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

Tag Archives: Troubled Souls

Just a quick one. Sorry I am so terribly behind in responding to your comments… the Poets United article generated a lot of interest. I promise I’ll get back “on par” soon. (Groan – you’ll see why when you read my response to Sunday Scribblings‘ prompt, “Woods.”) Amy

Woodsman Lost

Tiger, Tiger, what the hell?
‘Twas a time you cast a spell.
Now you ache from stress and strain;
credibility down the drain.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Two for ABC Wednesday.  Two divergent subjects:  Innocence and Iniquity.  First, free verse; second, another “snowball poem,” with a descending number of syllables, one through ten.  Don’t ask me why, but this form has me spellbound. Thanks to Joseph Harker for letting me know the name of the form!


Welcome to the world
little wonder, who
worked her way
from my womb,
winding through the waterslide
into the waiting hands
of a woman who already knew
we two would make it work
without him.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil



a witch,
there’s no doubt.
Vipers emerge
from her mouth; venom
paralyzing those who
get in her way, considered
inconvenient or bothersome.
You’d never guess, beneath her perfect
new frock lies a heart cold as charity.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Also posted at the poets’ collective, Poets United

From A Wordling Whirl of Sundays, Brenda Warren’s creation.  Prompt words in bold.  Also at my poetry resting and nesting place, Poets United. Peace to all, Amy

Renata’s Scarves

Renata’s scarves hold exotic stories.
One reveals a temple, columns casting shadow on light.

A gossamer veil with sparks in its threads
etches a pattern that glints when held to the lamp.

But the most telling of all:
A tangled sky-blue sheath, slit down the center,
where his knife cut clear to her thighbone.

Demons and diamonds,
serpents and stardust.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Last Stop on the Erie-Lackawanna

She sits on the train and stares at the passing hillsides.
Animated visions of towns she long since left
are whizzing by, their whispered plea, “Come back,
you are still thirsty for that bottle of mistakes,
come partake and we will sustain you.”

Bad memories, resilient buggers.
Aching for revenge that will never be hers,
she stands on the platform of the caboose
and, hearing the thrumming of the engine, wheels at full-tilt pace,
she decides this may be her stop after all.

(c) 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore

Many thanks to Brenda Warren at Beyond the Bozone for the Wordle. As usual, a cheerful offering from yours truly…!
The words were:    revenge, aching, train, thirst, thrumming, visions, resilient, sustain, animated, hillsides, whispered.


Teetering on the rim
of crystal so thin
a butterfly’s wing could
send her tumbling back
down, down, down
into the glass carnival

Where distorted lens
meets bloodshot eye
Where feet lose footing,
sliding on the gloss
Where beating on the wall
can cut you to the bone

Where they can look in
but she is alone
trapped in prisms
of sunlight’s whim
Where is she’s not careful
she will be burned to an ashen memory

The limits are clear,
but not so the options

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For ABC Wednesday, the letter “P”; for We Write Poems, “Take it to the Limit,” and, as always, at Poets United, the home of so many wordsmiths, for Thursday Think Tank: Monsters. If you visit these blogs, either click on the “comments” button to access the work of plenty of amazing poets, or at ABC, simply click on a face! Peace, Amy

Still following National Poetry Writing Month at Writer’s Island. Stumbled upon a prompt at Sunday Scribblings, “Design.” You can find this one at Poets United as well, along with many other poets.

Please feel free to comment with critiques if you wish – I really appreciate feedback.  Thanks! Amy


Delicate veins of climbing ivy
Creeping clematis and morning glory shaping
a heavenly, fenced-in fortress turned playground
“Come inside,” they whisper, voices of children.
“Linger awhile. You’re safe here.”
Yes, she thinks. I’ll stay in this haven
until I can make sense of things.

Safe from prying parents who
“only want to help you, honey…”
Yes, I’ll make myself scarce for a brief time-out.
Life is too confusing and no one understands.

Sounds easy, tempting, perhaps, to
hide in a high, wide, heather-rowed hedge
while hedging your bets.

Tracing paths within, flowers begin to
drop from their vines and rot
on the well-trodden, muddy path beneath.
The whispers have turned from beckoning sprites
to taunting, shrill fishwives.
She panics. Where am I now? And why are the voices
now vexing me with matters that do not concern them?
They speak of my secrets and shame and…

Soon time and the complexity of the maze
have overrun thoughts of escape, as isolation
becomes complete… an utter lack of options.
Vines twist around her neck, muting cries for help;
thorns pierce her flesh as morbid curiosity
secures another victim for The Labyrinth.

© 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

For April Poem A Day, I have decided to post to Writer’s Island and to go off prompts for the month, for the most part, and delve into poetry I’ve written over the past couple of years that has yet to see the light of day.

The Man Who Became An Island

Withholding his thoughts;
withdrawing day by day, floating away toward the sea

She stood by, calling him back away from shore,
back to this world,
the real world.

But he was “expanding from within,”
convinced that no one else could comprehend
his power, his vision, his wisdom.

“You are all ants,” he proclaimed,
“scurrying around a hill, dragging crumbs,
while I am destined for a higher purpose.”

He pulled in every corner of his being and
drew it around him into a cocoon of bizarre grandeur.

An island.

And later, as psychosis grabbed him by the throat,
a whole ‘nother planet.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This poem is an erasure. I leafed through the Madison Chronicle’s front section, chose four stories (hence the four stanzas), and picked words out in order but at random to form a prose poem (free form). There is another site, Erasures, which offers many paragraphs from famous authors, inviting you to click around and erase (or replace) words to create your own poem. I felt the topics in this particular paper calling to me. Peace, Amy

Monday, March 28 News

Man dumped still bleeding from car
at hospital died, believe stabbed at intersection.
Officials put two plus two together,
the fight nearby minutes before.

Gov. Walker’s budget would cripple network,
force police to close connections,
connect the dots.
“It would be like, you got a horse,
next week a mule,” said the chief. “It
could hurt the network Google.”

Japan’s nuclear plant dismissed,
an associated show. Confidence prompted
overly optimistic Earth,
the level of fury pushing to multiple meltdowns.
Ample waves before and again, clear
important network plates strongly coupled,
storing extra stress.

Weakened minor still around her apartment
but sometimes on her own fell to emergency.
The organ couldn’t matter; that can be
common among the residents,
a service to spring through.
Suffer in silence, afraid, falsely advancing, inevitable.
“It’s fun to hit a waitress as she lay on the floor.”
Help her. Step right up.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Three Word Wednesday, the prompts were: Dainty, Haunting, and Tantalize. Took me days to get to this place… and not one I relish being in. But some things must be said. Amy

Desserts (3WW: Dainty, Haunting, Tantalize)

Petit fours, marzipan
Dainty cupcakes set
in a tantalizing row
each night for his consumption

Little girls on display
Sleeping delights to his watchful eye
This patisserie from Hell
is haunting me still

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil