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November 25, 2022 / barton smock

aparture xviii

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.
November 25, 2022 / barton smock


The poem about nothing. The poem about nothing lost. It’s been a long

day. You keep my dream 

god a secret. You have a mom. Our sisters

take turns
took turns 

November 23, 2022 / barton smock

( words toward Kyle Edward Ball’s ‘Skinamarink’

All dark corners, crooked cartoons, and unmoved toys, Kyle Edward Ball's Skinamarink had me believing that I was watching something I shouldn't be. Eavesdropper, accomplice, whatever. To some vague but definitive evil. Not so much wavelength as undertow. Not so much point of view as earworm witness. Injury sleeps in the afterlife, it seems, and the stitches have come off. More than likely, the movie is still there, and you've gone by in a blur.
November 23, 2022 / barton smock

in your room of gone

a puppet box
for some 

crucifixion, a dress

the exact
of most
hands, death and sleep

to touch, a blank

November 23, 2022 / barton smock

aparture xvii

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.
November 22, 2022 / barton smock


A hand left alive on the floor of a snow-moaned barn. The quiet ice that keeps the still death of a dark orange dog. A boy so recklessly loved that he loses an eye burying spoon’s double. Not the eye that is rain’s last egg. Not the toy car with the baby inside.
November 21, 2022 / barton smock

aparture xvi

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.
November 20, 2022 / barton smock

( words toward some recent films

By design too far and too soon, the always intensely casual documentary Bad Axe, as stopped and started by director David Siev, is somehow both uplifting and hopeless. It puts the present in yesterday and plants it in tomorrow. As for its loyalty to now and to family, it does catch the unaware collective who will wear a mask to mouth hate unrecognized but won't cover their face to keep others from getting a sickness that sizes the same world. A must see. Bring the right friend.


Beth de Araújo's Soft & Quiet is a doomscroll of hidden proximity that will tattoo insomnia on even the most thoughtfully awake. I'm not sure I can recommend it but know damn well it needs to be seen and looked away from in equal measure, and vice versa. Difficult and driven, it deserves all be present. Its one-take illusion puts its menace in so many real places that one feels followed, directly beside, winked at, and eye-level with peepholes marked for repair. As art and as document, it is too true to be based on anything, and is instead ripped into existence by an air breathed by characters who sleep beneath empty symbols and make nothing of vandalism save what's already been carved onto the surfaces of their untouched and wrongly examined lives. It's dark here, in the light, and we know these people.


Thomas M. Wright's The Stranger is a bewitchingly downbeat true crime thriller both anchored and spirited away by the eidolic performances of Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris, each of which use a resigned urgency to centralize the haunted hinterland of retroactive pursuit. Edgerton eats worry in his sleep, and Harris sees friendship as starvation. Evil here grows older by being younger than time.
November 20, 2022 / barton smock

aparture xv

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. 
November 19, 2022 / barton smock

the myth of miss and mouth

Pronunciation deletes every other day of its past.

Absence ships death the wrong god.

My brother
was buried without his ears
and that night
my sister