Skip to content
February 16, 2019 / barton smock

Ohio deaths (vi)

father cuts my hair as something gentle he can do underwater. he’s broken the bowl that caught his mother’s mouth. we have our mirrors and you your nets. I am the last of his one-eared boys.

February 15, 2019 / barton smock

{ said (s) }

Maya Sonenberg, After the Death of Shostakovich Pere:

AFTER THE DEATH OF SHOSTAKOVICH PÈRE, a memoir by Maya Sonenberg, reviewed by Barton Smock

Sybil Baker, While You Were Gone:

Susannah Nevison, Lethal Theater:

Lethal Theater – poems – Susannah Nevison

Katherine Osborne, Descansos:

Descansos – poems – Katherine Osborne

Logan February, How to Cook a Ghost:

How to Cook a Ghost – poems – Logan February

Blas Falconer, Forgive the Body This Failure:

Forgive the Body This Failure – poems – Blas Falconer

Kwame Opoku-Duku, The Unbnd Verses:

The Unbnd Verses / poems / Kwame Opoku-Duku

Erik Rasmussen, A Diet of Worms:

Barton Smock reviews Erik Rasmussen’s novel A DIET OF WORMS

Peter Twal, Our Earliest Tattoos:

Our Earliest Tattoos – poems – Peter Twal

Anna Meister, As If:

As If – poems – Anna Meister

Darren C. Demaree, Bombing the Thinker:

Bombing The Thinker – poems – Darren C Demaree

Lauren Brazeal, Gutter:

Gutter – poems – Lauren Brazeal

Jon Cone, Cold House:

Cold House – poetry – Jon Cone


Kari Gunter-Seymour, Serving:

Serving – poetry – Kari Gunter-Seymour


Isobel O’Hare, all this can be yours:

all this can be yours – ERASURES – Isobel O’Hare


Eloisa Amezcua, From the Inside Quietly:


Kazim Ali, Silver Road:

Silver Road – essays, maps & calligraphies – Kazim Ali


Adeeba Shahid Talukder, What Is Not Beautiful:

What Is Not Beautiful – poems – Adeeba Shahid Talukder


Anthony Frame, Where Wind Meets Wing:


Steven Sanchez, Phantom Tongue:

Phantom Tongue – poems – Steven Sanchez


Hannah Cohen, Bad Anatomy:

Bad Anatomy – poems – Hannah Cohen


Melissa Atkinson Mercer, KNOCK:

KNOCK – poems – Melissa Atkinson Mercer


Montreux Rotholtz, Unmark:

Unmark – poems – Montreux Rotholtz


Rax King, The People’s Elbow:

The People’s Elbow – recitatives – Rax King


Chelsea Dingman, What Bodies Have I Moved:

What Bodies Have I Moved – poems – Chelsea Dingman


Sophia Naz, Date Palms ~ Pointillism:

Date Palms – Pointillism – poetry – Sophia Naz


Marisol Baca, Tremor:


Kristina Marie Darling, Dark Horse:


Devin Kelly, In This Quiet Church Of Night, I Say Amen:

In This Quiet Church Of Night, I Say Amen – poems – Devin Kelly


Francine Witte, Café Crazy:

Café Crazy – poems – Francine Witte


Chelsea Dingman, Thaw:

thaw – poems – Chelsea Dingman


Camonghne Felix, Yolk:


Melissa Atkinson Mercer, ghost exhibit:


Gillian Prew, Three Colours Grief:


Canese Jarboe, dark acre:

dark acre – poems – Canese Jarboe


Bettina Judd, patient.

patient. – poems – Bettina Judd


Michelle Gottschlich, VOID SETS:

VOID SETS – poems – Michelle Gottschlich


Kazim Ali, Inquisition:

Inquisition – poems – Kazim Ali


Ursula Andkjær Olsen, translated by Katrine Øgaard Jensen, Third-Millennium Heart:


Ghayath Almadhoun, translated by Catherine Cobham, Adrenalin:


Rae Hoffman Jager, One Throne:


Sara Moore Wagner, hooked through:


Traci Brimhall, Saudade:


Darren C. Demaree, Two Towns Over:


Natalie Eilbert, Indictus:


Meghan McClure, Portrait of a Body in Wreckages:


Ruth Awad, Set to Music a Wildfire


Kaveh Akbar, Calling a Wolf a Wolf

February 14, 2019 / barton smock

{f. off/on}

February 14, 2019 / barton smock

Ohio deaths (v)

this body was never a child

(& birth a spoon
bent to the little

I long

February 14, 2019 / barton smock

{ 201720182019 }

some recent reflections at {isacoustic*}:

on Susannah Nevison’s (Lethal Theater):
Lethal Theater – poems – Susannah Nevison

on Katherine Osborne’s (Descansos):
Descansos – poems – Katherine Osborne


some recent work at {isacoustic*}:

Estrella Del Valle, three poems translated by Toshiya Kamei:
person Estrella del Valle, three poems translated by Toshiya Kamei


also, said recently:


Dec 2017, June 2018:

RETURNING {entries 1 thru 25}


god’s brain in a small hat


from surgeries
and gardens

a crownless mouth


my angel is a scarecrow in a sleeping bag. heaven a movie theater in spain. she walks that way because she is trying to step on her blood. the boy at the gate is lost and must choose either frankenstein’s childhood or a more diverse nostalgia. orphans on earth smell like bread.


there are pictures of me sleeping that are responsible for my brother cheating on his diet. apples the shape of going home. sex addicts fighting to direct a musical about the number of people disappearing

to let death
mourn. there is a chair in an open field. a throbbing in the palm of sound’s publisher. a kid under a blanket asking god

when did she know
what perfection
was. a mouth that was a bomb

/ before I had teeth


with sound
the second language
of absence, with

mother, bible, bee

(I am trying to memorize missing you


god as a girl reading her father’s fanfiction

fixing her mother’s
ghost town
water fountain, then god as a boy

tired, in a dream

you think we are the same.
your unlearn, my re-know.

our place wants the person I’m from.

of the removed
stitch. what I would bite

to have your mouth.


in the history of newborns
not one is named

shelter, and we’ve called

only two

my dream priest
in the desert
after making
with death
a movie, no…

the blood’s
for brain


they took
the body

stayed with star


you can train
a bird
but not
a fish
to care

for a thumb…

fire is the skin of god


a father
at peace
with how many times
his hair
has died
is standing
in a museum
before the shell
of a giant

his infant’s mouth
has gone home
to lose
its shape

he is alone
like any
grocery cart



all information

your abuser
could’ve joined
the circus
his chewing gum

the age
of your mouth


when drinking, I think maybe in a past life I also drank.

sorry, poem. absent
your suicide

we all
speak silence


I never heard my father cough

I must
to say so
be dying

insect is a thing
cannot be

the rich have their ghosts and the angels

their seaweed


I exist / too / often

(it’s okay)

his father
had a beekeeper’s

the recurring dream of my blood

is loss. dear ma,

your book
how to appear
to a thoughtless

I don’t know. birth is whose



death in its dream home
had a psalmic
to rival

women. hell was empty

and we wrote

what words


is it written or is it said that the word tells you its language?

I built my house around a crying baby.

Q: sister spotlight has a brother

A: whose blood is a stop sign


long gone are the insects
you forgave

this storm, the whale
of oblivion’s
white feast, this moon

the word


childish nicknames for the messiah

these desperate meditations
on the ghost
of a sober

I am not death but enter
like it
the church
of so many
spelling bees
to ask
whose punishment

for being born
am I


father is sitting in that snowplow like he’s seen every baby and mother is mock burying herself as if daring the holy spirit to make a fist

and sister wants to weep
for an eyelid or hear
a helicopter

and the heart has too many ghosts


I go places
in my ghost
that are children
when I arrive. they call me

high grass, lord
of the wind’s
blood. most of them

have lost
with dog
to birth
or touch, our brief

to déjà vu


the father is a shepherd in a hall of mirrors. the son a man on all fours salvaging a puzzle mothers use to predict snowfall. we have goats but they act like goats that deep down know they’ve been imagined. the daughter is a hallucination color prays to.

the goldfish a marble from the psalm of dry lamb.


in this dream, the father stops halfway up the ladder and blows on his hands. starvation is a drowsy snake. the dream has time to think and figures existence needs a distraction. when my son bites himself, it is because his teeth are feeling lost. I offer him to the dream but he is not godless enough to throw his voice. are you sick in a language that has a word for what you have? skin is the longest dream.


he takes baths instead of showers

the boy
who believes
in ghosts


to be unthought of is to be one more person away from pain. no cricket you hear is alone. in my boy’s drawing of jesus, the ears are all wrong. his first sad poem is about an oven. his second calls dust the blood of a seashell. his third is so terrible that I tell my friends I’m just a gravedigger who wants to open a hair salon. my friends they are made of grief and brilliance. they say they like mirrors that have in them, how do I say this?, a lost theft. I sleep and my sister paints my nails. kisses my head. she is no shape and then a shape that occurs to a horse my son thinks will live.


this was after your brother had died everywhere

I was calling shotgun for poverty’s mistress
during a game of shirts and skins

I think by then
jesus had fed
nearly two of the five
with a sunburn
and an ambulance

& most animals were still having four dreams)

anyway, something flew into your mother’s mouth
and the look on her face
told nobody
it had teeth

February 13, 2019 / barton smock

{ at & else }

AT {isacoustic*}

a small reflection on Susannah Nevison’s Lethal Theater:

Lethal Theater – poems – Susannah Nevison

person Ojo Taiye:

person Ojo Taiye, two poems

person Anointing Obuh:

person Anointing Obuh, one poem



said recently:


unsaid recently:

[Ohio deaths (i)]

every stick I throw

a ghost
of my grandfather’s

I don’t throw many
it is not a sight
to see

not some cow nudging awake the weakest deer

not pipe tobacco, not smoke, not that spider
from an injured

not a small child
a dog even

trying to use
a spoon


[Ohio deaths (ii)]

god’s been gone nine months and all this talk he’s done of being stabbed in a dollhouse struggles to fill a baby

(do animals have songs

do they know

to miss
missing (leave the bragging

to grief


[Ohio deaths (iii)]

handstands and loneliness- what infantile reactions we have to existence. I want to eat

but how will they know there was nothing here (this finger

once a rib in the back of your throat


[Ohio deaths (iv)]

my son knows his birds by the hands he draws for them. anatomy is perhaps what you make it. grey bruise, blue tongue…

this dream goes nowhere. hell, these chickens

(as if their god was struck by a ghost

February 13, 2019 / barton smock


Ghost Arson (Kung Fu Treachery Press 2018)

book is 15.00 / orders for signed copies can be made via paypal to or by using link:

*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


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

if interested in reviewing, contact me at


on amazon:

at barnes & noble:

facebook page:



some reviews:

by Dd. Spungin:
by George Salis:


don’t watch this:
facebook live reading: