Poems by D. S. Maolalai


How can you write


now? she asked me.

are you not

as tired

as I am?


we had just gotten finished

with a meal with my family.

it one of those endless

long days on a sunday,

and especially hot,

when skin bakes to footpaths

and dogs walk a little

and then fall asleep

beneath dandelions

grown from the corners

of empty buildings

where the pavement

makes cracks with



I had told her when they left

that I would do

a little writing. got a bottle

from the fridge

and had gone to the other room

and she had followed me

to ask it. what a life –

I had a certain feeling. if I didn’t

get it down, this sleepiness

of a meal on a hot day

and company, and milky coffee,

I would lose it

and didn’t want to,

that is all.





bottles bounce

and clip my ankles

like I’m walking through baskets

of terriers. they’ve moved the recycling

centre; now I must go

20 minutes, dragging my empire

along with the dog on her leash.

it’s fine – they are heavy,

but never too heavy – 

just two plastic bags and some dogshit

on a Saturday. fresh as clean pennies

and laundry from laundry

machines. and I don’t go

if the weather

is not clear as bedsheets. the weight

of bottles sweats

me; we smell

together like old beer. mainly

the bags do, but I must confess

to some fault also. I enjoy it. recycling.

pushing my past

to the future.

when I drop them

down in the chute. listening.

hearing them break.


The glass of soda


the air comes thick

and sticky; a patio

park picnic table

and a waspish and cold

glass of soda. light

getting everywhere,

pleasant as crawling insects.


buildings buckle,

tumbling summer heat,

which rocks them

and knocks them to pieces

and somebody drops

their sandwich, and ducks

past the following

birds. smoke rises


above each litter bin.

it moves in the wind

like laundry,

and laundry,

hanging on balconies

steams as it bleaches

and cracks.


cars sink on hot corners,

smoothly as lizards

on rocks.

someone drinks a glass

of warm soda, and looks

through their glass

at the sun.



DS Maolalai has been nominated nine 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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