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July 1, 2016 / barton smock

older, newer, exits

[salutations for daughter]

dear pilot of my father’s animal

dear tree
the ahistoric

dear space


[On looting]

we move the cemetery to confirm there is nothing outside of this town. the strip club remains a two man show. leash laws are for dogs and angels. our doctor has a touch of deer worry. exercise is for the birds. god is the pitter patter of imagined feet. our fathers double over in bathrooms from the shame of not calling out for paper. our mothers have done the math. by now, most kids have eaten a popsicle alone in a church. I’m in it for the stick.



what would she ask

that old blindfold
from the future

how did you
get old, how

did my father
and eat
at the same


you’ve seen it
the mask
that took

my face



tonight, I stole two beers from my brother

two gods
whose vexations
a city

I am still not sure
what I’ve requested

or sanctuary

I don’t pray

I read a book to see a man do nothing

to see a man do nothing to a woman
I volunteer
for sleep
and read
this back

to the lord


[scarecrow and the lottery]

I can’t make heads or tails of your fervor. I can’t make body. I put a hole in my father and through it watch my mother eat her weight in god. I want what my siblings have. each other, game shows, memory. indigenous amnesia.



my father snaps his shovel stealing snow from our travel-addicted neighbor. his mute sister’s last confession is a first. his doctor brother’s dollhouse is a hospital. television is a byproduct of my mother’s human longing for animals. if my arms were healed, I’d keep the baby from swatting its penis. I call my next trick rabbit sorrow.


[the butcher]

most babies here are born without a trigger finger.

but some
get through.


[water that sister moves a net through]

brother masturbates with an almost invisible dedication.

from the river

that all rain
is highway

while reciting
for mitochondria
I pass the time
my father’s

for the footsteps
in his head.


[sleeps (i)]

my daughter is seized by a dream to endure her mother’s preoccupation with death. while waiting for his pillow’s heart to stop, my son resolves to keep the mirror’s brain. that each might skip the parts I’ve memorized, I read to them from a room I’ve put on the spot. when we pray, we’ll pray we were here to the idea we are.



I had
all year

the infant is forever in the infancy of immediate hearsay

I was online / had a nosebleed

I was with your mother when she safely evacuated

from nothing’s

you may

in event
of god

instill in my sons

the all


[iraqi sleep]

I bury the carnival fish. my neighbor pretends he is casting while my son sucks on the opening of a plastic bag. I take the bag and blow into it then pop it on my palm. my neighbor’s heart is safe but he tries to grab it anyway. the vietnam war is a pop-up book of the vietnam war.



by nature
are cryptic.

beset by symbols of worry, parents

become clear.

draw for me
a bomb shelter.

name those already there.



mark my words, wrist

with god
as my impression



the mood was very bloody, the mother invented

to scare
the kids, the mother


I keep having the same baby

it comes
with a dream


[women in fiction]

after punching me in the stomach
my brother
would put his hands
behind his back
and ask
the fish
in the bowl
under my shirt
to forgive
little miss
for making


[notes for eggshell]

beneath the tethered astronaut of his dream

the impossible boy

something small

the human ear, its recent
with whale



no longer
a god
the male
finds mother
to worship

I am
what I imagine


who the eyes

in Eden



the dog moves from sun to shade

its master writes of the beating
a woman

I saw
I can prove it

the size of that tick

does anyone
remind me
to eat


[memorial (ii)]

the boy
whose first
was pain

they put something in his food
to make
him drink…

one animal
out of how


to avoid


[memorial (iii)]

has nothing
it remembers

I’ll know an animal when god sees one

the guard
I slept with
gave me

pain, indicia, Amen




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