Under Snow Geese

Nothing calls back to my dog when he barks
against the dark window glass. Nothing cares
one lick about the anxious whine low
in his throat for the nothing that creeps
down the street, the shadow that slinks
along the gutter of the sidewalk—
a glance back over its shoulder, a flash
of eyes, and stopped dead. Nothing is all
my dog gets back from the nothing that went
tracking through the front yard’s uncut grass,
through the front yard’s first leaf fall. This is dark
work—night-time early morning stuff—
when my dog is awake but the house
is not, dark still overhead with early
Wednesday just smudging down at the eastern end
of Elger Street. Something lighter, something
paler happens there with the sound overhead
of a passing V of something flying,
a crowded honk of flying: something
passes overhead, something’s leaving.  That noise
like the coming and going train
sound but of bird call: it starts over
the shoulder and behind the house,
and tracks overhead, a pass
overhead closer than an airplane
but farther than the tree branches. Up top,
the something in the dark is busy
heading out. And there’s that nothing else
on the street—still stock still—in the dark, flashed
eyes glinting back at my dog unmoving
at the window, straining against his very skin
to stay absolutely still, his instinct
at work, busy at not startling his one chance
at getting what he wants even though the house
—always closed around us both—will keep him from it.
He’s all nerve and instinct on the floor up
against the window. The honking
overhead fades, the still nothing in the dark
edge of the street turning back to face its out
and away heading—its going-on bearing.
The small whine in the back of my dog’s throat
stops; the house holds its breath and we wait.

 

Lot One: drivers must remain with their vehicles

Circling the bare tree’s branches like water
twisting first fast and tight around the drain

before twitching quick and slipping out of sight,
this busy murder’s easy thirty crows

about its fierce-sounding work—squawked calls
between the walls around the parking lot,

multiplying so you’d think they’re all at once
on all sides coming at you—after food

scraps from the market and leftover tree
bits in the gutters, a black feather flurry

like twitched blinking then in an ominous
hushed twist they come together at the oak

where they surround it but then slip inside
shadowed branches soaking into the dark.

 

HIV.1-Associated Dementia Complex

I came around the bend in the road
from the other way on my street the way
I never come from, it’s a rise that way

bending to the right and steep and our house
comes up on the left, a side of the house
I rarely get a chance to see driving

home westward, never west to east—
too much
like going back in time going that way
with the bright morning sunlight in my face

“keep the sun at your back,” my father’d say
and he’s right, no point really in walking
blind, and this time driving so that a house

for a moment strange and then familiar
stood there and suddenly I couldn’t see.

 

Noah Stetzer

NOAH STETZER Noah Stetzer is a graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and has received scholarships from the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBT Writers & from the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. Red Bird Chapbooks published his chapbook Because I Can See Needing a Knife in 2016. Born & raised in Pittsburgh PA, Noah now lives in the Washington DC area and can be found online at www.noahstetzer.com.

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