DS Maolalaí

The accessory

it was terrible,
he said;
there was this hole
and he put
something in there
and now
there was a baby
which neither of them
wanted. at least
he had a viable exit available,
though of course
(he said)
he wouldn’t take it. he was, after all,
only an accessory to the crime. she
was the real criminal
in this case. building a person
held by the court
as bad as killing one;
a life sentence
to be ended (if you’re good)
after 25 years or so.
that fucker. and then,
two years in,
he changed his mind;
went and jumped off the ferry to holyhead
9:25 in the morning. died
and was fished out
and buried. at the funeral
everyone looked at her
and said
it was a pity, wasn’t it,
what she’d went
and done to him.

The Homesteaders

they seemed to settle together
in a pretty simple way
like gathering firewood –
once there was just this bunch of guys
that drank cans down by Binns Bridge
all the longest of hot afternoons
with their tops taken off by the water
and their lean asses leaned on the sides of the locks,
crumbled cans accumulating in plastic bags
and faces burning
nut-brown against the sun.
they had it pretty good.
cans in summer and summer on their knuckles
and a place with some shade and a good view of what was happening.
they had it pretty good.
some of the younger guys would go swimming.

then one day it must have rained
and someone suggested a tent for shelter
and that was it –
by the next week there were five already
and more coming,
each with plenty of space around them,
pressed flesh against the fences and well out of people’s way,
each able to hide five men
all curled high in body-heat and fetal.

around 11am you’d see them getting up with the sunlight,
stretching at the entrance,
and scratching their bellies,
casting around for how best
to spend their time. some of them fished
now that it was too cold to swim.
mostly they smoked
and barbecued out of date tesco food
in firepits built from cinderblocks.
someone had dragged over a sofa
and they lounged around it like cats,
like kind of the center of the community
where the talking was done and the cans
got distributed.
they guarded their plots like goldclaims from lions
and hung out cleaned clothes to dry along fences but
the supplies they scrounged seemed pretty well shared, at least
among friends. there were days that there’d be thirty guys out there
yelling and laughing around the water
and sometimes even a woman or two
drinking cider and taking equal foot with the men.

cigarette butts were collected for the spare tobacco
and they helped people look for lost dogs
and kept things pretty tidy. they were

homesteaders, settling a niche-built city,
and seemed to know that their best interest
was in never hassling anyone near their stake.
every now and then
when things would become a little too permanent
the police would push them along
but they’d be back a week later
set up to maintain,
more at ease and suntanned
than anyone you’d see all day.

a heron stalked the water endlessly for guppies
and the waterfowls clucked and preened in circles
flirting their wattle at their hens.

The smell of hospitals

I sit in my kitchen
drinking wine,
and banging out letters
surrounded by drowning
and shiny trousers. laundry day
and they hang,
shapeless as crashed
traffic. there is something;
the drip comes like footsteps
in rattles
on the lino. life – car-wreck
with grim chance
and the smell
of well-scrubbed

DS Maolalaí has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press, with Sad Havoc Among the Birds forthcoming from Turas Press in 2019.