My Mom & Her Monkshttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/schirl-scaled.jpg?fit=1067%2C1600&ssl=110671600Alina StefanescuAlina Stefanescuhttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Alina-Stefanescu.png?fit=94%2C96&ssl=1
the monks she brought to alabama from eastern europe & texas & georgia / monks she doctored, fed, & housed in the basement / monks lugging long beards the color of yellowed papers / my mom & those monks who spoke romanian but chanted in latin / one monk who loved aramaic, wild violets, & overripe bananas / another monk partial to rilke & rottweiler limericks / my mom & her monks in piggly wiggly, blazing a trail of holies behind the cart / that crew of lost litanies seeking raw cabbage / monks who fasted from meat & dairy and resisted the devil’s deodorant, electing to reek of the animal flesh they wouldn’t eat / fasting monks who inched on two feet and averted their eyes from billboards / monks crossing themselves near tabloids / monks not even peeking at pictures of dolly parton / those gluttons for prayer who rose before the sun to squeeze in a few extra matins / mom’s humble-bumble pious monks who woke us with dirges, their crowing outdoing that of the horniest roosters / early risers who peacocked about town in their super-dramatic black dresses / wild monks who never once missed communion, all lust in their hearts reserved for death / monks never married / monks not on the market for house or truck / monks speaking to sparrows on the porch where we were all brothers / mom’s porch where her monks crossed their hearts & begged the heavens for gun laws / porch where the monks inveighed against imperialism as mom tore hot wax from her legs while monks lit her kents and drank tuica / porch where monks prayed on their knees facing the swingset / dusk when my mom & her monks whispered about simone weil as she were meth–a fast, brutal high that could get you arrested / mom & the monks who prayed ropes for me. laying incense-smoked palms on my pimpled forehead / mom’s monks who mailed oils from mount athos / monks who cringed when I mentioned fracking / who said that is no way to treat our sacred earthly mother / who said that is no way to treat a woman made in god’s image / who said every broken wing is the heart of an icon / monks who cursed each frack or fuck on the planet / my mom & her monks gathering in a harem of mysteries to break unleaven bread, share a chalice of cheap merlot, and weep while listening to early l. cohen
Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her partner and several intense mammals. Her writing can be found in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, Virga, Whale Road Review, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes, Poetry Editor for Random Sample Review, Poetry Reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Co-Director of PEN America’s Birmingham Chapter. She was nominated for 5 Pushcart Prizes by various journals in 2019. A finalist for the 2019 Kurt Brown AWP Prize, Alina won the 2019 River Heron Poetry Prize. She still can’t believe (or deserve) any of this. More online at www.alinastefanescuwriter.com.