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February 24, 2017 / barton smock


~recent poems~

[no meaning]

give death a sign. pumpkin seeds to the weatherman holding his throat. nostalgia a reason to ejaculate. a gas mask to goliath.



easy on the eyes, her parents

in the white-haired dream of stroke’s snowfall

her other, the apple-diver gone AWOL from the priesthood

her twin, tapped out
of being

the grey bullfrog
god of her brother’s

what else

a fat kid
how he won’t
hang himself,

a sleeping bag
on the topmost


[abuse in the museums of afterthought]

you’re not small enough to be alone in the world.

old ghost-brain
gets a bike.



“you are the secret watching the private act”
– from Citi, by RA Washington

ruins are for playing tricks on the past and god is the mugshot newborns love. hand is smaller than the hand it knows of. I am here for the nudes of the amateur basilisk. look at me when I exist.



I am looking for the mark on my body that will tell me how near I was to you when I fell asleep. we can’t know where touch has been. the third animal to which I pray

was it always


[ark and herd]

dreams my dialect coach never had. birth and the boring outcomes of immediacy. oh grief, the first to mourn the fast learner. it’s your story, but you can’t name it resurrection, your spacecraft, without considering the mortality of your audience. I sleep crooked while watching ugliness. I love my brother like a leg but he brings to choir exit music for nomads. what does god think of the future? we carry the virus that killed our ghost.


[mousing] for RA Washington

history doesn’t repeat itself so much as curse the language it just learned. this is their there. escapist fare for those still fleeing. and I thought my hands were loud. one headset per foster home. shadow envies prayer. prayer has lice and ghost

a bathroom for both dreams.


[entries for hope]

they will begin to think you’ve lost them. a mirror will go to prison for harboring the invisible cyclops that discovered how to miss the trace nakedness leaves. a rabbit’s foot will pray from inside a crushed hat. and the land will be flat because a hill stopped filming.



most days it would try not to look at its clothes. there was the night it spent at a friend’s house where it puked in the bathroom and spoke to the glass door of a dryer. where it saw it swore a mousetrap catch only the pregnant mice. where it heard from a wall the names of those against making a swastika from a smashed spider.

year baby was the year the strippers fled tanks and were later shot safely from cannons. the year it suspected déjà vu of bringing food to the same stomach.



I am a boy because of the boy who killed my family. she wears a swimsuit designed by a hole. we eat together these fireworks in the mouth of a frog. our gargoyles worship food coloring. our father for a living disguises his mother’s roof. his mother speaks to the animal animals don’t.


[entries from the wreckage]

as a word, plot seems artificially unaware of its absence from a book of baby names.

online, abandonment needs a vacation.


comes home to a punching bag in a treehouse. to a breathing machine being fixed by a marsupial. to a son talking himself down from cooking-show fatigue. to a clockmaker’s lab rat

putting a spell
on a boat.


[entries for meaning]

/ the past can’t do this anymore

/ the brainwashed narrator of my absence
he will not explain
to snow

/ she will not sleep

with it
that says
for word
I am my mother’s
of the male



to it that hawks the mirror’s television, eating is the oldest trick in the book.

the ghost of my clone

/ does death
get the message


[a letter, silent]

a letter, silent

dropped by a word
into window’s

cot, diving board, empty pool. southernmost


for earpiece.


her headless



the dollhouse needs a second bathroom and those responsible for the film I’m watching have nowhere to hang the astronaut


[after the poem]

the point
was to describe
to the image.

to go
in sleep
from bear
to bombed




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.


~recent self-published books available on Lulu~

hick lore rabbit hole, 124 pages, full length collection, October 2016:

pictures of god don’t sell, 378 pages, selected and new, December 2016:

surprise for me a crow, 104 pages, full length collection, January 2017:

*all book previews on the site are the books entire

**free PDFs available by request made to

***free hard copies available to those interested in writing a review with request made to


~now thru the end of March~

I have a privately self-published chapbook {BASILISK} that I am making available for free from now through the end of March by request only. if interested, one can provide me with a physical mailing address via message here or to

as my brothers tie me to the world, the mailing of the chapbook will also include a short work by one NC Smock, one of said brothers. it is here:


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