I say a friend is like a pocket knife that doubles as a nail file that turns into a weapon wants to trim hair tips. I snip off split ends in a community garden. I battle the stiff affect perfect of endings. I say a lie tastes like strawberry kool-aid, a sharp tang, a lurid red lingering on the tongue, round the lips. Like sugar accumulates into cavities, a lie hangs around, eventually aches. I once swallowed an icicle whole because Karen wouldn't talk to me at recess. A lie tastes like a secret penny I won't say how many Iâve saved. How many I've kept away from boys who begged, bolstering claims for one little lick. If you watch a plant, it won't grow. There's no way to talk to a garden. I say poets of place-based tapioca and crib-loyalty line up in the Home Depot paint aisle to sampling variants of purple. We all need a home, a mammalian habit, a wall to climb when folks love us too much. I'll wind up alone, licking these lonesome briskets. I call my friend Lucy. Say give me a hand with this loathing I'm carving out. We call it a pumpkin.
by Alina Stefanescu
Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama. Her poems and prose are recent or forthcoming in DIAGRAM, New South, Mantis, VOLT, Cloudbank, Prairie Schooner, NELLE, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor of Pidgeonholes, President of the Alabama State Poetry Society, and co-founder of the Magic City Poetry Festival. Her first poetry chapbook, 'Objects in Vases' (Anchor & Plume Press, 2016) won the ASPS Poetry Book of the Year Award. Her first poetry collection, 'Stories to Read Aloud to Your Fetus' (Finishing Line Press, 2017) included Pushcart-nominated poems. Her debut fiction collection, 'Every Mask I Tried On', won the Brighthorse Books Prize and was published in May 2018.