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February 4, 2019 / barton smock

{ a. like. part. }

some alike & apart / from Dec 2018 & Jan 2019



a bookmark made by mother from the fingerprints of god. a stretcher mourned by a ladder. the last nerve of grief. recipe from the beginner’s guide to poverty. neckwear. dream’s comet.


[snow notes]

to photograph
an Ohio
bathtub, my father
in a stalled

(a peephole

and a rabbit’s


[my brothers leave Ohio for other parts of Ohio]

(the pets
last longer
than a bruise


[form notes]

you are poor and have the wrists of a beachcomber. god writes a play about sleep. I rest my eyes and my father’s microphone becomes the nightmare my mother has where she presses the fingernail no ant is under. you think you’re the ghost of your mouth.



/ the broken hand of my whale-watching mother

// bruise
that plays

/// an owl
from the waist


[entries for son]

I lose in one ear my hearing when you dream

what god
would say
don’t die


[jaw notes]

it is okay

(in the afterglow
of a mother’s
hiding place)

to live
as a dull
child (on bits of eggshell

from the angel’s mouth



ghost wouldn’t dream the angel but to see it naked. wouldn’t dream god but to understand. moth
but to disrobe.


[moral narcissism]

fossil, cloud…

it’s okay to like your little life.

I have proof.



we talk of teeth and of how a son closed his mouth in a dream. two of our children hug and as one are mistaken by mirror for the jawbone of god. dog is half-thunder, half-ambulance. limp if you love me.




there is a form god’s form doesn’t take


(I thought if I held my son a certain way…


boy to see a tadpole faint


[I listen with my brother for frostbitten thunder]

(as sleep makes oven the birthmark of the home

(as god spots crow at the grave of a rooster


[every bird I take from the ocean becomes a handful of snow]

& somewhere the small machine that your father fixed

is on its only leg


[in the bewildered minority]


the unbrushed
of a weak

pre-grief erections.

for pulled


[in the book about nothing]

where so many
are survived
by the eldest
still abusing
his dinosaur
is the spread
of loneliness
you remember


[could be you’ll die]

in front of something
god remembers


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