Poetry from D.S. Maolalai

We’ll talk later.


we get up

to alarm clocks

like children clawing the duvet,

but we have no children

to make waking

any better

than it is,

and we don’t talk

as the coffee boils

and the microwave

heats our oatmeal.

I wait for you

to be done in the shower

so I can get in myself,

shaking cold

in boxershorts,

sitting on the bedspread



no need

for conversation

in winter

early on – we’ll talk later

when we get warm

and have something

to talk about. right now

just cups of coffee

and feeling the carpet

for my watch

and work id. making sure

I have a phone in my pocket

and that you

have enough change

for the train.


outside the window

dark sits

like a wolf

waiting to devour

and sometimes mist

comes down from the rooftops

and tears around us

like toilet paper


to our shoes.

at the train

I kiss you quickly

and watch

as you run

away. empires

have fallen

with more attention

shown them. the bottoms

of your shoes

flash white

against grey dawn

and frozen leaf-puddles.


On form rejection letters.


and what?

as if I

were some statue,

standing still

to be shot in the dark?

me, here, drunk,

manic at the midnight computer,

looking (I imagine)

like a picture

of what poets think

modern poetry



who have never appeared

in Kenyon

or Granta –

am I to be slapped

and put outside

like a cat? – in the sea

are creatures

who live forever;

some clone themselves indefinitely,

others never die at all. ants

are small

unchanged scurrying things

scattering like coffee beans

dropped on a tile floor – why

should it be me bent over

when I receive

another form letter

with my titles

copied in




Bright green.


I’d spent the whole week

trying to convince you

that london

was flying

with wild parrots.


like bright birds

in distant trees,

our time fled

before we could

get close to it. but we got drunk

and went to comedy shows

all the same,

independent theatre

and english

folk music. trying out

markets together

and looking at art. there had been something

to us

but we’d lost it

and ourselves

in our time apart.


3 day

weekend visits

like bringing the dog home from the vet

only underlined our cowardice

at not ending things

all at once.

I put you on the train

in golders,

kissed you

in the monday morning,


as blue rocks.

and I went to the park

to put some time in

before a night shift.


and the trees

were full of parrots then – bright green

and alive,


in couples

against dark




An evening with my girlfriend


and dinner

born out an argument;


I made a joke

about one of her friends

who is in the middle

of another of

her breakdowns,

just as I have

many times before.

but this time

she didn’t laugh

or agree with me

she’s nuts

and the carrots were cut

with a weight like steel pistons

and the stovetop

licked hot

and fast

as an angry dog.


I offered help

and was told

I could just

fuck off

out of it;

watch tv

or go play on my phone,

just get out of her fucking


you fuck.


plates coming down

with a planecrash

and frogs going splat out of cooking pots.

wine spilled

like run from a sewage pipe,

the cutlery

a declaration of war.


it was delicious though,

the potatoes done

just right,

but cleaning up

is something I still have to take care of.



Morning to Wednesday.


the thing is

the whole bay is sheltered. no interesting

formations of rock

brought in

by collisions

with storms. you move along,


halfway between

a straight tideline

and a razor edge

of sea,

balanced on the part

where the sand stays walkable – dry enough

to take your weight

without being so loose

it blows.


a mile ahead

the seagulls

crowd on lobsterpots,

and a little closer

the dog

had found a crab. she jumps in circles,

barking at it, unsure of what to do. the crab

makes progress, doesn’t snap,

just walks slowly

toward the shoreline.

better this

than last time – she found a dying jellyfish

and threw up

in the car

driving home. and the flat sand


could convince you

you can see past her

from morning into



collection forthcoming from Turas Press in 2019. He has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize.