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March 7, 2019 / barton smock

{ count(s) }

[in soft afterthought of southern brevity]

the palm
of a hand
is a mouth
(your mother’s
passing through
the hand
of god

is a bruise
on a stone


[seashell notes]

(no creature feels beautiful for more than seven days

(behind an owl, a crow takes out its teeth

(you’ve the belly button of a dead angel


[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



/ the broken hand of my whale-watching mother

// bruise
that plays

/// an owl
from the waist


[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


[whether boy says bread or bird, we hear both]

& a toothache
can miss
its shadow



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.


[stork blood]

my sister brought a tub of snow inside to dig a baby from and god’s little narc shook a rattle at a fish tank.

are you barn
or missile



(across town, a silent alarm is pressed by the anonymous smoker of wedding cigarettes

(across town, a mother scrubs at a dinner plate with a clump of hair and tells her boy she is not balding

look: I love your father’s thumbtack moon and I love that bruises recall to us the botched renderings of paw prints.

look: when I read to my son, he tries to fork the fireworks in the back of his head. there is no place where nothing should be.

(and it is so
never suddenly

in the dream our longing prepares, memory is a man dying in the ocean and becoming a ghost there.

each a form of angel hazing
are bewildered
and stray

mother touches the doll with kid gloves that fit. externally, I believe in masks. internally, that a sponge is living off my hand.

I wait for my mother to fall asleep, for my father to carry her upstairs, and for my brothers to go outside

their fingers as horns
on the sides of their heads…

a chalkboard eraser
still strikes me
as useless-

a boat
in the hand
of god

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