POETRY: Three Poems By Alina Stefanescu

rrrrrock

The first time bass quaked, my blood shook with it, rubber soles no insulation from linoleum pulse. Heart throb. I quivered and fainted. But things worked out because the bassist was my boyfriend, the swoon itself a sign of puppy love for a boy. Not his bass.

The twentieth time bass quaked, my car stalled while the sun sharpened its teeth on painted surfaces, glints of metal plucked pine needles from trees and they struck the ground at angles. I saw only edges. But things worked out because a girl can rewind, go back, play that bass-line again.

There were times when not even a sinkful of cold water cooled the blood, still boiled over bass. Times when I smelled his spark plugs from across the room.

The first time my eyes witnessed a small hand pluck electric bass notes, her girl-fingers looked no bigger than mine, I couldn’t quite believe. Watched as she went faster and thought of Germanic bezerkers whom nothing could soothe except frenzy. I said I didn’t know girls could do that too. She snarled fuuuuck youuu. But her bass rocked me so well I wondered what else a girl with small hands could do.

Palm curled into clawhammer lipgloss fist-flick at lightning speed, never forget the first time. You never forget how it felt when the music nailed you.

Our Vague and Vapid Love

Vague: indefinite or indistinct in nature or character. In France, vague implies the ever-shifting contour of an ocean wave. I’ve never met an ocean wave that settled.

Vapid: without liveliness or spirit; dull or tedious. A conversation about the limitless configurations of ocean waves will drift towards tedium.

Vague: the expression of unpillowed morning breath reviewing the one-night stand.

Vapid: phrases like one-night-stand given the unsettled ambiguity of mornings-after.

Vague: a loose line of faces spilling across the city sidewalk promising to wait, the murmur of shuffled feet.

Vapid: how much you like me on Facebook. How ardently I wait for your like.

Vague: directions by compass.

Vapid: a look I left behind, a lost look, the man my lost look makes of you.

Vague: the BYOB summer potluck at Nancy’s place without reference to a rain date.

Vapid: the speed at which you calculate the vapor of my social smile coiling across a crowded room. Divided by the time burned in calculations.

We discuss the vague in moderate to middling tones

while the vapid gets away with murder.

A Memory of a Panoramic View

The sign promises a panoramic view.

“I’d prefer paranormal”, you say.

“Show me a protective view”, I reply.

Rejoinders meet as sworded smiles

across the brilliant sunlight, glistening,

we admire only the rhythm that is ours.

“What can we do”, I shrug, lean into your arms.

Only Genesis 1:6, you sigh.

“But how to resolve all these impoverished imaginations?”

“Wendell Berry”, you reply.

“Something less cruel than an eye for an eye”.

You lay the blame on Socrates and Descartes-

on the dualism dividing us at the core.

I diagnose it as ecological amnesia.

You list the symptoms: increasing insularity,

consumerism, commodification, abstraction,

economic evaluation of land as a resource.

We agree it’s the post-Eden excuse.

“It’s every man for himself”, you acknowledge

briefly your Southern Baptist upbringing.

“Exploitation amounts to an economic equation”.

“We need a vision”, you say.

“But first a vigil”, I add.

“Like St. John Chrystostom.”

“Or Bill McKibben.”

“Give me Barry Lopez anyday.”

“But he wasn’t a Christian.”

“There you go with your Protestant schemes of scientific classification…”

“Can we agree on Blaise Pascal?”

“If we can agree to disagree on Sinead O’Connor.”

“Yes, let’s screw the gospel of individual fulfillment.”

“Lay ourselves bare to cutthroat competition?”

“Perhaps. But for parouosia.”

“I’m ashamed to be human.”

“True. 2 Corinthians 5:16.”

“How to let go of our human perspective?”

“By meeting the dandelion halfway.”

“Clarence Jordan and his pecans.”

“Now, it’s permaculture.”

“Still, it’s permanent.”

“Jesus’ threat to the Holy Roman order.”

“Absorb and assimilate. Defuse a threat by turning it into a local brand.”

“Ah yes, the beauty of the red, white, and blue.”

“When the flag flies, lips stay sealed unless seeping a patriotic hymn.”

Pace, Hannah Arendt.”

“Foucault said it best.”

“As did Vaclav Havel.”

“Until he became President and keeper of a new nation’s flag.”

From one panorama to another, we survey the past,

make growing room for the present view.

Unresolved career issues clamor for attention.

“So, why didn’t you bite the bullet and continue the family tradition of being a metallurgist?”

“Because the women in my family were all physicians- internists. It’s the men who played with totals.”

“I can’t imagine what you talked about at dinner…”

“We weren’t allowed to talk. Children should be seen and not heard.”

“Damn, that sounds oppressive.”

“So do beer commercial jangles, but you still belt them out on every road trip when you’ve got your captive audience.”

“There- you just did it!”

“What? Made you feel stupid?”

“No- used technical jargon. A marketing term to be specific. I like that about you.”

“What?”

“That you use random jargon- pool it all together from every subject like a glass bead game- whenever you talk. It’s hot.”

“No kidding.”

“No kidding allowed. Can I lick your earlobe?”

“It depends on why you want to.”

“Because it looks really soft, like veal.”

I catch my breath, explain “veal” is the technical term

for the flesh of young bull calves (generally dairy cattle

breeds), bemoan the way in which the word implies a

human mouth, a taste for young meat- there is no

such thing as veal until a human wants to eat.

Alina was born in Romania, raised in Alabama, and reared by the ghost of Hannah Arendt. She lives in Tuscaloosa with her partner and three small people. Her writing has been (or is currently being) published by NewerYork, Jersey Devil Press, Mulberry Fork Review, and Negative Capability Press, among others. She aims for a clean ontology. More online here.

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