Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Poison’ and other poems by DS Maolalai

By: DS Maolalai 


I reassure a friend
as much as I am able.

“it’s alright – it happened
to Summer too.
as long as they got her vomiting
she’ll mostly be
ok. their stomachs
can’t get through the skin –
not right away. it takes time
and you noticed
pretty quick – she’s not
in danger.”

Bonnie has eaten
poison. well,
dog-poison – she’s gotten into
grapes. the vet made her
get sick and now
she’s sleeping dreams
of suicide. but he’s still worried;

she bit them. it’s a different
situation, and he’s very right
to be – I’m not
dishonest. why do we allow
these things into our lives? it’s all they do –
eat grapes, shit rugs
and leave.



now Chrys keeps saying
I’m not ready for Malaysia.
I don’t think she realises
how hot Canada
could be. and people here
and everywhere
think of Toronto as nothing
but falling rocks
and frozen animals,
and it was that sometimes,
yes. frost on trees
cracking like a log fire.
but that was winter.

in summer
she was sweaty as swamps. sometimes
the sky hit 40
and I still
walked to work,
soaking through the sunburn
like a wader in a dirty
swimming pool. I can deal
with heat and weather. I’m going in February
ready to shatter
like a cold glass of water
filled from a kettle. it’s pressure I’m worried about
more than the burn. I’m meeting her family there.
that part
might kill me.


Pigeons in a subway.

trying again
with the radio,
I head north,
watching motorists fiddle
as they move aside for ambulances –
three of them,
pulled along
like beads in blue. behind me
some catastrophe
has perhaps occurred
and goes on occurring. I examine the cars
as they flap at red lights
and find their way –
panicked in a subway. I’ve a minute
before this lot
sort themselves
and give me my turn – time enough
to find
another station. it’s not my car,
it’s borrowed; I still
don’t understand the ac, the wipers
or how the radio
goes. pressing
various buttons, I get
dutch, the news,
and then classical
music. the blockage clears; I surrender
and move right. the music plays.
it’s something
experimental, and not
very good.


A talk-show

I am in our office
writing the poem
you’re reading. in the kitchen
my girlfriend listens
to the radio.

she’s old-fashioned –
it’s a talk-show,
and under the door
snatches of dialogue
creep like ants
through my brain.

they crawl
in the manner of dandruff
over my head
and onto my shoulders
and elbows. some of them
get down
to my hands.


Sweat on bedsheets.

I like the snow
which falls over dublin
better than that
in toronto. here, earth
stretches like roots,
confused and striking
from the soil; the grey stain
of trodden pavements
churned against white. in canada

it was renewed
each evening,
always laundered, always clean
and fresh; here it stays
and stiffens
to ice like sweat on bedsheets
and various other
stains. once this friend
spent the night
in my studio;

we were drinking –
he passed out
early on. I slept beside him,
not thinking, alcoholic, happy
and languid. woke up
cold and early, embarrassed
by the state of my snow.


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)


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