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January 12, 2022 / barton smock

iii. (response poems for Benjamin Niespodziany

dear Ohio the ocean is worried about a trapdoor

also about the ocean I want you to think about the number of limbs remembered by a bitemark 

and then our little satan using the same bowl for his food 
that he does 
for his water
January 11, 2022 / barton smock


God can't read grief's handwriting. This is where most of us come in. We tell the kids they're dying because one of them is. I hope it helps. Find a hole in three of your father's shadows. Lose the rabbit.
January 10, 2022 / barton smock


god and time mark differently the length of death's dream

my kids take action to alone themselves

my youngest son my sickest son falls asleep on his mother, then on me, then again on his mother and we call this sequence nighttime

I am smaller than before
before meaning
I need
not much

I will always need to carry him to someone who can carry him
January 7, 2022 / barton smock

ii. (response poems for Benjamin Niespodziany

Everything being done
is done
of a horse

Your mother's hearing loss keeps my voice from changing

Lightning dreams itself into a cat thrown from a moving car

A lit match 
enters a flashlight
January 6, 2022 / barton smock

films, said, 2021, and not enough said of course


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.


Danny Madden’s Beast Beast is a film of spaces both dedicated and random, and of a time not sure if it’s escaping or being told to leave. Its DIY beginnings resist plot but then succumb, and if its more local parts seem an ill fit for the smallness of its universal body, it does well in the wounds of opera as it interrogates exhibition with display and asks performance whether the lines have been said wrong or were they just given to the wrong person. While Will Madden gives his character just enough nothing to own, Shirley Chen and Jose Angeles come separately from another movie that becomes this movie and they take root in that brief claim.  


Psychologically patient, Kourosh Ahari’s The Night is a knockout of a horror film that follows a couple and their child long enough that something behind us begins to live with the guilt of being temporary. With the dual portals of imagery and language, the performances by Shahab Hosseini and Niousha Jafarian go from ghost to ghost, barrier to obstacle, knowing that a shallow grave is deeper than a jump scare and that one eye is never surprised there’s a second. 


Come True as directed by Anthony Scott Burns is a film of impulsive longevity that crops trauma and isolation with the yield of sleep. I’m not sure how many left fields one can come out of, but was glad for how Julia Sarah Stone centered her performance and guided her character as touch to the overly handled. If you need to leave something behind, I’d suggest watching this film once today and then once tomorrow if you can get there.


Though Rose Plays Julie is a film glowing with suddenness, it is lit by the slowness of a vengeance that does not allow the mirror to mistake itself for a puzzle. Ann Skelly scarily pieces apart her role while Orla Brady renames togetherness for the bitten tongue. As the film reveals itself as a vessel for how we’re carried, writers/directors Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor leave saving for the rescued and instead uncover how much more there is to the lighthouse than its empty ship.


No matter how in-your-face hurt can be, intimacy doesn’t always get its close-up, and it’s in this unmothered proximity that David Gutnik’s Materna finds the distance to operate. Whether it’s the muscle amnesia of Kate Lyn Sheil’s performace, the gutted mimicry of Jade Eshete’s, the clocked-out but fleshed-in nowness of Lindsay Burdge’s, or the recreated absence that Assol Abdullina motions to from afar, all make of pain a figure fussing over a puzzle abandoned by image.   


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.  

January 6, 2022 / barton smock

movies 2021

Saw 186 new movies last year, down from 193 last year. Avg rating was 65.59%, down from 66.12% last year. 

Top ten movies I saw were: 
Pig, The Novice, Mass, Sound of Metal, Wild Indian, Power of the Dog, The Killing of Two Lovers, Our Friend, Raw, and The Green Knight.

List from highest to lowest rating, below:

Pig	99.33%
Novice, The	99.33%
Mass	99.33%
Sound of Metal	98.00%
Wild Indian	97.33%
Power of the Dog	96.00%
Killing of Two Lovers, The	94.00%
Our Friend	92.00%
Raw	92.00%
Green Knight, The	90.67%
Saint Maud	88.67%
Titane	87.33%
Promising Young Woman	86.67%
Little Fish	86.67%
Mid90s	86.67%
Rose Plays Julie	86.67%
Riders of Justice	86.67%
Minari	86.67%
Herself	86.00%
Nomadland	86.00%
Giants Being Lonely	86.00%
Humans, The	86.00%
Judas and the Black Messiah	85.33%
Thelma	85.33%
Night, The	84.67%
No Sudden Move	84.67%
Shiva Baby	82.67%
John and the Hole	82.67%
White Lie	82.00%
Violation	82.00%
Holler	82.00%
Ammonite	82.00%
Come True	81.33%
Beast Beast	81.33%
Cure	81.33%
Together Together	81.33%
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To	81.33%
Card Counter, The	81.33%
Reunion	80.67%
Siberia (2021)	80.67%
Caveat	80.00%
Tenet	80.00%
Beta Test, The	80.00%
Flag Day	79.33%
Test Pattern	78.67%
Zola	78.67%
Candyman (2021)	78.00%
Knocking	77.33%
Lamb	77.33%
Stop And Go	77.33%
My Salinger Year	76.67%
Materna	76.67%
Invisible Guest, The	76.67%
Night House, The	76.67%
Zeroes and Ones	76.67%
Climb, The	76.00%
Cherry	76.00%
First Date	76.00%
Censor	76.00%
Feast, The	76.00%
Beguiled, The	75.33%
Stowaway	75.33%
Oxygen (2021)	75.33%
Courier, The	75.33%
Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, The	75.33%
Veronica	75.33%
Antlers	75.33%
Dawn Wall, The	74.67%
Suicide Squad (2021)	74.67%
Guilty, The (2021)	74.67%
Let Him Go	74.00%
Dry, The	74.00%
Mystery Road	74.00%
We Have Always Lived In The Castle	74.00%
Wander Darkly	73.33%
Bad Trip	73.33%
In The Earth	73.33%
A Quiet Place Part 2	73.33%
Swarm, The	73.33%
Empty Man, The	72.67%
Golden Arm	72.67%
Yes, God, Yes	72.00%
I Care A lot	72.00%
Werewolves Within	72.00%
Boy Behind The Door, The	72.00%
Black Box	72.00%
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar	72.00%
Triangle	72.00%
Castle In The Ground 	72.00%
Voyeurs, The	71.33%
Old	71.33%
Old Henry	71.33%
Every Time I Die	70.67%
Fear Street: 1666	70.67%
Val	70.67%
Encounter	70.67%
Kid Detective, The	70.00%
Penguin Bloom	68.67%
Shadow In The Cloud	68.67%
Martyrs Lane	68.67%
Godzilla VS Kong	68.00%
Power, The	68.00%
Wrath of Man	68.00%
Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage	68.00%
Don't Breathe 2	68.00%
Don't Tell A Soul	67.33%
Land	67.33%
Why Did You Kill Me?	67.33%
Locked Down	66.67%
Fear Street: 1978	66.67%
Into The Abyss (2021)	66.67%
Fear Street: 1994	66.00%
Columnist, The	66.00%
How It Ends	66.00%
Son	65.33%
WeWork	65.33%
Waiting For Lightning	64.00%
Greenland	63.33%
Endless, The	62.67%
Plagues of Breslau, The	62.67%
In and Of Itself	62.67%
Woman In The Window, The	62.67%
Texas Killing Fields	62.67%
Djinn, The	62.67%
Tag-Along, The	62.67%
Malignant	62.67%
Fractured	62.67%
Banishing, The	62.00%
Synchronic	61.33%
A Perfect Enemy	61.33%
Freaky	61.33%
Unfriended: The Dark Web	61.33%
Prisoners of the Ghostland	61.33%
We Need To Do Something	60.67%
My Son (2021)	60.67%
50/50	60.67%
Till Death	59.33%
Those Who Wish Me Dead	58.67%
Photograph, The	58.00%
Sound of Violence	57.33%
Coming Home In The Dark	57.33%
A Man Named Scott	57.33%
There's Someone Inside Your House	57.33%
Good Neighbor, The	56.67%
Julia's Eyes	56.00%
Nobody	55.33%
Little Things, The	53.33%
Honeydew	53.33%
Pixie	53.33%
An Unquiet Grave	52.67%
Gaia	52.67%
Single All The Way	52.67%
Jagged	52.67%
Pink: All I Know So Far	52.67%
Queenpins	52.67%
Lucky (2021)	51.33%
Halloween Kills	50.67%
Wrong Turn (2021)	49.33%
Murder By Numbers	47.33%
White Orchid, The	47.33%
Velocipastor, The	47.33%
Sausage Party	46.67%
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The: 	45.33%
Fracture	42.67%
Friday the 13th (orig)	42.67%
Head Count	42.00%
kid90	36.00%
Maps To The Stars	34.67%
What Lies Below	32.67%
Solace	32.67%
Flatliners (2017)	31.33%
I Could Never Be Your Woman	26.67%
Superhost	26.67%
Scary Movie 4	26.67%
Infinite	26.00%
Vampires Suck	22.67%
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin	22.00%
Stuff, The	22.00%
Willow Creek	20.00%
He's All That	19.33%
A Castle For Christmas	4.67%
Deadly Illusions	2.00%
Kissing Booth, The	0.00%
Kissing Booth 3, The	0.00%
Girlfriends of Christmas Past	0.00%
Hating Game, The	0.00%
January 5, 2022 / barton smock

i. (response poems for Benjamin Niespodziany

My sibling's white noise machine reminds angels that they've no young. 

There are three light switches per rooster. They are

The overlooked church of the eel

Frog's empty life

God sees an image 
that's been moved 
by me
January 5, 2022 / barton smock

said nothing anew

still true what I said in this interview about 'rocks have the softest shadows', etc:

Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?

I grew up in smalltown Ohio. I’m not sure what that means, but that’s usually what I say. If there is something in my bones, I’d say it’s some sort of cold that sends a toddler outside in a diaper to stand on a cement block to see the ocean.

I haven’t been to too many places physically. Influence, to me, has always seemed sort of doomed. I do have four children, and they come with their own territories. My youngest son has a progressive disorder of the muscle and the brain, which often makes of place an empty dot that we go skin-to-skin to fill. It’s that filling that uproots.

What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

As I am parented by the recent, I’d have to say a longer exploration titled ‘diets of the resurrected’ which is included in my most current self-published collection rocks have the softest shadows. It was a year in the making or unmaking, and is an entry-guided piece that started with the idea of a suicidal baby and came with so many rules that I abandoned them immediately in favor of repeating my obsessions. I think I failed the monster but not the creature.

the above is from this

for purchase: 

rocks have the softest shadows, 237 pages
poems, Dec 2020


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

Please put in the notes/comments of your order which book you want, or if you are wanting both. Please also include a physical mailing address.

more info on others here

December 29, 2021 / barton smock


I wonder does death worry about my son like does death ever grip the doorknob that hurt a sound
December 28, 2021 / barton smock

part & poem

Death pulls at its unreal hair. Hand is a color. 

Touch has a postcard for the painter who sees your breath.