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

Tag Archives: Pain

Two in a row for We Write Poems: “I do my laundry when…” One fun, one serious.

These are also at Writer’s Island and Poets United. Peace, Amy

Laundry (haiku)

I do my laundry
when I damned well feel like it.
I am self-employed.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


I Do

“I do.” My laundry:  When he needs his lucky shirt
for Dart Night with the guys.
And despite my long hours at work,
I end up cooking every meal.

He reclines his spine on the sofa
without a “thank you” for the chips and dip and beers I
serve his buddies while they sit and swear at the ref’s bad calls
and don’t call it a day until after 10 p.m.

“I do” sealed my fate until the swearing
was no longer aimed at the refs, but at me and
the bowl of dip just missed my head
falling in clinks and plops to the just-mopped floor.

Darts no long reserved for the board:
He’d found a new target.

It wasn’t always like this. In our early days,
kisses and promises of blissful years ahead.

Words I believed until my lips met
with his fist; until sunglasses became basic makeup.

“I do” sounds lovely at the altar, but so hollow when
promises melt and mingle with the salt and blood at my feet

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Poetic Asides offered an interesting prompt, “Never again.” This is a hard one to read, but I hope it will give someone, anyone out there second thoughts if they ever consider taking their own life… Peace, Amy


Bloodletting bride of
Over-rated solution to
Delusion tells you it’s
the only way out
(“Please proceed to the nearest exit”)

Psych meds assuage the
Numb it, dumb it down
But for the dedicated
Hounds of hell at their
In the end
it’s the end.

A final farewell to friends, family
Never mind who finds you
Don’t worry, your mom will bleach
the bathtub
But the sight will frighten and
haunt them forever

Never say never – again, I say:
Pick up the phone
Make the call
You are loved

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At We Write Poems, we were asked to write about a safe place, a refuge.  Sometimes the best refuge is actually more like a foxhole or a bomb shelter… not necessarily bringing comfort, but warding off the enemy who is ever seeking out the vulnerable.


When you go to bed,
always keep the covers tucked in
and lie face down between two pillows
with the sheets pulled up over your head,
hands clutching the top seam in a death grip.

He’ll never find you there.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Not your typical Christmas offering, and yet I feel called on this, the Solstice, the longest night of the year, to think about different paths. I’ve spent the day reflecting on what Jesus means to me, as I await his birth again in my heart with the calm and preparedness of a midwife. But this season excludes many, and counting agnostics and atheists in my circle of friends, I figured I’d offer up some food for thought!

The Atheist and Me, the Lay Minister

Try to explain to a fellow Christian
why atheism is acceptable

Try to explain to a deaf man
why the radio’s undetectable

One man’s meat is another man’s candy
One woman’s faith does not fit all

Every journey has pitfalls and triumphs
There is not one true, right call

I know my call is to Jesus, to God
My soul is filled to the brim

But if my friend thinks otherwise
That’s his right – up to him.

If he doesn’t believe in the Bible
and God’s not his only light

Yet he does good things in this bleak world
I won’t shove God down his throat tight

I’m called to be the best Christian I can
so I will not presume to oppress

my friend disillusioned, let down by his church
’cause he’s going from pants to a dress

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Dedicated to all women who have lost their hair fighting cancer and other illness.  It’s a hard thing to endure, as we tend to look at ourselves in the mirror with a certain defining viewpoint…


Panic set in when radiation exacted its toll
Nauseous moments, endless drives to the hospital
All this she could endure; her faith was strong

But she called me in the dead of night
pleading, “Come downstairs, I can’t find my scissors!”
Was she going to hurt herself? End it after all?

Padding down back steps in PJs and slippers
I found her weeping on a kitchen chair
surrounded by long strands of hair, a nest of fallen beauty

“Quick! Braid what’s left and cut it off!”
Tea-rstained plea of a women for whom
her waist-length tresses were a source of pride

Gently weaving, endeavoring to leave undisturbed
the bounty still holding fast to roots,
carefully rubber banding both ends.

“Are you sure you want me to cut it?”
She grabbed my scissors, handed them off
like a scalpel: handle first

“They’ve poisoned and burned me.
If all I have left is this, it’s enough.”

Twenty years of lovingly tended hair
lay in her hands in a braid. She cried, mourning,
“And he never even noticed, I kept it long for him…”

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

At We Write Poems, we were asked to write about healing. Before the healing, there is the injury.


Some wounds are so deep
so personal, so wrenching,
they cannot heal without help,
without sharing.

Memories spread past membranes
and synapses in the brain,
tentacles reaching, spreading painfully,
tightening the jaw,
constricting breath,
ever growing in power,
wasting the strongest soul.

A boy down the block
came home on leave and
looking in his eyes, I recognized
his agony, his disguise.
He sat with his mom in church quietly,
trying not to scream.

Later, we went for coffee and
unmasked our monsters.
Mine took hold in childhood;
his are war-born, wailing in the night.
New, but no less maiming.

Then came the shared silence
of those who know that tears
are about to flow, and we
both let go, heaving sobs,
wracking but quiet, this cry.
Tears… our only balm.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil