Scoundrel Time

What’s Brittle

That place where
it breaks—the faint
hairline crack

that snakes
its spider web
lines out in all

directions, jigsawing
sharp pieces out
of what was once

just a single thing:
a window
I have looked through

forgetting the glass.
The oak seen
for weeks at the top

of the commons
this morning
we found felled

who knows how,
but it scattered
wood splinters

in a sweeping arch
away from the site
the way you’d find

creek water spread
from banks
that have breached—

I’ve looked at that tree
never thinking
for a second

of all the bits
and pieces
of it—seeing

only one tall thing
that might break
but never shatter.



Noah Stetzer is the author of Because I Can See Needing a Knife (Red Bird Chapbooks). His poems have appeared in Sixth Finch, The Cortland Review, Hobart, and other journals. Noah can be found online at




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