James Hoch reads
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Even the sound seems clumsy, as if the word clogs the little space between tongue and pallet, an accident: shattering consonant, guttural vowel. Looks funny, too, like a jogger with a strange gait, or an animal that might benefit from being run over, which is about how he feels as she turns away, retreats to her side of the bed and he lies there, considering the error, the name that just stumbled out of his mouth, dumbly as the first time he asked out a girl with blue spiked hair, a fragrance of old pillows, and subsequent tongue like an iguana. So he tries adjusting the way he once tried puzzling together a dish, a Japanese import from Hoboken, shard and fingertip and Krazy Glue. Bad idea, bad as wearing a white pair of underwear on his head to school, bad as taking that job as a pig inseminator. Bad as climbing Normanwood Bridge, bad as Scott Koch backing right off, bad as reaching, bad as touching his shoe. O heart, O George, O jungle. O God fumbling for the light switch, here is your awful toy, all sense tumbling away from him as it does from you. What else can he do but reach for her, as if touch could fix a wrong, and coax her hand and mouth back to bed, a skill, the only one he ever had.