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August 22, 2019 / barton smock

{ not poems. tinyletter entries, latest to earliest. a place called discontinue. }



saying things over the dead is like praying over water. a blurring, a ringing. a swirl of dust becomes for a moment a church-bell and then disappears before exodus arrives. I said some things this last week over my grandmother’s casket. in her life, she lost a husband and a son to drowning, and suffered nine miscarriages. she never stopped moving. she missed most of us before we were here.



my grandmother suffered a brain aneurysm a week ago, and since surgery has been deemed not fit for therapy. her feeding tube has been removed and she is in palliative care. my son (who I call my disabled son because as a parent I take shortcuts

has had just today his make-a-wish backyard space approved.

every time I see you is the time I’ve seen you last.



illness in the old, and in the young, i don’t know. we carry our death where it wants to go and then we stop as if we’ve made progress. it was always strange to me that we capitalized Death and had it as a visitor and then I would go on to feel sorry for it in lowercase, the way it looks like something on two legs but is afterthought and not afterlife. my grandmother is having brain surgery tomorrow and I have been visiting her at the hospital, she can’t talk and is bedridden, and I think of being little and in her camper as she made breakfast in a tight space and I want to go back there and recall her in this cold uncrowded room so gently frail and failing and I don’t want to recall it vice versa.



I keep trying to make it disappear, this writ, so I can be done with it, no more of this melancholy that calls sorrow as a witness only to reveal nothing’s been seen. creation is a guilt that has an afterlife. 30 odd books self-published since 2011, I deleted them, I worked hard on them and now they’re gone. from view, anyway. and I think I will do this, this way, from now on…make these books, privately, but not make them publicly available, and the space I take up, in private, will be maybe fuller. I’m online for work, and for not work, and I don’t know. it seems content is creating its own content. I sometimes think I am the update god gets about me.



for a time I was sorry and convinced there was a future in apology. early this morning my son nine years into it had a tonic seizure. I could see him looking for himself. eyes are made from nothing.

I had strange dreams after. my brother puking on me in the shower. my wife standing on my chest and saying it feels again like we are at the beach.



so this week my father’s partner received his deportation orders. he came from El Salvador over 20 years ago, and has done nothing but work. he cries when the national anthem is sung at basketball games. he has three kids, and their mother is sick and cannot work. I am not sure what some think we need to be safe from. or, I am very, I am too, sure.

my youngest son turned ten years old this week…he has Vici Syndrome, and wasn’t supposed to live past seven.

I hope everyone gets to stay long enough to be homed.

speaking of which, you must read Tanya Olson’s [Stay] from YesYes Books. I reviewed an advance copy of it, here:
Stay ~ poems ~ Tanya Olson



I used to think there was an angel assigned to each thing and to each idea of a thing but then it was too sad to imagine the angel given charge of existentialism. perhaps it is why and when a child shifts into seeing ghosts. their borders are reliable and sometimes they are covered in an outfit one can picture wearing. but how to get back I wonder the angels we die in.



I still feel like it’s a secret, this having of a son with a rare disorder, this knowing he is not his disability. early years as a writer of invisible futures, showing no one, to these of social presence and free display. those early death poems, those copies. was it preparation? fuck art, right? vandalism is god’s love of line-break.

I have been trying to leave my poems, but then look at them, and they are left.



I have been trying of late to write about Ohio. I don’t know why writers do this, return to nowhere, just because it has a name. Have you read Lethal Theater by Susannah Nevison, or Kill Class by Nomi Slone? Both are somewhere being present and both are haunted empathies.

I have been re-reading Dark Acre by Canese Jarboe…it is so good. I accidentally bought it some time ago because I remembered reading about it…only to find that what I’d read was about Blackacre by Monica Youn.

I think accidents give us our past.

This little poem is old:

[blank elegy]

after death
(oh citizen)
of god



August 22, 2019 / barton smock

so young is loss

to children
who miss

August 22, 2019 / barton smock

{ 2018 haunt }



Ghost Arson (Kung Fu Treachery Press 2018)

if you’ve read it, skimmed it, or rewritten it…say something somewhere or to yourself.


if interested in reviewing, contact me at

book is 15.00 / orders for signed copies can be made via paypal to or by using link:
or via Venmo: @Barton-Smock-1

*be sure to include your address in the notes field

or one can send a check to:
Barton Smock
5155 Hatfield Drive
Columbus, OH 43232

on amazon:

at barnes & noble:

facebook page:

review by Dd. Spungin:

review by George Salis:

interview by Crystal Stone for Flyway Journal:

Interview with Barton Smock, Author of “Ghost Arson”

other reading:

Barton Smock cover 1 copy


August 21, 2019 / barton smock

bone notes


sadness slips from the torn muscle of grief


are so
and haircuts
are free


use cocoon
in a sentence






August 21, 2019 / barton smock

created ache

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

August 20, 2019 / barton smock

{ aches (to,ward) }

[drift ache]

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


[brink ache]

we died
in that dream
but continued
to understand.

I thought
with my children
would cure
your fear
of flossing. every bomb

touches god.

I forgot
to be in pain.


[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


[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.


[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.


[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
around human

(there is
a table

will set

August 16, 2019 / barton smock

mass ache

to have
a past
I cut short
my listening
to the oral
of going
and let
its childhood
of gold
then watched
as my mother
to recognize
an animal
that would lose
an ear
but weigh
the same