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October 7, 2016 / barton smock


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my most recent is ‘depictions of reentry’, here:


some recent:


the stone’s wait-listed heart

a god with something to prove

the common telescope of a haunted cyclops

a round of leap frog
played in poverty’s




[credit sequence]

hunger my contraceptive

my wristwatch

someone to boil
the mannequin’s


[circa (i)]

I went through a period of sticking things in my ear. not too far except this one time mom said it sounded human but also like all sound had lost its memory.

being poor is a myth.

a fact
with self

a father was running circles around a baby.


[circa (iv)]

our prayers go only so far
in marking

we say infant when two things at once warn a symbol

we call it bird
what was done
to the bird

we plate crows from black market microwaves

burn a wheelchair
to mow
the lawn


[circa (viii)]

a collarless dog fetching a grounded kite

trauma’s original boredom

the search parties
wind and blood


[circa (ix)]

at a therapy session
for those
to dream
I am handcuffed
to my mother
whose imaginary
has lice

a baby born with a wig
rattles on
about sleep

death’s eyepatch


[circa (x)]

on these bikes these boys are beautiful

/ passing men under spell of god, the order

maybe dissolved

of the bent

/ I will not miss art

five-thousand fathers
to burn
a fish

but ease, but hunger

a girl putting all her pain in a turtle
or in anything
from the hood
of her sister’s

/ a firecracker
by a bone


[circa (xii)]

the human dream

god’s attempt at a short story

the animal


/ the elephant
in its ruin
takes up
for whale

yeah, it rains here

adult diapers
are fishhook

/ tell your sister
nothing happened
to mine


[circa (xiii)]

imagine how long god must’ve been left alone to be named after the first person whose name he said. how hungry the mother to swallow hair. how bored her baby to remember. how small the television that spitballed hell. hidden the horse to keep its church. black the water to transport fish.


[circa (xv)]

a smallness
that skips
a brain

a stuffed creature from god’s cage

sickness, the second person to forget my dream


[circa (xvi)]

the water here, brother, is flat. drinkable when it weeps.

what you hear is a mom moving her baby.

god / you can switch
him off
like a bug
in a coffin.

I saw yesterday
your daughter’s

I saw today something using its gums
to open a briefcase
and something else
its teeth
to crack
a beetle.



her child
in a lifeboat
after egg, her memory

that dream
to which
the hangman
his word



the untouchable redness
of certain

the sunburnt scar on a fisherman’s arm


[circa (xx)]

to the man whose face can do things mine cannot, I give my son.

silence has no creator. pictures

of god
don’t sell.


[no wolf]

I was a doorstep baby and brother a treehouse.

moon of the injured. moon of the blind.



the nude’s failure to stay awake in a laundromat. the suicide of the copycat toddler. nine types of catfish. a worm’s tongue. god’s last name. the orphan’s timekiller.


[circa (xxi)]

the boy
in another

marks again
its territory

grief beds sorrow, sorrow’s

dream only
of discovered



I pretended once to lose my memory-

the same day




mid polygraph, I lose
the baby

/ the loneliness
of its food


[circa (xxiii)]

hunger is a clock devoured by worship

the rabbit hole


[dark earth]

animal then man then woman. god was the god of grief. one saltwater thing to another

a garden?


you unusable


[his impressions of the experiment]

my closest frat brother looks at the toad and says frog motherfucker. tackles me. fact: there is a certain kind of toad that by staying still can kill a drug dog. in this country, a man can sell doves from the back of a white van. a man can run out of doves. my ghost is obsessed with caterpillars. it doesn’t matter what you say. they found that woman.



infant, the sooner
than expected
for god.

I have this baby I’m not afraid to use.

you pretend to shoot
and I’ll pretend
to fall. we’ll make a day

of never talking.

the missing crow of thorns.



they wanna put my teeth on a billboard. mom doesn’t care. cremate the moon.



the ten commandments

the blues

my sister’s hair

rubber thumbs

/ bedtime
for the bathed
foot, for the bee

we started


[I lose you when I sleep]

I’d have gone grey
his hair
and he
to smoke
during the gospel
of the bruise



being alone never hurt anybody. I ask online about a coat hanger. in person about a stork. symbolism is dead. it’s not that kind of garden.


[cleaning the stroller]

lifted from the eyesight of a torn seagull

the beached outhouse of a father’s mermaid


[I am, emptiness, out of breath]

in a wet dream on fire
the arsonist
the mouth
he is trying
to leave

(it is not hunger that eats the horse)

I am past the age of what
in a former life
I died as, a spoon

is a fork

asleep in the hand of god


[the museum of minor fictions]

simpler, then

the seizure
that set
your father
to music

the baptized
of your mother’s

the book I brought to burn
as always

the pair deciding which hand
would come between us
which hand
would enter…

I caught the poor mask
on its own

I am ugly and you are not


[a dream for the blue pen in my father’s wrist]

her handwriting
it was being



her hair
at night
is going

(a fish licks through the ocean)

this is my camera
the salter of dust



she remembered
his suicide
but her brother’s
cough, how it ruined

the scarecrow’s

but the etiquette
of the crucified



sex, make your face.

my father returned a clock
fell from
a birthmark…

deaf as a housefire
my brother was raped
in two
tents, he pulled our mom

from a clown car
a tornado
in hell


[her impressions of the experiment]

his animals hiccup somewhere within the contagious yawns of god. his tumor is the crow of the ocean. the foot they hope to find me with is not yet purple. I shred a tiny pillow but your baby ain’t blind.



the hole we’re in has disappeared. we sleep on the gospel of baby mudlung. I pray mostly for people to get hurt. I don’t have a brother. he’s all alone. sister will smoke anything. a worm from the vacuum, the lice from nostalgia. I have a tv in my room that wants to play piano. I have a toy car and a turtle. it takes forever.



I burn
for dreaming

/ forgiveness

you empty


a mongrel circles the stump of a tree. a spider from the angel’s dream goes on to spin a caterpillar. mom slips in and out of pregnancy. it’s my first time hearing a groundhog hate itself. you won’t crawl to anyone you haven’t seen swim.


[no after]

and what would you have me imagine? a change of tense in a tale of abuse. a baby licking the palm of a doll. a spoon. a robot’s broken arm. a chalk outline of a worm. hunger’s tacklebox. our allergic sister’s suicide note. a calf eating its first canary.


[swimmer of the blue snow]

a bowl of soup bleeds to death
in the eatery
of my praying


[exit wound]

coming up
we are
with names
for time



an orange cat
the earth, this

my dad’s

and this, the nail’s:

a palm print
on the hoarder’s


[trace psalm]

speech, the blank
in paradise…

the parrot, the bone
for madness


[blues for stomach]

/ the baby whose worship returns to put hair on your doll’s chest

/ the time your twin broke stick with a woman at the end of her rope

/ the ring-bearer of silence


[the love]

carrying bread
to thirst
in the small home
of my drugged
companion, swearing

on the length
of ah

that scarecrow
not skeleton
be anatomy’s




mother talks him down
the shy
whose dove
is deaf


the devoured
the bored

the rest
is easy

friendless, born


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