D.S. MAOLALAI

D.S. Maolalai has received nine nominations for Best of the Net and seven for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in three collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016), Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019) and Noble Rot (Turas Press, 2022)



SAY COLLECTIONS


there's not any cities. we need

a new word for what's now.

call it heaps. say collections. because

New York is much the same

honestly as Dublin. or people

here think it is, and that's

the same thing. I meannot

THE SAME. but the character

what I'm saying is now

there are Digital Quarters

all over the place, cut from life

like they're bad bits of apple,

as if they were Chinatowns,

as if it was culture which

made themand it is, it's a bad

bit of apple. and they wear the same shirts

now in Paris and Amsterdam, the cafes

are similar and even the counter cultures

which boil over mostly

the same. it's not cities,

not countriesI don't live anywhere.

I live in an apartment

with Chrysty and Summer the dog.

and I like it here, honestly,

living here. and I live in the centre

of life and of Dublin

and drive to the edge

every day and it takes 20 minutes.




GETTING BREAKFAST


sunday mornings

these days are certain detritus.

a piling up slag-heap

of people with hangovers

walking around in the light.

I get coffeethe girl blinks

and hands it across. I walk

among seagulls like chickens

which stumble – they break

in my wake and return to their

pawing at garbage. these days

I could wipe clean a blackboard

of phrases. could look at the chalk

on the duster and bang it

away. a streetsweeper pauses;

he nods and I cross out ahead

of him. go over the street

with the sun in my profile.

over the riverwalk south

like I've somewhere to be.



MAKING SCONES


we used to do it often

on days there was nothing

else. making scones; my mam

knewin hindsight maybe

the only thing she really

did with baking. what

matter that? she could do it

and I learned from her.


squat shapes were stuck

with raisins, rose

like mushrooms on

the pan. I learned to knead

and play about

like LEGOlearned

how fine ambitions

could easily lose shape.

and we did it together

afternoonssculpting mush

and levelling. then I'd forget

go outside or somethingand later

dad would get home. I remember jam


and sticky pride

and hunger

recalling

after dinner and

suggesting we have

some cakes.



REASSURANCE


a video call

client conference,

early on, weeks

into covid,

and everyone

(remember that?)

somewhat

more casual,

dressed out of bed

with their hair bad,

their faces unshaven,

unwashed. I look

into bedrooms

and kitchen home

offices, people in clothes

they wear daily.

not one single one

of these men

(who might fire me)

looks like he’s never

eaten soup

without spilling it.


AN INTELLIGENT MAN AND A DAMN FINE PIANO


being told, on the other hand,

that I'm only a bully

because sometimes I write

someone's name in the poems,

in a sometimes

unflattering light.


and we're both rather drunk

on this Saturday evening,

and he tells me

he doesn't really

like reading my poems

I know that, I do,

but I still like his (he doesn't

even write them). and I only write bad things

about people who I judge can take it,

and refuse to let respect

cloud myself putting them out.


Jack. you're one

of my closest friends, an intelligent man

and a damn fine

piano player.

this wouldn't look as good

with your name crossed out.

it means something, that word

which I use

to mean. the reason


I write swallow

is I mean to say

swallow;

I’ll write seagull

when I mean

something else.



A BACKDROP OF LANDSCAPE


pulling through mountains

in Leitrimstubbed peaks

majestic as unsharpened

betting shop pencils,

though the landscapes they draw

are still good. we stop at a spot

near to some holy well

and just past the turbines

where the road falls to view

of a green-shadowed landscape

like a window blind

suddenly opening. Loch Allen

below us, some fields and a wood

and the white paint-flake scratch

of a village. you take a few photos

of me with a backdrop of landscape

they come out and look good

and I take some of you; you really

don't like them. it’s not

just the countrysidemy framing's

way off, and the angle

I made of your jawline. the curse

of the amateur cameraman

to think the photos

you're taking are going to be good

because they're of someone

you love more than any green country.