Thursday, April 1, 2021

Excerpt from rocks have the softest shadows, Barton Smock

Poverty created the moon as a place for loss to process God.  

It helps to have no one.  


Some future:

A pop-up book about Ohio mosh pits is lost by a beloved chiropractor who has by default become an expert on unicorn pregnancy and who is wearily attracted to cures excluding those for bicycle legs as present in our newborns


Ohio alibis:

Two sisters learn from the same angel how to use an insect bite as a fingerprint


Ohio introductions:

Listening to the rain as it runs interference for echo’s disappearing hair

is Satan with her mousetrap


I want to sleep again on the kitchen floor beside my brother who is reading to himself from a book of baby names for the dead as if such a book exists and I want to imagine the velvet life of the thing that stirs itself so immediately soft in the garbage disposal that it becomes your fear of swimming and erases mine of having bones


Ohio exits:

When you find prayer, ask music how touch knows where where is. Ask hand if it was ever more to blood than a lost slipper. Ask ghost why its miracle spared the angel. Ask horse anything. You are dear to me. If horse is even there.


Satan was the first to name the animals. I know we watched ours die. Anyway, I'm not sure there were two of us. The child was a footprint trapped in a shoe. I disappear and still you vanish.


Ohio math:

A museum of mothers who sleepwalk to get there.

A father’s collection of crying insects.

Yes I forgot to love you.


Oh moral permanence, oh distracted beast- no one asks God about baby number two.  We make guns together in the dream of the stray hand and there are exercises a mother’s puppets can do that will bring a doll peace.  Angel can, but won’t, let mirror look out the window.  I still wrote all that stuff.  I’ll touch zero if you trap its tongue.


Ohio auctions:

A dress worn by the child who ate sadness.  A gas station snow-globe prayed away by a father’s dying goldfish.  A town, 

or three people surrounding a dogcatcher.


Get a blood clot and sister will say on the moon they worship these.  If you sleep too long, you’ll become a color.  Rate your pain from one to ten, with five being the highest.  God still thinks we don’t know.


Whose death got you into heaven?  The baby is older now but has the kissing wrists of a failed skier.  Your children don’t love you because they will.


Ohio postscripts:

Shy, I could not collapse in front of mothers who were born on the moon.  As for the children, they’ll die for baby.  For any last fact that others exist.


Dream supply:

A pile of white leaves in the corner of my father’s mind.

Wind and skin, or the angel’s



No longer a fire hazard

the wagon’s 

grey hair…

The suicide of God’s first.


Not much happens before you can say Ohio.  Still, we keep quiet.  Depression breaks a mother’s toes and we listen, in a stickless field, to what we hear. 

It continues.  The misgendering of past selves.


My son writes to me about the piece of glass they can’t find in his ear.  He says it is like a dream.  That he can describe its shape between the hours of this and that a.m., and its size to a newborn making a grocery list.  He says they have people who look like him, which helps.  Like her, which doesn’t.  My writing isn’t even close.  Aponia, I write, and also, ballet.  Everything in the cold is cold.  


The coordinates a son’s illness leaves for God.  Cigarette

and a mother’s


typo.  Camera the consoler of miracle.  Elevator worship.  Our food’s invisible dark.  The gag reflex of his favorite astronaut.  For whom we carry 



Every life is long.  Honestly, I think I just wanted to see my handwriting.  I sang for my children.  Never cooked for my mom.  

owls okay with needle sharing

would explain




The boy, before going to bed, has me kiss every toy in his room. If one is not there, it is missing, and its absence is more vaccinated god than bad child or raccoon's eye. More mother than sister on wrist number three.


Ohio we:

save pills as a god might 

the eggs 

of a ghost


And what would you have me say?  That I feel it was given to another, the meaning of my hidden life?  We name people every day.  Our yearning, overlong.  Our mother’s mothering of poets and of the creatures they can’t use.  This priest with an ant farm.  Eating’s moral theft.





of sleep

the bee

that stung

my bee


Eating is magic.  Hunger a rabbit removed from its environment.  I can make some sense now, I think, of death.  Of a grandmother’s life of cooking and loss.  We wore our frostbitten noses.  Did things with frogs might an infant laugh on the inside where a nothing was still in boxes.  Took from blood 

its blue 

now.  Which was wrong.


Ohio sexuality:

Cain faked her death.

Ghost is that itch the wall can’t reach.             


pregnancy dysphoria has been found in angels

to spread 

like fish

(do you remember

in an oyster 

the arm 

of a squirrel)


is a dream


a pack 

of cigarettes 


an Ohio 



facedown, a photo

of God

with braces…


Ohio solastalgia:

In hell I am passing a cemetery when during a housefire she makes a memorial to the last time you won a staring contest 


While close, this is not your messiah’s insecticide.  Are you happy with my body?  Sex is the breathing my teeth do for your hair.  Faith a stork in a sea cage.  Food is no expert but grows anyway

brevity.  They say crow after an apple sets a stone on fire.  Lonely people for appropriate play.


I want for my son a more regular sadness.  Not touch with its vacant déjà vu.  Not the stutter, untapped, of his far beast.  More the fasting of an unknowable fish.  A marionette


at a toy 

car.  Are these hands?  They say so little.


Ohio auctions:

The unseen wildlife of the ill.  The handwriting of a moonless toddler.  A whole language saved on an angel’s thumbnail…


I can’t tell if I have nothing or if I’m down to three photos of God.

I sleep 

to know 

that you’re



I will take for my childhood a mother’s unicycle, a father’s raincloud.  

The broken moon of any man on crutches.  A dog drinking water in a white house. 


who draw me naked.  

Bones from her smaller baseball.


Sorrow a glove.  Grief a mitten.  I see in fire the small

for a whale


that my son 


in a wave.      

Ohio gets to keep its hidden season.  Poverty

its sixth


Childish, but everyone who’s looked out this window has died.  Our family was too close.


Ohio stories:

I am fondest of recalling my sister when sister in her sleep

could sell drugs to angels.     

Men walk away from their fathers one of two ways with our favorite being Stars Reading Snowfall Before and After My Career-Ending Injury.

Our mother was a spider


it’s why

she smokes.


Their translating of the terrible things we’ve said has created elsewhere animals that don’t need to eat but bite anyway anything that moves.  Neither silence is real 

but both belong to God.  My son 

my moodkiller

of ruin

in no dream I’ve had 

pours gasoline on himself and leads an abandoned bear onto an empty school bus.  Am I pretty this third


if my parents are yesterday and grief?


Her Ohio of war and sleep:

what if I said 

I see 

in a land of tire swings 

your fishboat father

rubbing perfume

on the knees

of stowaways

would you consider

the cricket

God is trying

to land


My mother knew she was pregnant when from a darkroom her surgeon emerged holding a piece of chalk.  Before I had hair, I had hair my sister sang to.  Interesting men didn’t make it to earth.


Early for foster home karaoke, she announces God as the exit sign over the door of her body and sleep as a museum owned by death.  Because I am lonely with not being there, I call it her best scene.  She doesn’t clap.  A ghost gives birth to a chair.

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