DS Maolalai, Like Bricks in a Wall

Waking up like Grace

With apologies to Frank O’Hara

after a party,
and there is an ashtray on the bedside table
with your cigarettes resting comfortably beside,
unwilling to even kick their legs out
until you want one.

and when you wake
with yawn and spark
the sun shines runny
as the glow of an egg yolk —
you seem able to sleep through
anything I do in the morning,
showering and shaving
and putting aftershave and a shirt on
looking, in between,
at the warm thing
breathing in the bedclothes,
and love is
suddenly visible in contrast
like ants on a pavement
on a sunny day.

and when you get up
you open the curtains while I’m making breakfast
and it is sunny
and a fresh breeze is waiting,
to be let in.

Horses! Horses!

“I feel you have missed much
of the essential music
of poetry.”

that’s taken
from a rejection letter
when I was shopping
a second collection,
then called
Horses! Horses!
around the place.

I didn’t mind
so much
the rejection
and everything
because it appeared
that the guy
had at least tried
to read them;

he seemed pretty good
and gave reasons for why he didn’t like it,
though most of them boiled down
to “too much Bukowski”
which hurt
because first, one was definitely
like that
and for this one
I’d really tried
to tone down
my worst instincts.

it wasn’t as bad as the other ones though;
the fill-in-the-blanks
from publishers with full slates
and no time
to bother with me. or the guy
who wrote back
mad I’d misspelled his magazine
and ended with a curt
“not suitable.”

I guess though
I can see his point
about the music.
I think I read poems
from how other people do;
I like carpentry
and craft done badly
and words
laid like bricks
in a wall.


he lives
in a house
with a girlfriend who plays piano
and says he is a genius
even though
I have seen
no reason.

he sleeps
in a bed facing the sea
and wakes up every morning
to the sun
rising like a boat
over the horizon.

he keeps
coming to visit me
and drinks sitting on my couch
and he sometimes says something funny
but most of the time
something dull
or repeats lines from movies he likes.

then he goes home
and continues to be in love with his girlfriend
and play with their dog,
listening to her jangle the piano
while I lie in my small room
at the back of the house
with a window that looks on a concrete yard,
problems with rats and broken heating.
I watch the shadowed daylight
slowly being driven into dark.

he once said
he envied me
my freedom.


to take it from your pocket
and toss it
like a flat rock
skipping along
on water.
to turn it off
and lose it
down a muddy hole.

in prison
if you kill someone
they confine you
you can’t talk to people
and that’s not even the only benefit
to ignoring
the laws of man.

DS Maolalai is an Irish poet who has been writing and publishing poetry for 10 years. His first collection Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden was published in 2016 by Encircle, and his second collection Sad Havoc Among the Birds will be published by Turas Press in March. He has been nominated for the Best of the Net awards and twice for the Pushcart Prize.

To read more of him, click here.

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