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December 19, 2022 / barton smock

( aparture, 22x


Yesterday, distance destroyed its early work. 
Fog machines fell asleep. 
I let my son bite me and believed 
for three hours
that it was today.
You told me underwater
about the fog machines.

God looked like death. Death saw.


I can be in the wrong room for days and not see my sons. I heard recently that the child of god and death wasn't here soon enough to live forever. Fuck. Write in pencil, like a ghost. 


Two misidentified boys in a field of handstands are having a funeral for a bicycle. Their fathers aren’t dead but bring the same car horn to every town. How about that field. I am not crushed when sleep forgets how to hold me. 


Birth and time travel weigh the same. I can tell my brothers when, but not what, our home stopped eating. In hell we are sad three times: sleep, sheep, spider's knee. I want to be touched. Put absence in a bird that can swim.


Brother yanks my ear each time god's fingernail has a dream. We are using a handprint as an ashtray. I keep my baby teeth. They're older than snow.


I am late to knowing that if I write about sleep and teeth, I am in fact writing about sleep and teeth. Yesterday I described a knife going in and out of consciousness. Tomorrow an animal finds its own body beneath stars still growing the bones of god. When I tell my brothers, tell them there is nothing in the whale to read by.


We were dogless. Animals gave us names but would call us nothing in front of god. A fire started a fire. I said it was me and I was believed. I was given the shyest room by those who wanted me to eat. I ate the room. Sex took it the hardest. A local church displayed the parts of the room it could remember. We heard the sizes were all wrong, and they were. The microscope was close, but was missing the band-aid we’d scarred across the eyepiece. I wanted it to snow but so did the invisible and their sad collection of ghosts. We’re never home when strangers kill the dog.


Daughters with a couple words unlearned go into the blue to wonder if a father’s mouth pain means he hasn’t been lossing. The arm in my arm needs an arm to miss. There will be no paintings of this dog, she says. I am not always the hole my body needs. Here is one way to get nothing on the newbone 



Two birds with one deer.

Touch is touch
teaching touch
the backstroke.

The nude
think snow
can die.


Time gives itself a childhood.

Alien, animal, beast, breast.
God loves 
a beginning.

Painkilllers don’t age.


God is at every funeral
as god
the ghost

death couldn’t


Ghost and angel keeping between them their inside joke about bare feet. Glass brainstorming itself into a mirror. The tooth fairy losing a paper cut to god’s last baby. The job, home from nothing.


I read to god in my sleep. One sadness is longer than another. Touch talks the past into choosing the place. A mouse works to erase a boat. Not from the water. 


Our television has been switched on in front of a shared lover. Last year, our sons were fingerprinted by members of the same dissolved swim club. We’re not friends. I do know that your dog lived one summer in the back of my brother’s broken ambulance. Two summers, maybe? Lost its voice afterward. They say a knob fell off a door and became Ohio. It’s not a joke I tell my son. He hears it anyway. Ohio is a sound. The bomb squad here showed me pictures of sleeping positions, then left. Say a word.   


Time will never know how long it took for god to ruin the image. 

Ask me about distance.
I was asleep and my kids were alive.

In every city, his gun says the same thing. 
In Ohio 

they found bits of rock candy in the infant’s stomach.

go through eyelids
like water. 


We buy mirrors instead of art.

The wasps 
scrape and gather

then drag themselves to a higher emptiness 

when I hold
the baby.

Men lose first
a button
second a broom
then love
a dog.

Everyone outside is sick.

A paper cut 
sets fire 
to a ghost.


In the shower, I hold a plastic sword. The ways I am here are few. A neighbor kid says that god hates twins and it’s going to stick. We are years away from our daughter. After church a woman hops softly out of her shoes and walks into the high corn. To her, her shoes are missing. Silence has an extra stomach. The bird can scream if you hear it.


Pain is the movie our pain can’t make. We put water

in a cup
where it passes
out. I wanted to be 

when young
a stickman.

Walk on your brother. He swallowed a nail.


Sound is echo’s silent alarm. I close my mouth underwater and yours opens in Ohio. 


a deer. I want my children to be alive all the time.


For three years, the baby doesn’t cry. We hold two funerals for the same dog and throw a birthday party for a nosebleed. We each lose a car on the ice. We buy fish food for friends who don't have fish and it makes them miss each other. We eat in front of the baby. I don’t think we can stop. Our friends ask the year. God hears nothing but us.

for Damien Jurado

The year-long field

The eye’s 
blank acre

A stretcher

most random 

The baby that crawls into its own stomach 
beneath an icicle

A sleep that aches
from dissolving


aparture, last

The forgetful shadow of Ohio roadkill

The footprint’s lost scene from the snowed-in movie of your mother’s life

The crushed swimmer at the red typewriter

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