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August 22, 2019 / barton smock

{ not poems. tinyletter entries, latest to earliest. a place called discontinue. }



saying things over the dead is like praying over water. a blurring, a ringing. a swirl of dust becomes for a moment a church-bell and then disappears before exodus arrives. I said some things this last week over my grandmother’s casket. in her life, she lost a husband and a son to drowning, and suffered nine miscarriages. she never stopped moving. she missed most of us before we were here.



my grandmother suffered a brain aneurysm a week ago, and since surgery has been deemed not fit for therapy. her feeding tube has been removed and she is in palliative care. my son (who I call my disabled son because as a parent I take shortcuts

has had just today his make-a-wish backyard space approved.

every time I see you is the time I’ve seen you last.



illness in the old, and in the young, i don’t know. we carry our death where it wants to go and then we stop as if we’ve made progress. it was always strange to me that we capitalized Death and had it as a visitor and then I would go on to feel sorry for it in lowercase, the way it looks like something on two legs but is afterthought and not afterlife. my grandmother is having brain surgery tomorrow and I have been visiting her at the hospital, she can’t talk and is bedridden, and I think of being little and in her camper as she made breakfast in a tight space and I want to go back there and recall her in this cold uncrowded room so gently frail and failing and I don’t want to recall it vice versa.



I keep trying to make it disappear, this writ, so I can be done with it, no more of this melancholy that calls sorrow as a witness only to reveal nothing’s been seen. creation is a guilt that has an afterlife. 30 odd books self-published since 2011, I deleted them, I worked hard on them and now they’re gone. from view, anyway. and I think I will do this, this way, from now on…make these books, privately, but not make them publicly available, and the space I take up, in private, will be maybe fuller. I’m online for work, and for not work, and I don’t know. it seems content is creating its own content. I sometimes think I am the update god gets about me.



for a time I was sorry and convinced there was a future in apology. early this morning my son nine years into it had a tonic seizure. I could see him looking for himself. eyes are made from nothing.

I had strange dreams after. my brother puking on me in the shower. my wife standing on my chest and saying it feels again like we are at the beach.



so this week my father’s partner received his deportation orders. he came from El Salvador over 20 years ago, and has done nothing but work. he cries when the national anthem is sung at basketball games. he has three kids, and their mother is sick and cannot work. I am not sure what some think we need to be safe from. or, I am very, I am too, sure.

my youngest son turned ten years old this week…he has Vici Syndrome, and wasn’t supposed to live past seven.

I hope everyone gets to stay long enough to be homed.

speaking of which, you must read Tanya Olson’s [Stay] from YesYes Books. I reviewed an advance copy of it, here:
Stay ~ poems ~ Tanya Olson



I used to think there was an angel assigned to each thing and to each idea of a thing but then it was too sad to imagine the angel given charge of existentialism. perhaps it is why and when a child shifts into seeing ghosts. their borders are reliable and sometimes they are covered in an outfit one can picture wearing. but how to get back I wonder the angels we die in.



I still feel like it’s a secret, this having of a son with a rare disorder, this knowing he is not his disability. early years as a writer of invisible futures, showing no one, to these of social presence and free display. those early death poems, those copies. was it preparation? fuck art, right? vandalism is god’s love of line-break.

I have been trying to leave my poems, but then look at them, and they are left.



I have been trying of late to write about Ohio. I don’t know why writers do this, return to nowhere, just because it has a name. Have you read Lethal Theater by Susannah Nevison, or Kill Class by Nomi Slone? Both are somewhere being present and both are haunted empathies.

I have been re-reading Dark Acre by Canese Jarboe…it is so good. I accidentally bought it some time ago because I remembered reading about it…only to find that what I’d read was about Blackacre by Monica Youn.

I think accidents give us our past.

This little poem is old:

[blank elegy]

after death
(oh citizen)
of god



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