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.