DS Maolalai‘s two poems: Music Enough and Just Up From Prison

Music Enough
Just Up From Prison

oh now I don’t need 

any music. oh now, and I’m driving 

through stretches of morning 

to work. the sun baking bread

on the sill of each 

passing house window off

over the gardens and behind

all the bus stops. leaving the city

through an exhausted grey

stubble-light industry; five

o’clock shadow and fields

on this ash Wednesday morning. 

and not fields, disused land 

and more housing estates,

built cheap and close 

to the motorway.

business estates, industrial

estates, short strips

of dead supermarkets, discount

stores sprouting with the brightness

of poisonous rot. 

creeping wild ivy 

which hangs along fencing,

thriving on traffic

and bunching like fists

on a stick. second hand

car lots. petrol stations.

cheap restaurants. 

all this is music enough.

the thing is – there’s a child now. 

and he and the mother; they’re going

to get married. and all of us 

at the age, finally, where that might 

have even really been the plan. 

can you imagine? having kids;

getting married? and sure

there’s divorces, but children – 

those last. a bit like tattoos.

we sit on canalbanks – we are down

outside porterhouse, just up the way 

from the prison – in lockdown a popular

spot. we drink beers together, glowing

as the sky inhales cigarettes. piss

in the bushes. we’ve known each other

a very long time, gotten on in that casual

way where he ignores when I say

something stupid. I say something 

stupid now, about him getting married – 

about how I’m sorry 

about how it happened. he tells me

politely he’s happy. that he wouldn’t

do anything different. and somehow

he means it and everything – wild.

DS Maolalai has received nine nominations for Best of the Net and seven for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry 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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