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

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Life is Good When…

Life is good when children smile, their bellies full.
Life is good when girls play rough-and-tumble
after their tea party.
When boys are allowed to cry without ridicule…

Life is good when all folks have a home, however humble,
with food on the table and friends to share it.
When community clinics offer free health care
to those who need it most: addicts, women facing choices
that men don’t think twice about, prenatal care for those
who choose motherhood, help for those who don’t…

Life is good when handguns are melted to forge plows.
When women can wear hijabs and not encounter
disapproving looks from unveiled Anglos.
When Mom can choose to stay home because Dad
makes enough and has Union protections, or when
Mom decides the kids are all in school and can work
at something that exercises her mind and passion…

Life is good when the Christmas tree has more ornaments
on the tree than overpriced Chinese- made toys under it.
When the family gave more to charity than to Wal-Mart…

Life is good when every couple can hold hands and love
their lives together without condemnation from straights.
Life is good when the National Guard is back on US soil
and enlisted troops are all home, receiving VA care and
using their GI benefits to get an education…

We’re waiting for the day when life is good.

Until then, this dream is brought to you by your sponsor,
the Creator, who reminds us all that life is a gift…
use it wisely and with love.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Sunday Scribblings, an alternate take on “Life is Good.” Also at my poetic heart and hearth, Poets United.

Sunday Scribblings asked for “You Are Here” poems. Hope the picture shows up on the post; if not, click HERE to see the actual picture.


You Are Here (X)

Even if you don’t wanna be;
Even as retirement funds are ransacked by the rich;
Even as pneumonic peasants hack back phlegm, sewing your clothing on ancient Singers;
Even as Predator drones are sending a bit more of Afghanistan back to the time of the Prophet (pbuh), OK’d by the Nobel Peace Prize winner;
Even as young girls are raped and sold into slavery all around the world, including your city;
Even as unions, which fought for the two-day weekend, the 40-hour week, pensions, and benefits are now demonized by people who don’t understand their “party” is back by CEOs;
Even as Rush pops Viagra and scans the crowd of boys at the B-ball court;
Even as a middle-class family loads what they can into their new home – the Gran Torino;
Even as ignorant people think Global Climate Change is like religion – damn the science, we choose our beliefs according to our pastor;
Even as my hometown has suffered three “hundred-year floods” in FIVE years;
Even as the Tea Party drinks Kool-Aid from exquisite china cups;
Even as the One Percenters party with the Koch Brothers, who host Republican members of Congress and, yes, five conservative Supreme Court justices; and
Even as those justices go back to Washington and declare G.E. and Halliburton “people”;
Even as kids dig for China on a Gulf beach and, two feet down, find gooey tar and run crying to their Day Care Providers;
Even after all this, why do you hold onto hope, crushing it till it oozes between your fingers and drips on the once-lush yard, now brown as a newborn fawn?

Because YOU ARE HERE. There is no escape. And so you pick up your sign and head to Wall Street, or you clutch your Swiss-cheesed Constitution and write letters, or you call your Senator’s local office and talk about it, or you sign up to recall some schmuck whose seat was bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers.

You are here. You are the only hope. You and me. And the time is now.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Thanks to my dear friend, David Fields, who graciously laid punch-up editing work on me from CA, I was offline for several days, but now I’m back and in a thoughtful, giving mood. These moods don’t always last long, and it’s a freebie, so read on!!

The editing gig gave me great confidence in my skills – it also reminded me that, when I read your poetry (as when you read mine and let me know), typos are easily missed… and my OCD kicks into a new, extremely useful gear.

SO, POETIC FRIENDS – if you are about to submit a poem for publication; if you are worried about the format of your cover letter; or if you just need that “second pair of eyes,” which are so valuable before sending your work to seasoned editors, USE ME. FOR FREE.

Send me up to three poems (.doc or .docx are fine), and I can email you back my proofs with changes which you may accept or reject, and it’s all free. (If I get deluged, I may start charging, but I’d announce well in advance – and the money will go toward my fund to attend the Dodge Poetry Festival next year.) Included with the three poems are cover letters and biographies. If it’s a full chapbook, I’ll charge $5 per manuscript up to 25 poems; just sent a check.

You can also “snail-mail” me your documents with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and they will be returned to you (hopefully without lots of bloody red ink all over them!).

Amy Barlow Liberatore
email: sharplittlepencil AT gmail DOT com
snail: 1626 Fordem Avenue, #102, Madison, WI 53704

My poetry will commence tomorrow. I simply feel the need to give back to all the wonderful folks who have given me a glimpse of their souls, their whimsy, their dark sides… because rose buds or rusty, jagged edges, you all write your LIVES. I love that about each and every one of you.

Peace, Amy

To all my dear blogging poets and other writers and friends,

I am taking a two-week hiatus to do some technical work on a forthcoming book, the autobiography of Fred Weintraub, who’s a fascinating character in Hollywood and beyond.  If you want to learn more about his history with Bruce Lee, Woodstock, The Bitter End, plus many actors and comedians, visit his website HERE. I mean it: You HAVE to check this guy out! He’s a mensch, but he’s also bigger than life.

I will catch up on comments as soon as possible (just came back from vacation), but I’m so excited that David Fields, a dear old friend and the “as told to” co-author of the book, invited me to take part in this endeavor.  I’m farklempt!

Will be back blogging again very soon, answering prompts and, as always, visiting the sites of those who visit me. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers for the completion of this editing with the integrity that Mr. Weintraub deserves.

Please don’t leave a comment to this, or I’ll just be farther behind on replies!

Peace to all, Amy

The Dark Side of the Moon

Nuclear plants faced big fines
They’d filled all cave and mines
In Vegas, locals now know
You can gamble AND can glow
Like the bright, full harvest moon

Edict came down from on high
Nuke garbage would now fly
And be stored, safe and secure
In a place with no allure
On the dark side of the moon

Computer parts also flown
With spent missiles to the Zone
That waited in deep space
Old Man Moon’s Janus face
On the dark side of the moon

Flotsam and jetsam were sent up
Poisons, deep-water sludge went up
And rich people paid good money
Ashes placed, “Him” and “Honey”
On the dark side of the moon

As long as folks could view
The same pizza-pie milieu
They wouldn’t burst the bubble
Nor cause a whit of trouble
‘Bout the dark side of the moon

Scientists perturbed
Moon’s balance was disturbed
The orbit now decayed,
There soon was no more shade
On the dark side of the moon

Imagine each frightened soul
When La Luna spun out of control
And the first place it hit
Was Alamos with nuke shit
From the dark side of the moon

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Poetic Asides, the blog that got me started in poetry (thanks, Robert Lee Brewer and all the Street gang!) had an intriguing prompt: Out of this world. I’d been thinking about this concept for a long while. Peace, and keep the moon crap-free! Amy

OK, I had to come up with a poem to meet my own prompt at We Write Poems!

The form is “3 + (x) = poem,” and today, as I rode the bus and hung out with a homeless Vietnam vet my age who’s been given six months to live, there was no place else to go but the steam grates and the fact that the two major refuges for homeless folks will be shut down this winter by our lame-ass governor, Scott Walker (brought to you by The Koch Brothers; paid for by same).

I’ll be away for the weekend, so pardon my not answering comments promptly. Have a peaceful Labor Day – if these guys get their way, that holiday will mean nothing in a few years. RIP, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory women – you are not forgotten. Amy

Homeless in Madison, Winter 2001

Homeless folks dread winter
This coming winter especially
We with homes worry for them, too
(Governor closed two safe havens)

Wisconsin is “penniless”
No money for “extras”
We with homes give to NGOs
(But the Guv has bucks to redo the Capitol Cafeteria – all winter long)

Ironic. That cafeteria provided
daily shelter for many residents
from punishing, sub-zero winds
(Merry Fucking Christmas)

Our governor “doesn’t hate anyone,
least of all, the poor”
We protest to remind him of his lies
(As he settles into his plush office for a toasty-warm Madison winter)

Politicians and the Constitution
don’t always agree… we need many
voices to speak on behalf of those in need
(and to recall this sorry excuse for a governor)

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Sunday Scribblings asked for thoughts about each poet’s muse. I believe I was one of the lucky ones; I also believe this may account for my poor grades in school! No blame at all, only gratitude for being so blessed. Peace, Amy
PS This is also at Poets United, the poetic collective.

I Met My Muse When I Was Two

Dancing, glittering over my playpen.
Sweet music singing when the record player was silent.

During school, whispering secrets to me
(so much more enticing than scribbles on the chalkboard).

Winding in a scenting breeze, gentle on my nose as I
walked the streets of a smelly, gritty city.

Capturing the intake of my every breath,
flowing through my body, creating peace within my harried soul.

Inspiring luscious, ludicrous, outlandish, lovely thoughts…
my Muse.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Poetic Bloomings (a newer prompt site – check it out!) asked for poems using the most irresistible prompt: “There’s a moon out tonight.” Aaaaaah. Amy

La Bella Luna

Grab a jacket and take my hand, darlin’.
Tonight, Monona’s lakeside is calling out to us.
La bella luna want to bathe all lovers
in beams of reflected light.

Here by the shore, slight chill of the autumn to come,
we’ll stroll, serenaded by so many crickets
and the soft paddle of ducks, looking for a late-night snack.

Though full-faced Old Man looms above, silverfoiled and shining,
the lightning bugs are not overwhelmed.
Blinking gold, ruby, emerald… just out of reach,
yet so near, teasing us, same as they did
when we were kids lying in field of wild grasses.

City lights are low, revealing buckets of stars
spilled in horoscope formations.
We needn’t prove our love beneath this panorama.
We are no longer teenagers, needing it now, now.
The silver moon lingers in streaks of our hair
as we walk and whisper, my hand in your jacket,
you arm slung around my shoulder as we make our way home.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

DISCLAIMER: Actually, we live near the shore of Lake Mendota; Monona is to the north of our skinny stretch of the East Side of Madison, WI. I felt the name “Monona” was a bit more poetic. Apologies to all Tenney Park neighbors!

For Poetry Tow Truck (thanks to Donna V. for the prompt, What I Did On My Summer Vacation”!). Also at my poetic collective home, Poets United. Peace to all, and may cooler heads prevail this Fall, Amy

Hot Town, Summer in the City

In flannels-and-snow-shoes winter
we marched at Capitol Dome.

You’d think now resolve would splinter
and we’d cool off at home.

Yet, we’re still here with signs
upholding union rights,

Tired, sweaty folks of all kinds
chanting from noons to nights,

‘Cause we remember history
and it’s not just munitions:

Our forebears saw no mystery
in unjust work conditions.

They used their power in numbers
‘til unions were assured,

And, bless them, they were fired on,
but still their words endured:


© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

TWOFER! Because yesterday’s poem was such an unbelievable bummer (for me, too), I have two nice ones today. First, I’m flexing some haiku muscle for Sensational Haiku Wednesday; second, Three Word Wednesday gave us: Adapt, Glide, and Lie. These are also posted at my poetry haven, Poets United. Peace to all, Amy


Falling Leaves (Haiku)

Leaves color, then drop
as though staying green so long
has left them weary.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


FOR THREE WORD WEDNESDAY (prompt words in bold)

Heaven Sent

Pregnant teen Kit, big-time cocaine-addicted.
She knew that the baby’d be wholly afflicted
She tried to clean up; she didn’t abort;
but habits and lies and recovery fell short.

She put down her pipe just in time for E.R.
A stranger took pity, drove her there in his car.
He cell-phoned his wife, who rushed down for the birth
(To have their own, they’d have moved heaven and earth.)

Kit wouldn’t nurse baby, pleaded, “Don’t wanna see him.”
The couple, still there, never once thought to flee him.
A tough road ahead for a tough little guy:
a whole lot of tears, in purging the high.

A nurse saw the two, screaming babe in her arms;
“Maybe-Mom” glided over, her touch was the charm.
One look and they knew, so completely enrapt,
that they would not only adopt, but adapt.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil