On Watching Old Movies

After dry cleaner, after supermarket, after housework;
after Windex, after Pledge, after Joy; after Woolite, after All, after Bounce;
after he comes home at five, after dinner at six, after TV at eight;
after the evening news, after the eight o’clock sitcoms, after Jon Stewart;
after how was your day, after can you pick up my shirts, after see you in the morning–
the garbage always goes out on Monday nights. Then—up too late, can’t sleep,
alone on the couch—I conjure you from an old black & white movie on the TV.
Eighteen-year-old you, an usher at the Hamlet Street Theater,
and me at sixteen that summer I’d come to loiter in the lobby
during the pictures just to sit too close to you on the open window ledges,
and you snuck us back stage behind the lit up screen, to lay me back
on a stage prop bench, and then bend over me— our white shirts
flaring with all that light.
Over your shoulder, through the scrim, faces in the audience stared
at the projected movie heads not seeing your handsome face
so close to mine and that your eyelashes glistened with silver or feel
the warm through your clothes, your breath mingling with back-stage smells
of fresh-cut plywood and wet paint, and then the big screen voices fading
as I, when your mouth pressed against mine, learned how to feel a smile.
Perfectly formed ice cubes clatter into the white plastic bin
of the Stainless Steel General Electric side-by-side refrigerator,
and the house settles for what’s left of the snoring night
that gives in to the dark windows’ and closed doors’
right angles that square the room. And all the furniture remains
exactly where it has always been.


Noah Stetzer is a graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and also a recipient of scholarships from Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBT Writers & Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. His poem, "Eclipse” was a finalist in the first annual Tinderbox Poetry Journal Contest/2015. Noah's chapbook Because I Can See Needing a Knife (Red Bird) will be published in 2016. Born & raised in Pittsburgh PA, he now lives in the Washington DC area. www.noahstetzer.com