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Pavane After Rilke & Whiskey

poetry by Alina Stefanescu

Pavane After Rilke & Whiskey

Close to the cost of knowing lies the sin 

of being known. So what's the word for a flame 

that licks its lips on a winded night? Or the noun 


that carries the loose string on an electric guitar? 

And what is poison in the context of August meadows,

of soil being fracked, of water swimming like cancer 


when it sleeps? A death already in us, grinding 

her teeth. The poems abandoned, the words lost, 

the hurt feelings of limited time become frost. 


To live with both beauty and terror is our 

troth. I write a poem which teaches dogwoods 

to dance but find no words to bear the weight


of what's looming. And what've we loomed 

in the name of convenience remains unverbed,

only its increments bricked into our spines.


Alina Stefanescu

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She serves as Co-Director of PEN Birmingham. Her writing can be found in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Virga, Whale Road Review, and others. More online at

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