A Prose Poem by Alina Stefanescu

 25 minutes into an action flick 

“To die like flies is not how the flies will put it.”  

William Gass, Middle C

Aroma of pumpkin-harvest potpourri reminds me of the time I tried to explain what happened and then halted. Since the explanation was rated R. The pumpkin-harvest burns the den whenever we visit. There is the brown suede-soft couch and the catalog coffee table. There are the brass candlesticks and the paintings hung, all prints. Not one single oil. And there is the movie I’d rather not watch after seeing the previews, sinews of violence tendril from the big screen. I sense the pummels, smoke pillowing into a need twitching calves, a need I need to run and run. Need to scream fire arpeggios from a need to warn happy couch taters and their nearby tots. Who watch things like this all the time. For whom it’s no biggie. This movie I watch while holding my breath. At the pool, I hold my breath without going underwater. Fill cheeks with air and refuse to close my eyes. Pointless to hold breath back when it’s everywhere when it’s easy when it’s prevalent which means popular. Water is an alternate discourse. Not like the movie I watch to make people happy, a game I agree to play not to ruin their fun. The camera narrows into a scene where the rayon-poppy dress wears a girl who is struggling. Both dress and girl struggle and I know what comes next. I know that sandal she will leave before a blow to left temple erases the screen in her head. What a girl hasn’t seen……………. this action flick you savor with fistfuls of popcorn, the kids who watch, the girl whose leg turns into a metal clothes hanger crooked upon asphalt. Femaleturnedpretzelshape. A girl will turn anywhichway to keep an audience riveted. Watch this part. The plastic syringe disposal baskets on white walls wheel past a girl waking up hospital. Medical. Clinicians apply special words to probe and prod and figure. The flesh is a story she can’t tell. This is a movie. 25 minutes is early. Assume her story is a subplot. Rape amounts to subplot if you can’t remember— and an ending for those who can. A movie you watch is home entertainment. Frosty mugs and pinot glasses close to hand. A movie unscrews a head from its socket when red lights flash warning warning warning. Remember the time I tried to explain how it felt and warning warning you held up a palm to say no. A palm says no and cradles pinot. Warning that’s too much detail warning it’s too sordid warning the kids might hear warning it makes people queasy to hear. You say I should see a therapist. What happened to me is a series of actions you find offensive to normal people. I say no but the movie is playing. The woman trying to talk about the girl is an offense to fun. But this movie, this family-friendly action flick, in the same room as the head where actions happened…..And your palm reaching for the wine…… The action scene you relish, the action onscreen entertains, that poison you sip.


Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama with her partner and four small mammals. She won the 2015 Ryan R. Gibbs Flash Fiction Award and was a finalist for the 2015 Robert Dana Poetry Award. Her poetry chapbook, Objects In Vases, was published by Anchor & Plume in March 2016. She aims for an ontology which would satisfy Hannah Arendt, Norman Manea, and Tom Waits. More online at

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