Poetry from DS Maolalai

People in desperate situations.


golden hope and


cold in the morning

coming in. Italy – Rome

  1. I could be here.

pigeons burst past my balcony

scared by a girl on a vespa

and someone in shirtsleeves

is smoking a cigarette. my view

is over an alley

but high enough to catch the sun.

I am not working

but my girlfriend is in her office

putting together a play. that is perhaps

why we are here. something going on

in a famous roman theatre; an opera

or some quiet winesodden thing

about people on holiday

in desperate situations.

today I will tap my feet

on rounded bricks

and I will sink my hands in my pockets

like well-diving.

hummingbird thoughts

buzz my brain.

they are

are nothing important

but nonetheless

they come in

at times like this.




I buy eggs in the morning,


with toast

and piles of butter. it is



in Kensington

is expensive.

junkies lounge in the sun

looking like the soul of Lou Reed.

red flowers

burst out of windowbaskets

and birds chase squirrels in the trees.

I buy my breakfast

and yours

at 11am. black coffee for me

and hot chocolate.


are worth

expensive breakfasts

and all that’s in the flat is oatmeal. you

would be worth it

to fly

from Paris to Mongolia,

from Toronto

to Suriname. your eyes

are as big as teacups

and your skin

is like fresh milk. there is a thing in the sky.

it is

a red thing.

it is the sun.



It’s easy, because all you need is a metaphor.



is simpler than prose. don’t let anyone

tell you otherwise. all these poets

who write like tame lions

and act like they

are unspooling gods fishing line

don’t know what they’re up against.

prose v poetry – the title fight.

and it’s easy, because all you need is a metaphor

and not to think for a while about anyone but you. stories are hard

because they take longer

and you have to spend more time lying to people.

poetry though? no arcs to deal with,

no narrative,

just butterflies

pinned to the page

and only flickering

when you blow on them. chief,

you think you’re doing anything here

but typing? you never even gave the girl a name

when you wrote her down.



The Waste Land’s Fire Sermon.



I read it in the original too,

in the way it was put down

before Pound got into it,

clipping with tweezers

and his robinson trap-light,

and it was all

quite bad,

very bad,

all rhyming couplets

and very much


like classical poetry;

a to b to a to a,

steady drips

like a toilet refilling.

and Eliot?

he must have

knew it too,

he must have known

where he wanted to go

but not

what it took to get there;

laying down traintracks

instead of blowing off dandelion seeds.

and while it’s good now

though without as much sense

he still called Pound a craftsman

and I don’t know about that;

a hatcheteer


a chiseler

of blocks.

someone rip out

birds feathers, not

make candlesticks.

I guess

he never had read the cantos.

I have.

they were worse


than he was.



Very embarrassing.


bumping into you


and having once again taken up smoking

is very embarrassing

especially with you with your new boyfriend

and me with my old coat

a few more holes since you last saw it,

a bit more grease from my hair having polished the collar,

and having bragged at length about the scars I’ve gotten lately

it is tonight too dark to see them.



you are something that people only get to touch once

in churchlike silence

before remembering

and I know all the drunken phonecalls

which will happen now that I’ve seen you

will lead to nothing

but me

being in love again

and you

continuing to be happy

with a better life that smells of lemons

and tastes fresh as green tea and blackberry leaves

with a guy who stands there quietly

holding your hand while we talk,

falling asleep

Bio: DS Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working maintenance dispatch for a bank and his nights looking out the window and wishing he had a view. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.