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March 8, 2016 / barton smock


some recent:


I saw them kill
out of hunger
the angel
could prepare

it is wholly birdlike
the thought
that brings oil
to god

the sleeping alien
is not without
its headless
astronaut (the first thing

one sees



the field
where father
from a grounded

a fog

to one
whose pregnancy
had not
ended / the field

where brother
in a condom
a piece
of chalk / the field



with its puppies
and its trash / yeah

there is something to be said
I don’t know what
to echo’s

love / the dizzy

of deer


{the knife}

it is for my ears that god gave me a stomach full of cotton. my mother’s fingers are made of bread. her blood she says is dieting for the blank book of beauty sleep. I have an inside animal unable to move on from the rained out magic show. its only joy is to bring me shoelaces. after building houses, my father shakes himself barefoot in the railroad car of a train his angel plans to swallow. I have nothing for my throat.



I have an ear for each parent I believe in and a hand for each god I don’t. I have yet to make a body that doesn’t become bread. in the process of comprehending the smallness of my twin’s brain, I lost the only friend I could talk to in code. my son won’t use a spoon as he fears it distracts his food. the fork is next and the knife, safe. my daughter is a drunk and also a soup that gives the same nightmare to the mouths of my angel.



summer was for sexting and for watering the scarecrow’s spine. say it with me this was not that summer. as a ghost might surprise the mother and go to salt, a doll might remember its teeth.



dropped on its head for saying footprint, the baby begins its work of collecting only those sounds it can scare. its father mothers otherness as one who watches a film to make the world worse. its brother hunchback and sister backstroke are viewed as two stomachs waiting for hunger to dry. because my mouth is empty, I talk all the time.



brother is digging barehanded in the backyard a hole for what he hopes is the alien of god’s choice. as for existence, my mother’s is low on mine. my father is keeping out of the same sentence any mention of heroin and totem pole. no one including you cares for my sister’s worry that this no this is the bottom of a rock. if asked, I will say I was visiting with my arms the museum of rowboats during the regional spike in baptisms we as a family failed to interrupt.



it is easier now that I know I was never going to be a better person. if I once called poetry the grieving arm that ends in five short complaints, I am sorry. I watch my son lick the space on the table where he’ll put his cheek. it is not for me to believe he is a sign of warnings to come. the distant memory of his tongue is not mine to betray. I want to kiss you to the sound of god counting footfalls on a mountain path. for one, I have never been completely covered in bruises. also, I was in the spotlight when my mother was asked to describe a sponge. instead, she identified the break in the letter where a father changed pens and childhood as the longing of Eve.


{the lost art of memorizing psalms}

the food bowl
of a baby boy
is the nest
of a fool’s


something smaller
than my brother
has been killed



it was
before it met me

a town

/ it is now

both babies, it be

alone, it be

the number
of times

went missing / it does not be

what is touching
what arouses

of narrative
thrust / I spill

and you

treat me
like I’ve stepped
on a stick / revelation

was the lord’s
idea / wasn’t

to have animal

animal / until / it’s too pretty

what you’re putting
on paper

/ I get my food

from food, time
from the grace period

to clones / a man

with bad posture
the posture
of an infant


the apples
in the house
have been
turned off / the darkness

of being eaten


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