Three Poems by Alina Stefanescu

Playground swings by Aaron Burden on UnsplashPhoto by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The First Year of Tinnitus

The armadillo of sadness arrives
during football season. My daughters hold hands
across the hollow between

moving swings. The rainbow
lays its loud cloud in diesel pooling over asphalt.
Someone, kiss me. Somefool, drink

me. I cannot
think. Something in

me breaks off
completely as my partner paces
the playground like a caged rooster.


Poem Carrying a Line from Yeats in its Six Teeth

Come stage a Hamlet of the 2,732 variants
swish through my head—bring your drunk starling
around for the swindle dusk renders of light.

My transactional heart is here for the queering of
pretty monologues. O fastidious screw, I don't feel
punk at all; I don't feel bonded, or even bound closer.


Five Arguments with Czeslaw about 'Self-Image'

italicized lines are from Czeslaw Milosz's poem, "No More"


On the shelf squats a brass cymbal, the scythe
of old scores trailed you over oceans
like ageless cartoon puppies by a flaw in your blood set to hymn.



Instruments wither—only the chant endures
what night does to the mind, the numb wrist, the notebook.
I want to curl inside your tongue,
bury what's true in italics
where they cannot touch us—
where the smoothing-over
of assimilation fails to dilute, to melt, to make
edible stew. Nothing mangles like markets
in mouths
branding everything.



The brand is what tormented
me in those years I lived  after you—the flashy flesh sold
back for anthems, the ache compressed into hymnals,
codified into song, the sanctification of unremembered things.
Fellow mouth-breathing mammals,
what lie would you kill for?



Tonight I kneel on the hardwood floor
near a bed where this man swears he loves me,
where I am closest to the cockroach of intimacy,
the surgery, the quiet chorus of pain
in a body—no one manages allegiance
like nerve damage, the abruptest
alienation these midnights have known.

Once I was disinhibited, now I am
uninhabited. But where are you
behind your words, writing the heroic
Yevtushenko; the charismatic
poet needed the tyrannies of a whipped muse
to overcome his own gradients.



The self imagines itself in the selfless
selfie. Allege it all to be loved, to swell the curve
in the beloved's path as his eyes shut the stanza.
Fellow sleepless ones, I think we could run forever
and never stop feeling it. Needle the verb
to restore what is wounded,
what is infected once existed.

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