Literary Yard

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‘Black pool’ and other poems

By: DS Maolalai

Black pool

something sickly stumbles
and shambles from the sea,
like black pools,
through black water.

which grows warts
and lank grey feathers,
clucks and calls
itself Dublin (dubh linn)
and spreads itself out
southward to Bray
and brays up Louth
and soundly,
spins out houses
like fish on the Liffey,
spitting out accents
10 times every mile,
and cream and something else
which might be called
a culture.

and hot steam
all the time,
and chickenbones
packed in each corner.

this thing – it
gets stained
with splutters of sick
and dropped Chinese food,
takes in immigrants
only on sufferance
and after
of knife-out

and keeps stretching,
spilling like a spewed plate of chips,
snatching towns and making them suburbs
snatching people and making them Dubliners,
making something worthwhile
out of mess,
though mostly
just old ladies selling cigarettes
and old men
trying to fuck Americans.

up the mountains
it gets lost
and part of it dies
but it never suffers drought
or feels the grease
grow lesser.
it stretches
until it’s all
you can see
whatever way you look
and whichever way you travel.
we are here
like camels in a desert.

boats pull in
and go away
and planes fly over
it’s worth it,
walking around,
but others
are better
staying home.


Only the engines

banging the gangway,
my hand turns
spiraled with weight
from a narrow
packed case.

the plane is a shape
which is spread out
and stretching –
they all are –
thick as toiletpaper;
just rolled
and painted air
like modelling clay in the hands
of an unimaginative god.

only the engines,
big critters,
have any weight
or substance to them

and the day is bright,
crisp, cold
and over.
even in the morning.
it tastes of fresh apples.

am going

I’ve been here
long enough
to get a feel for why I left
and now?
somewhere new again,
where I don’t know anyone
and have no past
tangling the trees.

and horses I’ve never seen.

that look just
like how they look,

not coloured by how
I remember them.

the bags have all been stowed,
bumping one another like penned cattle
and everyone’s left with their hand luggage
cradled like a favourite cat.

I don’t hesitate
stepping through the gate
or imagine
any symbol
in pausing
to look over the fields
at Ireland
rising like a leperwort
in all directions.

home’s ok to visit
but you wouldn’t want to live there.


Seeding dandelions

so we sit outside
and the world is a bowl
turning upward.
sharing our cigarettes,
taking turns giving lap
to the dog. they allow them
in here, if they’re out
on the patio, long as they don’t
make much trouble,
and our dog does that
sometimes, so we have her
on our laps.

I am drinking beer.
you, a red wine
cocktail. the dog has
water, and this is new
years eve – explosions in the sky
blow about
like dandelions
sowing seeds – we can see them
arching over trees
and in the dogs bowl
on the water.
she’s deaf now;
bangs don’t bother her, and we
use everyone’s distraction
to grab another drink.

now it’s morning
and we’re in the same place
on the patio,
drinking coffee
and eating new year’s
yellow eggs. the dog
is upstairs in the apt,
sleeping off her evening.
neither of us
are having breakfast beers
or cigarettes – no resolution
or anything
so prosaic; we’re simply
not feeling so well.



yes yes
I’m sure you are.
this time
I’m sure of it.
I’m sure she is very special,
so much so that sometimes
you can just taste
the tips of her fingers
and it doesn’t even matter
that they are only skin and salt
because tasting them
means that she is there with you.

and yes, you want to marry her
and have her have some of
your children,
and you want to wake up with the sun like assault
and see her knees tenting white pillars,
and you want to always feel the way you feel,
you feel in love,
so in love
and you want to always
feel in love.

I understand that.
I do.
truly, I understand.
like someone on a shoreline
watching a man on a boat
tack and pin his feet
feeling the weight of the lifebelt
surviving a seven
week storm.


DS Maolalai has been nominated eight times for Best of the Net and five 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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