James Hoch

The Court of Forgetting

The awkward-gaited, the under-ripe
jacked-up over-jerseyed teenage boys
spill onto the court, a slab of desert
beaten in the yard of this way-station
at the edge of the Reservation. The air-guitar
player, the air-baller, half-court rim-clanger,
the pimple-plagued conjurer of nipples,
the bible-thumping believer that lingerie
carries the meadow-scent of angels,
they’re talking trash, snatching loose balls,
laying them softly off the plywood.
The one who lobs piss from the overpass,
one who siphons gasoline, huffs hours
crumpled in wood sheds, in warm oblivion,
they’re perfecting crotch grab and spit,
and got a mean pick and roll going on.
The one who pries his mother’s fingers
from beer cans, one who wires pickups
and ditches them in canyons, one who
swaggers and stares stone-inducing stares
before crossing over and driving to the hole,
they have the sweet, easy hands, and pray,
if only briefly, for the clean, wet sound
of ball releasing net. The one who has taken
his uncle’s prick in his mouth, the one
who showers with his sister, who lie in bunks
and weep as orphans and convicts must,
they are silence in the back court, deadly
from the perimeter. They are sly jukes
and dishes, cuts and pivots. They are all
sweat, hustle, break, forgetting minutes, hours,
deaths they’ve inhaled, that well in their lungs
and lift now off bodies acrid and salt-laden,
lifting like the dust, red and hanging in the air,
until someone calls time and they’re done,
and everything becomes what it was.

James Hoch
The Court of Forgetting first appeared in Rivendell, Spring 2004.