Skip to content
March 5, 2023 / barton smock

( words toward Alice Diop’s ‘Saint Omer’, words toward ‘The Whale’

Alice Diop's radiantly grey Saint Omer is some unwatched, new, unknowable spectacle. A stationary doom that travels back in time to change place. A doom that takes time with it. The film is full of transcript, detail, explanation. But its magic is not uttered, and says all the quiet parts in a found language. Its rooms, its bodies, its faces, make of image a plagiarist. Its distance gets inside. You'll stand, and feel returned.

No heart of gold, here, in Darren Aronofsky's The Whale. Just difficult people feeling small. Fraser plays Charlie as goofy and scared and watches as they become the same thing. His performance finds not only common ground but also an earth to step quietly upon. Hong Chau, as Liz, gives an outing both open and inner, and for all the air sucked out of nonexistent rooms, her performance makes place hard to leave. Morton and Sink hit different keys and I was glad that both seemed beyond grace notes. I saw no lingering, nor excessive helplessness, nor loving of what helplessness there was. I did see these characters eyeing the exit immediately and then some deciding to stay, and others deciding to stay until their staying was exposed as a decoy for lost absence. I saw people pausing in doorways, brightly going, brightly gone. Not everything in the film is a perfect fit, and the ending both works and doesn't work, and is probably not what really happened. But it wears well the wearing down.

March 4, 2023 / barton smock

small poems against dying

They gave me the room with the crying window. 

I called my dream

and the maker
they couldn't find.

Some imagery pre-cornfield:

An ambulance coasting behind a slow horse.

Bloodshot lightning.
March 3, 2023 / barton smock

small poems against dying

I was writing this poem when you came in. I didn't look up in time. There are people you will never know. And most of them are alive.
March 1, 2023 / barton smock

small poems against dying

Sleep is the spacecraft we built for Death. Save the animals that see double. 
February 27, 2023 / barton smock

small poems against dying

I can't talk about my body in front of others. 
I don't believe in god 

not even 
when I don't.
February 26, 2023 / barton smock

small poems against dying

My shapes. My colors. My my.
My shapes. My colors. My my.

I don't feel like a person.

My colors.
My my.
February 23, 2023 / barton smock

against poems

I miss not thinking of my body. I miss young pain. Pain that didn't ache, didn't overstay, that welcomed god but did not invite. All this haunted eating. Age 47, and the writing should have gotten better. Far appetite, melancholy is a lonely loving.
February 17, 2023 / barton smock

small poems against dying

Pain, born born, is a color that has no color. 

Thunder shakes three blue doors.

I call everything a field.

Angel learns from ghost how to put a cigarette 
on a mouse

without hurting
the mouse.

To be abandoned
February 17, 2023 / barton smock

{ words toward film, Seth A. Smith’s ‘Tin Can’

With harshly deadpan imagery, Seth A. Smith's Tin Can is a distantly fed close-up of tiny starvations. Anna Hopkins gives her character both strength and weakness and is able to differentiate which moments are realization and which are revelation. If all stories are doomed, revenge seems to meet a different maker than love. Class, age, access, protection...I don't know. Kick against that loneliness, tip it over, and still humans are what separate us from being human.

February 16, 2023 / barton smock

No Farther Than the End of the Street – poems – Benjamin Niespodziany

No Farther Than the End of the Street
neighborhood poems by Benjamin Niespodziany
Okay Donkey Press, 2022


How just recently undiscovered the poems feel in Benjamin Niespodziany's No Farther Than the End of the Street, and how secretly they demand distraction. I've been ill of late, and in this lateness have come to believe that revelation does not come, after all, to those who wait. So I waited, and held, then read, this inescapably freed book. I am weak and want to say things simply. I strain to recall whole silences. I write that love is made of two people telling each other that they have a room at the hotel when neither of them do. Niespodziany takes the nameless and the familiar at face value and lets one mask disguise another. I am weak, I strain, there is joy here. In this verse, a neighborly, twinning joy...and a sadness brought to earth both by the alien mediocrity of grief and by those few doubled things that go through absurd shortages to single out loneliness.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is HERE