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

Tag Archives: Sunday Whirl

After the Loss of Him

Her first impulse was primal:
to clamp her fists and pummel
God, invisible creator of Death.

A precise hit to God’s gut;
that might ease her unending,
sharpsullen sadness.

Time ticks on; faces blur
at the very edge of memory.
Only now can she kneel,

knowing there is no distance
between her and the Infinite.
Prayer is soothing and silent…

God answers in whisperings,
in the rhythm she will come to
accept as the rest of her life.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For the Sunday Whirl (see Wordle and read others HERE). This is dedicated to three women I know who lost their husbands, all too early. Peace, Amy


GET TO THE GIG, GIRL!

Take the A train? Hell, no
I’ve faster ways to go

Head south on Amsterdam
Keep low and lively, ma’am

I filter through the fog
and gusting city smog

The traffic’s fierce, you see
I keep it high and free

Some pieces of the News
Fly by in folded twos

Through bitter cold and then
I spring balloon to end

And climb on up and out
the fountain’s water spout

The cries of “Viva! Viva!”
when I arrive, La Diva

Enough to warm my heart
And now my gig I start

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The “B” on the balloon is for Barlow, my former stage name. At dverse Poets Pub, we were challenged to an ekphrastic prompt – writing to an image; I used words from The Sunday Whirl. The brill artist is Judith Clay, and you can see more of her fantastic fantasies and read other poets HERE, as well as check out what other poets did with the Whirl Wordle HERE.

Fun prompt. Was ready for one. It was a long week, but things are looking up! Peace, Amy


THE DRINKING YEARS

The drinking years poured on
in various degrees of fizzfriction

My dream manifested: 18 at last
My tribute, a friend bought
the first round and round we went

Soon, my lonely heart found itself
nestled in the arms of some shlump
I met the night before… score

I had envisioned losing IT
over Chateauneuf du Pape
Not snotlockered over boilermakers

Finally I was a space cadet in
launch mode: “If I am to…
stay here for a… p-period of time,
will someone pleeeeeease
persuade the floor to pleeeeease…
stop spinning?”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Sunday Whirl gave us a Baker’s Dozen of words. Click the link to see what others have done with this unique prompt, and, as always, thanks to Brenda Warren for her sharing the list!

This is also “in the margins” at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and Poets United.

Suffice it to say, after watching my mother die from a combination of 50 years of smoking and 40 of drinking (she was in recovery toward the end), I gave up partying. Besides, I’d much rather enjoy the occasional microbrew beer than depend on Gordon’s for a lifeline. Thanks, Mama, for showing me the better path. Peace, Amy


Before we begin, you must pardon certain bits of “flavor” in today’s poem, for it was written to the theme of “incorporate the punchline of your favorite joke into a poem” for Poetic Bloomings (and you must remember I had a long career in theater and cabarets, so the humor was rather salty), but I also used some rather unsavory words from The Sunday Whirl, including “Spit,” “Pulsing,” and… well, you’ll see!  Also at my favorite poetic salon, Poets United (going on three years of membership!).

If you are faint of heart or faint over mild vulgarity, best you skip this one.  (wink)  Amy

To the Manor Born

They number in the thousands,
with up-front titles such as
The Duke of Whodidwhatshire and
Lady Fluffingsham, that sound like
they pee chicken soup, their spit is
a blessing, and their hearty red
corpuscles could run pulsing into
a petri dish and create a ruby.

Dressing takes hours beyond count;
their every text message is met by
thunderous headlines in the
Brrrrrritish tabloids. Oi!

Said Lord Worthlessthan as he dined
on braised pheasant and oysters during
a recent champagne luncheon at Beltchington,
“We call ourselves The Aristocrats…
but really, we’re plain, humble folk.”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Skipping Rope at the Threshold

As often as we might come here
We are never skeptical of the weather
Even a slight shower will not control
our bold urge to unwind en la parque

I am the first of eight; I control the sign to
go or stay. Mama is home; the ninth hermano
almost here. At the threshold of womanhood,
I wield my sword of power gracefully.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Painting by Joaquin Sorolla, Public Domain

 

Day 14 of NaPoWriMo finds me once again in the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, where Hedgewitch suggested an ekphrastic piece based on the artwork Joaquin Sorolla y Batista, a Spanish painter whose works emphasized the natural light of his homeland and the people who dwelt under that light.

Also for the Sunday Whirl, where I managed to get the dozen words in two stanzas. Whew! Thanks, Brenda, for the prompt. Also for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where the weather’s always fine.


First, watch this classic, short clip from “Sunset Boulevard,” with Wm. Holden and Gloria Swanson

Studio Blues (the session)

So we’re sittin around
mid-session/post-mortem
We are, so far, not happy
It doesn’t sound like us at all

The urge to get it right
to project confidence and
unity in the band’s sound…
Technology can get in the way:

Today was a clusterfrack of
padded drums with five mikes
and 64 tracks on the sound board
and an OCD tech whose mantra is

“Perrrrrrr-fect”

(If he were a makeup artist,
a single smudge would be verboten)
Inquisitive as to our dissatisfaction
(this being an old-style jazz recording)

he joins us and digs into the
delicious coffee cake make by
the bass player’s girlfriend. I activate
the discussion: “It’s too clean.”

Tech gets defensive. “I’ve made
stellar recordings for (so-and-so)
It takes the master’s touch to clean up
the blips and merge all the tracks.”

“Look,” sez I, “let’s do a Sinatra session.
Strip the drums – Mike, use brushes
Jimmy, get your stand-up bass, no more electric
Screw the keyboard effects, Stu, just

tickle the baby grand in the corner. One
mike on that, and I’ll sing in the center,
Billie-style. Lower the lights and let’s
get the mood right.” Tech is instructed

to merge all tracks simultaneously and
create a single, live session. “But there
will be off notes and sometimes the
guitarist squeaks on the strings!” frets he.

“You need reverb, some sweetening…”
I honey/hotsauce him: “Listen, babe,
I’m a singer, not a vocal machine, and
we want soul, not squeaky-clean.

“Wanna know how we did it when
I started out? Watch this and
get schooled, learn from someone
who came up in smoky clubs.

“Dusty Springfield sang sitting on a toilet
because the sound was better in the bathroom.
We didn’t NEED reverb then…
We had voices.”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Well, the Real Toads had a “come one, come all” today, so I thought I’d pick up a prompt from The Sunday Whirl. This comes from my “old school” background in music, where the singers whose catalogs I raided (Sinatra, Billie, Bennett, Satch, Nat “King” Cole, the early years of Barbra Streisand) all had one thing in common: They recorded live with their band or orchestras. No fiddling around with the sound post-session.

Once Madonna came on the scene, she was sued for using a second singer’s voice to give her own so-so voice that high-nasal feel (She lip-synched most of “Like A Virgin” at the Grammy Awards, but no one noticed because she was writhing on the floor). Studios full of baffles, drum rooms, and solo vocals recorded separately after the band, a jillion tracks they could add later, as well as reverb (the first vocal enhancement) and eventually the vocanizer, which not only “sweetens” a vocal flat note but was used by Cher on “Believe (In Life After Lov e)” – that “it takes ti-i-i-ime” computerized effect, used to create an interesting vibe.

MY PEOPLE SANG. Sinatra always had an audience (women had to remove all clinky jewelry); Billie sat in the middle of a circle, mike suspended from the ceiling; Streisand, accompanied by full orchestras in her 20s, had a knack for getting her emotional performances on the very first take. Nat live in sessions, playing his own piano? The livin’ end.

In other words, things change, but I don’t have to follow the trend. None of the recordings you have heard from me have ever had any monkey business, no sweetening, etc. Pure, simple jazz. Peace, Amy


April Fool (The Poet)

She can do it
She’s done it before
April calls for
a poem a day

She locks out
distractions, lets
herself get lost
in memories and moments

It could be a
song – she has
staff paper on hand,
after all, plenty

It won’t be
floral themes
Funeral scented as
petals fall to the carpet

No “moon June spoon”
songs; something
bluesy with peaks
of soulful wails

She has written
about stoners and
wastrels, powders
up nostrils, bad sex

Politics and pencils
Incense and incest
LGBTQs and rednecks
Allies and enemies

Today, she will
simply vow to
make it worthy,
come what may

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For the Sunday Whirl (see Wordle HERE), and on the sidebar at Poets United, my oasis in the desert; AND for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Open Link Monday. n celebration of the first day of NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month (or Naturally Panicky Writhing Motions, depending on my level of desperation).

The game is afoot, Watson. Watson, the foot is a game. A game, Watson, the foot is. Yeah, I’m ready! Peace, Amy


Life Cycling

First come the three little words
Then, “I’ll love you ‘til I die”
Vows to share a lifetime as one
Down the aisle into Real Street

Change begins to take hold
She feels faint over nothing
After a march to the drug store, she
Places calls to her doctor and OB

Family planning worked, a baby is on the way
To create life within is a special calling
She doesn’t mind the stringy stretch marks
Nor the RR train to La Maze classes

in order to master the art of patience and breath
while bringing new life into the light

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Riley tattoo b and w

I remember being pregnant with Riley.  Ask women who’s ever been pregnant, and they’ll probably say they felt like the most powerful person in the world. Submerged, cradled within, this growing child… I am getting misty because my girlfriend and bandmate Karen’s daughter Amanda is in hospital just now, dilating and all that good stuff.

Riley is the best thing I ever did. Not just giving birth, but raising her, watching her tap out complicated drumbeats from the age of four; seeing her first pictures – and for years to come, finding manga characters scribbled on the margins of homework. Startlingly smart, easy to be with, and wicked talented… she’s a force to be reckoned with, and, as you can see by this photo shoot (body painting, not tattoos), she’s gorgeous.  Love you, Riles. Mom

For the Sunday Whirl, the wordle can be found HERE
. Check out the other poets as well! Peace and soda crackers for the first trimester (!), Amy


THE ROYAL PAIN

He’s had all the royal breaks.
His every wish was fulfilled.

He could go on a bender,
drunk as a skunk, end up
naked in a ditch, and the press
would chalk it up to
youthful royal wildness:
Poetry for the masses.

In a world hungry for virtue,
there is diminishing patience
for the antics of the royals,
living in palaces that have
many suites – but no room
for commoners, nor
succor for the poor.

Perhaps William will rise to lead
a new England. A good start,
taking steps to dismantle
the British Behemoth,
the burden borne by the masses:

Royalty.
Privilege.
Birthright.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


ROOTED (dedicated to Miss Forward)

Mama never got over being on the road with bands.
“Keep your roots shallow,” she said,
“so you can pull up and move on when it’s time.”

Yet, after wandering for many years,
I find myself grounded, firmly rooted.
Maybe it’s the friendships we’ve forged.

My innate knack for blooming in any new
place I was transplanted (quite often) from coast
to coast, and sometimes in the ocean, small isles.

Relentless in my search for home, the
perfect church… a city with a full spectrum
of cultures, history, creativity (plus a few vultures)

Some artists of delicate mien, others rampant,
unrepentant rowdies, all with eyes and voices meant
to rejuvenate others, if only for art’s own sake.

Madison. Never bland; blooming flowers or snow banks,
it’s all good, as long as the local microbrew beer
and the silk long johns hold out.

Grounded, circles of friends interconnect, grapevines
forming beneath the surface of simple kinship.
Home isn’t where I hang my hat.

It’s where I have planted my soul, patting down soil
in this haven of lefties, young and old, rippin’ good worship, and
a golden lady on the capital dome, wearing a badger helmet.*

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

My first posting since hearing my brain MRI was negative… I mean, I still have a brain, but it’s tumor, clot, and stroke-free. This poem, for Sunday Scribblings (Grounded) and The Sunday Whirl (see Wordle HERE), is a celebration of sorts, as well as a love song for our adopted home, Madison, WI.  This is also posted at my poetic home, Poets United.

*The “golden lady” is called Miss Forward, and she shines at the peak of the dome. She can be seen from a mile away. She does indeed wear a helmet with the shape of a badger, our state mammal, on top. Everything here is Badger: basketball, local football, everyone wears red. BADGER red. Me? I’m more of a ‘honeybadger.’ (wink) Peace, Amy