DS Maolalaí

Open houses.

it’s strange —
the fashion at one point
was for yellow walls
done old
bone colour,
and the thick rich redness
of textured furniture,
like sleeping inside
someone’s guts.

old houses
in residential neighbourhoods;
of course
they can’t catch
the grandeur
of stately homes – just tributes
to broken styles like horses
from 60 years ago,
stocked with objects
torn out at private
distress auctions. you pick
among pieces
like a magpie through grass
and take a look in the kitchen — metal things
with knobs on
and ornate
carved handles
of rare wood. I don’t
like this,
seeing things
that were useful
gone hard
and heavy
and antique.

I don’t like it
and I don’t like knowing
that people will say the same
one day
about me,
and the things I think
to keep:

put me in a boat
and burn my house
to ribs. send me away
wrapped around in skysound
where people
60 years away
don’t have to worry
about this. chop me up
like a rat
in a mincer. I walk to the sitting room
and meet someone
for my grandmother’s furniture.

throw it away; send it all
for matches. I remember
being five, in my pajamas
watching tv. 

A regressive image.

this pasture, the kitchen
table, with its fruits
and vegetables
paraded like grass
to fattened sheep.

I come in
at the start
of every evening
and you are standing
barefoot and stirring
the pot in your housecoat,
drinking a glass
of wine and sometimes
smoking a cigarette —
and perhaps this is
a regressive image, but I
can’t really help that;
work lets you work
from home right now,
and you earn
twice what I do
doing it, start cooking
while I’m still
on my commute
with plates out
like mushrooms
in the morning.

this pasture, this
bower, this restful wild
of kitchen. we graze on soup
and lay about, like fattened sheep, sunning
up the hillsides.

The curse of temporary happiness.

the red drift of leaves
has shifted, spun
and clung like swarming animals
on the topside of the aging
car, pasting themselves
across the windshield
in impressionist splashes
of rust and wooded fire.

the clouds have shed
tonight, a light
softening of rain,
spackling the gravel
grey as drainwater
and we listened on the window,
lying in bed together
like the quiet sound of an old radio
sifting into stations.

sometimes I wake up
and barefoot my way to the bathroom.
I think that the sound of my pissing might carry in the quiet night.
I think in the shower of the smell of my socks
and how it must bother you
curled among the covers.
I worry when I’m driving that leaves will block the windshield
and I’ll panic
and steer us
some direction off the road.


walking the streets
of this brick-built
dust city. looking

at buildings
in architect
styles, tossed
for relief
against litterbins, delivery
trucks and out
of place insurance ads.

statues of war heroes,
poets and various

milling on corners
like drunks at a party
thrown by someone
with too many friends.

The legs of bees.

claire, the wine
is sharp tonight,
the liquid yellow
like grass on street-verges
burning in the heat
of bad summer days — bees drunk
on trashcan beerdregs
and flying mad
in rotten-fruit exuberance.

I think now we could pass each other
on the street
in any city,
wherever we both might be — cairo,
that little town in mayo
near to where you grew up –
and not even look at one another,
beyond the regular appraisal that takes place anywhere
between men and women on sunny days,
and never even stop for conversation.

I hope that you have met a man
finally less critical than I am,
one less prone to these wine-sodden rememberings
brought on by summer
and the busy legs of bees
reminding him of lunches in the park,
cucumber sandwiches and coffee out of cans,
black hair
thick and strong as tightropes,
skin as white as paper.

the shadow on the moon
is so clearly a circle
and it’s eleven over here
which means wherever you are in dublin
you are sleeping,
swaddled in the summer snow
of cold white sheets and air conditioning,
clean as mountain water,
pale as your unfreckled skin.

DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times 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).