Amy Barone


Amy Barone





Cambodia Rocked


East met West in 1950s Phnom Penh.

A flash of rock and roll took root.


A boy band in white slacks and polka-dot shirts

and girl singers with divine voices captivated the free.


English, French and American beats

hypnotized souls  and throbbed hearts.


Until the Khmer Rouge massacred the music,

alongside artists and nearly 2 million innocents.


Do you remember singers Sinn Sisamouth and

Ros Serey Sothea?  Their lost sounds thought forgotten


now found. Hard to forever silence a fleeting

generation’s strong voices and electric guitars.




Stars, Spots and Stripes


In the Jawai hills of India,

amber-eyed leopards and villagers,

who harvest mustard and wheat,


live in harmony. A spirit presides

at the Shiva temple on Perwa Hill.

Priests descend and mix with Rabari nomads.


In the West, creatures with spots and stripes

shoot dirty breezes, shout magazines at the innocent.

Fail to recognize race and faith.




Bahia Beats


Percussionist Davi Vieira speaks all languages

in the tongue of drums, triangle, jazzy castanets,

a set of bells that hangs from his mic.


He seduces fans with his thumping hands.

We respond to his Bahia beats with hips and feet.

Swaying to his fast forro strains from Northeast Brazil.


Blame it on Salvador, home of Davi, storyteller

Jorge Amado, and Africans who hit the shores in the 1500s.

Where the Atlantic’s thrashing waves are wildest.


Davi can’t hide his joy at tantalizing fans wrapped in a trance.

Capped with a checkered green hat, he prances on stage.

Midnight strikes too soon.

He concludes the set, chanting “Sorry Love.”




Festa Della Donna


Today vendors on every corner of Milan will gift

brilliant mimosas to ladies passing by—

female friends will dine in trattorie without their beaus.

Some traditions stay etched on your soul.


A friend in Hove will celebrate her mother’s birthday,

lay a ring of flowers at her Brighton grave.

The once vibrant school principal spent

final years in her daughter’s care. I was there.


Two gallant gals working as stringers in Italy

embraced a future full of new beginnings and fun.

They met fulfillment in unexpected ways, found

love where it all began, clutching yellow dreams on Ladies Day.




Amy Barone 2




City on a River


What Chester made no longer makes Chester.

Scott Paper, Ford Motor Company left for sunnier climes.

Blight replaced a factory town flanked by a

shipyard and ethnic neighborhoods that glowed.


Before communities dismantled and racial

clamor tolled, mapping out his peace plan,

Martin Luther King chose the city


for divinity studies at Crozer Seminary.

Landmarks of learning endure, like

Pennsylvania Military College, now Widener


University, and Chester High School.

I pore over my mother’s yellowed letters.

Chester High students credit their old English


teacher for love of reading, guidance, success.

I feel a flicker of her hometown allure.

Change rains lightly.


A national soccer team built a stadium

in the city’s largest park.

Games sell out.  Freighters glide by.

The glistening Delaware River reflects the stars.




Fashion Monk


He fled the Spanish civil war

to pioneer the chainmail miniskirt,

throwaway chic, the “Unwearables.”


Paco Rabanne crafted dresses

from metal rings,  paper and plastic.

He concocted citrusy perfumes


and Barbarella’s space-age costumes.

Now free, he travels non-stop in search

of his place in the cosmos.  He sees auras.


Rejects the fluff his customers covet.

Fashioned a Spartan life free of attachment.


Blames technology for the fear

and stress gripping planet earth.



Amy Barone 3




Samba Chula


Ten musicians from the countryside

Keep alive the samba strains

Of their Sao Braz forefathers,

Play the Delta Blues of Brazil.


Two brothers sing in harmony

While tapping tambourines.

The guitarist, once exiled to France,

is back and on key.


Four ladies in bright white skirts

Twirl to the subtle beat

Samba with their feet.

A tangle of beads sways with their bodies.


They speak with hands and hips,

Invite onlookers to the floor.

Delight in this music

At risk of dying with the band.






A lady from Puglia landed in

East Harlem in the early 1900s.

She bore eight children including my father.


Headed by an unskilled laborer,

The family relocated to Bryn Mawr.

I hear my grandmother held court


From a fluffy sofa

Next to a living room staircase.

She insisted her children see no hurdles,


Emulate the prosperous WASPS

who settled on Philadelphia’s Main Line.

I hear she taught Italian immigrants English.


I hear she served tea from a real silver service

To paesani who visited her tiny row home.

I hear she pilfered a close friend’s sweater.


My father adored her.

My mother said she was crazy.

I bear her name

And want to be nothing and everything like her.




Art En Plein Air


No need to enter museums or galleries

To experience Buenos Aires art and politics.


Just wander the streets of the Palermo barrio

where mothers and sisters

whose sons and brothers went missing

send messages through vibrant murals.


Or read the walls flanking chi-chi restaurant Tegui

to learn how fiercely Argentines revere the islas Malvinas.


No need for rich patrons to be an Argentine artist.

Make city walls and private homes your canvas.


Theatre designer Jazz commemorates two murdered boys

with a charcoal of raging bulls.

Pum Pum channels fun with her pink and blue cats

and a big banged little girl in high heel boots.


A Cuban artist splashes a wall

with the expressive eyes of his father-in-law

whose sole dream was to have his ashes

returned to Buenos Aires.




Resurrecting Rodriquez

Inspired by songwriter Sixto Rodriquez


Cold Fact

After a decades-long search,

they finally found him,

living in obscurity in Detroit,

doing demolition and still strumming his guitar.


I Wonder

Staying put protected his gentle soul.

Maybe the world wasn’t ready for a Mexican

Bob Dylan in the 70s,

a musical poet who feared little,

shocked many with his anti-establishment verse.


Sugar Man

For 40 years he never knew

that he was a hero in South Africa,

where anti-apartheid wars raged.

His banned songs gave hope to

the most youthful fighters.



In a faraway land of mines, farms,

and vibrant colors, Sixto Rodriguez was far

more revered than the Rolling Stones.

The protesters found sustenance in his anthems,

kept the passion and music alive.


Rich Folks Hoax

The native sons ignored his light,

so he lived unmarred by the music world’s games,

a father of three and laborer in a no-frills world.

Record companies could take his money,

but his words remained true.




Writing History


Did it begin in Italy in the shadow of La Maiella, where a young man

trudged down unpaved roads in search of a better life, a bigger world,

new prospects for love and work, leaving behind brothers and sisters

with whom he’d never again share a meal or a laugh or a hug.

Resolved to set stakes in an unseen land and never look back.


How does New York fit in, where a mismatched couple met and married

at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. An unassuming truck driver with his

driven wife who taught English to immigrant children while raising eight

offspring, East Harlem residents for years until they were enticed away

to a street of row homes filled with paesani.


Or are the true origins Pennsylvania where another mismatched couple

met and married, an ambitious hardware merchant with his English teacher

wife who quit work to raise three daughters. Depression-era parents who knew

how to stretch a dime, worked hard at everything, instilled values and morals,

but found time for travel and play.


Why the lure to Italy?  To know them better, to learn their language,

to walk the roads now paved. Where the secrets unraveled of how to be

an Italian, how to be an American and you couldn’t stay forever as hard

as you tried — like them, always looking ahead to new opportunities.


Have you now come full circle, dropping anchor in New York, a place

that overwhelmed you as a child, inhabiting a multicultural universe

where no one invites you over for an espresso or suggests a lake ride on a

quiet Sunday afternoon, where you struggle like those who came before,

but no paesano holds out a hand.




Amy Barone 4

Amy reading at Cornelia St. Café, NY, 4. 13









Amy Barone’s new poetry chapbook, Kamikaze Dance, was published by Finishing Line Press, where she was recognized as a finalist in their New Women’s Voices Competition of 2014. Her poetry has appeared in Gradiva, Impolite Conversation (UK), Italian Americana, Paterson Literary Review, Philadelphia Poets, The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow and Wild Violet, among other publications.


She spent five years as Italian correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily and Advertising Age. Her first book, Views from the Driveway, was published by Foothills Publishing. From 2012-2015, she served as a board member of the Italian American Writers Association and co-hosted their monthly readings. She belongs to PEN America Center and the brevitas online poetry community that celebrates the short poem. A native of Bryn Mawr, PA, Barone lives in New York City.





Published Poems:



Articles similaires