Goodman’s line, “You’re entering a world of pain,” seems so appropriate here!

My empty tooth canal is stuffed with clove oil-soaked gauze and it’s still 85 degrees at midnight and I cannot go outside because the humidity is too much for my lungs, like breathing warm pudding. “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you find the play?” Amy

Labor Room Blues (in the key of AARGH!)

Would that my trap door’d been
strung with elastic
My labor would have been
oh, so easy – less drastic

If I am blessed with one
more babe, I’m sure I’ll
scream, “Cancel the Gatorade!
Let’s try epidural!”

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Three Word Wednesday: Labor, Cancel, Elastic
Also at Poets United, prompt: Strings
And Riley, no hard feelings! But if you think you’re getting a baby sister or brother at my age, think again, ha ha.

Not Me – Never Again

The Good Time Who Was Had By All
at party-throwers’ beck and call
Not me – never again

Dancing on tables, shakin’ my portion
with ear-bleeder bands of ragged distortion
Not me – never again

Sleeping benches, nodding on curbs
Under the thrall of questionable herbs
Not me – never again

Feeling as though this was all life could give:
To be a leftover while others could live.
Not me – never again.

By sin, once, almost swallowed whole;
With God’s sure help I found my soul
When sirens sing and whims cajole
I steel myself, embrace my goal:

Not me – never again

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter “N”; also, my poetic touchstone, Poets United.

Three Word Wednesday gave us Gag, Maintain, and Omit.   Also at Poets United, my poetic community of friends. Peace, Amy


Who’s Crying Now?

The only way he could shut her up
was to gag her with a bandana.

The only way he could maintain control
was to try tying her to a chair

The only mistake he made was to omit
searching her pockets for pepper spray.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This is for my friend M., with whom I had a conversation today. Some days are like this; others, much better… Peace, Amy

Quiet House Riot

Alone, left at home.
Isolation is
cold consolation.
Then the storm moves in.

Soon floodgates open;
silent shrieks fill cracks
in fractured places.
Sea salt shores it up.

Building castles of crystalline tears.
The Dark Ones hand me a shovel.
They say, “Dig it.”
They aren’t hip – they’re talking about my grave.

Maroon lagoon
of sodden gloom.
So low,

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Also at my poetic home, Poets United.

No Limit To Tears

Powerful, the cry of anguish.
Happens at the end of your rope.
That heaving, full-moon cry,
the howl of a wounded animal.

After Death has taken another,
the scythe merciless and swift…
or sometimes wielding a precise,
torturous scalpel.

When Death strangled Mom, my tears
fell faster than ducts could release them;
my head filled with salt water,
clogging my brain, my mind.

Tears poured forth in a torrent,
flooding the room.
I floated in that pool for hours until,
gut-sore, I was washed back to my room.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For We Write Poems (Take it to the Limit), and Poets United.

The prompt at NaPoWriMo was to write a poem using words you hate. This covers a wide spectrum from one part of my life. I miss you, Jeff. Love, Amer

Panel from the Memory Project

Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP)

Prone on the steel-back chair.
Probed straight down the gullet.
Cysts and rancid breath emerge
as he lay stupefied.
He will awaken and count the hours.
Tick, tock, curse the clock.

Swabs grabbed cultures.
Petrie dishes cook up the fetid truth:
He has it.
He has full-blown AIDS.
It is 1985.
He is 32.
Tick. tock, curse the clock.

Skeletal soon enough, too soon.
Patches of scabs peel off his scalp.
Bactrin on every sink so that
if he barfs, bleeds, or brays
we can wash it off.
Tick, tock, curse the clock.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also posted at Writer’s Island (Day 28) and Poets United.