Poetry

DS Maolalai

Bio: DS Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice 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)

Eyes like flowers

Toronto
was good always –
no friends
but I had an accent
so plenty of girlfriends
and I lived in an attic near Chinatown,
its entrance through a fire escape
which opened on alleyway
so no post ever came
nor anyone
who wanted to find me -

the neighbour
I shared bills with
had to move after a month
when her mother got sick
but the lights stayed on
and the water ran
so I didn't worry.

it was Kensington;
an expensive
arty area
but with just enough wildness left
that junkies
still slept in the afternoon park,
their eyes
like yellow flowers
bursting through cracks
on the street.

the road ran from Dundas
up to College
and the stores on each end
sold sawdust cigarettes,
and expensive food.
there were art-markets on the weekend
and occasionally
an after-hours bar
spilling its contents
like a coffee-pot
at 6am.

I left
a year ago
after 2 years
living the world
and they say the whole neighbourhood
is being torn down for apartments -
I'm sorry,
but not that sorry;
I still left
after all,
and it's better
when you leave
if you have nothing to go back to.
***


Alden Nowlan's Early Poems

reading the biography
from the back of Early Poems
and realising – he was born
in a shack
in 1933
and died
in 50 years later; a long time writing
for a poet
barely known. his Early Poems
runs
over 5 collections - one for each
10 years
of his life. and presumably
there was a Later Poems
too, and some others.
perhaps Middle Poems,
like a piano
with a key
for playing minor. he wrote
of strength, old hands
and depression. and his work
stretched the depression
all the way
to the spread
of VCRs. strange to think of it;
I'm almost 30 now
and as unknown
as him - dying at 50
in 20 years
it seems that the world
will have changed
less.
***

A life made up of pennies.

outside the door
my landlord empties coins
from a drawer
on the pay-per-use
washing machine.
they spill,
a gold and silver waterfall
catching his face
with the changing lights of a ferris wheel,
flashing all colours
on your turned-up
silver cheek.
***


Tennessee Williams would shit

the woman ahead of me in the line at the Goodwill
seemed to be buying
a whole shelf
of animal-shaped
glass paperweights
with a 100 dollar gift-card –
Tennessee Williams
would shit

and then this guy
in the line
between me and the lady
was flirting with her – they were both
old enough to do that –
as if he didn't know
that the animals were symbolic
figures of her fragile virginity
I think,
even though she
was a lot older than the lady in the play
(I think).
I confess,
I've never actually read it.

my grandma died a few years after my granddad.
he died of lung cancer over smoking
which I think
became the only death
I ever really feared. her body still comes to dinner with my parents once a week
and talks about climbing mountains.
she doesn't remember my father, her son,
or my mother
or me,
but if prompted with my name
she can rote-recite
the name of my brother and sister. sometimes
both of them seem a little
too proud of that
for words
that mean nothing
beyond another cracker for a parrot.

if you talk to her
and force yourself to keep the conversation on rails
she can maintain her personality
for almost 30 minutes at a time sometimes. but then of course
she forgets,
like losing your lighter
or letting out a cat,
and it's as if
you were never kind to her
or made her tea and sandwiches
at all.

my dad manages this on a daily basis. shuffles the cards
and deals again.
so does my aunt
and my mother. I guess this means
they are kinder people than I am.
I guess I should think
to the lady
"hey, bet you're going to do something interesting
with all those glass animals."
I guess
I should stop insulting people in print
especially since some of them are people that I love,
and since alzheimers is genetic
and so, sometimes,
is lung cancer.
***


A pub in donegal

they let in all teenagers
to flounce around the 50 year olds
like sparrows
darting among pigeons. teenage boys
drunk and rolling cigarettes
flushed red with cider,
and the girls, beautiful,
skinny at 16 and fragile
as tulips in april. eaten by hogs and pawed at
by hungry men in their late 20s,
going along with it
because that's what
you sometimes
do. abandon. getting in a car
and being grabbed all over. I saw a kiss happen -
the soft flesh of new mushrooms
sprouting
from old wood. it feels strange
coming from the city,
where to touch a child
would get you ostracized. but some small towns
in the west of ireland
are still as bad as those island clans
off the prison ships in australia,
abandoned to inbreeding, brewing whiskey
and killing
those children
which were born
***

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