poems by DS Maolalai



the penny-pay laundry

is swampland in summer,

so close and boiled over

like hell with soap

and steam; rumbling in winter

and a round rolling heat,

the fragrant tops

of mushrooms

breaking up through paved snow.


I carry the bag

from apt to laundry.

my fingers are cold,

there’s a paperback in

my back pocket. piled

on a table, the clothes

feel warm also,

with that sickening softness

of rotting worn leaves.


I count out quarters,

from the quarter machine

and drop in 12;

15 minutes each. I put the rest

in my pocket

for the dryer

and wipe my hand

on my jeans.




No rent


he’s working for his aunt

and his cousin in the cousin’s

new house. a room for no rent

in exchange for some labour – he’s

been fixing things up: painting walls,

cutting drywall and putting up

skirting in doorways. he invites

us around for some beer on a saturday

evening. it’s weird going over

to his family’s house – saying hi,

we are here to see the servant.

we brought some blue moons.

should we go to the back

door or what?




Two good days.


Nikki cooks pizza

her first night Toronto

of these two days

she’s around for this conference.

I bring around wine

and we both smoke some cigarettes,

listen to storms

watching comedy.


the second night

she’s ordered Ethiopian

in, and it tastes pretty good

though the bread

much too soggy for my taste.

she still has some wine left

which I drink by myself

and go outside to smoke

because it’s dry tonight.

we fuck like gods all afternoon

and all evening; wrap ourselves in blankets,

pretending there’s another storm

so we have an excuse to stay in,

trading mouthfuls of hot beef

and hot tongue and hot teeth,

touching each other

and watching more comedy.




Snow and the gossip


in line at the post office

in blessington on friday.

we’ve had snow and the gossip

is all about snow. will it fall again

do we think, or just frost. either way the ladies


ahead won’t be walking. they’re vocal

about risking a sprain. at least though,

one says, it keeps the blacks out of the street

since they naturally can’t stand the weather.


jesus – I think about saying something.

I don’t – they are both pushing 80. but I think

it, and look very angry.




Coast Road, 10pm


over the bayline

our city goes brilliant,

shining like sunlight

on exposed crops

of rock. it’s night-

time: see diamonds

in their piles

of no buildings.

and I suppose

over there

it must look like that

here. things stack

up everywhere; distance in light

and the layering up difference

of cities. seabirds making noises

like throwing a paperback book.

somewhere shops close

and people light cigarettes. cars go by.

order food in take-aways

and light with no texture.

roadsides, the silence

of sealines,

rubbed rough

with the movement of cars.

poems by DS Maolalai

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