DS Maolalaí

My old rival.

so yeah,
last year
I put this book out.
it was admired
mostly by friends
and my relations
but also
by some strangers
I never even met.
it was about Love
because my editor had told me
that Love was what sold. I had other things I wanted to say
but lately
I’d been doing pretty well with girls
and some of the poems I wrote
really turned out
to be love poems.

most of them weren’t very good. I guess
now because I knew
when I was writing them
that love poems
are the kinds of poems
that sell. I still meant them,
but still
I knew that.

now I drink white wine
and look out my window
to where you can see train tracks
crossing the street.
the guy last year would have got some good poems off
using that as a metaphor. he’d also probably do better
about love.
I should send him a letter
and tell him he can use this stuff
since I’ll only make a hash out of it.
I hate how good he was at this,
falling in love pretty naturally,
getting words around it
and about how it relates
to trains.


Some squat animal.

it’s attractive. that’s
the thing it is. like turning up
gravity. and walking down d’olier st
with cranes wheeling above you
and holding themselves together
with their long extended arms,
their counterweights
balanced beautifully
like the fat backs of spiders. machinery;
the spin and click,
fitting perfect
at 30 floors up – that’s what they do
to make towers now, and now they’re making
a lot of them. turning up gravity
all around dublin – no longer
some squat
and sooty animal
crouching beside mountains; it’s going to get
so you don’t even need to go
to new york
or london
to see things rise. it’s attractive – the idea
that trinity
will one day be this lake between the buildings,
like central park in NY
or a napkin dropped on coffee. and we’ll
be in shadow all of the time
walking around,
but with reflections on the sides of buildings
shining, so we’ll still all have
suntans. dublin
will flip and twist and rekindle districts. it’s attractive. turning
up gravity. making things
while we walk around marveling. and cranes
with long arms like spiders
moving over us so calmly, like spiders
moving over flies.


Maybe next year Mexico.

hell, we get everywhere eventually
and even think
when we get there
that we’ll get out of the city for a while
and drive a long way
in a rented car
sharing warm cans of soda
and fresh cheese sandwiches
until we’ve reached somewhere famous
to tell people
that we’ve seen it.

but more and more
seeing the world with you
has just become data entry
in different offices
with different amounts of light
and you always seem to meet
some spanish guy
who traveled there for research
while he’s writing haikus with his finger
in spilled puddles of coffee

and meanwhile I end up
meeting someone local
someone who’s impressed by nothing
except that I come from far away
and I’m sorry you never
get a chance to light that candle
but when we catch each other coming in some morning
at 7am
no light is necessary

and we sort of acknowledge that
sort of
without actually saying any of the words
and go to bed
and with the sun up already
earlier than it gets back home.

and I fry eggs and you go out for coffee
and suggest that maybe we put a pin in this conversation
and at this point I don’t care,
thinking I’ve given you 3 years of my life
to travel with
like a swiss knife
and a fold away toothbrush
and thinking about how she
made different noises
than you did
but when I met you
that was different too.

and then we both have to work
and it’s amazing how nothing changes –
we see each other at night
and on weekends
and sometimes even the sex
isn’t bad
if cursory.

“I think maybe next year mexico”,
you say suddenly one morning,
the way you always say things suddenly
with the sheets around your hips and the sun
tracing shapes on your belly
as if sex is the time you take
to get reflective on our future:

“we’d have to learn spanish of course, but
it might be good for us to stretch ourselves
and we’re running out of places we can speak english in
anyway. just australia left and that’s it. what do you think?
mexico? argentina? if you had any choice left about anything
easy in the world
where would you choose to go?”


My sister’s new house.

my sister’s new house – 8
people there, all of them early
20s, all of them
good drunks, all
clever –
a place
for parties. far better
than my house, taken like a thief
from a grandmother in hospital,
a place
for sad poems
and nothing else
at all.


Your friends cat.

death comes softly
stalking the corner,
flicking his tail
and licking sticky whiskers.

his fur
is red-orange,
as a car on fire,
his head
a fractured
glass of milk. he curls
around your legs
and purrs a turning engine.
he is stylish, strong
and very attractive
and he knows you’re visiting
to give him

in the kitchen
you squeeze out the pouch,
spill meat and gravy
in short
sloppy plops.
he slips between your leg and begins devouring,
even before the last of it drips down.

when you leave
you lock the door behind you – he’s still eating,
trapped in the kitchen
to crawl around
and sleep
in sunny patches
and tonight
birds will sing safety.


The hubcap.

sun’s out
for summer. and everything
is dusty
as the bottom of old cars. that’s perhaps
because of the plant next door
where they manufacture
tea and coffee
for shipping
to the city. that’s real; it’s in dublin,
on the malahide road,
near the airport. bewleys. and my office
is there. sometimes
on your smoke break
they vent,
and the air smells
delicious. charred biscuits. it’s a wonderful
spot. sun all over. and every day
walking home
you can pick up a hubcap, too,
if you want one. cars always
are almost crashing,
and then they just lie there, dirty
as lost coins. you walk past scrubground
and bushes
breaking with blackbirds. they’re not
frightened of people. I guess
living near a main road
does that
to birds. but you can walk right by,
an arm’s reach out,
and they just flip and move
in the careful angles
which birds do,
with black eyes
dull as hubcaps
stained with dust and tea.

© DS Maolalaí

DS Maolalaí has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019).

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