Four Poems

DS Maolalai

Photo Credit: Gauthier Delecroix/Flickr (CC-by)


they come rolling,
like storm-
broken ships
with masts
and with rigging
hung ragged.

the wind
blowing hard
through a long-
empty mine shaft,
catching spars
sawed through, wet
rot and woodworm.
it’s pleasant
by no means; all
twisting treed
orchards and smashed
by car crashes
but still,
I do love it.

I do:
Chrys, lying
with her mouth half open,
her hand
against her cheek
making dimples with the fingers
like a lady
checking the freshness of a pear.
out of her mouth,
these sounds
like slaughtered animals.

I love it.
I do. it’s the sort of thing
I love.


A weathered down hill of a mountain

his mind was the landscape
just south of the city—
it was dull, disappointing,
blunt and unimpressive.
something which didn’t
get sunsets behind it
and wouldn’t have known

if it had. and his life was the same—
was a weathered down hill
of a mountain—god he was awfully
dull. he drank and he talked
about drinking quite often.
and lived in a flat
overlooking the river
with this woman he liked
and who liked him.

he could play the piano
in a dull sort of way.
knew paul simon songs.
knew elton john songs.



driving to work
on the N4 this morning
and I cut someone
accidentally off.
got home about five,
checked the letterbox—
out fell three fingers
like curled frozen shrimp.


Walking the bruise

a fine night,
and peaceful. rising
3am—wanting a cold
glass of water
and walking the bruise
as it flows
with midnight
through our kitchen—
deep blue, falling
through uncurtained windows;
some mixture of yellow
and the black which makes
blue. I thumb off the faucet,
go back to the bedroom.
stand by our window
in blue silhouette. in bed,
my girlfriend stirs
and pulls her feet under
the covers. and in
through the window
night comes with a rush.
when she wakes
I’ll be gone: just
the shape of a shadow,
outlined by the breeze
of this mild
winter night.


DS Maolalai has been nominated nine times for Best of the Net and five 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). Email: diarmo90[at]

Five Poems

DS Maolalai

Photo Credit: Paul Downey/Flickr (CC-by)

My Grandfather

heavy the tread
like a box
with flowerpots.

his fingers
dust brown
and warm soda
bread. a man
is a knuckle. made hard
with antique.

with simple food,
with hot tea,
with sunlight,
with cigarettes.

watering a plant.
watering a plant.
watering a plant.


On the Apartment Balcony

faces; flashing flowerpots
from someone else’s garden. light
beaming, the river
for once blue
and not grey. people on the quays,
smoking cigarettes
or walking. enjoying the heat
in general
like cats amongst activity
which prowl about a garden
playful in their chasing
of butter-
and mayflies.

I stretch my arms southward
and slouch on the apartment
balcony. in the kitchen
chrys makes cocktails
out of gin and crushed mint



I liked it a lot.
this was Calgary,
and our rented house
took the top of a hill, lurching
on a view
which went rolling down
past mountains and downward
into the river.

all around the edges
wood hung
like the dribbles
of enormous candles. swamps
with pine needles;
settling on rain.

I woke up at 5 a.m.,
filled a glass of water
and went to the garden
and smoke
was stalking the street
in wisps.

we were fine,
the neighbours told me,
out early
gathering apples.
the wildfires
were 200
miles off;
we were only seeing it now
because they were bad
in particular this year.



3 a.m. bar
closing. mr
and dame cigarette

outside. her back
on the wall,
his hand
braced against it. cold

damp stone
such as might be found
in caves
or the quiet moisture
of subway platforms.

his head
is half dangled. hers
tilted back. elbow
cupped, very
stylish. she blows

her smoke. it mingles,
goes up.
becomes stars.


The Fish Tank

after two years
he pulled out the suitcase
that had been sitting at the bottom
of his wardrobe
and discovered it had only ever
been half-unpacked
when he moved in.
those old shirts went in the trash
along with most of the things
he had saved that time—

bunches of letters
and movie-ticket stubs
kept in a drawer to decay after first dates,
a secondhand radio
and some pictures bought from street vendors
and all the empty bottles
bunched beneath the sink.

the rest he threw in,
not bothering to fold things,
and found there wasn’t enough there
to completely fill it up.
he fished out some of the old letters
and threw them in on top.

then he put on his coat
and placed a note in front of the fish tank
asking his landlady
to give the fish to her daughters
or at least
to not flush them away,
left the keys on top of the fridge
and opened the door.

the room looked much as it had when he arrived,
no plaque up with his name on it,
no new paint on the walls.
the goldfish were his only addition
and a bedside locker
he had found on the street
with the door hanging loose
and repaired.

everything else
was white walls,
cheap pine,
and a stain on the toilet.

he picked up his suitcase
and the plane ticket from the stripped mattress
and was very careful to shut the door
properly behind him.


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) Email: diarmo90[at]


DS Maolalai

Photo Credit: Thomas Bryans/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

the blood
of a place
is the river.
giving motion,
bringing forward ideas,
and water-birds; shifting trash
and lighting off parks
like a fuse
leading to fire.
was what was wrong
with Toronto; pressed instead
against a flat lake
to sustain itself;
a mollusk
clinging on rocks. a grey city
grey water,
pumping grey
all over the landscape,

like trying
to suck life
out of sand.


DS Maolalai is a poet from Ireland who has been writing and publishing poetry for almost 10 years. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. Email: diarmo90[at]