Noah Stetzer

Two Poems

Volume 17:2, Spring 2016

There is a Balm in Gilead®

This red one’s twice a day to even out
your heart; the white one’s only once a day
for kidney and the yellow just once too
for your liver because the big horse pill
of three meds in one—beware trinities—
brings a mitigated kind of healing.

Measuring the weight of this decision
in plastic bottles of prescription pills,
deciphering chemical names to find
the cost in choosing, you lift the slate blue
pill to your mouth and fasten one more day
—check the letters on your weekly pill box—

to yourself with a palm full of bathroom
water—swallowing is an act of hope.


“…and may or may not cause psychotropic side effects.”

Your dreams, he said—standing next to my bed
on the hospital’s telemetry floor,
room 337, with a window
facing another wall, snowflakes falling

in the fading light; this was his last round
for that day, the second week of my stay,
and that night we’d finally start the meds
for HIV, still the Bactrim bags’d

drip twice a day another two more weeks
but now we’d start the stuff I’d take and keep
taking once a day just after dinner
as night settles in outside the windows

and even after five years now the same
is true just like then—will be frustrating.


Noah Stetzer is the author of the chapbook Because I Can See Needing a Knife (Red Bird, 2016). He is a graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and a scholarship recipient from the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBT Writers, and from the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. Stetzer is the recipient of a 2015 Christopher Hewitt Award for Poetry, and the 39th New Millennium Award for Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Good Men Project, A&U Magazine, The Collagist, The Volta, and Tinderbox.