Why I Write Poetry: Barton Smock

A few weeks ago, I posted about “Why I Write Poetry” and encouraged others to share their thoughts, stories, and experiences for future guest posts. I’ve already received so many, and I hope they keep coming in (details on how to contribute below). Thank you!

Today’s “Why I Write Poetry” post comes from Barton Smock, who comes at this prompt through the early experiences of his life and that of his children.

Barton Smock lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and four children.  He writes often at kingsoftrain.wordpress.com.


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Why I Write Poetry: Barton Smock

Barton Smock

When I was very young, I would listen from my bedroom window for my father to set the parking brake in the driveway after working late.

When I was very young, I would listen from the stairs to my mother and father talking quietly in the kitchen about money. I got it in my head that they were bank robbers and spent many nights awake while planning how I would save them if the cops ever came calling.

When I was very young, my mother carried me to the mailbox during the Ohio blizzard of 1976. From a low flying helicopter, a man with a bullhorn asked her if she was okay.

When I was very young, I would pray to god for the good things I wanted to happen and to the devil for the bad.

When I was very young, I rode with my brothers on bikes to a hill we’d heard was a good hill. It was overrun with other riders and when we tried to join in we were told we needed to find another hill. I approached the self-appointed leader of the group and asked him what we needed to do to stay. He said he would need to punch me in the stomach. I pushed out my stomach and braced myself. All said, it was a good hill.

When three of my children were very young, their new brother was diagnosed with a progressive disorder of the muscles and the brain. They got it in their heads that they could replace theft. It was a belief that has since spread to their hands.

I have never been right about the world. It looks to me like bad handwriting. I write to make it legible. And to give echo first choice.


If you’d like to share why you write poetry, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with a 300-500 word personal essay that shares why you write poetry. It can be serious, happy, sad, silly–whatever poetry means for you. And be sure to include your preferred bio (50-100 words) and head shot. If I like what you send, I’ll include it as a future guest post on the blog.


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7 thoughts on “Why I Write Poetry: Barton Smock

  1. Marie Elena

    Wow. You know, I don’t often “get” your poems. I said that to you I believe more than once during the April PAD. Sometimes I have a very difficult time wrapping my head around abstract art. But oh my goodness I am thankful for this opportunity to get to know who YOU are. And your story is so poetically spilled here, in ways that speak to my heart deeply. Thank you for sharing yourself with us here, year after year. And Robert, thank you again for these guest posts. I’m getting so much out of each and every one. What a diverse and lovely group of human beings you’ve gathered together.


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