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January 31, 2020 / barton smock

from ( diets of the resurrected )

Mother as one who gives birth to avoid confrontation. Years from now, I exist. I want a cigarette, a puppy, and Jesus

on the cross. I wrestle the brother who wrestles as if he’s sobbing inside an elephant. People die on purpose. The world’s smallest inventor tries her thumb at bulletproof bullets. Pray puppets for puppet rain.

January 31, 2020 / barton smock

available work and some might still say

privately self published work:

Animal Masks On the Floor of the Ocean, 124 pages, 10.00
poems, June 2019
can be purchased via paypal (
or Venmo @Barton-Smock-1

MOTHERLINGS, 52 pages, 4.00
poems, June 2019
can be purchased via paypal (
or Venmo @Barton-Smock-1

*be sure to include your mailing address in the comments of the order. any questions can be directed to

PDFs free upon request.


praise for previous work:

The work of Barton Smock, a prolific mid-western poet, modifies the meaning of Christian Wiman’s idea in that it seeks unceasingly for the spaces between those ‘annihilative silence[s]’ that would pursue us, and for the watchful reader opens some door into human experience in a way that is at once intensely personal and detached. Through the manipulation of both common and cerebral language Smock’s poems maintain a dance between the familiar and the unspeakable. They act as a shout to the silences that curl up in experience- offering some view from the inside of that experience, but never in an expected way.

…The themes of family, abuse, poverty, and alienation figure heavily in the book, but to call this confessional poetry seems a bit out of keeping with what is traditionally considered confessional. He speaks of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers while also utilizing the first person, but the reader can never be exactly sure who these characters are. They are changeable, and often engaging in nearly surreal activity that might confuse more than enlighten. The key seems to be finding some language to quantify suffering, or some way of qualifying experience out of context – which at moments brings it ever more sharply into sight…

…Smock has found a way to speak for those who don’t perhaps know that they have something important to say; to share. The marginalized child, the grieving mother, the ailing child or sibling- they will all find a voice here, and though it might not be the way they would voice the affliction that rests within them, they are sure to recognize their faces. Whether this is a burden or a blessing remains a judgment to be formed by the individual reader, but I find the poetry…to be full of the intensity of experience in a way that I can’t help but identify and empathize. Something preserved so as not to be forgotten, and perhaps repeated.

~Emma Hall

Speaking of being captivated, when I was in Cleveland’s most exciting new independent bookstore, Guide to Kulchur, I picked up on a whim a few small volumes that appeared to have been published by the author using Lulu. I was so entranced by the seemingly simple but endlessly complex, prickly lyrics that I wrote to the author, Barton Smock, through his blog, He’s been sending me books now and then and his latest, Eating the Animal Back to Life, is just knocking me out. These poems are desperate, tender, wry, alarmed, god-obsessed, and musically driven. Smock is not published by others, he does it all himself…

All the advanced degrees and publishing credentials in the world can’t get you the unspeakable duende that Smock somehow taps into, poem after poem.

~Kazim Ali, from


January 31, 2020 / barton smock

from ( diets of the resurrected )

Moods for whale watchers:

As god’s gift to the suicidal mother, a stuffed crow goes a long way. Balloons here lose their mannequin air.

January 29, 2020 / barton smock

from ( diets of the resurrected )

How we end up in Ohio is

I saw in hell a star

that in heaven
I did not

January 29, 2020 / barton smock

a final thing, toward and away

Odd, how I was asked to write something toward the power of poetry for The Poetry Question soon after the death of my grandmother, and opened it with this line:

‘After one death, there is another.’

Odd, as well, how the piece went live the day of my grandfather’s funeral.

The last day I’d see my grandfather was the day my son with special needs would later be hospitalized for the flu and for pneumonia.

So, this final thing toward the power of poetry: That it makes inside of nothingness a matrix. That it overlays disappearance with a precise, but uncalculated, absence. I have thought, recently, of not being visible for a bit. Of loss and almost loss. But I don’t think it would do what I want it to. I miss most that which I am seeing.




January 27, 2020 / barton smock

toward poetry at The Poetry Question



January 24, 2020 / barton smock

from ( diets of the resurrected )

Ohio poetry:

loses everything.

With what other formless art
could one address

in the phantom fit
of a rolled
tire. A mercy

the knee
in kneel