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November 28, 2016 / barton smock

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recent poems, uncollected:

[georgic]

run the disposal for the fat-handed man who’s heard himself think. worship the out-of-body mother as you would a curfew from your past. ghost for angel.

~

[lost color]

appetite went from our dog to our cat. from our cat to an animal that had no fight. a tornado took our shoe-store. our sisters were assaulted for no more than ringing dollhouse doorbells. our mothers blindfolded for putting lipstick on the crow. we pissed ourselves and corn set its blood on fire. our weeping our weeping swept.

~

[gatherer]

it’s enough to give a ghost amnesia, snow like this. we’re pretending to look for his daughter while sharing what he calls a milkman’s cigarette. throw a brick, say touchdown. I might have worked for a mirror. I don’t know where we are or how old his daughter is. lamb of the bunch. blood’s haircut.

~

[manna]

from crow
to anthill
lose
the thing
that’s there

telescope, craft your grief

god is what
if all
believe

~

[awake]

one less person
for god
to watch
write

~

[waters]

we wrestle sometimes in the junkyard over who gets to guard the lullaby machine. we share an image of our father making a throwing motion while above a necksick dog. of our mother dropkicking a pumpkin to egg on the nothing y’all can come and get. we aren’t close but chew together loudly and lip-synch the hymns we know. spiders forget the sea.

~

[gaptooth]

the future?

of the world ours is based on

/

my teddy bear
doesn’t
sleep

/

birth
means the baby
on your back
can swim

~

[sleep]

as proof of shyness. as death

rounded down.

~

[figuration]

i.

a lifejacket that small

my answer
is no

ii.

no
has one

eye

iii.

god is coming to touch your foot

~

[bring star]

for the noise
the angel
makes
at the sight
of blood
the toothless
take
a knee

~

[bring spoon]

dream won’t have me

kid says
they eat
hypnosis
the extras

of silent
film

~

[bring mouse]

for the stomach
served
as is
to the ghost
of god

the under
born
fight tooth
and kneecap
in the same
spiritual
darkness
took mouth

mine
for a dead

ear

~

[bring roach]

how long might satellites mourn? sickness took the lord. a scarecrow the pulse of a cricket.

not every image was worth the effort.

~

[bring meat]

in becoming less alone, the beasts have begun to care what I do with my body. this thing I save

it crawls on water.

~

[sad how]

before the feast
there is one
erasing
the doll’s
eyebrows

~

[agonal]

the wolf in stork’s nightmare
speaks dolphin

what do I miss

my blood
your collection
of pea-sized

pillows

~

[in no language]

does echo
have a word
for dream

~

[snakeskin]

by the time god gives you a daughter
he’s already met
the one person
in the crowd
he can make
disappear.

older now, sadder

I admire
love.

~

[her faith]

motion detectors
on the loss
of imagination

the dream
aware
of its fame

the toy exile of a lightning storm

the scene

anti
pastoral, deadpan

crow
in mom’s
blue streak

dolls
moved
by what
she ate

~

[untitled]

I tell it what I tell my stomach. if I die, you die. but there are limits to what the past can do. I had a kid once. insects were invisible. my mom was a face turning two from god. never worm do I know where to start. nightfall, and the number of hands I’ve collected hasn’t changed. brother still kicks himself for the nine months he couldn’t film. the best thing he wrote down had in it a father, who’d never seen a wheelchair, setting a trap for a wheelchair. it is like me to wait.

~

[ladders]

we’re not allowed to be in the house past a certain time. we read in tongues from the book of that’s how babies disappear. we hide the insomniac’s handsoap. our fathers do impressions. our mothers the bulk of the digging. we waste little. blood, paint. from our dream supply.

~

[feasts of projection]

(i)

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

(ii)

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

told
separately

to the arsonist
who

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

said

dig, you

tunnels
torch
the dark

(iii)

what is the baby doing on the floor

this tv show
about shyness
wow

she makes weight, auditions
naked
for the face
of god

is death
still known
for its one
mistake

(iv)

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

/ what the orphanage
knows
the nursing home
doesn’t

(v)

she prays to food

food
be gentle

birth
still leaves
me out

(vi)

she recognized

the poster
from the boy
she’d been seen
by dogs
with, her mother

was gone
her father

grey as water’s
last
meal

dyed
the wigs

(vii)

one woman’s sorrow
is another’s
intermission

bread don’t break
not in blood’s
backyard

acne

illiteracy

(viii)

she is holding the bird up to the phone
she is crushing
the bird
can your voice
and mine
caught swimming
swim…

I think of my mother in her block of ice summoning a curling iron and of my father sending a robot to prison. of a leafblower named mercy hugged by my brother for outing my sister’s electric chair. of nakedness, poor nakedness, always playing itself in the story of had I not been invented I would’ve had to exist. the black eye how it quoted swan.

(ix)

obscurity’s footnote

mom’s
prescription
blood

a lamb
nosing
a bar of soap
into the path
of those

women

burned
by blackboards

(x)

around the time god stopped writing men

I took
a ghost-like
custody

of a property

a ruin
of melancholy
trespass, my father’s

dream-ending
stomach

(xi)

return is the first stage of a life’s work

god
loses
eden

every so often
I use my breast
to open
the photographer’s
mouth, her hair

alarms
the dead

(xii)

lost on crow

why star
won’t move, why woman

would make
hand signals

for satan’s
toybox

(xiii)

the double life of the man who’s not seen her baby devoured

/ the bread crumb
becoming
milk’s
nightmare / the way

to resurrection’s
hospice

(xiv)

it put mine on backward
the creature
that switched
my mother’s
feet

if the ear said anything
her ear
said

that’s the kick
of a twin

(xv)

she highlights
an entry
on hair loss
in the cannibal’s
diary

dearest echo, language
has a country
it can leave

one holds the owl and one pours the paint

/ knowing
how to dream
they choose
this

~

[errors in care]

how many hells does a death need?

the lost mind
the nurse
of the mouth.

I mean to be impossible, oh

/

and dreamt
from sleep.

~

[zoo notes]

under hypnosis the boy becomes nostalgic for its opposite. we are having for the hole in your brother a funeral. at sea the haunted cage. in a fish the robot’s rib.

~

[void notes]

/ is here that our dreams of incarceration begin to overlap

~

[birth notes]

do no harm
no harm
naked

/ desperation’s busy work

/ sore thumbs
and the absence
of theme

~

[god notes]

putting
in flashback

birth
on the map

~

[son notes]

not at the same time will I break every bone in your body. god can brush his know-nothing tree. satan run a bath for a hole.

your mother, she’ll eat you in shifts.

~

[their language]

clown fog, road head, gas mask

I can work
with anyone

two boats
per animal, horror

is dead
but had

a farm

~

[country more]

as if night
knows when
to sleep

~

[flocks]

blank yard signs

radios

of the independently
poor

their babies
slow
in getting

up

doll, prayer mat, microwave

/ more time

~

[prime]

memory
to the mailman
with a bad
back

is a crow

carried drugs
for stone

~

[radio]

sing they

god
can I get
your suitcase

~

[day more]

first fog
and the speechless
are giving
birth

longing is a stickman’s tail

a boy I know
checks
for his nose

whose father hits a deer

whose mother won’t mention
the puppet’s
bra

~

[disclosures for melancholy]

I don’t know who it was
told my brothers
to stop
drawing
rabbits
to look
like ruined
footprints

/ I was washing my hands
when your water
broke

~

[spacecraft]

we stole eggs

more
than we needed

if caught
our mom
was a widow
and brother

would name
our church

~

[marriages]

when I say church
she says
widow
then admits
it wasn’t
her first
thought

was church
mine

~

[babies in the home]

where is bird

bird
hospital

do zombie
young

ever
crawl

~

[horror movies]

because they have no master
and don’t
overstay
their goodbye.

because in talking
we hid
sound. death

happens more
on land.

~

[devotions for pilot]

historically, it has gone this way

birth
flashing
the present, my lap

breathing

~

[fires]

cousin
she pierces
her own
ears, her mouth

a rubber
toad
maybe won

at the fair

/ uncle
wants
we save
the blackest

marshmallows

might he see
again
his alien
dentist

/ an animal
with no
stomach

~

[paw five]

they don’t tell you
when you have a baby
about the shrinking
babies
do.

we bought a smaller bird
but few
noticed.

we made friends, women

with lights
on their shoes, men

sold
on mittens…

we sent nudes
to the author

of babies
eat
sleep.

our mailman
he caught us
dancing
and threatened us
with an audiobook
on baptism

and that
was the end
of mail.

we sold headgear
we volunteered
to sell
headgear, put an ashtray

on the roof
as lure
for longing

that
of memory’s
narc…

~

[jawing]

no slaughterhouse
ever
moved
by rain

my kind
and subtracted
child:

the time
your bottle
spent
in microwaves

holograms

holograms
that fuck
with my
mirage

~

[from my mother’s church of light]

a copy of my brother’s hand

a dog door
beneath the feet
of christ

pieces of bread
in a broom, a false

wet
tooth

~

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