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

Tag Archives: Spiritual

This my 400th post at WordPress! To celebrate, I purchased the official site name, “” – but don’t worry; your old links will still forward to this address. Here is a song and with it, a true story that resulted from my posting the link on YouTube. My friends and former partners in music ministry, Kathy Smith and Corrine Crook of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Endwell, NY, joined me at Tranquil Bar and Bistro in an impromptu rendition of “Rivers of Babylon,” as captured by my friend George Bezushko’s phone cam.   Peace, Amy

Sister Elizabeth and Babylon

African-American, Benedictine cloistered nun
writes letter to
Anglo-American jazz singer
asking for transcription of a song
she found on the Web.

Most of the sisters, Anglo as well,
sing a capella;
African influences will flavor the praise.
And so singer finds a hand-written copy
Sends it with note: “…and I’m married to a pastor!”

God’s work is never done
so effectively
as when women combine their own desires
with others’ can-do attitudes to create
a new kind of unity, crossing divides.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For dverse poets Open Mic Night and Poets United

The Greatest Aim of Humankind (an acrostic)

Pursue the beating of swords into ploughshares
Etch onto windowpanes, “The time has come”
Aiming to embrace all peoples as one family
Chanting, not dogma, but “Love,” in many tongues
Everyone will cry out, “Enough of war, time to live!”

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For a new site, Poetic Bloomings, to the prompt “a goal-oriented poem.” Please check out Marie and Walt’s new prompt site – I think you’ll love their pace, their vibe. This is also, as always, posted to my oasis from all chaos, Poets United.

Peace, Amy

Sunday Scribblings prompted a single word: Sweet. This past Sunday, I witnessed the event below. Enjoy! Amy   (Also posted, as always, at Poets United, a collective of dynamite poets.)


Anything Sweeter

Is there anything sweeter
than baby Cale at the baptismal font?
Mama hands him off to the pastor;
this child makes no fuss.

Once, twice, thrice
crossed on the forehead with water;
even as it drips down his nose to his chin,
he takes it all in stride.

And when the congregation applauds
this new member of our church,
Cale doesn’t cry.  Doesn’t even blink.
He looks as though he expected the ovation!

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This happened long ago and far away, but the memory still stings. Mental health consumers, take note. Amy

Dark Place In An Old-Time Church

Once upon a time, I, Sunday School teacher and wife of the preacher
asked for prayers for my falling, frail state of
misdiagnosed psychiatric overdose.
What a head-first dive into the greasy gruel of the gossip pool.

Mental illness was whispered there with vague disgust.
These were tough folks, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”
Could spare no time for a mental lapse
Manic = panic = Someone Else’s Family

Treat diabetes with insulin
No reason my skin should’ve been thought thin
Imbalance of a chemical nature, a different nomenclature
My bootstraps are still pharmaceutical

Incidental mental quirks, deep emotion runs
through my family like Drano through pipes
creative, self-deprecating, frustrating, flustered
mermaids – hilarious but precariously perched on the rocks

It was no a sin, this place I was in,
and not theirs to judge,
for as they whispered uneducated superstitions behind me back,
they were also mocking Jesus’ message of love

I sing praise to the God who has seen me at my lowest and pulled me higher.
While I was wrapped in darkness
God lit the fire, showed me the light, and
got me from uptight to upright

They stared as I took my fall;
I scared them all, even as I forgave them in my heart.
Upright eventually, but when would I fall again?
And then – when would I mend?

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


Give it up
Push it away
that ego, whispering “me me me”
(like a bad soprano warming up)

Let it go
Open your mind
Listen to the echo
(the voice that says the world revolves around you)

Let it in
Breathe it in
Creation, the Creator, who loves you
(and only wants you to give love back to the world)

Come full stop
Close your eyes
Let love catch up to you
(you were running too fast anyway)

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
This is in response to a challenge from We Write Poems (make up a prompt/form that may be used in the future. I call this Formulaic: 3 + (x) = Poem) and my poetic home, Poets United.

OK, I had a HUGE blast of energy after the sun came out, my cough abated, my lungs cleared, and I rode a bike for the first time in 7 years! THREE, count ’em, THREE poems today, so scroll all the way down. One haiku, one thumping Trump (hey, who doesn’t wanna do that?), and a final meditation to bring it all to a proper close. Peace to all who visit this blog, and remember, the Mayans didn’t predict Cortez, so quit sweating 2012!   Amy

First, for ABC Wednesday and that pesky letter, “O,” as well as Sensational Haiku Wednesday:

“O” is for Obama

Birthers, just admit
since proof of birth has been shown:
You hate his black skin.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Now, this is for ABC Wednesday and any blog that included prompts about idiots, f***wits, greedy rich straight white men, and egotists in general:

Obnoxious and Overbearing

Reporters live for this crap
(as Murrow turns slowly in his grave).

The brave blond/redheaded billionaire,
multiple times bankrupt
(and that’s just financially speaking)
arrives in his airbus.

Airbrushed hair sculpted to his scalp
(paging Mr. Softee!).
Face like a sphincter
mind like a gumball machine
mouth like a garbage disposal
spewing mindless accusations about
Place Of Birth and how Proud He Is Of Himself
that He forced the airing of Proof,
the truth that our president is…
well, our president.

TV reality show host,
scion of the sleaziest game in town:
Casinos (the house always wins,
but he still manages to go belly-up again and again).
Three wives (so far), but he’s rich again;
there may be more.

Anderson Cooper’s,
Jon Stewart’s, and
Stephen Colbert’s
collective wet dream:

Trump/Palin 2012!

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Finally, for Three Word Wednesday, using the words, Foolish, Mercy, and Relish. It’s Threefer Friday. Freaky Friday. A good Friday. Peace, Amy

Dry Bones

Bones weathered, dry, sun-bleached
Souls weary, drained, damaged

Who will raise them?
What will give them life, the power
to give and to receive love?
How will they rise from death?

Miracles happen.
The Bible says Ezekiel witnessed
the stop-action resurrection
of a thousand Jack Skellingtons.

Miracles happen
when we see ourselves
in the eyes of the homeless, the starving, the addicted.

Miracles happen
when we see past
our plasma screens, Starbucks, Mastercards
the restaurants we relish,
the foolish ways we overextend ourselves…
and show mercy to those who have nothing.

Miracles happen
when we listen to
our better angels.

Look past things of this world,
take on the burden.
Walk that mile.
Reach out to those who need your touch,
and your sorry, dry bones will be renewed.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also posted at my NaPoWriMo home, Writer’s Island, and at Poets United. Thanks to Rob at Writer’s Island for giving us all a prompt-free space for posting. Allows all of us to use prompts and ideas from different sites, as well as free writes from our own musings. A real blessing to me this year! Kudos, Rob.

Written this morning. I was so bummed about being confined to bed and missing Easter services, and this was my spiritual exercise for the day… Big day for Christians, but every day should be a day to celebrate each other, hand in hand, faith joining faith to seek peace in this troubled world. This will also be at Poetic Asides, where Robert asked for prayer poems. Amy

New To This Church

He hangs out near the front door,
unsure about entering, what with
seeing men in suits and ties and
women dressed up, hats and all.

And here he is in raggedy jeans
and a tie-dye shirt his buddy gave him.
The VOA fixed him up with an army jacket
and boots broken in so much, they’re almost broke as he is.

He considers his options: Lingering on another park bench
like the one he slept on last night…
Or maybe he’ll leave to find Gus and Sandy
near that cheap coffee shop again.

An old lady sniffs as she passes.
He must smell a little ripe.
“Well, it’s Sunday, I’ll give it a try.”
And as he slips inside, Jesus takes a seat in the back pew.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also published at Writer’s Island (My April Poem a Day home) and Poets United. Please click these links to discover a lot of talented poets!

For NaPoWriMo, I took up the Poetic Asides prompt, “Don’t ____ _____,” in which we are to fill in the blanks. So many well-intentioned folks unwittingly forward viruses by forwarding messages. My pet peeve is chain letters: They often come with the assurance that “God wants us to live abundantly,” (as though God’s abundance has anything thing to do with filthy lucre) and then tell you that you MUST forward to 128 people in the next 3 seconds and your ‘money wish’ will come true. Yeah, God’s all about the money, guys. That’s why Jesus lived in a diamond-encrusted palace! Amy

Don’t Forward Emails

I’m begging you
No more kitten and kitten and cute kitten and cuter kitten pix
No more e-cards with prancing bears

For the love of God
No more Rick Warren quotes
No more assurances of God’s love (as if I don’t know that already)
No more “Obama is Muslim” warnings

For the sake of my sanity
No more chain letters threatening an outbreak
of bubonic plague if I don’t forward it to 12 friends
No more Chicken Soup

I’m on my knees
When next you a forward a forward
Skip me. There, I’ve implored.

© 2010 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

My old friend George is about to embark on a journey most of us would envy… the kind where, when we’re old and sitting in a nursing home with a bib catching our drool, we rasp, “I should’ve done that, taken that trip, dropped it all and gone off to discover why I’m here and what life could have been.”

He stopped off for a last visit with Lex and me before liftoff. I scribbled these lines in hopes that he has a safe voyage and finds what he’s looking for… or it finds him!  Godspeed, my courageous brother.


Can there be
a better place
than what’s around the bend?

Goodbye once again,
and cramming into
his car, fairly brimming with

all the necessities.
A few luxuries:
DVDs to play once there

Sojourning toward Someday,
Will it end,
this road, this exquisite journey?

Or will he
touch down lightly
where peace and love collide?

Where he feels
alive at last.
At present, tense – but future…

Don’t give up
on these dreams
of belonging in the world.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil