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February 14, 2017 / barton smock


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my self-publications are here:


and here, a recent thing:



a week ago, sister bled to death on a rocking horse. today is the short memory of our pig farming father and the suicide of the knife-thrower’s surgeon.


notes will be notes from when I was alive. all men, amen. oh infant, teacher of spiders. the future of adult bookstores. yes they are dreams and yes they go to church. lose a finger, it becomes a ghost. a paw and the children think maybe their mom is having a mother. I’ll sleep with anyone. doctors each from the birth of my past. animals denied the policing of crow.


I wash my own body. put behind me the death of outhouse slapstick. a dog is barking at a tractor. an older dog, wearing sunglasses, lets the baby do whatever. only some of these churches are mine.


flashcards for women in labor. predictions for memory. sheep.

the hidden breads of snow.


history is not a person. these are the kids it tried to name.


elevator country. the hangings of nothing pregnant. baby knows a shadow that knows a shadow can tell a map what to do. can get a small library to carry books on men eating men in the right bathroom. baby is here for trying to stay. its tongue came out that way, stuck to its nose. a moral choice on behalf of its mother whose water we drank blind.


I was having trouble remembering my dreams so I began to see someone who wasn’t. my demeanor was approachable, he said, but cerebral. he said we were in unfamiliar territory. he asked me if I’d mind looking at some pictures he’d forgotten to draw. jokes of the trade, he said. the first few dreams I think were his and were probably so by design. the two scarecrows, witch-hunt and crucifixion, came soon enough but were paired wrongly as husband and wife. their little klutz.


I thought it was a movie about dancing and you thought it was a movie about the devil. our feet were warm. remember the alarm? worlds to which none were added.


I imagine it puts a hole in a demon, this combing of underwater things to protect the toenails of painted men. mom is this void the last of its kind?


this was in my dream. and this. and she was there and she has two kids, a boy and a girl, and a husband, there he his, who’s killed himself. I kept saying, after every thought, behold. went home with a woman who insisted she was born pregnant. slept like a wolf addicted to car alarms. saw the saddest foodfight.


the man lives in his car and his children live in a store that’s out of everything. his dog has forgotten how to eat. things are on what any good god would call a collision course. he shows me nude photos he says he can’t look at until he knows for sure that the people in them are somewhere naked. he wants me to work on writing with a sense of place. not me, he says. move grief.


I was still new
to the angel
when I reached
into the deer
for the baby

mom looked for a large moth
to stick
with a fork, brother

made to strangle
a coat


pain had a son whose right hand became the receiver of a jailhouse telephone. whose left remained a seashell. pain’s wife a daughter whose shadow became a puppet when she’d floss.


/ seen shoving a burnt doll into a book return

the nobody


puppets for dental hygiene

the animal
on auto


the overmedicated bear cub

and the jawbone
from snake’s

/ driven by flower

this moving
of loss


orphaned by imagery,

the vision

is a non

ghost? my one

for boredom’s


I am the least, no

I am

look what they’ve done
to the lightning, dad

to your scarecrows, mom

all the toilets were in the trees
the trees were taller
a flat

the fuck, roadkill

was on
the moon


a chicken with two heads. a burning bush. a cane only a dog could love. a barber whose hair, nevermind. an arm cast bearing the hangman’s faded autograph. invisible milk

and the nothing you bring to my godless poems.


that, or a seven day vigil for the one he destroyed


having one word for my voice, I would read to death from the book death borrowed. my armpits were those of a mannequin thrown from a horse. I gave no birth. I ate what I could of the kidnapper’s dream. upside down fish. crippled fish. boatloads of black sheep

by the eclipse.


killing the firstborn is so yesterday. let’s be lonely. maternity leave for clowns. ant farms on airplanes.


to the man who enters this poem looking for a gun. to the woman whose animals pray. to the giant with a memory like a model airplane. to the boy burying his sister’s bloody nose. to the bottle-fed scarecrow. to the dollmaker on the bridge and to the doll-god of country eggshell. to the possum and to its babies in my brother’s ballcap. to god’s only with god’s disabled. to a shadow’s early work.


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