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

Tag Archives: WIsconsin

Outhouses and Holes We Dig

Back in the day,
Mom and Uncle Tom
went out back in the outhouse

Puncture the earth
Dig a big hole
Set the wood frame over it

When it’s full, throw on dirt
Cover the crap
Dig a new hole

Scott Walker’s Wisconsin
operates using much the same
“Business” model

Puncture the prairie
Extract tar sands
Sell to frackers

Puncture the unions
Extract core values
Sell out labor

Puncture public schools
Extract their funding
Sell out low-income students

Puncture The Wisconsin Idea*
Extract the principles
Cripple our prized universities

Puncture our values
Extract choice and hope
Call it free enterprise
Call it Right to Work (for less)

Dig a big pit
Call it a rabbit hole
Scott the Bunny says,
Follow me down
to a world of fantasy follies
Follow me to Washington
I’ll share my vision
with the whole country
and the world

Yo, Scott, that’s not a rabbit hole
It’s where the outhouse stood

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Wrote this a day before Walker’s incredibly awkward press debacle, now making headlines across the US. Roger Green sent me a link; click HERE to see the funniest response by Wisconsinites regarding the “I handled protesters, I can handle ISIS” yuckfest.  Clicking HERE for dverse Open Mic!

*From Wikipedia, a reason we moved to Wisconsin was this:
The Wisconsin Idea is the policy developed in the American state of Wisconsin that fosters public universities’ contributions to the state: “to the government in the forms of serving in office, offering advice about public policy, providing information and exercising technical skill, and to the citizens in the forms of doing research directed at solving problems that are important to the state and conducting outreach activities.” A second facet of the philosophy is the effort “to ensure well-constructed legislation aimed at benefiting the greatest number of people.” During the Progressive Era, proponents of the Wisconsin Idea saw the state as “the laboratory for democracy,” resulting in legislation that served as a model for other states and the federal government. Walker proposed changing the wording (I kid you not). According to the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:

… the governor made the UW System’s mission to “meet the state’s workforce needs.” He also proposed striking language about public service and improving the human condition, and deleting the phrase: “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”

Since he never even graduated college (take that, GWB and your “gentleman’s C” MBA!), he seems to care nothing about the University of Wisconsin, a gem of a college system.

MEANER THAN REAGAN.
DUMBER THEN BUSH.

Now you all understand Wisconsin’s pain. Amy


“Duuhmm…” (heavy breath) “…well, it’s about jobs and…” (sigh)

Wisconsin’s Burden (Stale Pale Male Scott Walker)

Scott Walker for Prez?
Vote for him at your peril
He’s blind to injustice
His heart has gone sterile

Dim, inarticulate,
slack-jawed mouth-breather
If he ran for dogcatcher,
wouldn’t vote for him either

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons by Gage Skidmore; attribution HERE.

People on FOX talk about Scott Walker like he’s the new Ronald Reagan.

I rest my case. The “trickle down” from those policies requires toilet paper… from a company owned (as are Walker and Paul Ryan) by the Koch Brothers.

He (along with equally optimistic Paul “Mr. Schu on Glee” Ryan) are BOTH from Wisconsin. Walker has never worked a job in his life, other than nursing off the taxpayer teat since forever. Walker is running for another term as governor (remember 100,000 protestors at the Capitol Dome in 2011? Yeah, let’s do that again.), and he fully intends to ABANDON that position (or at least totally neglect it) to try for the White House. Even if he still sucks, he won’t be there.

Mary Burke is my choice for governor. Mary Burke ran her family’s business, Trek Bicycle, a nationally known concern that turns out quality bikes. She knows budgets; she understands the need for women to have reproductive care (oh, you don’t favor poor and low-income getting advice from Planned Parenthood? No free condoms? No free birth control pills? Then shut the hell up about “too many babies,” unless you’re willing to adopt them ALL). She knows how to balance a budget. She doesn’t LIE about job creation, and she donated a bunch of money to The Road Home, a path for families from homelessness to housing. YOU GO, GIRL!

Peace, Amy


Wisconsin Tragedy (Slenderman)

Where does real begin?
At a mother’s breast
First dip in a pool
First lick from a puppy

Where did unreal begin?
Remember Bambi
The shotgun off-screen but
your parents were there
to hold your hand and
dry your tears and
talk about how movies aren’t real

Where does the new unreal begin?
Parents turn on the TV
and tune out their kids
The video games seductive
Playing pimp or dealer with
a steady aim and BLAM
And all the women are whores

Where does real begin now?
The Internet, shady Slenderman
A sick fantasy with lots of fans,
lots of kids, is calling the shots
The stabs

Real is unreal
Fantasy is reality
Parents are clueless
Kids rule their own worlds
Worlds of pain and loneliness
Worlds their parents don’t
care to think about

Boomers, we were lonely too
But we had trees to climb
and time and time
…and time

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For ABC Wednesday, the letter “W.” I wish this was not a true story. I wish it did not involve 12-year-old girls trying to kill their friend because some sick person told them to do it and they believed in Slenderman more than God.  For those who aren’t in the States, two girls were convinced by a fictitious character (whose stories are all over the Internet, written by hundreds of people) that to enter his “club,” they had to kill someone.  Whoever created Slenderman in the first place is sick enough, but whoever dangled this bloody carrot should rot in jail.  The girl survived.  Her friends (being tried as adults) left her for dead but she crawled to a roadside.  She is home now, but psychologically, who knows what is in store for this poor kid?

This was in the suburbs. Waukesha is in the heart of the Christian Right, Paul Ryan’s land. I pray for the soul of my state, even as I reside in the “hippie district.”

Peace, Amy


WIsc WInter 001Artwork © Amy Barlow Liberatore

Wisconsin Winter Weather

Weather winces
Wisconsinites, whether
winkled or wrinkled

Why would we winter
where winds’re
wild, wooly?

Woven, wistful warmth within

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, as well as ABC Wednesday – this week, of course, the letter W! “Amy Bawwo Wiberatowe”


American Prairie

Wisconsin’s prairie blooms in green
with occasional glimmers of silver grass
shivering in soft breezes and
pierced by deep violet clover

Dead trees, grey and
stalkstill as gravestones,
still force a new branch or two
The root of Jesse sprung anew

They refuse to give in to death
Stubborn as Midwesterners,
tough; hard to break, tenacious
Never say die

As daylight wanes and red sets,
we cruise Route 69
Around every bend,
a simple feast of foraging

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Marian introduced us to the music of Tim Eriksen, a uniquely American folk artist, and asked us to conjure poems that reflect Americana. This morning, I would have been stumped, but as luck would have it, we took a day trip to New Glarus (yeah, our favorite brand of beer is made there, and oh, did we have a bit of fun!) and marveled at the breadth of the prairie grasses. Verdant, vibrant, strumming those heartstrings like Tim’s guitar, here in the breadbasket of America. I am so proud to live in Wisconsin (except for the politics, which we took a day off from monitoring for peace of mind).

Peace, Amy


The Underbelly of Spring
Riley Little Snow 001
In Vermont, they have two seasons:
Winter, plus a week of bad sledding.

In Puerto Rico, you wouldn’t know spring
if it rose up and bit you in your tanned ass.

In Wisconsin, it’s freeze, then thaw, then
freeze again… then roast in your bedding.

In Upstate NY, you go to school to get
ready for finals and sweat through class.

Spring is an unpredictable, mercurial,
unsentimental storm of hot and cold.

April may shower, but May does not
guarantee flowers or blue skies.

May is here, yet Spring has snowstorms
hidden in the seasonal envelope’s fold.

It’s muddy. It’s messy and inconvenient.
Spring hides behind a sunny-side disguise.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Izy wanted the truth about Spring… all the bad parts. I’ve been through the season in every place mentioned, and I guarantee that I never put away the snow shovel until after Mother’s Day. We once had a surprise storm on (no joke) May Day, and it dumped three feet of wet snow, made me pull little Riley back to the house from the ditched car on a plastic sled, and still the Jeeps and SUVs were out on the road doing donuts. That’s the storm that made possible the picture of Riley above! Whodathunkit?

Also at my poetic all-season resort, Poets United.  Peace, Amy


Second poem of the day, I could not resist the dverse prompt about Spring, which means play, gardening, general silliness coming as a consequence of long Wisconsin winters, and… wordplay! Amy

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SPRING AGAIN

Midwesterners aSPiRING to a quick thaw
as laSt year’s caPRIs cliNG to our memories

We know that SPRING is not far behind
and we’ll Soon bitch about sPiRitING away
A/C to ward off intenSe PeRspirING

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Snow Bizness

It is March in Wisconsin
and, any day now,
no matter how green the meadow,
how tawny the wrens who
flew in for Spring,
nor how green
the ivy grows,
we know our TV screens
will sketch the sad
Doppler Crayola scrawl:
One more blizzard.

Snow bury-
ing our lawns,
shunning the calendar,
sticking thick thorns into
Madison’s collective psyche.
As suburban assault vehicles
zigzag on the Beltway
(drivers oblivious to the concept
of SUV rollover ratings),
our guts are twisted and we
tend to cluster in bars,
seeking solace in our famous
Wisconsin micro-brews.

Shallow coping mechanism, I know,
but until we are assured the
stout-stemmed ironweed and
apple saplings are in bloom,
we await our twisted fate…
moods indigo, yet somehow
Madison’s
eccentric
people
never
seem
to
leave.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

De Jackson of Whimsygizmo fame was gatekeeper in the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, and she gave us a huge list of words. A veritable cornucopia; in fact, I was only able to use most of them: Sketch, screen, march (well, March), Snowberry (um, snow bury-ing, groan), tawny, meadow, stout-stemmed, cluster (not tempted in any way, shape, or form to pair an obscenity with that word – see, I’m all grown up now), zigzag, leave, twisted, indigo, shunning, ivy, sapling, and thorns. I didn’t use elder, shallow, or adaptation. Dang!

Thanks, De, for one more chance to comment on the weather here in Madison. I really do love it here, but, dear Lord, would it possible for the snow to melt before June?

This is also posted at my poetic igloo, Poets United. Peace and silky long-johns, Amy


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


Wisconsin Mud

Autumn task
Baskets of weeds
Seeds fall to soil
Toil with the tiller

Clay ground first
Curse of my garden
Hardens like rock
Mocks my feeble shovel

Red, this level
Beveled by tilling machine
Green detritus mixes
Fixes a greyer hue

Potting soil on top
Prop myself with a rake
Stakes then reposted
Toasted from our labors

Add soil meant for pot
Plot now proper brown
Garden set for sleep
Steep some tea and rest

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Sunday Scribblings, the prompt was simply “mud.” I’m also putting this on a shelf in the Poetry Pantry at Poets United and spilling on the bar at dverse Open Mic Night!

Of course, the damnable ironweed of earlier in the season (CLICK HERE) refused to disclose the center of its evil web of roots, and the pye wede followed suit. Monica planted some spring bulbs in front; a failed daisy plant finally sprang into life in late autumn, surprise! More daisies will be planted, as well as tiger lilies, the bulbs go in now. Next spring, we hope to have a plethora of pots: Herbs, petunias, Sweet William, lobelia, and Johnny Jump-ups (my favorite).