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September 4, 2015 / barton smock


the father touches down to draw squares for hopscotch. every photo is a photo of silence. the mother, for the weird kid in her sunday school class, is sewing one sock puppet to another. it’s a lonely job but no one has to do it. the neighbor has just borrowed a hacksaw and, earlier, a box of cake mix. her brother is the boy all have heard explain how insects are sailboats. as for the babies, they’ve been put on suicide watch for the actions of a single lookout. how nearness, love.

September 3, 2015 / barton smock


waiting for dad to burn off. for mom
to send
in my direction
a phrase
not unlike

keep on
your ghost
warm. for brother’s


for dog. for the hand

to open.

for the asker
of this:

who would want
two hours
of a life

is a form
of waiting.

September 3, 2015 / barton smock

from ~The Blood You Don’t See Is Fake~ (poems, Sept 2013)

from self-published collection The Blood You Don’t See Is Fake (poems, Sept 2013)


I am in your house
being you

when the boy
enters my house
with a sack of ash

to tell my wife
he has come
to avoid
a whole


my wife is one to believe
she was carried
by child


a baby’s cry is the oral future of what touches the brain


in a previous imagination the boy was able to overcome his attention span. it was there he pummeled his pregnancy. I wanted a clearer image but was told to take the boy as is or not at all. I could feel his sister trapped in the same horror she was later revealed to be outside of. up until then, I was sad her whole life.

stressful events

a father and son argue outside a small town barbershop in windless ten degree weather. inside the shop, which is closed, the barber’s wife is clipping away at a wig. nearby, and quite by accident, an invisible man uncovers a fainting spell before which some will disrobe. namely, women declaring that the eye is always naked. who are these women?, ask my teeth, which are snow.


Ohio 1976 I was given a word. a helluva word. I went unborn. a word my mother swallowed. a troublesome word. nervosa sans pretext. my father slept until his sleep became self aware. he paced. then gave me his word. stood over me.

Ohio 2013 you vomit on my shadow in an abandoned building outside of which a pregnant woman bikes herself into a garage door and bloodies her nose between sound and horn.


I fry a single egg
in a pan.

the sound places me
in one of my mother’s

as it dissolves.

I bring mother
the egg, and she believes
I am the same son
who brought her an egg

she eats the egg
over and over.

her attempted suicide
is not something
I know of. she keeps it to herself

in the person she was.


a jailer
talking through bars
to a ventriloquist.

youth / spent trying to yank a doll
by the ear.

the wave

we let the phone ring out because it keeps the babies quiet. we have this dance we do to straighten side leaning semi-trailer trucks. the sports we play require that one’s sickness occur only when it’s run through the others. we limp beside any creature that limps. the great romance of a complete thought is something our parents plan to leave each other. our father is two mathematicians who argue. our mother says her feet feel as if they’re still in prison for what she’ll take to her grave. our guesses mean little because they are facts. at school we are voted on and kissable. if you see us coming, sex is a small unplugged television on top of a small casket. details belong to god.

stray dog leaping

the poor are beaten
from the future

they get off work
the day is hot
it’s ungodly

as ungodly as placing a single chair in a garage

the poor get home
the chair remains in the present

the dog
can’t afford to be here
appears mid-scene
in the backyard

the poor imagine
an electric fence
scrounge together
the amount they would pay
to fix it

& smile as they would smile
at the mindless sap
whose job it would be

whose chair it is


the back of my mother’s head was spotted in an Ohio movie theater by a boy whose eyes were covered or maybe closed. I received word secondhand from the boy’s stepfather whose own recollection was marred by the violence he shied from to reach me. in fact, the theater was even possibly a drive-in where the boy remains in the bathroom standing on the toilet to avoid the knowledge he is no longer deaf. like most information regarding my mother, it hasn’t aged well. she’ll set the table at noon for two and drink her coffee and I’ll join her convinced no child dies from its hair being pulled. more secret than my son is his ability to withstand miracles.


not there when your mother
cries into a poison soaked towel
to a childish god
while kneeling
before the remnant heat
of an open dryer.

not there when your father
by the sound of it
breaks your arm
pressing it into
the shrunken right sleeve
of a shirt that should fit.

not there when your brother
spooked by a deer…

not there when my body
stops the procession

that one might be held in its image.


mommy I am stones. I am in the blacktop river. my veins have been used to unpiss cows. like my father after me I don’t want you to be my mother but you are. the men catch me with the fish they’ve eaten. they slap at me beneath a robe to make the robe move. I recognize my photo shopped savior as airbrushed. I blind whole neighborhoods with snowplow models of their choosing. if you receive this it means there is much more you haven’t. there are ashtrays no one makes anymore and tumors we don’t call phone-shaped. I am beautiful in the baby you sing to.

notes on the saints

younger times, I’d lose some of my hair when bathing the sick. now older, I am not a private person. I foresee helping father with his winter gloves and him thinking I’ve returned his hands. if sick, one shouldn’t be grateful for the inclusion. there’s a shit son in all of us.

September 2, 2015 / barton smock


don’t talk to babies. write. write to be the first one there. the frostbitten woman sucking her thumb has all her teeth. walk once a week into the wrong bathroom. worry. bump around the house at night, noisemaker. a depressed elephant in a walrus graveyard. pull. pull from your habit forming past. be the bomb god’s yet to wear. surround with others the baseball bat signed by the last woman to mourn sleeping beauty. open your mouth then look at your son. call it photography. if spotted, be a monster.

August 31, 2015 / barton smock

leave the church, leave the church I’m in

I was your mother. on television, one could see what other televisions were watching. I tried to tell your father you wanted a bird stuck in a frog’s body. that a sleepy afternoon is the poor man’s insomnia. he hated that I wrote down your thoughts on thoughts. by the time you get them back, you’re someone else.

August 29, 2015 / barton smock

one piece

for Noah

I can’t tell my brother how his amnesia has given him a second chance at life. his kid is a real shit. so’s mine. still, there’s not enough here for it to have all been a dream.

August 28, 2015 / barton smock


the voided twin
created for duplication
trying to eat alone

our food
the same

its touching

still intact


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