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June 8, 2018 / barton smock


thru June 11th, Lulu is offering 10% off all print books AND free mail shipping (or 50% off ground) with coupon code of BOOKSHIP18

poetry collections, mine, self-published, are here:





on video my cousin is singing a song she’s learned by heart. she’s maybe four. I don’t know where to begin. this pond behind her, perhaps? that in my memory is the size of a fire pit. or maybe, here, in the darkening sameness of those sentences strung together by cows. or years from now, even, with the word no and her sister’s lookalike being assaulted by an only child in a library of fragile non-fiction. my cousin is singing a song she’s learned by heart. she’s five. a careful six. sound’s fossil. no city half-imagined. no insect obsessed with privacy. time matters to the frog we catch.



there are days he is the son of muscle memory and funny bone. days his hands are gloves from a small god. poor god, he says, and grows. days he can carry a circle to any clock in the town of hours. days his past can be heard by his siblings- you’re beautiful the way you are. days his blood pushes a bread crumb through his thigh. days his scar is a raft for ear number three. nights his brain / the separation of church and church.



violence is a dreamer. a boy on a stopped bus is dared to eat a worm. it feels authentic. alas, there is no worm. the devil knows to stay pregnant. word spreads about the girl without a tongue. cricket lover. and then, bulimic, when she won’t sneeze.



the mother of your hand is smashing spiders with her wrist. we have a high-chair for every creature that eats its own hair. the twins in the attic have switched diapers. skeptics. voices heard by the ghost of my stomach.



it is snowing the first time my daughter drives alone. Ohio is cruel. stillbirth, old four-eyes. you want them to like you. the insects you save.



a lawnmower starts then dies then is pushed by a noisemaker past fog’s dark church. an unprepared prophet drinks the milk meant for baby eyesore. my sister loses most of her hair putting together a puzzle of her mouth. a bomb is dropped on a bomb.



the man his shadow and the woman her dream.

their child
its track
of time



onstage a dog barks at an empty stroller. the mosh pit is weak. last count had three pregnant, three resembling the man who unplugged my father, and two praying for the inner life of a hole. onstage a boy is holding up a kite for another boy to punch. dog’s been tased.



we put a museum on the moon. I had all my dreams at once. a mouse was wrapped in a washcloth then crushed with the songbook of baby hairless. fire treats grass like fire.



outside the bathroom’s designer absence, our melancholy impressed by symbolism, we form

a line



tree: the unbathed statue of your screaming

shade: the folder of my clothes



praying he’ll see again them cows of lake suicide, the handcuffed frog shepherd

prays he’ll see again them cows of lake suicide



a body to dry my blood. some god

seeing me
as a person…

how quickly birth gets old.



lonelier than creation, I have nothing on trauma. genetically speaking, I don’t think anybody expected us to spend so much time on one idea. this open umbrella. ghost at the keyboard.



and in the spacecraft where a mother diapers the doll that makes her fat there plays the voice of god asking for a film crew none will miss



we wore clothes as an apology for being nearby. a door was a door. a ghost was a ghost and a door. the house was possible. its rooms were not. baby was a body spat from the mouth of any creature dreaming of a bathtub. I got this lifejacket from a scarecrow. said the redheaded tooth fairy.



his baby is wailing in its crib for its mother and he mans you up for a cigarette and blows on the baby’s face and somewhere you yourself have stopped crying as you are pulled from a pile of leaves by two people made of smoke



for a spine, doll prays to fork.

all kinds
of shapes



one day my son is dying, the next he is not, and the next he is. day four: prayer is dismissive, but welcome. whose past is how we left it? body is delivered twice. beginning and end. nostalgia and wardrobe. middle eats everything. it snowed and I thought my blood was melting. could be the way you reason that happens for a reason. I was a kid when mouse was a kid. there’s no hope and I hope.

my son’s weight is a cricket on a piano key. it’s more than I can handle that god gave us god.

aside: we don’t come out faking our death, but are born because birth can’t sleep


I study lullaby
and lullaby

it takes four juveniles to recruit his thumb. his fist has been called: hitchhiker practicing yoga in a junkyard. I cannot visit the instant ruin that forgiveness creates.

sickness in the young is god’s way of preventing nostalgia from becoming the god I remember

I was beautiful but now I’m ugly. (now) being the most recognizable symbol of the present. this is the silence I speak of. my son says (more ball) and you hear (moon bone). he is very sick. his moon has bones.

the disappearance surrounding said event. a horse belly-up in water’s blood. see telescope. also, cane of the blind ghost. magician, maybe, on a rabbitless moon- oh cure.

oh silence afraid to start a sentence.

in the photograph a fist is cut from, a kneeling family of five is putting to bed

the unremembered

traced, perhaps, for a terrible circle-

today was mostly your hand.





I ain’t been talked to in so long my wife’s kid thinks I have amnesia. ain’t been touched since Ohio’s ramshackle symbolism swallowed up some organ donor’s shadow. I went yesterday to a funeral for a woman’s ear. told people what I was wearing was a bedsheet belonged to the man in the moon. told myself I had this microscope could see a ghost and that I’ve only ever lost an empty house. I don’t know how old I am but I know what year I want it to be. before dying I saw it flash how I should have died. low creature. tugboat.


father an optometrist inspecting a replica of a totem pole and mother an eel collapsing at the thought of a play performed in a stone.

and there, at the bottom of grief, a cup of dirt with nothing to bury.


mother is chewing gum like something fell asleep in my mouth. I say dog for both dog and puppy. pray for things I know will happen. a rooster through a windshield. a dried-up toad in a deep footprint.


mother and father give their word that all narrators are orphans. that blood is a short leash. sometimes, a fence. be, they say, the symbol your god remembers you by. tell your brother to act like a chicken. your stickmen to share a toothache.


I saw a cigarette with its mouth open. today was hard. hate is amazing.

god will die with his ear on my stomach.


the darkness has many stomachs and we’ve no one to tell my son he’s lonely.

seller of the disappearing stone, the mouth names everything and is born after eating a blindfold.


for desperation, boy puts a bird in a hand puppet. here a finger and there a worm, sadness has no family. oh fetus my moth of many colors. oh mosquito that bit an angel. time with my son

in scenario’s territory.


(god is someone’s calendar

(a girl with a marble who answers to overdose

(rooster ghosted by elevator

(in my years with the poor, I wrote nothing down

(the scalp will baby its grief


on muscle detail, the clapping boy from the cult of thunder brings a wheelchair to the last rocking horse known to model swimwear for the few dolls that remain married to the same mask. the boy is weak but maybe he puts two words together. like ghost

and exodus. for the second coming of the handcuffed animal.


the boy picking flowers for my shadow loves no one. everything I touch remembers being my hand. the world has ended, or started early. god’s heartbeat. sound’s watermark.


because her son can see the future, she is not yet born. god matters to the discovered.


overtook no cigarette. surprised no sleep. keyed the car

of a minor

radar is getting possessive.


for the gone and for the nearly, brother has the same stick.

I call belly
what he calls
what answers
to limb


to speak
it needs gum
from the invisible

comes with everything. cries like me.


she says
three times
the word
to her stomach’s
and scores
sight’s wardrobe
of rags
in earworm’s


there’s a comb
in my narrative, a goldfish

coming to
in a beheaded

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