But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?
Tied at my mouth, tongue knotted with my tongue,
this stone this knife this bitter herb—older
than Easter with rusty thumbnails digging
into the skin on the sides of my chest—
exhaled stale breath into my lungs, pushing
sand and hot and grit inside inflating
until I hovered halfway between floor
and ceiling my lips blistered with cold sores.
When two doctors cut into my chest—one
on each side, at the same time with scalpels
ignoring my clenched-teeth closed-mouth screaming
as they shoved plastic tubes into the space
outside my lungs reversing the collapse—
the air—cool water—at last, filled me up.
Noah Stetzer is a graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He has received scholarships from the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBT Writers and from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. He was a winner of 2015 Christopher Hewitt Award for Poetry and the 39th New Millennium Award for Poetry. Noah’s poems have appeared/are forthcoming at Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Nimrod, James Franco Review, The Good Men Project, A&U Magazine, The Collagist, The Volta, Tinderbox, and Phantom Press. Born & raised in Pittsburgh PA, he now lives in the Washington DC area.
This poem is not previously published.