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January 18, 2019 / barton smock

{ 2017, hands etc. }

{ FROM everything I touch remembers being my hand (2017) }

~

HALLELUJAH

the poor
in Ohio
say
Ohio

~

ALAS, TOUCH

sound’s shy historian, digger

of a hole
for the mouth

~

STRANGERS

for you I would covet the broken arm of a snake

in grief’s
heaven

~

WHOSOEVER HOLDS THAT REPETITION
CAN’T USE
ITS HANDS

let in them
a thunder, a counter

of breads
and sabbaths, an infant

struck
by owl

~

DAYDREAMER AND THE BOY
WITH
EXTRA BLOOD

wind’s childhood, nothing’s

gift exchange

~

SINS FROM THE FIELD

what time I have
to write
I spend
writing.

the insect
in the room.

infants for the end of tourism.

your mom
salting
the empty
doll.

~

IN ME THE PRISTINE BEARING OF HER LATER
MARK

some medicines / don’t work / how lonely

change diapers

else
you invent
evangelism

suicide, all those dates I didn’t

formless herself, she makes an image. animals

were the end
of god

~

WHAT A HORSE
KNOWS
OF GOD

hand-like, unfixable, the hugger of its neck

~

SECULARESQUE

death writes to me from an unfinished foster home. other things are also untrue. how subtle. light’s

list
of demands. focus

on crying
in a messy
car
absent
the animal
you’ll worship

last.
~

EASING

in no other life
am I you
in this

~

UNTITLED

it’s the day after jesus dies and father is a nightmare. I am the right size to change out his cigarette and I’m good at it. people in handcuffs pray over his legs.

father is a dream. a tree you notice in the dark- mom said that. mom says also that an ant’s heart is everywhere. everywhere in the ant.

jesus wants to be human. my brothers lift his body because my brothers do not yet know that neither will want to put it down. I mean to see them off but am rooted in what the future for a moment believes.

mother is not two people but she does go up and down the stairs as if she’s visiting two museums showing the same coffin. for every other step there’s a step that’s not. if my mouth at night is open, she sleeps outside in the ribs of a tree.

your sister is made of money and silence. has nocturia. death on other planets, oh. we’re just poor.

~

CAT NUMBER EIGHT
ENTERS
THE DREAM

how many fingers, fork

will hunger
lose

I am the trap
god sets
for my kids

~

ULTIMATA

how am I not a dream? I am not a place. I can’t say rabbit but can robot. my god knows one story. those I count when I’m sad are those I count when happy. grandfather means pipe-smoke and grandmother an outdoor pool. their daughter is a lamb-haunted horse. I see Ohio as an ear but still I ask what happened to the ear in question. I don’t sleep unless I need proof I never. I am older than the brothers I scare. travel is my sister’s vehicle. my dog is chewing on a rubber hand. it can’t be dark in both.

~

GUIDES

I say
into beer cans
code names
for ear

oh earth
to dog
miss
whole phantoms

~

THE INFANT

swimmer’s nostalgia. grain of salt.

the infant
is clumsy
but no one
knows

~

CIVILIZATION
for Brian Dawson

three unicorns
in horse’s
dream
surround
a lame
deer

can dream
be stopped

~

POEM

to koan
the world
makes perfect
sense, to motto

it makes
none-

two vowels
in the word
poor

~

TREE
OF NOTHING’S
APPLE

I know a woman whose shadow will never be the same.

we are eating from a bowl that wants to go home.

~

MOOD PIECE FOR HAND

I clip her nails
whose doll collects
cereal boxes

~

DOMESTIC HYPNOSIS

a birthmark
is a churchgoing
scar

~

DIALOGUES FOR APPLE

I am the light at the end of blood

or blood is my favorite dress

~

THE MOTHERS

from ghost-written diaries
a constant identity

late
for its own
resurrection

~

ETERNITY IS GOD’S SEARCH
FOR A MIRROR

close by, a man is relearning how to cradle his corrected son.

my luck
the alien
I saw
was disabled

~

GROWN WOMAN CRYING AT THE STATE OF HER
TEETH

two ears
at once
her wounded
boy

sleep has one god

absence, none

the cough
he had
the week
he was missing

~

PASSINGS

clown car
too much
for ghost

~

DESIRE, FOOTNOTE

drunk above a son I cannot feed, I don’t long to swim

but do
to have my mother’s hair
combed
by a horse-

birth
oh when
was I tamed

~

SURGERY, AGE EIGHT

these names, before you were born. colorblind orphan, yawnless fish. ghost with calendar.

look at me
when I’m invisible

~

HOSPITAL
YOUNG

years back I met god in some nowhere town before I was born to teach symbolism. I know what room I’m in by the tv show my mother’s watching. dear ghost, I hope you like the parrot. from what word did letter come. existence mourns non. grieve on sight.

~

WILDLET

I lost you before I lost you. your stickmen were free of anxiety. they left a church to the potbellied ghost of your muscle. their word for tree was branch. what god couldn’t finish they called wind. baby an air that stopped breathing.

~

NOTES FOR INSECT

I will never know a ghost story

god does not

~

YOUR FATHER

a barber
in a swim cap

combing
the dream

for a surgeon’s
toothpick

~

PAIRINGS

(i)

no one in heaven is named after god.

place is an animal. animal a cure

for déjà vu

(ii)

my hands
are the hands
my hands
could rescue

(iii)

I was wrong. now is not

the afterlife
of the present.

not
yet

(iv)

our towels are asleep in the oven. our surroundings

lonesome.

/ mom severs mother from the nude vocab of our nakedness

~

MY
QUIET QUIET
SON

“Probably I’ll die like this,
a long time ago.” – Franz Wright

I will never forget hearing god pronounce your name
to a ghost obsessed with wolves

out there in the dogness

~

LIFELIKE AND KIND

in a home
for animals
that have tried
to undress

we weigh
the child
and the child
the doll

~

SO
SANG

the person
who reports
photos
missing, my sockless

brother, the tooth fairy’s

bones

~

THE STONE

sack race. minotaur.

(the stone)

a before
and after
picture
of absence.

~

STORIES FOR MEN IN THE MORNING

a brother sleepwalks and beats his sister. daylight, brother looks for her abuser but can’t stay awake long enough to catch the person he doesn’t know he is. sister fears what he may become. I have two children, Object and Permanence. they examine my spotless body

like aliens

who cannot hurt their own but want to.

boy has no name
so town
has no name

when my younger brother was born, his program made him human. because of this, my mother was thrown in jail. my own program gives me the power to look like anyone I’ve seen. I need you to write down what you look like because it’s me to the rescue.

her hand is a ray gun that can only stun babies not yet born. her grief is a time machine that wants to grow old.

as they had no memories of being children, mom pretended she had been their mother and told them stories of the funny ways they’d been in trouble.

~

UNTITLED

fog overtakes toad
& boys
are born.

ghost yoga. crucifixion.

train is a tunnel
train’s never
seen.

two dead crows- I’m shoeless again.

~

UNTITLED

after seeing the girl I have a crush on sign my friend’s arm cast, I spend the weekend jumping out of a tree, trying to land on my left, in the backyard of the last person who knew to hide the head of god. I break nothing but the blood from my nose could fill a football. vandalism starts in the face. it’s dark. I treat my mouth like a scratch.

~

UNTITLED
for JP

running with my brother
those three miles

seconds
kept
by a watch
of salt

the bland
sons
of distance

the names

of the born
between

~

UNTITLED

we bid
in Ohio
on a pack
of condoms
dropped
by the invisible
man.

birth approaches its black stoplight.

in clothes
that fit
I feel
remembered.

~

CRAFT

a woman
with a handsaw
whose rabbits
dream dove

~

PROTECTION SPELLS

bible and the missing
book
of aspirin.

fast food chains.

mourners.

~

A GROWTH HORMONE FOR PHANTOM LIMBS

not roadkill
what crawls
from a costume

~

UNTITLED

I am not sure which of us has no one

the dog
or the me

violence
my crippled
editor

hides
her hair
in grey
spiders

grief takes a picture of something I drew

~

FOR SLEEPING

the barber and the cyclops
in the nosebleeds

~

WINDOWSILL

I believe my mother when she says we are here to forget the girl god was trying to impress. that we are to follow starvation to its wrongly named foods. that breads are condemned

birds. scissors the writer’s churchbell.

~

DRILL

imagine having to haunt doom. sole cornstalk in the dreamworlds of tree. I cannot track the beauty of my children. it’s as if they are egging the model airplane of a pilot who loves matches, declawed cats, and wax museums. imagine chickens. leaving the anthill.

~

SOUL

warn a crow
you’ll forget
your past

~

UNTITLED
for Kaveh Akbar

all this time, ghost, we’ve been writing about the wrong body. poems talk of me like I’m here. nostalgia adrift on an oyster boat. empty acne on the face of god.

~

UNTITLED

heaven wasn’t called heaven until it was full. we are made of water and there’s glass between us. when my son is asked to rate his pain he says his blood feels like a feather. I sleep at the foot of his bed often, a crooked something, a melancholy numeral…
his body- I don’t know. it repeats what most are made to recite. my brother has a ghost can see cats.

~

UNTITLED

we are brave
because
one at a time
we are brave
but the mother
hamster
eats her young…

these mouths
age
in a dreamless
noise

~

PAWINGS

the fat kid
whose mother
owns
a video store
will
for a dollar
let you touch
his eyeball

he is maybe
the church
of the seizure
I had
in a church
that is gone
much

like blind
invisible
women

~

LAUNDROMAT AS A THING THAT LAUNDROMAT
DEVOURS

I prayed, yes
but in
a dream-

ghost
was a book
with pictures

~

DOORBELL, HOUSE OF NOTHING

I cured my son
in another
language

that of a perfect child
born
to draw
a circle-

doorbell, house of nothing

~

MOOD PIECE FOR APPLE

a father remembers making dinner and whistles at the sober. his death nudges a turtle in the direction of some absent creature chewing gently on its tongue beneath a poster of a missing dog. lightning prays wheelchair and preaches lawnmower. there is a woman here said to live on hair. on whose mouth we survive. birth thinks only of itself. not a day goes by in the grocery of touch.

~

INTRODUCTION TO FATHER

I don’t see
size-

stormcloud, stone

it’s no
gift

it is hard
kiddo
to be a mouth
in the land
of embrace

love
two of your fingers

the rabbit they make
they wound

~

AGAIN THE MOTHERS

have kissed the ear
of a small
boy
they do not
love
whose voice
eats bread
through a mask…

have scored their grief
as inefficient
sadness, and accepted

bowling balls
from three-fingered
men.

~

EIDOLONS

hit your children. my own, I love the way they look

before I don’t. every shadow

leaves its post

~

SUICIDE
ETIQUETTES

the microscope god avoids by sucking his thumb

dream and blood- their unpainted rooms

the deer tipped off by mannequins

a zookeeper’s empty mom

~

FURTHER ANNOTATIONS FOR
SON

god closes the food truck and waits for his carefully chosen porn to buffer.

even
over this
a star

~

ENTRY

I tell the mechanic my car sounds like it’s drinking blood / I am not trying to be funny / end.

abuse, 1980: because a tornado won’t touch a house on fire

in the nursery, the babies with elderly features…

~

BEFORE TOUCH HAS A BODY, WE CAN SEE
ONLY

before touch has a body, we can see only

the hands of god
how they fumble

loneliness
and imagine

birth
for a family

of small
permissions

~

PREFACE

I am from the future (I miss

you) there is a way

to contort
the body
and deepen

scarecrows (my son

has an illness)
I’ve seen

in pictures

~

FIRST
DAY

I pine more for the being god was thinking about when he made you. visually, the moons of pain. where circled by what. the one-eyed lambs.

~

FLYOVER

thinking for shadow

(all my homes were entered at night)

and then for the crow
hit by the crow
our baseball

~

PUPPETRY

inspecting my son
after a fall

the blind
and photogenic

~

UNTITLED

one cannot love the ocean
without asking an orphan
to be
specific.

I tell my words
to use
my poems.

father he quotes
echo. his shadow

a short story
by ghost.

~

LIKE A FATHER

eating lamb
for his lovely
misheard
boy

~

FORTY
-ONE

alien that I failed

my boys
are lonely

~

CHASMIC

each drawing I do of my face is uglier than the last. god sends me hands I can’t use and prays for his hair. if I have a daughter, she is returning items to a small mirror. keep me if I don’t.

~

MODELING FOR POEM

I don’t think I was born to see my face. my father looks like he’s about to say nothing. her vocabulary comes and goes.

~

DECONSTRUCTIONS FOR
SON

the day you were born
you were killed
in a dream
where some
were wounded.

I was there / to look / at the sky

~

DEATH HAS TOO MANY MOTHERS

in me like a sympathy pain

is Christ, her language

a fasting
echo

~

STARVATION NAMES ITS
FOOD

ask the sickest boy what a pig says to the pink phone of god

leave fingerprints for his hand to find

have words
with echo-

he will die
he will not die
laughing

~

HUNGER ANOMALIES

your son
he has
two brains
that’s great
but we’re looking
for water’s
stomach

~

PARADISE

high we are beaten for acting like the same horse. memory invades the afterlife. I talk only to the animal that takes me to my sound.

~

SALVES

i.

a puppet’s
glove
a gift
from the pilot
of paper
doll

ii.

a sock for the melancholy of distant hand

~

ARTLESS

ache’s password
is ghost
I mean
what I hear

~

THE INCURABLE

I am framed by a quiet that exonerates silence

god is the story
is not
the teller

don’t unpack, she says
we will be
eyes

tomorrow puts it out there
it wants
kids

animals have two souls

go
like light
to undress

~

DID WE KNOW THAT DURING SEX
A PUPPET PROTECTS ITS RIBS

the enhanced sameness of being alone. the last name of a circle. suicide has done its homework. pretend you’re the someone pretends to be you.

~

THE GHOST
OF HIS MOTHER GIVING SHOES TO A SHADOW

sympathy pain, crib

of a normalized

hunger

~

OUR DOG IS GROWLING AT A HOTEL PILLOW

god remembers

a giant

that to us
was plain

~

DRIVING HOME FROM MY SON’S
HOSPITAL

forgetting
to signal

~

PROSELYTE

the cricket
makes sense
because it looks
like silence

is doll
always
or never
sick

~

OUR BLIND END

I would read my books by the light of brother burning his. sister could heal with her bare back the angels of lab rats. father drank water and mother its hiding place.

~

UNTITLED

I was dead
I thought about death
I died

sleep was the only spotlight my mother could avoid

if you see a wolf, know suicide

has stopped
working

swimming with father, I said jesus is not the best scarecrow
and father said
swim

I still can’t find Ohio in the the bomb-maker’s Ohio

sister
she feels
brilliant
when there is less
of her
to eat, she is often alone

people I’ve never been to

~

INSOMNIAC, RAINBOW, HELL.

we heard it last night. the bell on the rabbit’s foot. it made mom want to cook. and sleepwalk. and mice did the wave.

~

DEATH
& PRAYER

i.

to be called forth
from nothing

how perfect

/ no melancholy
is fair
to insect

ii.

would that we could be separated
later
by birth

that we might enjoy
shape

/ the darkness of being remembered

~

INTIMATIONS

daughter has a language keeps her quiet.

penny
is a pillow
for my father’s
blood.

lamb- every other

~

WRITING MOTHER SAYING MOM

before you know it, you’ll create time.

let now
give me hope
for the past

~

GOMORRAH

was a clarity to being beaten. to arriving before clockwork. a clarity also in the poems of his abuser. psalm and caricature. snail and gasmask. I miss hand, he’d say. because it misses raft.

~

TEACHER OF DOLLS

sister has to use her body to care for her body. teacher of dolls. believer in the grenade become star. her blood she is told could ruin her baby’s nose. her thumb is a comma. god’s is a crow.

~

UNTITLED

two boys at a rest stop

one cowboy, one indian-

also there

a mother’s
burning
car

and the mother herself

flipping open
a pocket knife

oh place, you are not
my first
language
but

it was men
created
machines
that they could tell
those machines
the little
they knew, and it was god

found god, and it was your father

that with his father

while in
their astronaut
poverties

took shyness
from a gun

~

IN PRAISE OF THE BOY CLEARING PINECONES
FROM
PUPPET
RIVER

/ his stomach
attended
like church

~

LOSS IF BORDERING ON LOSS

the past disappears to haze the same childhood animal. touch carries non-fiction to belief. earth lands on earth and is somehow loved. there are dolls to skin and there are dolls contagious. any mirror is a fishbowl from hell. she was a good swimmer but was not eaten fast enough. lazily, I remain born.

~

PRETEND
ME HOME

the bridge
the broken arm
of god.

the ventriloquist, her immortal canary…

birth the jackpot
hit
by grief. a wiseman

mourning
his third
son.

~

DIALOGUES FOR HAND

I was a fish. it wasn’t enough.

we’re the founders
of absence. off the clock

like newborns

~

SOME DISTANT DEVASTATION

a man turns a brick into a bird, yeah

call beautiful
what you can.

bird has no idea

and my home
is there.

~

UNTITLED

we come for death, stay for mother.

I cut myself
might a memory
make room
for sound.

god studies his own cure.

holes
for breathing

some get
to heaven.

~

SADNESS, NOT
GRIEF

god’s brain was devoured by a stone.

I saw my father. he was on his second bird.

his teeth were yellow.
or yellowish.

little doors, little me.

a room of real yellow.

~

PIG RAIN

a cigarette burn and the time it tells once. gum in the puppet’s hair.

blind date
with birth.

~

OASES

until I found her cigarettes, my mother was a giant. is there something I can say online that will give me hands? leave an empty laundry basket in a cave that’s crying. rain gives water a church.

~

MINE

his whole life he described himself
to a dying boy

~

POLY

I leave the dream, I come back

this is how
it’s done
there is

a record

~

EXHIBIT

grief in the near future

(practicing)

safe
grief

~

BRINK

I have no memory that is not a silence we sang in unison

is this a ghost or the future of my teeth

is your dad still a god

I interpret the wrong dream

do you
forget

~

MEN

choose
three
to deny
shooting

~

A MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR THE SHY

the suicide of a mother’s
swimming

instructor. the browsing

history

of little
ghost.

~

CROWER

absence and removal, the parents
of nowhere

pity
they don’t
smoke

~

DREAM TELLS ME IT IS BECAUSE I MISS
PIANOS

dream tells me
it is because
I miss
pianos
that I follow
a specific
cow
through nondescript
neighborhoods
none
abandon / dream

does not tell me
which half
of hide and seek
you were
when baby

~

BELLED

dancing
badly
in a small
eye

by beehive
what churches
know

~

BOYS ON LAND

a birdwatcher with broken hands, I am the cry of my mother’s body. she climbs the tree she was left in and smokes back the years of breathing underwater. whatever you’ve been through this poem waited for me to survive.

~

IN THE BORROWED DRESS
OF A MORE
VIVID
SIBLING

oh
voice, my immediate
orphan

~

I DREAM AT AUCTION OF A HELL FOR GHOSTS

and stork
is never
home

~

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