Skip to content
May 29, 2019 / barton smock

{ entry, outer }


/ entries 1 thru 28


god bless the hypnotist who takes up smoking when it goes uncured (my transformative stutter…

god bless the breathing machine, the fog…

the donkey so beaten it recalls itself as a whale’s untouchable nose…

and god bless god for my short life as a father, for my son who says, meaning eyelash (cyclops…


it’s not my imagination that I’m the only foreigner my body recalls, but is that god can change with my stomach the shape of his tears


waiting for her cigarettes to dry, mother starts a bath and says above them that it’s not like any of you are becoming a rib. death, short a person, continues to eat the language god hasn’t. trauma makes a compass of time and place

and brother is not yet the sitting creature of a thoughtless life. I am not there but am allowed to be. I so miss birds.

(the ghost fame of each tadpole


a shadow’s private gravity (a fly on a grieving radar


the boy whose clothes have been taken will swim for hours and for hours know why the soul hides death from god


do they not


ear to ear, the toddlers…

their tornado
still theirs, and today’s

still in the mind
of their mother’s
who is having a thought
as rare

as his past, of a god

from a cobweb
a carcass

and deciding


apparition, or mom
at her most forgetful.

mouth, a shapeshifter’s
chew toy
as a belly button
and babied
by grief.

face, face.


tell me again
how it is
that dream
tooth decay
in angels / why it is

that I can hear
in the darkroom
the ghost

of weeping

/ when it was they found the suckling

and not the bones
of a wave


not uncommon in a household of grief

for one
to be bad
with names.

(the radio
an animal
that misses
its bones


I would ask that you name
your dog
is not
a teacher (then love a longer kitten

(like an angel
an ashtray, more

like your mother

a thing on its way
to being

(or shaped


I eat more in your absence than you do in mine. our animals never meet. I’ve a painting and you’ve a picture of eve reaching for an aspirin. an angel is a ghost on fire.


pushed a lawnmower. jumped on a trampoline. ate with symbolism the freer meals. painted for death what death could sell to a mirror. accused my hair of arson.


before an astronaut can miss a tooth

I see my mother

her face
in a cobweb


every smoker
a grocery cart
for a six-
fingered ghost


all children come from god

(the theatrical


there are ways to be happy. you can say priestess and watch your father’s cigarette slip in and out of sleep. you can crush a pill for the dog that’s begun to move like the rabbit it died chasing. you can lick the spoon the mirror’s



father likes to say that touch has lost its mind. mother

be like hunger
and forget

(the boy is the boy who teaches death
to read
and I am sad
for death
for years

(in the toy aisle, in a circus
restroom, at the roll

of my son’s
eye, and at the gate

of the all

(also shyly

in the more traditional
of god

(their hesitant


in those moments when non-fiction scares only the grey brainchild of poverty

(that fucking angel disrobing a stone with fog…

please read
to feel


how long
for being god
should god
be punished

to how many mothers have you reappeared

are these
the pebbles

fingerprint and footfall

(have they been


match your mouth to its bowl
and lift the bowl

it is very light
be as with
a beaten
angel (careful

lullaby baby out of its hair
hold me (like death

as you’ve seen
a brain

(does it look
in places
like a ransom

the skin
god hasn’t


the relationships you have with my body
and the relationships

(if there’s a god
then why

(a son this ill

an angel
with paperbacks (is this


or a gift shop where none have prayed


a dog-tamer by day, he’d lose at night his stomach’s paw to a sleepy hand. not there to feed anything, I’d set anyway a fishbowl down for a rocking horse. sometimes a woman would shock me with her finger then put on her shoes. then leave or not exist.


being earlier drawn to a pilot’s imperfect nostalgia,

a hypothetical form
goes online
to cry…

(eyesight is sorrow’s smallest garden
(a whole

for the errors
of fiction


a shirtless child sets my food on fire. I want to cut myself but part of me is still teaching god air guitar in an outhouse. stun gun. riding mower. I learn how to point and bulimia

is the ghost


mother, in goodbye, means goodbye.


there is
oh sin

a firefly

in my grief.

& the eater of chalk has the body of god.


look long enough
at a bird
it becomes
a bird.

a boy

both arms


sheep because sheep looks as if it’s waiting for an angel to have a thought and sheep because the saying of sheep guides the mouth into silence and sheep because if you close one eye in church

the circle my son draws looks like a fish

and circle because I made for it a church and church because he once saw a rabbit that wasn’t and a stomach that was and the two of you

we could not lift


the abusive baby
with its crying (or

the blue

with its bruising
thirst (will turn

the knob (the clock

of the door


years later and I can’t convince my brother he’s been shot. he wants to be naked all the time. one day he wakes up with four legs and another with two he’s forgotten. he doesn’t draw but claims the things he draws can’t sleep. mourn god, he says. he says he can’t see me when I wash his clothes. so I wash his clothes.



/ entries 1 thru 29


every stick I throw

a ghost
of my grandfather’s

I don’t throw many
it is not a sight
to see

not some cow nudging awake the weakest deer

not pipe tobacco, not smoke, not that spider
from an injured

not a small child
a dog even

trying to use
a spoon


god’s been gone nine months and all this talk he’s done of being stabbed in a dollhouse struggles to fill a baby

(do animals have songs

do they know

to miss
missing (leave the bragging

to grief


handstands and loneliness- what infantile reactions we have to existence. I want to eat

but how will they know there was nothing here (this finger

once a rib in the back of your throat


my son knows his birds by the hands he draws for them. anatomy is perhaps what you make it. grey bruise, blue tongue…

this dream goes nowhere. hell, these chickens

(as if their god was struck by a ghost


this body was never a child

(& birth a spoon
bent to the little

I long


father cuts my hair as something gentle he can do underwater. he’s broken the bowl that caught his mother’s mouth. we have our mirrors and you your nets. I am the last of his one-eared boys.


his cigarette going bald, father prepares his food while we touch ours. god swims long enough to miss wind. if there are two babies in the same room, they switch cribs but not teeth. god is a time-traveler selling nostalgia. I can never remember which of mother’s ears is insect and which is litmus. it’s always the second meal

comes from heaven


I want to be loved so badly that I promise your raccoon the sea. dying means:

my boy falls asleep drinking from a toy boat. god has no friends but even better

my mother has one was born

without a birthday. can an angel

do this? says ghost.

(grief is a thing taught to breathe by its stomach


it’s dark and all of us are in the wrong stone.

the floor is clean where I learned my shapes.


I cut the pills
in advance. (love

that no matter
the day, there are three

god spent
with his son.



for tire
swing (mother

sells chalk
to a ghost


I didn’t miss god or think I was ugly. had mud enough
to make
from memory

the scarecrow’s
stomach. I ate my brothers

they ate
me back. any loss

became a hole
in a snake, any needle

a worshiped


think of wind as a thing that’s mastered its nothingness.

the unfinished.

yes think, then cradle.

hands shape their own leaving.


I wait in the outhouse to hear the ghost of my brother speak.

to him

is grief gets a puppy, spider
a tail

(in the story of the fish
that wanted
to pray


mom says she ain’t had a dream since trying to bring jesus there to hear her poem about the fetus and the bookmark as found in her collection (a warning describes home to a crow


because in an insect, terror has no room to grow. because I can count on a handprint the number of times you thought me from nothing. because my daughter does a somersault and thinks she’s pregnant. because god worships the storm for its light touch. because I can’t sing. because when I do, my mother knows where I am. because on all-fours I call my blood to bathe me in its blue past. because loss eats its plate. because I brush my teeth over a circle my son will make in dirt. because his ghost mans a ferris wheel he refers to as piggyback. because my father can forgive a shape and I cannot a poem.


I wore
to bed
a dog’s
and in
the dream
broke your leg
on mine
do you remember
being spanked
the ant
on your cheek
than a stick

(I think
he put
my hand
in a hand
with growing (there is

the star I sleep under

the toothache


god is the word food spells in my mouth.

you have to be this tall
to be hungry.

(there is a ghost looking for its rock collection)

our absence
unheard of


up at this hour
with my thumb
in my mouth…

than mine
your missing

the spider

it’s thrown itself on a drop of blood


I’m here, says the soul.

the body will need me
when you’re gone.


I find my hands wrapped in yours in a field we call rifle. you’re vomiting in a dream and your son is asking

(is a shadow a boat that’s been killed


if caught

sickness will erase the body’s memory of dying.


will make
from god
a trapped


to report
of uncommon


to estimate



you’re getting better but birth is still a joke that grief gets wrong. that luck forgets. dog is too old to look at the animal it younger replaced. care is mostly silent. a cricket in a cake. my tiny saw.


every year
on your birthday
a buzzard

to earth
from the mouth
of a flat

footed god
and gets

(its chance to carry

the owl’s


at the very least, I think god could’ve given loss a tail. I take it anyway

my cut of longing-

say keep my daughter from caterpillar and my son from cigarette.

from each other



I am seven
maybe eight
and some boys
are counting
the holes
in my shirt
and asking
if I bite
I tell them
what I love
and that I’m studying
the poor (that I can talk
but it doesn’t
there is always
a book
that poverty
to read (a lake
that hates
my shadow


because a ghost can do what time cannot, a father gets over being ugly. I have a sister who rings a bell and you a mother who swallows a whistle. the order of my love is wrist, wrist, neck. my brother thinks he’ll be crucified for having two left feet. acts like a dog when it rains.


the clown while cleaning a paintball gun watches a kite as if kite believes there’s a puppet in a cornfield. this is what I mean and don’t mean by loneliness. I learn smoke by combing knots from my mother’s anthill hair and snake by setting a rope on fire. certain diets will bring the baby back. whose blood is this, whose ball

of yarn (were soft things said about losing teeth



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: