Skip to content
November 27, 2020 / barton smock

{ Unfinished Murder Ballads – poems – Darren C. Demaree }

ISACOUSTIC*

Unfinished Murder Ballads
poems, Darren C. Demaree
w/ photo accompaniment of Ryan Barker’s ‘Midwest Nostalgia’
Backlash Press (2020)

~

The premise of blood is a color.
-from The Facts Persisted

On the occasion that flood brings you a painted body, know that I had everything to do with it…
-from The Cage Is Unwound By The Poetry Of Death

As if hiding in Eden after hearing a pop-gun, the poet Darren C. Demaree makes short work of vast vision in his Unfinished Murder Ballads, a collection of implanted cares and layered addictions as played for those still awake inside the cinema of the abrupt. Whether ashes or trailings, Demaree finds the evaporated clue and spirits it toward the character actor whose family feels abandoned by exit. Nothing in this meditation overstays, and at times it seems that words are at a loss for people. If the verses here make…

View original post 105 more words

November 25, 2020 / barton smock

BLOOD NOTES, currently 7 entries

~~

blood notes

God still doesn’t know how long dying takes.

Red
says to blue: Every mirror is a door if you have an apple.

I’ve never been the first creature to eat my young.

I’d keep you alive
but miss
your ghost.

~~

blood notes

I no longer sleep on my right side because it feels as if I’m too far from the earth that stopped my heart.

God
will do it

but you’ve got to give him a bone from the body of an angel.

I pretend to be sick because I believe that I am.

~~

blood notes

I can tell by my arm that I am not always there when they burn my cigarette.

Abortion. Tire Swing.

I don’t know all seven stages of staying warm in Ohio.

Loneliness changes often the name of its creator.

~~

blood notes

there is no earlier dream
no slipping
from the past

of every beast we haven’t eaten

god has two sticks
dog
and echo

all snow was born in a cigarette

~~

blood notes

I worry that God is not nostalgic.

I forget
near bathwater

my son’s
body.

Name a movie missed by a ghost.

~~

blood notes

at the longest
party
thrown
for god, does water

dream it’s found

the spot
where ghost
went in

~~

blood notes

Loss isn’t the only child of death,
but is the most spoiled.

Disappearance has its limits.

Animals
don’t waste
their pain.

~~

 

November 25, 2020 / barton smock

diets of the resurrected (entries through 11/25/20)

~

The baby has jumped. The baby is trying to find its place in the home of having done. The baby will land and maybe you can say something over it in that voice you do. In that voice your mother loves more than ruined gender-reveal balloons. Cold prom balloons. Than your father’s spit. Than a star. Horse’s forehead. Than a horse clapping for a lap-dancing horse.

~

The baby will be dead and bleed like a dream. For now, it licks without you the insides of a tree. Have you read its book? It wrote a book.

~

When an Ohio rabbit stops eating, every couple not married thinks they are. This is how baby, not how rabbit, happened. How babies not how rabbits. Ohio.

~

The baby was on a date and began to feel sick. Suddenly, the baby’s date was able to crawl. It crawled into the sea, or something nearby. Something nearby is always the sea. A neighbor girl in a pillowcase. All of her, the whole thing. And then the sea comes that thinks it’s the sea. She is saying we have bones because angels don’t know how to eat.

~

I love the baby. Apple’s footprint I love the baby. You love the baby and you lord often that you’ve a more alien emptiness. The baby can’t see mirrors. That’s not why it jumped.

Jesus wants to come back, but god isn’t old enough.

~

I remember as a brother I fought with mine for the number of toothbrushes we could spot in a horror movie. I can still tell what’s caused a bruise by the baby it’s on.

Baby the thinking man’s miscarriage. Lung’s lookalike. Lung’s missing lookalike. Psalm the plural of palm.

~

The baby slept on and off in a prop oven. In Ohio, holding your breath underwater is called insomnia. We wrote poems with lines like does anything look more abandoned than a table of contents? Titles like priest of snow, pipe tobacco w/ showerhead, and abuse was better as a sitcom.

~

On tv, the baby guards a salt lick while wearing the crown of thorns as a belt. Outside the tv, a random sister pulls her thumbnail loose and a paper doll starts to breathe. The fish watches all of it through a hole in the fish.

~

Its favorite movie is the wind. Its mother found its father waiting for a cat to die.

Is there no one to hold its mouth?

Even god is afraid of sex.

~

Mom I am the third boy to finish my wolf. Mom the baby likes you when you’re eating. Mom the snow has picked the water clean. Mom Ohio. In the food you couldn’t help.

~

Some history:

The baby had heard of a quiet glacier searching Ohio for the lost belly button of nothing and so left us in God, the capital of Death.

~

Some current:

Absence spares no one and birth keeps a record of who birth skipped.

~

Loss is just an absence that’s outlived its helplessness. I say this knowing there is a tree that my mother keeps two of her teeth in. I say this unsure of the shape my stomach makes when on the moon my siblings gather the bones of god.

Our skin is afraid of angels. Have the baby that makes your ghost cry.

~

The baby holds its breath beside a bag of blue flour. My stars I didn’t mean to die so plainly.

~

This rabbit hole we use for the shadow’s mouth. These squirrels bowing in the priesthood of sleep. Do we have briefly what we want? Each of us a bad hand that drops a baseball? Is fasting a weight class?

A tadpole is Ohio’s nightlight. Babies, when touched, belong to the same alarm clock.

~

Ohio:

Sounds from the childhood of god’s vocabulary. Animal hair in a father’s shoes. Lightning. Brothers reaching into scarecrows for ice.

~

The baby tells me in its own way that its mouth is sad and has been for longer than mine. I need proof, but the movers eat their moth then come for the dark.

~

You know that spotless child, dead from swallowing a question mark, who believed you could scratch a bullet with blood? She says we all have a second body sleeping in a hole that never comes.

~

The color of my toothbrush. To miss god. Which bible stories still have nudity. Small things, new to the history of my forgetting…

Those creatures, that boat.

A smaller vessel with one of each.

~

In the mouth of one who opens a sentence with the word verbatim, there is a sorrow searching for the breast of a shadow. Overheard is not the name of an Ohio street. The baby is no cook but is the only knower of what my eyes will eat in the dark. No one in Ohio laughs when you say bornography to your sister who says orbituary. One can be pregnant and study the wrong children.

~

Jesus was the world’s worst ghost. I hold my son but can’t say what I hold him like. Dad paints with ache. Mom with grief. Our empty babies rate the void.

~

In most of her dreams, someone else is falling. Sound is the child of two footprints that lose an earring. If there, see my wrist signal yours.

~

I am allowed one imaginary friend as long as it’s a boy when I share it with my brother. This story has no bones. Its seesaw turns to salt. You can’t watch porn and say you believe in ghosts.

~

Ohio introductions:

A god finds its mother in a joke about the food chain and is no longer sad that human babies don’t walk right away

Hunger remains your painting of the angel’s predicted appetite

The wind gets that way by looking for its twin

~

I think of my mother in her block of ice summoning a curling iron and of my father sending a robot to prison. Of a leafblower named mercy hugged by my brother for outing my sister’s electric chair. Of nakedness, poor nakedness, always playing itself in the story of had we not been invented we would’ve had to exist. Of how daughter she highlights an entry on hair loss in the cannibal’s diary. Of how one holds the owl and one pours the paint and how both, knowing how to dream, choose this

and how they are both a boy in a bottomless mirror asking if death is still known for its one mistake.

~

I was not in love but I did go all the way to heaven to tell someone I was tired. They were there, of course. But there like a sister. Sweeping a church.

~

Ohio exits:

Owl is maybe a lamb that’s having non-lamb thoughts like did I forget inventing the bruise?

~

Every mother wants a five letter word for grief but has instead a son whose thick hair grows when yanked. Outside means either tick season or John the Baptist. My blood type is God became trapped in an Ohio dog when the color blue saw his ghost.

~

I quit smoking and bought a fish I was told had stopped eating. No one noticed. I got angry and then got angry for the fish. The fish did nothing. Like God when it snows.

~

The name of this church was Mouth but is now The Baby Holds Things Up For Us To See. No reason has been given for the change. Ohio disappears from two places at once as a mother might from two hospitals. We will never be as young as death. Even now, our eyes touch under a roof that mourns thunder.

~

Ohio prolonged:

My drug use writes to a jellyfish

~

There are certain rooms I walk out of to make my son heavier. Certain campfires disguised as nests. God is here but has forgotten sending Death to fetch the infant brainwashed by sleep. Death is here but location lasts forever.

~

Ohio cut short:

I am gathering the eggs and giving each one a name as if each is a body part favorited by those angels of the geographically vacant and then my mom calls to me and then accidentally to my brother and her voice it never comes back

~

Ghost and angel are never together when they see God. Their loneliness keeps us apart.

~

In our hair are the bugs that believe they’ve died on god’s skin. Does emptiness dream of its original? I still think babies learn to talk by saying they itch from being looked at. One of our children will deserve to be lonely.

~

A stone waits for its absence to mature. I count for the infant my knees and do my hair. What I know of tornadoes can be forgotten. God was naming your bones when you started to bleed.

~

Ohio sexuality:

X mourns outdated baby monitor by scoring a commercial for rabbit mascara

~

When it gets cold, we tell each other it’s okay to use a photograph instead of soap. It is not common for language to keep its word. If you’re poor enough, snow takes the pulse of the moon. We don’t believe in the soul. But ate something to bring it back.

~

As grief swallows those insects made of repetition and As god locks herself in the bathroom built for her father and As I mimic choking on the cord that wants to belong to the phone that reads your mind and As her baby waits to hear if it’s a boy or a girl who meanwhile touch and As the beekeeper befriends for reasons known to homesickness the owner of a gun

that was used

~

Ohio children pine equally for ice and for cigarette. They have hated the holy spirit for dying and have loved it for tracking blood loss in those with longer shadows. I don’t think we’ll ever be young. Even the fires you set are shy.

~

Ohio sexuality:

A private pencil erasing nobodies from a blue past. A way for fish to keep passwords from God. A toy car from the world’s saddest drive thru and sirens in silent movies overlooked.

A pink light. How it cared for snow.

~

Poverty created the moon as a place for loss to process God.

It helps to have no one.

~

Some future:

A pop-up book about Ohio mosh pits is lost by a beloved chiropractor who has by default become an expert on unicorn pregnancy and who is wearily attracted to cures excluding those for bicycle legs as present in our newborns

~

Ohio alibis:

Two sisters learn from the same angel how to use an insect bite as a fingerprint

~

Ohio introductions:

Listening to the rain as it runs interference for echo’s disappearing hair

is Satan with her mousetrap

~

I want to sleep again on the kitchen floor beside my brother who is reading to himself from a book of baby names for the dead as if such a book exists and I want to imagine the velvet life of the thing that stirs itself so immediately soft in the garbage disposal that it becomes your fear of swimming and erases mine of having bones

~

Ohio exits:

When you find prayer, ask music how touch knows where where is. Ask hand if it was ever more to blood than a lost slipper. Ask ghost why its miracle spared the angel. Ask horse anything. You are dear to me. If horse is even there.

~

Satan was the first to name the animals. I know we watched ours die. Anyway, I’m not sure there were two of us. The child was a footprint trapped in a shoe. I disappear and still you vanish.

~

Ohio math:

A museum of mothers who sleepwalk to get there.

A father’s collection of crying insects.

Yes I forgot to love you.

~

Oh moral permanence, oh distracted beast- no one asks God about baby number two. We make guns together in the dream of the stray hand and there are exercises a mother’s puppets can do that will bring a doll peace. Angel can, but won’t, let mirror look out the window. I still wrote all that stuff. I’ll touch zero if you trap its tongue.

~

Ohio auctions:

A dress worn by the child who ate sadness. A gas station snow-globe prayed away by a father’s dying goldfish. A town,

or three people surrounding a dogcatcher.

~

Get a blood clot and sister will say on the moon they worship these. If you sleep too long, you’ll become a color. Rate your pain from one to ten, with five being the highest. God still thinks we don’t know.

~

Whose death got you into heaven? The baby is older now but has the kissing wrists of a failed skier. Your children don’t love you because they will.

~

Ohio postscripts:

Shy, I could not collapse in front of mothers who were born on the moon. As for the children, they’ll die for baby. For any last fact that others exist.

~

Dream supply:

A pile of white leaves in the corner of my father’s mind.

Wind and skin, or the angel’s
forgotten
spells.

No longer a fire hazard
the wagon’s
grey hair…

The suicide of God’s first.

~

Not much happens before you can say Ohio. Still, we keep quiet. Depression breaks a mother’s toes and we listen, in a stickless field, to what we hear.

It continues. The misgendering of past selves.

~

My son writes to me about the piece of glass they can’t find in his ear. He says it is like a dream. That he can describe its shape between the hours of this and that a.m., and its size to a newborn making a grocery list. He says they have people who look like him, which helps. Like her, which doesn’t. My writing isn’t even close. Aponia, I write, and also, ballet. Everything in the cold is cold.

~

The coordinates a son’s illness leaves for God. Cigarette

and a mother’s
secret

typo. Camera the consoler of miracle. Elevator worship. Our food’s invisible dark. The gag reflex of his favorite astronaut. For whom we carry

goodbye.

~

Every life is long. Honestly, I think I just wanted to see my handwriting. I sang for my children. Never cooked for my mom.

owls okay with needle sharing
would explain
Ohio
trees

~

The boy, before going to bed, has me kiss every toy in his room. If one is not there, it is missing, and its absence is more vaccinated god than bad child or raccoon’s eye. More mother than sister on wrist number three.

~

Ohio we:

save pills as a god might
the eggs
of a ghost

~

And what would you have me say? That I feel it was given to another, the meaning of my hidden life? We name people every day. Our yearning, overlong. Our mother’s mothering of poets and of the creatures they can’t use. This priest with an ant farm. Eating’s moral theft.

~

two
Ohio
types
of sleep

the bee
that stung
my bee

~

Eating is magic. Hunger a rabbit removed from its environment. I can make some sense now, I think, of death. Of a grandmother’s life of cooking and loss. We wore our frostbitten noses. Did things with frogs might an infant laugh on the inside where a nothing was still in boxes. Took from blood

its blue
now. Which was wrong.

~

Ohio sexuality:

Cain faked her death.

Ghost is that itch the wall can’t reach.

~

pregnancy
dysphoria
has been found
in angels
to spread
like fish

do you remember
in an oyster
the arm
of a squirrel

mom
is a dream
leaving
a pack
of cigarettes
under
an Ohio
pillow

or,

facedown, a photo

of God
with braces…

~

Ohio solastalgia:

In hell I am passing a cemetery when during a housefire she makes a memorial to the last time you won a staring contest

~

While close, this is not your messiah’s insecticide. Are you happy with my body? Sex is the breathing my teeth do for your hair. Faith a stork in a sea cage. Food is no expert but grows anyway

brevity. They say crow after an apple sets a stone on fire. Lonely people for appropriate play.

~

I want for my son a more regular sadness. Not touch with its vacant déjà vu. Not the stutter, untapped, of his far beast. More the fasting of an unknowable fish. A marionette

gazing
at a toy

car. Are these hands? They say so little.

~

Ohio auctions:

The unseen wildlife of the ill. The handwriting of a moonless toddler. A whole language saved on an angel’s thumbnail…

~

I can’t tell if I have nothing or if I’m down to three photos of God.

I sleep
to know
that you’re
asleep.

~

I will take for my childhood a mother’s unicycle, a father’s raincloud.

The broken moon of any man on crutches. A dog drinking water in a white house.

Brothers
who draw me naked.

Bones from her smaller baseball.

~

Sorrow a glove. Grief a mitten. I see in fire the small

for a whale
whale
that my son
saw
in a wave.

Ohio gets to keep its hidden season. Poverty

its sixth
finger.

Childish, but everyone who’s looked out this window has died. Our family was too close.

~

Ohio stories:

I am fondest of recalling my sister when sister in her sleep
could sell drugs to angels.

Men walk away from their fathers one of two ways with our favorite being Stars Reading Snowfall Before and After My Career-Ending Injury.

Our mother was a spider
once
it’s why
she smokes.

~

Their translating of the terrible things we’ve said has created elsewhere animals that don’t need to eat but bite anyway anything that moves. Neither silence is real

but both belong to God. My son

my moodkiller
of ruin

in no dream I’ve had

pours gasoline on himself and leads an abandoned bear onto an empty school bus. Am I pretty this third

time

if my parents are yesterday and grief?

~

Her Ohio of war and sleep:

what if I said
I see
in a land of tire swings
your fishboat father
rubbing perfume
on the knees
of stowaways
would you consider
the cricket
God is trying
to land

~

My mother knew she was pregnant when from a darkroom her surgeon emerged holding a piece of chalk. Before I had hair, I had hair my sister sang to. Interesting men didn’t make it to earth.

~

Early for foster home karaoke, she announces God as the exit sign over the door of her body and sleep as a museum owned by death. Because I am lonely with not being there, I call it her best scene. She doesn’t clap. A ghost gives birth to a chair.

~

Jumping rope in Ohio:

We burn the house might God see everything we own

Her movie puts them all in one place
the photos
a photo
prays to

When I kiss my son, his ankles glow

Mom I did not succeed

~

As if speaking were a way of taking back what one has yet to say, the people are quiet. A group of smokers, perhaps, expressing their fear of needles outside of a funeral home. Who know of no god that can bury a swimmer. Whose children say birth as bird and are not corrected. Whose food is a memory of water gone sick. Whose dogs get passwords from dolls that blink.

~

Moon’s hair on a hospital plate:

oh with the eyes
of a lost basilisk
does god undress
in deprogrammed
rivers
my son’s
deer drunk cow

~

Shaking the breadcrumbs from his pipe, grandfather goes quiet on pointing out the weak spots of passed over anthills. His poetry disappears but not before it buries half a baby in the backyard of a surprised mouse. He is not sure what surprises a mouse. Nearby, I am only here to chew the distance from the foods my kids won’t eat. I have with me a change of clothes and a lunch box named God in three toothaches. The fish aren’t biting, and we say it’s because grief must be getting an x-ray and that it likely looks a ghost praying in the last of its birthday fog.

~

Moods for dying wildlife:

Missing pacifier spotted in fishbowl. Barbershops on fire in the childhood of your puking shadow. Abusers who rename their dogs.

~

By poor, I mean they are strangers to brevity. Like babies and glass.

By rainfall

the bomb
maker’s map.

By god, our kiss blown god. By death

that it’s been
replaced.

~

Ohio poetry:

Escapism
loses everything.

With what other formless art
could one address
nothingness?

Infants
in the phantom fit
of a rolled
tire. A mercy

the knee
in kneel

~

How we end up in Ohio is

I saw in hell a star

that in heaven
I did not

~

Moods for whale watchers:

As god’s gift to the suicidal mother, a stuffed crow goes a long way. Balloons here lose their mannequin air.

~

Mother as one who gives birth to avoid confrontation. Years from now, I exist. I want a cigarette, a puppy, and Jesus

on the cross. I wrestle the brother who wrestles as if he’s sobbing inside an elephant. People die on purpose. The world’s smallest inventor tries her thumb at bulletproof bullets. Pray puppets for puppet rain.

~

Moods for bloodflow:

The skin listens to itself pray.

I am never more than a peephole
taller
than my brother.

Overheard in god’s pharmacy
(that’s
gonna leave
a star

~

Baby Teeth, Ohio:

I have
in the rain
long hair
like your mother

~

Ohio math:

If born, your baby has given your name to God. If not, not so fast, your baby has a sister who has two sisters and together they eat what can only be described as a chameleon abandoned by its ghost. Here are things to keep apart: My understanding of musicals and my brother’s of bulimia. He and hymn.

~

Perhaps, in another past, she cares for those beasts removed by God from the path of her loneliness. And maybe it was there you listened for her supplier’s footsteps

when it was lost in the move the empty bird of your faith

~

there were three in the garden
they were sharing
a cigarette

their god
had said little

no names, no pets

no lonely, allergic

baby

~

Ohio puberty:

they sing
in the locker room
to what
is mine, a scarecrow
for insects
etc
and then

they are saying
it backward
my safe
word

~

make death
fear you, not me

we all hear
that kid
& poetry

can’t be
the birthplace
of god

~

Ohio religions:

someone I don’t know
described you
to me
not
recently
but anyway
there were animals
not created
by god
confused
by the naming

~

Moods for closure and then the thing itself:

The one I’m destroying and the one you’re saving are not the same. I was ugly, once, but they called me a lifetime behind my back. Poor, twice, but took over for a clown abused by a ghost. On three, my sister’s flashlight takes its little spot from the world. Many of our dead will switch gods.

~

Ohio aggressions:

I’ve only to pinch myself
to get into
the dream

into the drop of blood that loves my eye

and I hope
it is there

my brother’s
suicidal
chameleon

there,
in the lap of my mother

who was the last
thing noticed
by time

~

Ohio moons:

the child we could not bury
and the child
like it

a ghost crying over the loss of a plain colored pet

unmothered sisterlight

the time between oranges

~

How we leave Ohio is

the first angel
it protects
an erasable
birthmark, the last

angel
a campfire
both

en route
to mother’s
sunburn

~

Moods for the vaguely exiled:

our leaflike
leaf
was once
a leaf
a shadow
as its
brain

~

Moods for slate:

memory
is a young
king
whose god
eats
to forget

the pain
our pain
was in

~

Moods for slate:

touch
to father
was a white
apple

long
on the tree
in his mother’s
dream

~

A poem for every ghost I am dead to:

god has grown your teeth in blank fruit

~

Moods for the outgoing:

Poverty’s extra owl.

This painting
not called
Jesus
and his last
birthmark.

A broken
his and hers
umbrella.

Two birds, two stones.

A god whose parents meet.

~

While counting the same sheep, one of us will die. It’s okay. One baby eats another baby’s message to god. I still don’t know how to write. Babies are like that everywhere. Dad had this tattoo I couldn’t see of a simple fish and that’s why your mom not really but maybe taught herself how to keep her eyes open underwater. My simple is not your simple. I fell asleep once on a lost arm and I hear it sometimes in piano music. We’ve all been old.

~

As time moonlights as indoctrination’s sole souvenir, hunger and sleep have again been separated by death. Let us say a movie was for years being made about my church. I did nothing. I sat with my mother between bathtubs and faded in and out of child. And children. Both needing the before of that first bear.

~

Moods for neurology:

snake that can fetch a bone can mourn lightning

~

Time won’t be poor forever:

the child of a former smoker
makes
for frog
a cup
of her hands
no matter
that no
frog comes
nor frog
like it

~

Lying to the basilisk:

You spoke to me through an egg for so long that the back of my neck changed moons. If I think hard enough, I can still see your mother putting in her mouth the glove her god treated like a baby’s hand. I cook a mirror. I cook for an orphan made of sleep. Will our breath always be the bone that didn’t make it into the wing of thirst? If it’s a boy, pick for an alien a flower. Dogs forget their human year.

~

Moods for believable midwestern symbols:

When we realize that water cannot take us to where water lives, every television in Ohio stops what it’s doing to wash a ghost. Our friendless baby calls no one. I am not kind, but put my body between mine and yours.

~

Moods for nigh:

Sipped from worship, a mother will hide in her throat the lost paw of thirst. How long are we? No one says loss anymore.

~

Lone high, Ohio:

stars, I guess

and a trapdoor
for a certain
kind
of turtle

and stars
for sure

~

Ohio’s underwater cure for hiccups:

how sorry
I am
that ghost
is bored

swim
in a way
that says

~

Most boys in Ohio have carried that rare dog that can worry about growing old into a store that only accepts prize money. Ohio can’t be everywhere. A hole falls out of the wind and the abuse stops.

~

Moods for screenplay:

It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth
It is always just before the sadness that I stop brushing my teeth

Small again
the star is little

~

We had over two hundred children and gave the same name to each. We were both impossible and lazy. Bedtimes, fuck me, were harder than funerals. Sometimes a story would go around nearby about Jesus pretending to put his dad in his phone and we could almost see it. No one died waiting to be the first.

~

Be eye:

be eye
the nest
of an unmade
god

wrestling
the wrong
shape

~

I want to write about grief in the way another writes about grief. For example, your mother avoids god by telling god what the dead do when they miss their dead and my son has an idea that is also a scar that was once a ghost too gentle to land a kite. Something simple. A dog three times around a pool. Four, if no one has baby news. You cry like a star.

~

These are my hands,

spider’s yawn and blueless blue.

A son’s belly cradles the crushed eye of god.

Even in a glass,

milk
looks lost.

~

It is a secret life that denies the double. From grief to grief goes a new strain of quiet. Rain of quiet, we wrote earlier. Did you know we were together? No god but this ghost of a thing that never was.

~

I don’t care what the image has gone through to get here, as long as it’s not me who’s seen god. Before the movie starts, a father asks a mother could she love an arsonist in a wheelchair and she answers no. Most scenes you pretend to pull the unkissed ear of a secret child. The movie ends and I’m not sure how long I’ve been wet. Touch is diversion’s heavy reward. The afterlife a shortcut to loneliness.

~

In Ohio when they bring up the ocean:

the moon
sends to earth
a ghost

~

To worship god is to love the ghost of the alien you dream of killing. When I was a child, there were no children. All of them had guns. Most of my teeth hurt from forgetting

that blue
wants to be
a circle.

~

In hell, you can draw a blank and nothing happens. I have proof. My dog is afraid of birds. My son has never fallen asleep in his wheelchair. I eat, and my shadow has a dream smaller than that of any fish. This is not hell. The past is

abandonment
looking
for an equal.

Thinking it matters when, god tells us we’re dead.

~

to preserve
our obsession
with longing

this mark
death makes
on god

~

Ohio handcuffs:

two poor people
trading facts
about circles

~

The boy balances a basketball on his head outside his father’s bar. His mother is somewhere a girl on a trampoline who sings to a white pup named Fossil. The baby he keeps seeing hasn’t done much beyond biting an arm and eating a crayon. His abandoned sister is giving birth so calmly she is not blown away by the fact that it’s only her second time wearing the blindfold her angels wear to fish. His brother is in therapy to process the loss of others who think we’re gods when we smoke. I joined the boy once to look at an empty crib. He drank tea from eggshells and I declined. Nothing goes missing, he said, when your hair is a nightgown. I swatted him to let him know I was dying, then swatted him again to let him know I would live. The tea was gone. The rest is sadness.

~

I can’t afford to know that I am sick.

My children call sleep
the long
nakedness, and death

the slowest minute of an imagined hour.

A ghost is an angel that can tell a story.

Ohio genitalia:

Blue, leave your stone. Stone, your blue.

Ohio genitalia:

I am heavier than the one who listens
at night
to my ear.

Resurrection
is prettier

when our bodies
betray us.
~

I can’t keep creating the devil that the bogeyman beats you to. Repetition has no birthday.

Time is still the time it takes to draw a creature untouched by human thought.

Ohio genitalia:

It changes nothing that my boy body leaves the seesaw for a tree on its way to lightning.

In a poem called Despair

despair is the wine we age imagery with. In the poem

Tornado, poverty has too

many gods.

~

November 25, 2020 / barton smock

AN OLD IDEA ONE HAD OF STARS (full collection, Feb 2020)

SO YOUNG IS LOSS

reading
to children
who miss
neglect

~

BONE NOTES

i.

sadness slips from the torn muscle of grief

ii.

insomniacs
here
are so
polite
and haircuts
are free

iii.

use cocoon
in a sentence

~

BRINK ACHE

we died
in that dream
but continued
to understand.

I thought
sleeping
skin-to-skin
with my children
would cure
your fear
of flossing. every bomb

touches god.

I forgot
to be in pain.

~

DRAWINGS

i.

a mosquito
on the thigh
of god

losing
its mind

ii.

an old
idea
one had
of stars

iii.

waiting with an uncle
for any
colorblind
doll

to pass
the salt

iv.

child in a hospital asking does time have enough food

v.

is snow
the mother
of distance

~

ORIGINAL ACHE

younger, I skin my knee in the museum of the dropped jaw. you say blue is a color and I say it’s a clock. god is there and is asking no one we know to leave space for a birthmark. we are somewhere between my grandmother dying and my grandmother dying. a noise outside could have come from this painting of three window-washers kissing the same egg or it could have come from outside.

~

BEGINNING ACHE

the crow’s fear of inclusion. eve’s perfectly forgotten ribs. the nothing I mean to my dentist. the cemetery where all the un-boyed went to eat paper. the band-aid in the belly of a baptized child. yawn of kites.

~

CREATED ACHE

the chicken
maybe found
the egg
then spent
its dog years
learning
in a light
that grew
back weird

~

THE CULT OF REPAIR

I dared once my brother to kill a single mouse he could fit into his mouth. he killed and killed. his jaw became so tight that he entered every dream angry and every chat room as me. the shadow of a beast we’d known to stand on two legs begged us to break its bones. we poured it a glass of milk then grew so close that I had to pour the milk alone. the beast tried to be our sister but our sister was a circle that moved away from the light. the mice that went with her

wanted to.

~

EXILE ACHE

I didn’t lose a tooth, says the child, there’s just one you can’t see. not a single horse has remembered to spy on the devil. that fish went right through me and I dream it back. mom never has a stick. the food in our stomachs dies at different speeds.

~

TRINITY ACHE

not a yesterday goes by I don’t pretend to know everyone. mom has eaten the snail. her father is still being shot.

~

GUIDE ACHE

if I could love them all, they wouldn’t be here. movies make her father angry. he asks her what is always trapped but never surrounded. her heart is an owl with a heart. mirror, she says, but doesn’t. a rain relearns the earth.

~

FAST ACHE

not every tooth makes it into the group of teeth I know about. a mother is told by god that her writing appears read. you eat like a bird then eat the bird for saying nothing. I warm a hand on a burning fish. our water seems distracted. by the ghost of what he’s killing.

~

HURRIED ACHE

after slamming my fingers in a car door, the hand looks for days as if god has tried to pry a nail from a piece of bread. people kiss me and I tell them my footprints can’t breathe. when a bug hits the windshield, my blood gets a star.

~

PLAIN ACHE

I write to missing things of knowing what took them. given the chance, what could god describe? I don’t know if what I hear is a sound or sound’s hostage, but it’s enough to make light remember losing a child and with it a boy and with him the fourth wolf he killed in his sleep. we don’t come from love, but we love.

~

CLOSING ACHE

you were born that you could be shown where you were left. wasp didn’t get that way trying to move a scar

but a spider can dream

~

ACT ACHE

as a telescope
skips
loneliness

please love
this octopus
embracing

the outsourced
beehive

~

CARRIED ACHE

I like to think of my grandmother as always on her way to an obstacle course for invisible children

(as combing her hair in a spiderless wind

~

LANDMARK ACHE

the skull of a child who can’t swim. whose friends

tried.

a horse for my puppet. a shadow’s first bone. the pill

in the egg in egg’s dream.

forgetful
lightning.

the deer dad resurrects.

~

KNOWN ACHE

I won’t keep you in suspense. I was born and then at a strip club crying for those tender people whose children put in private the final touches on god. also there is a meal being prepared that you won’t be able to finish before you die. the preparer of that meal has a least favorite creature and believes hundreds of corpses were dragged from eden by animals that were trying to experience joy. save it when you can

the last of the robot’s short grief

~

CORRECT ACHE

an angel leaves heaven to touch paper as a circle from my childhood rolls toward an empty jack-in-the-box. I am old enough to be sad and too old to separate deer facts from church facts. my children fall asleep before their hands fall asleep.

~

CLEAN ACHE

punched in our stomachs for remembering the sea, we are in a church that goes to church. it is here that a drop of god’s blood can change paper into plastic and here that bread is the bread and butter of hunger and hunger the oldest child in nothing’s choir. here that I count for a son who cannot count. for a son who sleeps on land on the lamb of his illness. (water is still the smallest toy and our mouths still come

from the same
noise

~

SALT ACHE

perhaps I am the thing that overtook me. that in its becoming was able to feel guilty about doing so. what if death is just looking for the one it’s named after. lonely I can almost see my eyes.

~

RABBIT ACHE

I can’t sit
for very long
without wanting
to smoke.

this is the flower
I pick
for my ghost.

~

REALM ACHE

I stand in a ruined field and preach longevity to a god that stares through me at the empty highchair of some freckled thing. my age is with me, there, and there to mean how far can I throw my food. if I close my eyes, I can see touch as a mirror that’s been used by my mother to describe sleep.

~

LIT ACHE

upon waking, my son knows he’s been moved. beside him I am crooked until he bites my arm. he is as heavy as the stomach of the angel that nightly kisses mine. illness has the patience of a shadow but cannot teach my eyes to kneel. time is god’s tenure as the lost tooth of sleep.

~

YEARS ACHE

my children haven’t gone a day without their stomachs. sometimes I lift my shirt and I think they mind. I want to tell them but won’t about the party we can’t throw for a dog whistle. fish are still building the sea.

~

ELDER ACHE

show me
the fireflies
of yours
that get
sad
around human
stomachs

(there is
a table

rain
will set

~

WITH ACHE

a lonely child makes no fist and snow arrives to draw a snake. I mean to chew but forget. your knock-knock jokes have gotten better. I don’t hate your stories. the head-kisser’s

bowling
score.

tornado that lost our emptiness.

~

CLAW ACHE

the soft spot
god has
for the nest
of a fasting
bird.

the stone my brother
saw
give birth.

aspirin
that will put

plastic
in your stomach. crucifix,

or the kitten
unseen
by swan.

a clump of hair in the newborn’s hand.

~

DRIFT ACHE

creation
gives guilt
an afterlife

the neighbors
found dead, we learn
to miss

the dog afraid of everything

(sleep is a movie a mom was in

~

GOODBYES FOR EXODUS

i.

there is a girl on our street who for a dime will eat any insect that doesn’t die on its way to her mouth. her dad watches and talks to us about god and how lonely it must’ve been to not know for so long which language to learn. if there is food in my house, it’s gone. hunger is proof that I’ve struck only those people who’ve entered my dream oblivious that they’ve come back for more. the girl tells me that if I don’t close my eyes

her ghost will think they are seeds

ii.

the night my father loses his teeth
he holds my hand
and confesses
that he once
punched his sister
for eating
snow

iii.

before the film starts, a woman tries to sell us on mouthwash for newborns. my friends say she looks like my mother and then realize that their love for my mother makes them sad. I tell myself that when I get home I will block the dog door with the small television that lightning took.

iv.

(our best bowler is a man who doesn’t shave because he thinks there’s a parrot on his shoulder)

v.

brother sits in a rocking chair and goes through the motions of pretending to be electrocuted. I am tired but not so tired that I can’t shut off the chair. our animals continue

to not
pray.

~

YET ACHE

what is not
there

in that late place
orphaned
by arrival

where a god
names
whose dying
it surprised

(is the last thing
he’ll touch
on purpose

~

HERMETIC ACHE

the one about loneliness. about the quarter, the cigarette, and the egg. about the odds of three hungers having an ear-shaped dream. about the dog-haunted car of my youth and how to cool the body with bread. about pulling over for the ambulance we’re in. about the number of rocks a stone counts in the hawk-like after-weight of a baptized child. the one about losing track of what I’m eating before I eat and the language god hears in both. the two about god

cutting god in half.

~

SIGNAL ACHE

the only things that grow here are creatures that don’t mind being eaten. my mother has given me two hands with the same name. if the second eye we open remembers having nothing, then our sleep has reached god.

~

[Burnings]

Nearness

we share
an invisible
drop of rain

but not
a wrist

(the grass
looks a little
lost

Farness

seeing
a frog
makes frog
an orphan

have I
the poem
we wrote

Pill

but mom
even sleep
dissolves

Tattoo

the spider in my left eye
is also
on the kitchen
floor
of a house

that’s gone

Lifelike

fog has a better
memory
than rain

Grief

yes there is one
footstep

left

Rain

and the pulse
to god
a scar

Frogsong

depression
decorates
a bird

Miscarry

perhaps a deer
had stepped
on my wrist

Osmosis

the son takes with him a knife into the bathroom and

Church

entering the body after a stroke

Sex

two
as if they fear
a third

Angels

mystique
that surrounds
a small town
search party

Chthonic

a prayer asking god to brush your teeth

Hunger

my first
backpack

Fraction

sadness
over something
deleted

Intro

writing is where one goes
to write, it is

(outside of water
not being
blue)

the bluest
place

Cigarette burn

the shadow
in my arm

Mirror

the shadow in my arm

(is of
a piece
of glass

~

COUNTER ACHE

my son trades a mirror for a shadow stuck in the ice and horses won’t eat the trampled birds of my hands. we dream and dream but cannot fog the whale’s eye. it’s a small life. perhaps something will land on the angel’s neck. birth helps god move the body.

~

AVAILABLE ACHE

what we don’t do is tape a dead frog to the chest of a doll and call frog an airbag. what else we don’t is laugh at the woman who with a skateboard and a pool stick retraces the river that took her dog. what we will is look for an ashtray as a ghost might for locust.

~

NO ACHE

what we’re seeing hasn’t reached us yet. what is it a sister says? a god dies when its coffin is empty?

~

STEM ACHE

in your ear is a spider afraid of the way I swim.

I remain made of

nothing
the winningest
prophet

~

CESSATION ACHE

A little
off the ears
my crucified
barber-

The more I sleep, the more there is
of the future.

~

Afternotes

of her son’s feeding tube, she says the shadow in her stomach has pulled off its ears

distance is the god of those who don’t need rest

would any one of you cut the baby

into thirds
to make

me a mother?

is that circle dead?

~

Afternotes

about the baby,

has it forgotten how to smoke

mom she rolled ache into our socks at a gas station

there’s no one to tell

my eyes

I’m early

to the quiet of egg sac

anthill

are ankles
lost

~

Afternotes

and here I tell my son, who’s never heard a cricket, how long I believed in god.

~

Afternotes

a circus worker
smokes
as one
who dreams
of being brainwashed
in Eden

the details
need some space

every bee sting
has a ghost

~

Afternotes

wash oh please
my forehead
with a mother’s
handprint, be

as sweet
as my brothers
fawning
over the belly
of the lover
who’s by now
removed
their matching
imaginary
tattoos, score

the earlobe
of a nail-biting
infant,

die.

the angel in the mirror
is not alone
all the time

~

Afternotes

you die
in this poem
so often
by my
unwrapped
hand
that god
promises
to salt
them less
the tornadoes

~

WEAPONRIES

i.

he shot three of us in the stomach for throwing a snowball at his pick-up truck. none of us died completely. by none I mean a priest and a pilot are changing the diaper of an indifferent baby. by scar we mean we held sticks and surrounded the paw

that our god had filled with fog

ii.

it takes we guess three low-flying helicopters and a herd of wheelchairs to scare jesus away from eating the bomb that we made

for men
only dogs
can hear

iii.

by stomach I mean both field
and church
are empty
and that whole
meals

reappear in the newborn’s outstanding loneliness

~

STOP ACHE

patient me above a footprint with my spoon and my fork and then old jawing at nothing us as food misses our mouths in the after of an almost deer and then for a very long time an emptiness a kneeling a here and there balloon and now it’s just this falling asleep on trains that are also asleep that are manned by ghosters of the misgendered who misgender you me what knows what their sleep is sleeping with and I guess it’s possible to be alone if possibility goes years maybe without experimenting on nostalgia and now it comes to you how it didn’t seem to me to be a turtle until we saw it eaten by a shark and then I needed a name to give to its friends its turtle friends all dead in a kind of before

November 19, 2020 / barton smock

( from ) diets of the resurrected

I can’t keep creating the devil that the bogeyman beats you to. Repetition has no birthday.

Time is still the time it takes to draw a creature untouched by human thought.

Ohio genitalia:

It changes nothing that my boy body leaves the seesaw for a tree on its way to lightning.

In a poem called Despair

despair is the wine we age imagery with. In the poem

Tornado, poverty has too

many gods.

November 16, 2020 / barton smock

( from ) diets of the resurrected

I can’t afford to know that I am sick.

My children call sleep
the long
nakedness, and death

the slowest minute of an imagined hour.

A ghost is an angel that can tell a story.

Ohio genitalia:

Blue, leave your stone. Stone, your blue.

Ohio genitalia:

I am heavier than the one who listens
at night
to my ear.

Resurrection
is prettier

when our bodies
betray us.

November 14, 2020 / barton smock

blood notes

Loss isn’t the only child of death,
but is the most spoiled.

Disappearance has its limits.

Animals
don’t waste
their pain.

November 13, 2020 / barton smock

from ( diets of the resurrected )

The boy balances a basketball on his head outside his father’s bar. His mother is somewhere a girl on a trampoline who sings to a white pup named Fossil. The baby he keeps seeing hasn’t done much beyond biting an arm and eating a crayon. His abandoned sister is giving birth so calmly she is not blown away by the fact that it’s only her second time wearing the blindfold her angels wear to fish. His brother is in therapy to process the loss of others who think we’re gods when we smoke. I joined the boy once to look at an empty crib. He drank tea from eggshells and I declined. Nothing goes missing, he said, when your hair is a nightgown. I swatted him to let him know I was dying, then swatted him again to let him know I would live. The tea was gone. The rest is sadness.

November 12, 2020 / barton smock

blood notes

at the longest
party
thrown
for god, does water

dream it’s found

the spot
where ghost
went in

November 10, 2020 / barton smock

blood notes

I worry that God is not nostalgic.

I forget
near bathwater

my son’s
body.

Name a movie missed by a ghost.