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July 15, 2021 / barton smock

some things that don’t work but do (older or remixed or never)


An Ohio barber spends her whole day looking at icicles. The children bathe together in what they call a thunderstory. I've seen in jigsaws of the crucifixion the ideas our veins give to lightning. Is there a creature too naked to lose track of time? 

We keep the baby despite its perfection.



I don’t have anything poetic to say about names beyond that we killed the animals in the wrong order. I remember a rabbit disguised as milk as clearly as my dog does a dream of a whale moaning a verse from its lonely size into a bullet hole meant for something smaller. I’m not sure that wordplay tricks trauma out of its inheritance, though suppose it’s possible that incompletely by accident the fleeing angels of our absence return harm over and over without a scratch to a satellite touching itself in a photograph developed by god’s avoidance. In a town for homesick people who use sex as a lamp, there’s a first time for everything except recognition.  



Tracing his toes, my son breaks a bone in his finger.

It’s scary because things mean more in a simulation.

Somewhere in his body his body wonders
if it’s unguessed by god or by ghost.

Bath. Both.

Sabotage time not yet
July 14, 2021 / barton smock

OUTGOING VESSEL ~ Ursula Andkjær Olsen, translated by Katrine Øgaard Jensen

by Ursula Andkjær Olsen
translated by Katrine Øgaard Jensen
Action Books, 2021


Proof, hosanna, proof. Oh, my discarded bits of avoidance. Is ghost still held as a breath in a being that cannot materialize until it's misplaced by our up and coming carrier? I think it's all there, all here, in the anti-instructional humbleharm and worldless afterlife of Ursula Andkjær Olsen's Outgoing Vessel. So bare and terrifying, so saturated and self-afflicted. I can't say what the verse here is cleaning, nor what the competing repetitions are being fed by, but it moves me to condone guilt and permit that I'm the youngest thing about myself. These are poetics that reject the reimagining of the under-imagined and instead chant themselves through songdoors might they create origins to be upheld by the pregnant deceivers of elevation. I might not have it right. What if renewal came first? Is there a machine built by grief that manufactures alienation? Crossed-over and crossed-out, this is scarily disappeared and necessary stuff.         


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here and here
July 13, 2021 / barton smock


city 100

In the uncounted lamb of my boy's grey voice, stillness is the hair of silence. For every third wrist, an ant's shadow sings to a worried bomb. I am always right. God changes the size of the things we try to save.

July 11, 2021 / barton smock


city 97

Two birds lost by the same mother
enter my childhood


city 98

I only share with you  
when we're not


city 99

Time always surprises the dead

July 10, 2021 / barton smock


city 96

I still don't know whose memory resurrection erases

Or if death 
misses god 
all the time
July 9, 2021 / barton smock

(recently, toward films

Not so much fragmented as multiplied, Grear Patterson's film Giants Being Lonely is an anti-dream of an answer to the delicate interrogations that plague youth with finality. If you touch a baseball, you share a hand. If you speak, it's to more visibly miss being yelled at. The two central performances by Ben Irving and Jack Irving are softly anxious and run into each other tenderly enough that their injuries trade places without, or perhaps before, being hurt. There are no hard tells here. Dinner scenes are an empty win, a baseball field is an orphanage of light, and first dates are halved by the same appetite. While there is something magically small about its final shot, this film isn't really about sticking the landing, but about taking root.     


Robert Machoian's The Killing of Two Lovers captures the vastness of being lived in and knows to leave unnamed that thing that crawls toward the skin with its history of being chosen last and sent first. Clayne Crawford is upfront about his character's distance, and has something so informed physically coursing through his and another's person that even pain would need a moment to look away. Sepideh Moafi and Chris Coy, with Crawford, also bring their bodies into moments that need possessed, and make an already alien gut check of a film into something distilled and movingly abducted.
July 8, 2021 / barton smock

plural, also


I currently have three signed copies each on my person of the self-published titles listed below.

animal masks on the floor of the ocean
June 2019, 124 pages
signed copy 15.00

an old idea one had of stars
Feb 2020, 58 pages
signed copy 12.00

rocks have the softest shadows
Dec 2020, 237 pages
signed copy 20.00

can be purchased via paypal (
or Venmo @Barton-Smock-1
or CashApp $BartonSmock

email with inquiries or to request PDF



Kazim Ali, from the Kenyon Review, Poetry Today

The newest in poetry might not be in literary magazines or MFA programs, though some of it is, to be sure. But those institutions, like publishing, book-selling, prize-giving, and the all-consuming work of publicity and promotion, often reward things other than literary merit. Some good writing is published by the biggest presses—but not much. The most interesting work is happening “off the radar” so to speak. One of the best “books” of poetry I have ever read was ten pieces of typing paper, printed one sided, side-stapled and distributed on the consignment shelves of used bookstores in Portland, Oregon in an edition of 80 copies by a poet named Timmy Straw. Another is a compendium of poems published on the Lulu platform by a poet named Barton Smock who lives outside Columbus, Ohio. I met Timmy by accident at a dinner party at Matthew Dickman’s house; Bart Smock I sought out myself but didn’t meet him in person until six or seven years after I’d stumbled across his self-published book at Rafiq Washington’s great Cleveland-based joint Guide to Kulchur. (January 12 2021)




Saturday I wait to care for my still sleeping brother as a tennis ball sighs its dog back and forth on a television screen. Who can sleep, with all this care? Patience is a midwestern agony. It doesn’t last, but death can’t watch.

July 7, 2021 / barton smock


city 93

Yesterday only exists if everyone believes it at the same time


city 94

Not until you finish eating what's outlived you


city 95

This is as far as I go:

My lookalike owns nothing

July 6, 2021 / barton smock


city 92

Though up and down a son's arm
I move with my fingertip 
that phantom dime

Touch is not
set free

July 3, 2021 / barton smock

BONE HOUSE ~ stories ~ K-Ming Chang

stories, K-Ming Chang
Bull City Press, 2021


K-Ming Chang's Bone House is a thing set down and a thing lifted, a thing out of place yet also the thing that is already an only belonging, that pulls a room from another room. If one feels named after the name they were given, this is why. Chang's language seems both imbued and evacuated, ghosted and gathered. The story itself, the stories themselves: is and are. I don't know. As for the story in these, our imperceptible ask: it is worded the way we've wished it told. The survived unshareable, the return that gives longing an end date, the romance that pearls possession from a cloned twin. And still this all becomes the first we've heard of it, a retelling of the offhandedly internal.       

reflection by Barton Smock


book is here