Noah Stetzer

Effective Treatment


I’m keeping my eyes fixed on the ceiling. I’m unhappy
with the motivational poster in this waiting room.
They’re busy with anything else but me behind

that front desk. But it’s okay, this poster’s got its eye
on me: the distant horizon’s a journey of first steps,
the stone edifice conquered with small stuff sweat.

This poster’s maybe only telling itself what it needs
to hear: that it’s doing some good one glance
at a time, that the wall’s better for having it, the room’s

better for knowing it. This room doesn’t care about you.
The decision to hang the poster doesn’t even remember
how it happened, where the poster came from, or the day

it made it to the wall. I come every six months to get
the pills that keep me almost well or at least close
enough to work enough to make enough to pay

to come back enough to wait some more. And here’s
this dropped acoustic tile ceiling—from even before
they portioned this space and made walls—that in a fire

will soak up the sprinkler water and by design each tile
will, under its own water-logged weight, fall to smother
the flame beneath it.



Again, Spring


My eyes can barely make out the glimmer at the north end
of the field: a smudged gleam of yellow, the year’s first

color, bright like to say this way to each March day. A little
less cold but still damp in these dark mornings. This would be

snow a month ago. We’re tipping forward again, coming round
with our big blue face closer to the sun again, and everywhere

the ground recommences like it can’t help itself. The rickety
spindles which all winter cast shadows like shattered glass

lines against the snowfall are now rounded with buds:
something’s about to, something’s pushing through.

The cells in an eye’s cornea can regenerate in as little as one
day—but the lens doesn’t change. Every thirty-five days

our skin replaces itself. Across seven years our body sloughs
off its worn-out self and makes a kind of all new again. Copies

of a copy that over time shed bits and pieces. I thought I knew
what this shape used to mean. Maybe we live too long. Why

not give our unique kind of consciousness to the longest
survivors? Let me hear instead from the Greenland Shark

about keeping on. Hanging on five hundred years the Greenland
Shark is the slowest moving shark, topping out at a single mile

per hour. They aren’t going anywhere fast or soon. They prey
on the sleeping. Early on, a bioluminescent crustacean colonizes

its outsides eventually attaching to the eyes, blinding the shark
for the long slog of its relentless life. And still it moves: slow

and low in the cold deep—and it glows, shining in the dark.






Noah Stetzer is the author of Because I Can See Needing a Knife (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). His poems have appeared in Sixth Finch, Waxwing, and other journals. Noah has been a fellow of the Lambda Literary Retreat and a work-study scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.