Poetry: Selections from DS Maolalai

Banana vodka

I remember you telling me
around 1am
I was starting to mix up
some synonyms. and the party had run
out of beer and nice wine
so celene brought out bottles
of dodgy thick liqueurs
you pick up on holiday
and leave to go dusty
somewhere in the back
of a cabinet. caramel rum,
banana rum, vodka
and things of that nature.
and we'd made them
a drinking game,
because that's what you do.
them, and something else –
cards against humanity,
which (even sober)
I can't ever stand. I prefer, I admit,
to hear rape jokes done freestyle,
and that’s if I must
have them be done at all.
and anyway, I remember
I was talking a bit (or I thought
I was talking) and pointing,
calling it a dullards game
for dullards. there were some people there
who didn't know me –
I believe they were even
offended! I admit, not the most witty
of remarks – but I'd been losing badly; drinking a lot
of the banana vodka. we got in a taxi afterward and I tried
to make conversation
with the driver – also a mistake
at 1:30am. you brought me home
and put me to bed
and in the morning you made coffee.
it was my friend's party. I'd brought you
as a guest. I don't know why
I didn't behave better. I promise that next time I will.


fog floats over fields
in the undeveloped country,
and the frosty white hairs
of grass in a crunch under dawn.
driving to the baldonnell
newly-built business park,
I turn off the naas
road to roundabouts.
loop over a bridge
past brownsbarn.
the sun is a hump
on horizons behind me,
like boats coming – ghost-
ridden horses on hills.
and the ground clings
with ghosts too, though roads
are all clear – tarmac
warms early, cuts changes
through weather
to build. a truck
just ahead holding boxes
of bricks makes a turn
to the left. I follow it,
blinking and indicating.

I tend toward a snipe

being told by my girlfriend
that I'm slightly a snob. not a snob
like for class – more like for
personalities – for my friends
and the people
you meet. I suppose
that it's true, as it goes
in these things.
I tend, I admit,
toward a snipe
at an unmoving target.
tend to be shitty,
though mainly toward people I like.
it doesn't make me popular
where kindness is valued
but sometimes I'm seen,
I suppose, as a wit
or just want to
and see opportunity.
perhaps I'm a bully as well,
you could say –
though I think that I don't
target weakness beyond
the oblique. I'm not though,
I tell her, and then, of course,
cannot resist: after all,
look at how long
I've gone out with you.

Carrot flowers

there's a party upstairs
and I'm down here alone
in the dark typing poems,
drinking wine. I feel it like carrots
must feel leaves, carrot-
flowers. like garlic
feels those strange
globes they make.

The vineyard

jack walks past
poppy stems.
pinches, breaks pods.
says he doesn't know yet
how to make wine of opium,
but intends to find out
and to try it –
my garden is nothing
but red standing flowers.
he holds out the basket
and promises bottles
which I know I won't drink
but will compliment anyway.
I just like colours
and sowed them for the bees –
never thought someone
would harvest. over us, sun settles
bent like a poppy,
reddened and round
like a poppy. the news
says pollution
is much worse this year –
it's been making
some wonderful

DS Maolalai has been nominated nine times for Best of the Net and seven times for the Pushcart Prize. He has released two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019). His third collection, Noble Rot was released in May 2022.