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February 22, 2018 / barton smock

ghost arson


so happens
that his first
reminds him
of the circus


any creature
than a dog
should get back
in the dog


I lost my hair
or began
to lose
my hair           in a cornfield

February 22, 2018 / barton smock

feasts of projection (i – xv)




were it not a mouthful, she’d have been disfigured by the mirage touched by god to oversee the transformative reading of the trapdoor’s bible of knock-knock jokes


the story of her brother’s drowning
her father’s


to the arsonist

while pulling
her by
the leg
from the house
of her sister
the fasting


dig, you

the dark


what is the baby doing on the floor

this tv show
about shyness

she makes weight, auditions
for the face
of god

is death
still known
for its one


the stranger and the magician
walk the dog
their baby
looks like

/ what the orphanage
the nursing home


she prays to food

be gentle

still leaves
me out


she recognized

the poster
from the boy
she’d been seen
by dogs

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February 22, 2018 / barton smock

{infant*cinema and the number 42}

today and tomorrow, in honor of my 42nd birthday, the kind Kristopher Taylor and Dink Press are offering free shipping on my chapbook {infant*cinema} with coupon code of BARTBDAY


infant*cinema, Dink Press, April 2016, 7.00

of which, the some that said, say:

Barton Smock’s newest book is filled with enigmatic poetry honed to the barest minimum of language, without a scintilla of excess. In one poem and elsewhere, Smock states that he “does not want to be seen as a person,” and the scant information he has shared in various publications and the rare interview certainly reveals little but that he is a father, husband, likes movies, and writes daily. Yet in infant * cinema, poems that first appear as fragmentary and surreal dreams, prayers, visions, or confessions still evoke a completeness that lacks nothing, wants nothing. Smock reveals a world filled with grief, death, suicides, disabling conditions, and a family’s complex relationships across generations. While the poems mention “lonesome objects,” “melancholy,” “numbness,” and “collected sorrows,” Smock’s masterfully minimalist poetry leaves the reader intoxicated by a rush of original details and bleakly exquisite imagery.
~Donna Snyder, author of Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press) and I Am South (Virgogray Press)

Infant Cinema can only come from the mind of one writer, Barton Smock. I’ve been following his work for 10 years, and the only thing I’ve come to expect for certain is that I will be transported to a world thick with an atmosphere of vivid imagery, and seemingly juxtaposed and ironic concepts. Infant Cinema is prose that has all those elements, and reads with heightened poetic force.
~Joseph Jengehino, author of Ghost of the Animal (Birds and Bones Press)

With sparse language, Barton Smock creates semi-prose poems that contain concentrated riddles, such as in the line “follow the spider’s trail of abandoned birthmarks” or “one of us is dreaming I entered your body.” There are clues across poems, of a broken family, of disbelief in religion and reality, and of the pain stemming from all of that and more. The question of the nature of pain itself is put forth, and its origin: “before it began to go everywhere without him, was pain god?” An evocation of both the trinity (namely, god as his own son) and a child’s jarring transition into independence, which can be destructive to the self and others, for who is so easily prepared for the world? The poems are without titles, except for the title of the chapbook as a whole: infant*cinema. “inside my father I can’t hear one tv over another. […] the people watching the fight want to be seen looking at it.” As soon as we begin to concretely process our surroundings as infants, we must absorb or cancel out competing stimuli, but even so we need to learn what is what. By then, we may have seen too much, the violence of disappointment, loneliness, and, more often that one would like to admit, mental and physical abuse. But is this what makes humans human?
~George Salis

review for infant*cinema, by Forage Poetry editor Emma Hall:
Review of infant*cinema by Barton Smock ~Emma Hall

February 22, 2018 / barton smock

{placement for a not thing}

how at age 15 I was asked to play at easter service the son of god and had to hold my arms up for so long that I

with focus enough to bend a spoon

begged for a nail and how it was an eternity inside of which my father had been gay and how he had to love for years so invisibly that it gave him cancer and I thought and he thought

he was dying and he was so close and how at the highest point of faking his accidental death he became concerned about the reading material in the lobby of the hospital’s x-ray floor and so brought

from home his own

books and magazines like some editor of a stranger’s

last words and now I wonder how to hold a thing up to my father in a way that is not decorated
with discovery

February 22, 2018 / barton smock

{person Sophia Naz at isacoustic*}

Sophia Naz has two poems at ~ isacoustic* ~


February 21, 2018 / barton smock

remote musics

I write in this tongue and pray in another.

we sleep
and are kissed
by an ear
in three
beds: train, cow, frog.

if you’ve seen one roach,
you’ve seen them all. that’s where they come from.

February 20, 2018 / barton smock

{a call to poet Adam Hughes at ~isacoustic*~}