May 1, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

J Stimp photo



Alina Stefanescu




Bomb Poem



She was ready

to leave the box

near the front step


until a child pressed

his face against

the bay window


eyes canvassing the street

waiting for someone

to play to pause


to see him. Which she

did. Having seen

one lonely child


would be the first

price of a war

started by fathers,


she hugged the box

close, like a baby.

Left alone.





The Fine Art of Playing Along



Steve Almond says football began as a college hazing ritual

that got out of hand. All balls and elbows and elbows

experiment upwards until 1860 when football was banned

by Yale&Harvard. All balls showing bones get broken.

A proliferation of broken Ivy bones bent by boys.

Shorthand XY.


Some people (not Steve Almond) say the vitamin D in our milk

is a statistical triumph over 1860 bones. Old bones snap and crack.

Old bones break easy. Vitamin consolatio leaves us stronger than

ever before. Mega-strong. Never before this conglomerate of mega

strong XY’s gathered together in the gape-mouth of a stadium.

Stronger for sure than 1904 when 18 boys perished of football.

We don’t perish anymore.


Steve Almond says football-fanning offers us broken bodies

with beer and popcorn. I would add hot dogs. I would never

leave out hot diggity dogs and special wave-like cheers. Our

appetites for war get whet. Show us the carnage. Pin the pink

carnation. Stomp it up for the possible concussions. There are

thousands baring teeth in a stadium. Someone please

pass the iced statistic.


Steve Almond says football makes us less empathetic, shuts

down our fellow-feeling synapses, rewires fan-like brains against

each other. I have witnessed football fans being critical of empaths.

I have seen a man yell at his son in the hot diggity dog line

for being a god-damned sissy. We know the boy who felt bad

for the injured linebacker was probably also prissy. Boys who care

are sissy prissy missies.


Steve Almond says watching football decreases our ability and

willingness to lead examined lives but I’m stuck on scorecards.

Maybe football flips us into better gamers, better score-takers and makers.

We wait for scores with atonal masterpieces streaming from holy-roly

mouths. We examine the playing field for what bones need breaking.

Mega-strong winning types.


Steve Almond says football leaves its players dumber, less capable of

self-restraint. I think Steve is serious as a five-yard sack. Maybe that’s

my opinion because not everyone can be mega-strong. Cheerleaders

monopolize the mega-prissy.


Other folks say football is deeply entertaining. They cain’t wait

for the college season to begin. I tell a folk we don’t keep up

with football. I tell a folk we don’t even watch it. Oh my gawd,

one folk fumble.  Lord have mercy, other folk mumble.  Also:

how will your son live in our culture if he doesn’t watch

college football?


I get particle-feverish, pariah-manic when their words come

out well-rehearsed plays. Huddle then huuuuuuuuuu-p.

I’m not raising my son to live in your culture, I punt back.

Oh my gawd, oh my word, they say in that losing-team downslope

voice. Huddle huddle. What are you raising and is it a sissy?

I am rearing one


son to live in the demise of your culture. I’m raising a tree

with strong roots and what’s strong is underground invisible.

I’m blowing this bubble wild, high, and lonesome as a mayfly

who dies making love to a life that will end in a flash. I’m

raising a revolution without revolvers, a child who repairs the ravage,

a linebacker contra mundi.


Drats, folk say, got to go. LSU game starts in less than

two hours. Excuses are facts we include for a reason. I can’t

help admiring how Astroturf barely buckles beneath heavy

hurry huddle stampede of fanning feet the folk follow away

as if the world


on it.






Alina Stefanescu

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama with four incredible mammals. Find her poems and prose in recent issues of Juked, DIAGRAM, New South, Mantis, VOLT, Cloudbank, New Orleans Review Online, and others. Her debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Books Prize and will be available in May 2018. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes and President of the Alabama State Poetry Society. More arcana online at www.alinastefanescu.com or @aliner.

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