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

Tag Archives: Suicide.

determined swimmer 001

Acrylic on canvas, 9×12 by Amy Barlow (Liberatore)

Determined Swimmer

She’s good in water
A determined swimmer
An athlete going for the gold
With each stroke, determination grows
Hope flows with coursing blood

(a flash of daddy’s face)

Swimming for her life
or because of it
Because water will wash away
traces of THAT
Wash her clean of past, passed

(what happened, over and over again)

Almost there
Air collapsing from her lungs outward
The sea, an effervescent bubble mass
of inside, now outside

(he’s dead yet alive, too alive and too strong)

The picture fades from view
Her eyes shine in a wide-awake stare
A limp doll sleeping
on solid ground
at last

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The painting says it all, if you understand her determination. I have felt like this, too many times. May all who have been abused find peace… peace that does not need this kind of plunge. Amy


Psych Ward Visitor

In the Bin
again and I notice

someone’s playing
peek-a-boo

Someone just out of sight
Furtive, foggy, stalking us

Around the corner
near the Med Line

Waiting to see
who’s farthest gone

Patiently holding vigil
as patients tossturn

overnight ‘til dawn
He bides his time

rolling dice that are
all snake eyes

No worry, no hurry
He’s not on a schedule

Then Lonnie got a call
His wife wants a divorce

She took the kids and
he can’t do a thing but moan

Next morning
we watch him swing

as the nurses try
to cut him down

No resuscitation, he’s
blue and past blues

We all cry and then
I realize, shuddering

the stranger is gone
Death is done – for today

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Trifecta, the definition of Death as the destroyer of life, represented usually as a skeleton with a scythe. In this case, Death is a bit sneakier… but always gets his man (or woman). Also at the Poets United Poetry Pantry, where you’ll find a diverse group writing about all sorts of things!


An Unquiet Mind

Virginia Woolf
catching life by the throat
time and again

An unquiet mind:
Dark star, wings of madness
Tender at the bone

The words, the testament.
Far from the madding crowd
the shallows,
weeping waters

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

All titles of books from my shelves – everything from “the” book on manic depression (An Unquiet Mind) to volumes on religion, collections of poetry, and my favorite book: Time and Again by Jack Finney. For the Books On Your Shelf prompt at Rhymes With Tao. Also at my poetic place for peace of mind, for creativy, Poets United.  Peace, Amy


Thing 205

The Monster paid me an unannounced visit today.
It let itself in through the locked and bolted back door
on its way to another grief.

It took me in its arms as I,
limp as linguine and just as strained,
offered no resistance.

Its cowl became my heavy hood;
the weight of its robe dragged me to half-staff…
lugging laundry downstairs,
crying as I failed to muster strength to open a jar,
wracked with fear I’d be discovered here alone
with Same Old:

Telling me I’m worthless, a drag on my loved ones,
why bother with it all? Run away to a
thin spot on the icy lake…

Only my Boxing Gym of the Soul saved me.
My Trainer whispered spoke shouted in my ear,
“Slough off the robe, ooze off the couch.
Flop to the floor and exercise.
EXORCISE THE MONSTER!”

After my walk outside, the demon slunk in a corner.
Finally giving up, it didn’t bother to say goodbye,
But I make sure the door hit it in the ass
as it left to cripple someone else.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Poetic Bloomings, the prompt was Fear; also at Poets United’s Poetry Pantry.


I usually don’t revisit the same subject so soon, but Poetic Bloomings had a prompt with such specifics (a great-grandfather, a pocketwatch, a camera, getting film developed) to one I just wrote about my Great-grandpa Dunn that I though he deserved a special remembrance. I’m looking at the portrait as I write this… Mom looks so little, like a puppy standing next to Gary Cooper. So thanks, Marie Elena and Walt, for reading my mind! Peace, Amy

Portrait of Great-grandpa and Mom

Mom told me her Grandpa
died on the tracks
The storied train conductor
lay down to relax

and died as he’d lived
in his suit so fine
Forty-some years working
the Rock Island Line

They found him, right hand flung out
They opened his palm
His prized pocket-watch was
still perfect as a Psalm

They went to the shack
built around his prize
A massive telescope;
Mars seen with his own eyes

and papers lined in ink
detailed her Grandpa’s plan
that someday on the moon
a spaceship we would land

Mom spied a camera
sitting on a shelf
slipped it her in pocket;
this, she’d do herself

Three pictures on that film
One of his cherished Scope
One, her grandma making
homemade lavender soap

The last, my mom and grandpa
Great-grandfather Dunn
In full conductor-timepiece suit…
to his long leg she clung

That picture, now in sepia
hangs upon my wall
A testament to dreamers
no matter how they fall

In death, he chose his exit
In life, he held such hope
Great-grandma washed his broken body
in homemade lavender soap

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


THE TRAIN CONDUCTOR

“End of the line,” called out the conductor, roaming car to car
Rail-thin and rangy, dignified in the spotless black uniform,
his timepiece gleamed at the end of a long gold chain.
Will was a good conductor, one of the best on the line.

He knew precisely the timeline, all destinations
His resonant voice calmed riders during bumps, holdups
and especially during inclement weather
He had a way with children; could recognize kids on their first ride,
fear and fascination dancing in their eyes

Will treated all workers with the same respect.
Never saw the color of their skin, only the quality of their service.
The last of a dying breed in the 1950s, both Will and the Rock Island Line,
as autos took to the highways and trains fell by the wayside,
rusting gravestones, remnants of the past.

He kept to himself, rarely shared stories about family.
Seemed troubled, standing off in a corner by himself on breaks.
But when tapped on the shoulder, came down to earth, immediately engaged.

The porters worried about Will, and the maids
saw his uneasiness; they prayed for him in church.
No one was surprised when, one foggy night
the man who knew the clockwork of each train, the routes of every line
was felled on the tracks and died.

“Accident,” read the report, thus ensuring widow’s benefits
for the wife he never talked about.
But she knew in her heart that for Will,
it was simply the end of the long, sad, lonely line.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Magpie Tales asked for poems about our ancestors. My great-great grandfather was a train conductor, amateur astronomer, introverted, extremely depressed man who help out my mother’s family during the Midwest Depression of the 1930s. I figured out the puzzle of his death, which the rest of the family never discussed.