Two Poems

Poetry / Noah Stetzer

Lost Afternoons

You’ll have a stranger with a hard-on parked in your driveway.
He will have clocked the address, and two sizes of shoes in the front hall;
marked the furniture and the house: comfortable, and will hear
two-point-five dogs in the basement while the school bus
makes its way down the street.

You’ll think: the small slip of suburban afternoon will empty
of noise and fill with chilly sun, a cool breeze will come
through the window and your house will settle and the washer will stop,
the dryer clock will click, the mail will rest, even the refrigerator
will hold its mechanical breath.

You’ve been careful not to tell your name and not to ask for his; and think
without names you’re unencumbered: face down naked and waiting, not putting a name
to this, wrapped in ideas of avoiding consequence—and you will have prayed
to God he’ll use you, prayed he’ll use you up; but you’re the only one
who’ll think this is anonymous.

You will peek between your feet and see his shoes behind you, feel the scratch
of his open zipper
against the back of your leg and he will push and hold you up on your toes
until that small moment stops.                     And then the day will fill in around you; houses
will drop slowly into lots next door and across the street. The ceiling will lower,
the walls will push in while the floor rises

until they stop just as far apart as they need to. His skin will peel away
from yours, the small clicks and whirrs of the house will start up
while he washes in the bathroom, and with quick footsteps across the hardwood floors,
he’ll be out the door. Change the sheets, wash the towels,
and close your blinds.

Mechanism of HIV Persistence

A click, whir-humming starts in the basement
then the unique thrilling sound of a flame
igniting inside the iron furnace;
and the crack-clatter of ice cubes falling
from the ice machine inside the freezer
inside the refrigerator humming
in the dim-lit kitchen while I’m in bed
listening so hard my ears are aching.

I know at night after dark I can hear
it at work, the slow hum of it inside
where the meds cannot reach; the “reservoirs”
are somewhere deep in my bones or hidden
in the brain. Click like a lock un locking
—cause it has keys; it just lets itself in.

Noah Stetzer is a graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and also a scholarship recipient from the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBT Writers & from the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. He was a winner of 2015 Christopher Hewitt Award for Poetry & the 39th New Millennium Award for Poetry. Noah's poems have appeared/are forthcoming at James Franco Review, A&U Magazine, The Collagist, The Volta, Tinderbox, & Phantom. Born & raised in Pittsburgh PA, he now lives in Washington DC.