All in by Alina Stefanescu

by Alina Stefanescu

You meet a nice immigrant that fills
up space with stories about Bosnia;
fills in the gaps with New York. The

question of Alaska is melting and yes
ice cubes in your Fanta would be nice.
You perform the usual astonishment

at her skilled use of English idioms. She
smiles and spills an affinity for the Brontes.
Her hair is Crimson Tide red, protected

by trademark. She hates football but maybe
plays anything when in Rome. You are a solid
Greek graduate of togas and keg-stands who

can italicize any era into parties. She says
it is difficult to unburden yourself to men
that don't see you as separate. She's dying

her hair orange for Auburn next month.
You think middle schools should teach
physics or start earlier—and you hope she

can tell you're joking. Being hilarious.
She says it's hard to talk to men that can't
hear you. Which is strange since you'd never

disparage her accent. She says men can't hear
her ever plus never. Your hair is solid pine-trunk
brown. You ready that quip about separate

spheres ideology but the waitress drums
her nails against the menu plastic. As if
to say: You pompous old fuck, no thing is
separate & here I am, serving you anyway.


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 and President of the Alabama State Poetry Society. 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. More online at or @aliner.