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August 22, 2022 / barton smock

some of these are different now but this is how they looked in 2018 ( from misplaced collection ‘paw five’

lost priest

I come from a place where a school bus hits a dog and the bus driver barks and all her kids play dead

 
boy in darkness

blood is a movie and none of it

yours

 
the story outside

a boy in a diaper
covered in flour

a sadness specific to elevators

cocoon
on every
menu
 
lightning storms

in a wedding dress
worn once
and haunted
by paper cuts

going 
at her dolls
with a fork
 
too dark now over nothing to cry

cavity
a clock
dreamt
by a scar.

the scalpel
the ear’s
idea.

birthplace, hide your own.

no animal
harmed
in the making
of god.
 
late poem

one can only write so long
about loss
in pencil

find my house,
dog-on-fire
 
the rapture

grief is grief because it attempts to mourn the infinite. my leg’s blood becomes a branch. I breathe and think I’m eating.
 
sole

the spell we’re under for mocking the wrong ballerina

it learned here to roll over

there
to be
on fire

childhoods of dog-breath and wand 
 
bornography

it is common for the male cannibal to carry the skin of the due child

fasting is a sin and starvation a commandment

orphans are given home movies and edible pillows

language is a head
we bring it cake
 
annihilatives

as drawn, the boy’s
alien and cow
evoke rescue 

dream: a toothless sheepdog is spooning roadkill in a wax museum dedicated to famine

go on, birth
take silence
from a baby
 
annihilatives

dream: a contortionist on a stretcher

bulimics
at a tortoise
crossing
 
annihilatives

you drive a clown car into a crowd
it is how you mourn
the accidental burning
of a doll’s
body-sock
and this I understand
as a city
kind of thing
as a way to eat
darkness
among friends
darkness
from a stomach
a way to lose
blood’s password
yourself
in bread
 
annihilatives

the present happens at different times. fetus, comma, tadpole. surgery, please tell this mask

my face went down on nothingness.
 
annihilatives

dream:    

dream:

dream:

dream:

dream:  

dream:

dream:  

dream:  a mummy obsessed with what doves eat  

dream:  

dream:

dream:  

dream:  

dream:  

dream:

dream:

dream:

dream:  

dream:

dream:  sock puppets on oxygen

annihilatives

the brainwashed and the blindfolded will then switch children
and you will spend a year 
a year
at least
throwing a slipper
at a farm machine

dream: grief a mile
grave
an inch…

you won’t eat much
and your eyesight
will trade its crow
for a bar of soap

your father will fake his death
to distract
room service
from his country
roots
and an insect
inside a stick
will die
and the stick
will live
 
annihilatives 

go home, sadness

-

of exposure
to birth
 
annihilatives

the first murdered woman was not killed by her sister.

stop me
if you’ve 
not heard
 
annihilatives

this dream again where no one likes me

the overeater I sleep for
 
empty 

grief
has a swimmer’s
stomach
 
ribbon on a blindfold

suicide
is death’s
unicorn 
 
ambulations

poetry and suicide
the two left feet
of a child
forced to play
horseshoe
horse
a waste
of strangeness
 
supplication

is voice
the shadow
of song

swimmer
whose blood
has feathers
 
childhood (i)

the body of jesus
pulled from the sea
 
childhood (ii)

I am, in the dark of an unwashed submarine, kissing his head 

like it had
a message.
 
curvature

in my plainness a seesaw

in her dream jaw her dreamboat’s jawbone

in our daily belly

in the church of rolling our own
a film 
ghosting 
a film

in a rug made of bread a tooth made of bread

in mannequins where small things kneel that are living

in claw-marks and in jigsaws of the crucifixion

in

crows balloons of the strangled
 
a scream in Ohio is my elsewhere parade

allow me, wind, my unnoticed resurrection and forgive my smaller ear. the sex we had saved to cut the bread of bilingual angels is now a ghost watching sleep improvise. church bell beats dog-whistle and rocking chair empties horse.
 
the hazing of our assigned animals

when it was said
cannonball
I heard cannibal
and wondered where
was my helmet

my dad as a boy was bullied
by evocation, as a man
by the flawlessly 
deaf

puppet to puppet, I only have two hands

the future
is all 
you see
 
hills and stars

for her date with the giant, mom is putting on her face. our time, invisible chameleon, is over.

brain of a white mouse.
 
whole children

whose nights come to them in food

wrote lullabies
for cocoon
and stuttered
 
firsthand

are they gone

the cats of the doll-faced arsonist

how does one
earn
loneliness, or slip

from an overlong

baptism
 
roof love

alien
to me

were the ashtrays

failed boats
of teeth

for my angry
quiet
brother
 
vacuum 

lose them all, dogface

teeth were pills
god couldn’t 
swallow
 
physique

pain a shadow’s bed-hopping rain puddle

idea 
a boy
in a homesick
elevator 	
 
conception 

lost
like you
my memory
twice
 
otherhood (i)

loneliness the born artifact of my father’s rented dream.  god the hobby of replaced machines.  forgiveness the eldest stowaway and mistress of the seasick hologram.  the monster you became to attain formlessness.  mom a rabbit.  her dying frog.  hunger erased by what it loves.
 
otherhood (ii)

it is not real, of course

the trailer park
on fire, the accepted

field-

wheelchairs
crossing
without us
 
god and time are the same age

a child, an oven 

how both
distract
touch
 
we got our hands on some fingerprints and did not feel poor

the invisible man’s ghost, them polaroids 

of sister’s
feet…

dream differently, microphone
 
ballerina

dog whistle, nothing’s church-bell:

my mother, handcuffed

still worships
wasp
 
mothers, acoustic

we are maybe
inside 
an Ohio 
factory

childless and ready

for a refresher
on orphan
etiquette-

word is
there came 
a cow 
from the nothingness
that drank
nowhere’s
father

and sleep
is death’s 
babysitter
 
last blue thing 

choking
inside
a whale

/ sucker
from the world
of hands
 
no system

food on my plate, I am always one suicidal hairdresser away from my past…

lead your lives, touch
 
darker farms

food
saved
from a house
fire

-

the cult following of nostalgic paranoids

-

a star, this deer

as it prays
for moth
 
morale 

image
made
no beast.

think of it-

death
was human
 
would you say, mouth

that god
made a deal
with nothing
 
fealties

mowing the lawn
dad swallows
a bug.

sister is folding her eyelids back
and brother

his diaper
stays on.  

mom on a small map
is making
noise.

the animals are what god sees 
in animals.  soon 

a birthmark
on a tooth.
 
snakes are made of nothing 

I don’t know why it is that this thing in my father merely comes loose when in me it disappears, but am grateful that my mother can hear him getting ready for church no matter the rattling of my hunger at the weepy shapelessness of spoons.
 
campestralia 

i.

hailstorm a midwestern cairn for cracked eggs 

hiccup
the small
afterlife

ii.

figures, maternal
step naked from a.m. houses
scream
to be
collected, we’ve all seen

the rooster
reenter
the clock

iii.

birth, go to heaven-

god
is time’s 
way
of showing 
history
that death
has no
experience

iv.

and the pestersome
bat
asleep

is the cross
of Ohio
crows
the blank 

does nothing
in hell
but draw
 
transformative melancholies 

frog 
in the throat 
of a lowing 
cow

dad, smoking

two nearby deer
nosing that headlight
into place

poem is dead
 
father with his stomach missing

a fishhook left in a dream

a peeping
tom’s
basilisk
 
holy ghost

I have a camera 
sets a trap
for silence

an animal
you can borrow

a full-grown scarecrow

death’s first parrot

I have children, a suicidal thought
that can love 
up to three

a pilot’s 
paper seashell
 
parade for sorrow

I miss
blinking
 
access verses

a classroom, a house

but never
the ghost
of a church

-

the boys 
they play
scarecrow
loves
horse, and the girls

the shepherdess
on a boat
names her dog

-

hey, distance

lose 
the baby

(says 
 the empty
 box)
 
pairing

my body at three years old
is being carried
to a mailbox
by my mother
who blizzard
or no
puts her ghost
on the map
 
holding the baby

a deleted voicemail of a boy asking his mom how to prepare a past meal.  my handwriting an insect I want the best for.  dream and the moth it won’t finish.
 
the mud on god’s cheek

at birth we are given a ladder we can’t see.  

our feet 

bare
 
farness

the last robot to name its baby.

two smokers
back-to-back
in the high
corn.

the spoonfeeder’s ferris wheel. 

litterbug’s 
shadow.
 
vespers

them raccoons out there is tarrying*

up

yr bible

-

*tearin

-

border:  my eyes can’t stop what the back of my head is eating

mirror: a godless hyphenate

-

my man is a body whose moon is vacant

-

they is out there to flood 

sightseers 

with basilisk

porn

-

in the valley of my choking
the fingers of my father
are going
dog’s-collar 
purple

-

out-the-way churches.  and acne
 
viands

no person was made in the harming of this creature.

hands off, angel, 
the baby’s
glove.  
 
lording

she puts down the book once it begins to read like it remembers being written. it’s my book. do you know this man? his sight returned while he ate. boys play freeze tag to sadden birds.
 
dying at home

bring little, for I am a small room.  

my clothes are yours and have always been lonely.  

from nowhere
came beauty
to avoid 
god.

bruise, ye
from nightgown 
to blanket.

be kind, history 

to those
in my dream.
 
committal

leafing through the milkman’s picture-book of outhouse graveyards

happy to taste the gum on the buried shoe  

reverie a learned behavior

god a tornado warning and hearing
a ghost town, this

a cigarette from the purse 
of a past

/ mother
 
shift

asleep
I am headless
in a clawfoot
tub
the half-awake
boy
on my chest
the disoriented
pulse
in the hand
of god
 
tin

give childhood
some time

let vengeance

travel

/ say it wrong

my name

while whale

watching
 
rattle

forget, sorrow
your anniversary

in case
you’re not
alone
 
two koans 

deader
than his animals
that could speak
to language?
 
doll traffic

it is not a darkness to call it the demon’s untouchable telephone

I’ve referred
to worse
and anyway
time is the gospel 
of disappearance

in stories, my brother has a tail
and speaks
mailman

perhaps there’s not enough to do

the tree has horns
 
peal

the sculptor’s son dreams of acne

a sister so light
so moved
by shadows…

mom a statue
good
with faces
 
later fights

our lost 
way 
of thinking

forgave
different
films
 
tell 

/ my death I was here to gather proof

/ my children
to paraphrase
 
questions for shadow

god
as spotlight

unmanned 
or not
 
anklebiters 

what in the history of blood
has blood
discovered

mom is hanging laundry from the future

regret is still looking 
for a god

I learn cocoon
and boyishly 
cross my legs 

the lightning
when you saw it
was it clean
 
form

a creatureless forest
in the minds 
of men
with shovels; a field.

/ birth outgrew its crooked coat
 
cognate

to build something inside the church
they had to close
the church

those who wouldn’t normally disappear
were said to be helping

shape began its story
with veal
and ended
with the man
dad choked
for nine
months

I imagined 
foreign
injurious
objects
and my brothers

spoke
from a sandbox 
of seeing

a late
deer

on the roof
of a nursing home
 
dreamlike weaponry 

it’s no small animal that the world came back for us
 
so, bullet 

only god himself can enter the church of the easily missed

so make 
of boy
a stray 
being
 
poem 

to present oneself so falsely-

be happy
for the work
 
apple

in defense of snake, this is my mom’s curling iron

/ ghost
a vacancy 
I cannot 
dismiss
 
no kids in Eden 

door to door we are selling knock-knock jokes

I am the body
travel
came with
 
war footing

a parrot
sawed in half
by peace
or quiet
 
notice 

hooked on silence, oh sleep

/ long before its descent into me
 
windowless the museum of weight loss

brother puts the basketball under his shirt so he can light my cigarette.

we born 
to miss
animals.  
 
infancy

who is my brother?

a boy 
fishing 
from a ruined 
helicopter

-

where is my sister?

being seen 
by a ghost

-

am I alone?

dumbfounded 
by rest

-

has anyone called my mother?

these tracks belong to the animal 

drinks 
from your father’s 
bowl

-

is there a name?

for some 
words

-

tell me there’s a church.  small
to a turtle

boy lord 

boomerang,

the toy of the lonely and the gospel 

of the weak 
dog...

perfection
is bad
art
 
repairs

the past
misses
your child
also
 
god is silent in every language

mom is driving. mom is washing the spider that closed her mouth. sister has a stick of gum but says she doesn’t. dad is half-asleep and cutting the fingernails of the babies he dropped. there’s a scab on my arm that looks like my brother’s nose. we pass church after church. sound horn for buried bees.
 
tongue
 
a prop
fingerprint
from the object’s
dream
of being
touched
or a pig
that gets
fire 
to keep 
a diary
 
acolytic

it does what it can
the world
to belong.

I saw a wheelchair
chase
an ambulance.

babies don’t know
they can’t be
alone.

we peopled this.
 
beauty

you look like someone
who’s not
famous

god

before he died
 
under god

we are photos 
of a dreamless 
fact
 
films for headcase

i.

amnesia 
the perfume 
of a dead 
ghost

ii.

sleepwalkers 
for a more 
christ-like

hand signal

iii.

blue hound at a pilot’s grave
 
a spider, worried

this cloud from a father’s mouth
before it is ruined
by some kid
who’s learned
recently

her shapes
and not

to smoke
 
levitations 

mom is trying to iron a spacesuit

car horns 
they foil 
hypnosis
 
in the past I am describing god to my attacker

I don’t take good care of things.  

I can’t even give you 
examples.  
 
reflect, time, on what you’ve done

the insomniac
the conductor
of the sleepwalker’s
train

the centipede
a sort of
wrecked
spider

bunny-eared 
watersnakes…

god 
took all
my mom’s
ideas
 
reading and writing 

which one of us did loneliness hear coming?
 
dead child

the future 
the past
both are ready

to talk
 
mom is using after the dream a home pregnancy test as a microphone

I am counting 
the realest
sheep-

my brother’s toothbrush
good as new 

in my broken 
hand
 
her father, his pipe

all 

them broken
babies
of tornado

drills…

eat, she says
to a fog
machine
 
the more I sleep, the more there is of the future

I can dream my son’s weight in birdseed

bird
the swimmer’s
bread
 
wreath

i.

upstairs
the last
to go

ii.





iii.

door 
is so
forgetful
 
each ear is an only child

shaped 
by a scarecrow 
barber 
known 
to cut straws 
for quiet 
angels
 
satan 

awake and watching his bird feeder
 
a memory

I roll from my mother
my father
sketching
the ghost
of a stone
 
nostalgia while we wait

no god. no wind.

sick son’s kite. 

the pea

asleep…
 
reader

of everything
his writing
destroyed
 
the book of boy

/ be buzzard a shadow stuck in a trash bag

/ be knees full of milk
 
sympathizer

the many plain
sons
of god
their parking

tickets
 
declination

in forgetting how many to save, god wants to know

are you still
seeing

things…

I remember the animal, the appropriate

mask…

once held, is the baby 
less 
wild

is the room
in the room
 
poem

remember to rub them, the hands of the slow learner.  

and to say their prayer

the one for the bald princess 

& her child’s
perfect
somersault
 
gutless data

it is always a neighbor of ours tries to schedule amnesia and gets put down for suicide. it is always me on a farm machine hasn’t moved in years writing a poem for mom. it is never a mediocre ventriloquist marries a better.
 
theaters of removal

I have for appetite a pair of scissors and for despair a silent vase. I have a louse like a flower and a crush on a doll. I take my meals with a three-shouldered angel. the head of my abstract dog is highchair real. food is a ghost. I rake the hair.
 
straying

mom takes photos of things we are near. 

a piece of gum that won’t bleed. 
a plastic bag from the head of a carousel horse. 
the circle’s dark past.
 
unrisen

this oven
this chapel
of the television’s
right
to privacy…

which paw
for mom’s
mosquito
bread
 
the outright sadness of his vanished physique

far be it from me
to stir
the madness 
of fish.

age allows that we are younger for god.

sleep 
is a shadow’s 
bookmark.
 
absences

imagined 
while losing 
loss
a dolphin 
the shyest 
mourner

witch
in a swimsuit
 
after’s daughters

the disappeared inventor of the present

her reflection 
in surprised 
water
 
hell on moon

the building we enter to worship the church.  

stones of boated nights.

a somehow 
seasick 
deer. 
 
the swimmer a storm-cloud from the land of grief

not a fish
here
can go
missing
 
imp

the man digging in his yard is looking for his dog.  this is my lucky window.  in this much silence, a baby could get a tooth.  a mom a finger if a car door slams.  the man digs and the ice comes for its heartbroken road.  wounds move in a deerless world.
 
born

disguised
as

as if
I would know
 
upside

/ this talk of home

/ bush of the hissing baby

/ snow

that can see
blood
in the dark

/ events 

my body
held

/ first haircut, 

broom, crucifixion
 
animal masks on the floor of the ocean

mouse, teacup of the missing stork-

owl, lamb of night-

this was god. he was sad and everyone noticed.

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