We're delighted to present a quartet of poems from Noble Rot, the latest collection from poet D.S. Maolalai, published by Turas Press.

These poems, alternately witty and poignant, trace the journey of a young poet as he moves into a new stage of life musing on the challenges and joys of the present and the uncertain and exciting future. The form, which reflects the writers staccato, ever-changing mood, mimics chaos but in reality is carefully crafted and controlled.


Sunflowers

their lines

scrape a frost

from the fresh

breath of morning,

graceful as a dancer

in the russian

ballet. they turn

in short loops,

moving joists;

taking weight,

holding weight

as a balance.

and smithfield

is frozen

at seven am

with holes in the earth

as if dug out

by badgers. the sink

of foundations. new building

potential – oak trees

and sunflowers

waving bare stems.

and walking, I delight

in the vision

of building sites

the way people

take joy

out of flowers

grown well. I've been

to a flower-show;

seen tabled

arrangements:

geraniums,

sunflowers,

second-place

tulips. never understood

the appeal. cranes

drawing bricks

up from nothing

to arrangements.

looping circles

with the steadiness

of hawks above rats.


No skyline

sky tonight

like underdone eggs, and soft all over.

and I don't know

if I've ever

thought this before. but tonight, seeing dublin

from the coast at kilbarrack,

I saw it resting

easy on the wicklow hillsides. here

there’s horizon

but we have no skyline –

cities with mountains

never do. sloping

up smooth, piled lumpy

and curving like butter

in the morning on a rounded blade

butterknife. I remembered toronto

and new york, those jagged,

key edged reliefs. then pulled sharply on the leash

and glanced downward. the dog had been squatting;

she looked at me offended. we both stood there,

surrounded by shadows,

waiting for her to finish

in a world with no edges

like ice-cubes on a hot day.


A weak candle

taking the coast road

from town to kilbarrack

as one would pick up their change

from a counter; casually, without

any flourish. and the car moves steady,

natural as a trotting dog. once

I took this route

to visit an old girlfriend.

this was college –

she lived in bayside

with some friends

and I'd take the occasional trip. now

it's just homeward, and she's in England

somewhere, and happy, a long time

with someone else. to my right

the sky darkens

in contrast to the sun – amber firing

all over Ireland, like a weak candle

flicking a dark room. I try the radio,

then turn it off, lean back

and absorb the evening. I've just dropped off

my current girlfriend

to ringsend; something

like betraying her,

this dwelling on the past.

but the mind goes

where the mind goes;

certain directions

all the time. you can't stop it,

any more than horses. and daylight goes down too,

goes behind clontarf,

casts shadows of trees

toward england.


Somebody's funeral

we throw our weight heavily

against the grass edging,

as if it were a shoulder

at somebody's funeral,

and somebody

sobbing in a church.

but of course, we

are not sobbing, and this

is no funeral – it's a mid-

summer’s party and we

are outside with the sun

out and beers

in their bottles. on the lawn,

we pull stems

and idly smoke cigarettes,

eating these hamburgers

seared on jack’s stove. we make hay

of the evening, make mild

conversation, and music

from the kitchen

spirals through the window

and circles as aimless

as flies.

such evenings! such

wild thoughts! that this

could be anything else!

Noble Rot is published by Turas Press

About The Author: D.S. (Diarmuid) Maolalai was born in Dublin and began writing poetry when he was studying English Literature at Trinity College. He spent five years travelling, living in Toronto and London and working various dispatch jobs. He returned to Dublin in late 2017. These many experiences have contributed to the flavour of the urban, cosmopolitan flavour of his work, melded with his Irish roots.