D.S. Maolalai

D.S. Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice 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)



guys standing outside

of a 7/11

with petrol pumps. or sitting on the pavement

sharing a glass

of lemonade. the sun above moves forward,

slow as an hour hand in traffic.

drying things up. blowing them away. dust

like lightly done toast

without butter –

and they’re not homeless,

either. just bored. sometimes,


there’s one selling drugs, but often

not even that. just standing about, bending the sun

like dandelions

or the discarded tops

of bottles. entertaining themselves

as the day passes on. moving among pedestrians

with the attitude

of stray dogs; casual and confident

and hot.



by the cold

hard light inside, I test the weight

of iced coffee

and pick up a tube of toothpaste.

I wander out, pausing briefly

to explain that I didn’t buy

any smokes.




The cigarette.


sometimes, hungover

on a saturday morning,

I pad naked

through the naked house,

so as not to wake up chrysty,

to the room where my grandmother lived

when she lived here,

before they brought her with them

to the hospital.


I lie down naked, stretched

on clean sheets with my legs

sprawled out. I smoke a cigarette,

and read books

from 8am to 12

while the shadows

move across the room

like clockhands. I look at the pictures

of my grandfather at parties, tables

covered in wineglasses

and ash, always

holding a cigarette. he held them well,

like a teacher with chalk


and willing to spell letters. he held them

like a child holds a daffodil

plucked and confident

as a gift for their parents. he died coughing

and we visited him

in the hospice

only twice. and I was too young

for the burial, only the service

and then home to watch tv.


I put the photos down shuddering

and go back to books – he left a lot

of classic crime;


I’ve been getting into highsmith.