Riding Backwards on a Train

Someone always likes to ride backwards,
leaning his head against the window, reflection,
the clacking of the cars rocking him to sleep.
What does he see in the passing frames?
Stories. Stories like long tracts of land.
There goes an old house, a sycamore.
There goes an old house, a sycamore.
My mother was an old house, my father
a sycamore towering over her. In winter,
I teetered on a ladder, a weathered ledge,
and cleaned the gutters. When I dream
I am falling, I fall from that roof, born midair,
barely alive, then the ground, hard mercy,
a stranger's hand touching my shoulder.

-James Hoch


Thursday September 18, 2003
4:00pm - 6:00pm  'm' M110
Dialogue Reading
James Hoch is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Before teaching, he worked as a dishwasher, cook, dockworker and social worker.  His poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review and Poetry Daily.  His awards include a 2002 Fellowship from the PA Council on the Arts and a 2003 Bread Loaf Fellow Award.
James Hoch's A Parade of Hands is the work of a very gifted young poet for whom the lyric is both discovery and song.  I'm drawn to his grave tones and graceful formal aptitude, in poems alternately hard as "steel piled in a yard" and mysterious as "a handful/of winged insects throbbing against glass."  There is real peril here, and not just the faux of melodrama one finds in much new poetry; and real experience -- of travel, of work, of loves found and loves lost.  Each line of these excellent poems is real, worked-over, lucid, revealing, melodic and true. -- David Baker
James Hoch and Chezia Thompson Cager

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