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January 24, 2019 / barton smock

{ MATERIALS / entries 1 thru 30 }


/ entries 1 thru 30 }


while jumping
on those
not postponed
by thunder


nostalgia no longer has a church

if these are your children, I’ve lost years keeping them away from bugs

like her, I’ve never seen her starvations touch

it’s like waiting for god to donate hair


I hate baseball but enjoy covering my left hand.

oh pearl
of birth


a painting of your whereabouts. the popcorn stoning of your first wheelchair. soft edits. pentagram. spider.

the look of a thing that wants no hands.


eating for the child lost by ghost, you are the second of three people who know god’s middle name. oh how I’ve written to avoid reading. to impress death.

a babysitter’s tattoo. the bird-sleep of ache.


she is cooking with the father of an ex-lover a meal for someone who’s just had surgery. god is there but might as well be listening for thunder. she hopes the dream is not a big deal.


god twisted her ankle on a toy phone while thinking of the child you love least. mother was passing for an underwater attraction based on the inherited imagery of oblivious angels. photo credit had been done to death.


an aversion to sleeping on my stomach. needing to be alone after eating in front of people. my father asking in the library for books on Nagasaki. field trips to indian mounds where bullies would worship my retainer and put mud in my mouth. my permissive mother and her essays on the grief of a social god. not understanding how in some films there were women speaking on what was heard in the distance and how in others just men sitting around to surprise satan. my brother threatening to run away and me showing him how my ghost would look breaking his toys. sticks from a dogless future.


Q: what is a ghost?

A: you have a mom and god finds out


you have to count them quickly

the bite-marks on my son’s arm

either you touch a goldfish
or become
a dentist

does it matter whose dream
my mouth is

make art and make it empty. god has run out of room.


it gave me nightmares, from mating call to church bell, that air conditioner in our third floor window. thematically, the poor are closer to death. my people don’t move. god is where you left him. god where I put.


as you do not struggle to recall the titles of those empty sermons we composed while biking uphill after our sister’s head, I tell you that a baby eats like jesus in a haunted house and that dad was right the lawnmower dies because it knows where in the yard his mom was deep enough to bury doll and I deny that hibernation is real

(is more a ghost started by two wise men dressed as animals


boomerang or pop-gun, grief makes its choice. your father hides his blurry hand might god invent scissors. there is a model of your city and some leftover glue.


eating before surgery, the child is like a dream cut short by a violence that promotes longing


you are not allowed in the barn where underway is a puppet show for which your father dreams. instead of holding your breath, you are catching grasshoppers and keeping them for an amount of time your sick sister would call ridiculous. you are too young to know, but know anyway, that your dentist prefers the rhythm method. I am sorry for the things you know. for our hearing of this riddle mistaken for language and for any mouth openly tricked into being small. space is not lonely but we were wrong to change our poems.


who better to orphan the cyclops than she whose other possession is a neglected baby breathing on its own in the flawlessly managed absence of god

too old now for baptismal abandon, my dreams eat the pigs that Dorothy touched


as hunger’s sole worry is that revenge has no one, I do not reply when the boy gets an erection so painful that he says he can see me sleeping in his past. what does your stomach know of mine? to believe in beauty is to let blood do all the work.


it’s midnight and our mail carrier is trying to recall aloud a proverb in a language she doesn’t know. her hound, barefoot and dressmaker, has two names. she wants to smoke but can’t bring herself to imagine god’s forgotten thumb. her tv is on and I watch it as if dreaming was always a sin.


it skips our father like a language the meal she pulls from her tinfoil purse and god he stops at the roof of my mouth and brother short of beheading an egg…


our only comet


grief the star of my overlong nostalgia
& owl the mouth I put on god

(in dream the embedded curfew


god is just a patient creature that swallowed a lonely. did you love him? as an infant blowing kisses to a bruise. a mother born to look seen.


as written
the word
looks a thing
mid-bite, a chicken scratch
behind the ear
of a boy
by an angel
on the side
of pink, a puzzle piece
blocking the airway
of a god
with a tail, a worm
in the grey
of a swimmer
once the weigher
of nothing’s


in their hermit’s longhand they write of sobriety the unreadable grief and then subconsciously outbid god on the hamster wheel from grasshopper’s dream


years from the event of my body, we pass in the grocery. I tell your children they are attached to nothing, that my arm cast is made of fingernails, that a bruise has a shadow, and that a mouth is where a mouth goes to die. truth has no attention span. it is not my favorite dream. partly this is so because I can remember how with a grey marker I drew on my belly the easier fruits might the identified heal the recognized. (but the kids are ugly and seem to know


one thing leads to another and they call this the past. I don’t sleep because I don’t love god. son I am a barber in the body of a dentist. son loneliness is just a museum of recent prayer. there are crows I haven’t seen.

that other crows have.


we were allowed to keep any item we could draw perfectly. mothers counted cigarettes and fathers died in threes. no one had a sister but all

her hidden talent. on the hand of god, the scissors I lost…


a genetic forgetfulness
in jumpers
of rope

all the turtles
have been touched


ache as a hairstyle. teeth that pray for frostbitten squirrels. a shadow, a circle, their secret



with my body as a thing that existed from the waist-up, I became to swimming what I’d been to lightning and told my brothers that to dream they had to fall asleep before god touched his food. loneliness left its skinny tree and followed my mother into an outhouse where once her sister had counted smoke-rings and where twice they’d sung for their mouths the one about zero the forgotten letter. my father looked at me and I at my son. time waiting to create the sick.


it’s not a children’s book but does have chameleons looking for their dead. I wrote it might you remember that I’ll watch anything. my brother lifting weights while he says resurrection that lonely mouthful. horror movies to win back my abuser.


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