Poetry Drawer: Campfire: This time last year: Red: Talented friends: Moments happen by DS Maolalai


walking at night
and the financial district fires,
I guess because they leave
the lights on
so the night-cleaners
can work.

seen from a distance
it looks damn impressive,
propped up against the velvet
of some soft and studded sky
like stacking racks of driftwood
gone ember on a lakeshore
and just far enough away
that if you didn’t know
you’d never guess the length –

during daylight city towers goliath
and sometimes I walk in it,
forever in the foothills of a mountain range
solid as the edges of eagles in the sky,
enough to disrupt gravity
and leave the birds that die in flight falling sideways
and toppling through windows
and ruining board meetings.

but at night
on the way to the store for wine or tonic water
you see them
for what they are;
the imitation of the lazy flame
gloriously burning like christmas trees.
without self-knowledge,
feeding on themselves,
showing their true light only
to those who cant afford to work there –

in 500 years
not even our bones will be remembered.

This time last year

I try to shy, somehow,
from this tiresome
“topical poetry”.
to just write the day
as it paces and lays itself
out. as if everything weren’t
an echo of everything.
just writing, just living,
things always bounce
in. life all around me –
awareness of life. and

it seems, this time last year,
that everyone wanted
some statement
of Pandemic Poetry. “Love
in the Time of Covid”
the “theme issue” title
that every third magazine
chose. consciously,
I didn’t write them,
but still, I did write –
and by doing so, probably did.
I am a personal poet.
but things happen – they do –
and I hear of them. of course
they effect me – the room

that you sing in
will alter the shape
of the song. an opera
house. showers.
the kitchen, making coffee.
different sounds, ringing,
though you use the same notes.
the room you are standing in
changes the shape
of your singing
though what people sing of
is so rarely ever
the room.

(March 2021)


red hair.
strwby hair.
nipples red,
a sofa, patched red
with grey patches
rubbed bald
by our asses
and hands.
and her name
was red in gaelic,
and a tv on with something
unimportant –
these are the memories:

her 15,
doing badly
at sex
at love
thinking about her friend
her thinking about
her friend’s

now she is in
a queer relationship
and her old boyfriend is somewhere

we used to screw
together and
quite slowly
in her mother’s apartment
after school
next to the window
in view
of the red decks
of buses.

Talented friends

the story goes: vonnegut
(he tells in a book)
was not really feeling
inspired. he wrote
to a friend about it –

feeling like that –
and the friend then
wrote back – was a poet,
apparently – and cut
up the text of

the letter. made it into a poem,
or to look like one, anyway –

the moral, apparently,
to tell him that even
uninspired he was able
to write. I don’t know
if it helps, even if
you’re kurt vonnegut,

when you feel like that,
having talented friends.

Moments happen.

sure, yes of course,
there are moments
we argue, as must
any people who make
any plan.

I forget where things go.
let saucepans boil over;
she’s sarcastic
about it and I
lose my cool.
moments happen,

but they’re bricks
which a life is made up of.
they are not
what we’re building
to live in.

DS Maolalai has received eleven nominations for Best of the Net and seven for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in three collections; “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016), “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019) and “Noble Rot” (Turas Press, 2022).

You can find more of DS’ work here on Ink Pantry.

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