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  • DS Maolalai

Three Poems

Bristol Student Housing

alone on the floor

in the Bristol Student

Housing rooms.

a bus-ride from London –

a weekend to visit a friend

who quickly got drunk

in ecstatic reunion,

left the bar at 11

forgetting I'd come.

and I was drunk too:

nowhere to go

that I knew of.

I didn't know anyone

except him in Bristol.

didn’t know where

he lived. and this

was post bar-close and 2

or so am. first tried a hotel –

they didn't take

drunks. met some

students instead;

let me sleep on their floor

in a hallway. strange decision

on their part, but I guess

that I didn't

look dangerous.

skinny, 23, soft

of face and an old

leather jacket. I woke up

in the morning before them.

mouth like a burned

cigarette. I'd been given

a sheet and been told

I could sleep

on the carpet. took a call

from my friend – he'd woke

and remembered

he'd lost me.

stole an apple

from the kitchen

for breakfast and let

myself out.


this was some festival

celebration in the city. we all

about 18, as drunk as an elephant

each, on the fulcrum of a public bench

down in drumcondra, near a train

station plated with piss. might have been

a football match or something

like st patricks day. dublin has

a lot of days like that. we were not

at the bars – just sat in the sunlight

doing beer runs around every roughly

90 minutes. we were maybe under

18 after all, or maybe the mood

had taken us to watch people

passing – and these pigeons

on the street around a pizza. anyway – this

is the point then of the poem:

I was just coming back with fallon

and a can slab from the corner

and this guy comes round the corner

just behind us with a mazda.

pauses at the flock of them –

they don't move – edges

onward. bonnet cracks the back

of one head before they go. it's funny – I think

that it's the only time I've seen it happen.

you'd think you would occasionally.

they’re dead everywhere, but you never

see them die. anyway: it popped

like a stuffed bag of confetti. feathers everywhere.

they're really held together. anyway:

we all yell what the hell then like a chorus.

the guy laughing, us laughing kind of angry

because what can you do and it's not illegal

and not like he was going to wait for them.

but it was kind of unpleasant then

sitting with those feathers and a dead

bird in a pile like a dirty duvet.

went somewhere else. I blacked out.

think I texted molly and she came and picked me up.


Bare Chestnut

sun splitting sharply

through bare

chestnut branches,

like a bottle

to splinters

on grey kitchen

tile. autumn

ends suddenly

and flakes

over winter –

the bodies

of foliage

wet mildew

and mulch. meat

dropped to corners

like a wrecked

rotten chicken; stalks

on the pavement,

discarded wing



DS Maolalai has been described by one editor as "a cosmopolitan poet" and another as "prolific, bordering on incontinent". His work has been nominated eleven times for Best of the Net, eight for the Pushcart Prize and once for the Forward Prize, and has been released in three collections; "Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden" (Encircle Press, 2016), "Sad Havoc Among the Birds" (Turas Press, 2019) and “Noble Rot” (Turas Press, 2022)

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