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March 23, 2019 / barton smock

annotations for all

to lie about god is a kind of prayer. what you hide matters. the eggs, the cigarettes. the third wish from grief.

March 22, 2019 / barton smock

{ 26 entries, separations for unlikeness }



god bless the hypnotist who takes up smoking when it goes uncured (my transformative stutter…

god bless the breathing machine, the fog…

the donkey so beaten it recalls itself as a whale’s untouchable nose…

and god bless god for my short life as a father, for my son who says, meaning eyelash (cyclops…


it’s not my imagination that I’m the only foreigner my body recalls, but is that god can change with my stomach the shape of his tears


waiting for her cigarettes to dry, mother starts a bath and says above them that it’s not like any of you are becoming a rib. death, short a person, continues to eat the language god hasn’t. trauma makes a compass of time and place

and brother is not yet the sitting creature of a thoughtless life. I am not there but am allowed to be. I so miss birds.

(the ghost fame of each tadpole


a shadow’s private gravity (a fly on a grieving radar


the boy whose clothes have been taken will swim for hours and for hours know why the soul hides death from god


do they not


ear to ear, the toddlers…

their tornado
still theirs, and today’s

still in the mind
of their mother’s
who is having a thought
as rare

as his past, of a god

from a cobweb
a carcass

and deciding


apparition, or mom
at her most forgetful.

mouth, a shapeshifter’s
chew toy
as a belly button
and babied
by grief.

face, face.


tell me again
how it is
that dream
tooth decay
in angels / why it is

that I can hear
in the darkroom
the ghost

of weeping

/ when it was they found the suckling

and not the bones
of a wave


not uncommon in a household of grief

for one
to be bad
with names.

(the radio
an animal
that misses
its bones


I would ask that you name
your dog
is not
a teacher (then love a longer kitten

(like an angel
an ashtray, more

like your mother

a thing on its way
to being

(or shaped


I eat more in your absence than you do in mine. our animals never meet. I’ve a painting and you’ve a picture of eve reaching for an aspirin. an angel is a ghost on fire.


pushed a lawnmower. jumped on a trampoline. ate with symbolism the freer meals. painted for death what death could sell to a mirror. accused my hair of arson.


before an astronaut can miss a tooth

I see my mother

her face
in a cobweb


every smoker
a grocery cart
for a six-
fingered ghost


all children come from god

(the theatrical


there are ways to be happy. you can say priestess and watch your father’s cigarette slip in and out of sleep. you can crush a pill for the dog that’s begun to move like the rabbit it died chasing. you can lick the spoon the mirror’s



father likes to say that touch has lost its mind. mother

be like hunger
and forget

(the boy is the boy who teaches death
to read
and I am sad
for death
for years

(in the toy aisle, in a circus
restroom, at the roll

of my son’s
eye, and at the gate

of the all

(also shyly

in the more traditional
of god

(their hesitant


in those moments when non-fiction scares only the grey brainchild of poverty

(that fucking angel disrobing a stone with fog…

please read
to feel


how long
for being god
should god
be punished

to how many mothers have you reappeared

are these
the pebbles

fingerprint and footfall

(have they been


match your mouth to its bowl
and lift the bowl

it is very light
be as with
a beaten
angel (careful

lullaby baby out of its hair
hold me (like death

as you’ve seen
a brain

(does it look
in places
like a ransom

the skin
god hasn’t


the relationships you have with my body
and the relationships

(if there’s a god
then why

(a son this ill

an angel
with paperbacks (is this


or a gift shop where none have prayed


a dog-tamer by day, he’d lose at night his stomach’s paw to a sleepy hand. not there to feed anything, I’d set anyway a fishbowl down for a rocking horse. sometimes a woman would shock me with her finger then put on her shoes. then leave or not exist.


being earlier drawn to a pilot’s imperfect nostalgia,

a hypothetical form
goes online
to cry…

(eyesight is sorrow’s smallest garden
(a whole

for the errors
of fiction


a shirtless child sets my food on fire. I want to cut myself but part of me is still teaching god air guitar in an outhouse. stun gun. riding mower. I learn how to point and bulimia

is the ghost


mother, in goodbye, means goodbye.


there is
oh sin

a firefly

in my grief.

& the eater of chalk has the body of god.


look long enough
at a bird
it becomes
a bird.

a boy

both arms


sheep because sheep looks as if it’s waiting for an angel to have a thought and sheep because the saying of sheep guides the mouth into silence and sheep because if you close one eye in church

the circle my son draws looks like a fish

and circle because I made for it a church and church because he once saw a rabbit that wasn’t and a stomach that was and the two of you

we could not lift


March 22, 2019 / barton smock

{ & go }

can subscribe here:


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


[dying brother with microscope]

last night
a horse
left Ohio
and waited
seven seconds
clopping back

(all cats had my sister’s tongue)

had fingernails

and fish food



as diary

are underwater
where eating
was discovered

(this is our
that on land
god is waiting
to cut
a birthday cake
for the non
the non

our grief comes in pairs
to the animal
it looks
most like


[spider bites]

I lose
at times
the names
of the boys
I hid from…

not an angel, I am allowed
to love
the baby


March 20, 2019 / barton smock

Ohio deaths (xv)

mom says she ain’t had a dream since trying to bring jesus there to hear her poem about the fetus and the bookmark as found in her collection (a warning describes home to a crow

March 20, 2019 / barton smock

{ recent reflections at isacoustic* }

recent reflections at {isacoustic*}:


on Tanya Olson’s Stay:

Stay ~ poems ~ Tanya Olson


on Molly McCully Brown’s The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded:

The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded ~ poems ~ Molly McCully Brown


on Emily Paige Wilson’s I’ll Build Us a Home:

I’ll Build Us a Home – poems – Emily Paige Wilson


on Susannah Nevison’s Lethal Theater:

Lethal Theater – poems – Susannah Nevison


March 19, 2019 / barton smock

Stay ~ poems ~ Tanya Olson


poems, Tanya Olson
YesYes Books, 2019


I have been a few weeks now with Tanya Olson’s Stay and what can I say in the radiance of how deeply it disappears but reader, read, and reader, remain. Here the boat, here the plane. Here the footprint in a bird. Here the paper doll as called to its scissored absence. Here a land to which awe is an only child, both parental and curious, not abandoned nor safe. It is here that all the letters, beyond the ones you see, go silent. Olson uses rhythm as punctuation, and capitalization as a bread crumb for the unstarred wayward. How earthen, how other, how locally sublime.

This storytelling arrives as a void burdened by abyss, and this verse adopts circle as the balefire of ghost. To move is lonely, and to move a crowd is lonelier. Dear audience, says this work, some…

View original post 65 more words

March 19, 2019 / barton smock

{ pass / age }

Considering Ghost Arson as a collection, there are obsessions or at least repetitions: owls, milk, ghosts, etc. The pinnacle obsession being god in all forms and personalities (“you picture god as a toddler studying a map” or “the airway of a god with a tail”), the word itself repeated nearly to the point of semantic satiation, a term coined by Leon Jakobovits James, who also suggested that the phenomenon could be employed to ameliorate phobias. Consciously or not, perhaps Smock is attempting to exorcise a theophobia. Conversely, the recurrence could be a mantra reverberating across poems.
– George Salis


Ghost Arson (Kung Fu Treachery Press 2018)

have copies, on my person, now.

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

said some words on it, here:


if interested in reviewing, contact me at

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Barton Smock
5155 Hatfield Drive
Columbus, OH 43232

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