The future and other poems by DS Maolalai

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The future.

I’m driving from work.
it’s three on a friday. I’m on
the naas road, coming up
toward the new red cow round-
about, heading to april – into the weekend
and may. the sky ahead looms
with a shadow of stormclouds,
heavy as piled dirty laundry;
all shirts in a tangle at the foot
of a bed. something’s on the radio,
but I can’t really hear it
with the highway road thunder
and the spluttering engine
of my ’06 red mini convertible,
caked with the truck dust
of a new roadside carwash
which I must park opposite
now when I’m in at the office.
the windows are dusty, the headlights
are dusty and dim as the sun
in the morning when it’s rising red

off the horizon. it’s friday – I’ve no plans
to see to this weekend, except maybe
out to the country tomorrow
with my mother to make a house
ready for someone she has coming
next week from ukraine.
and the traffic is heavy
if you aren’t in the fast lane
and I’m never in that because
I’m going left. I like it here – pausing
and moving and pausing
with people around me
and some headlights on and some
dusty, all of whom seem
just as hesitant as I am
to drive into sundays and storms.

Chack chacka thunk

the rattle of a shopping
trolley body, thin as catbones
in a black plastic bag
in a plastic bin. one wheel loose
and a rhythm on tiles
as it rotates – chack
thunk, chacka thunk, chacka
thunk – a beating heart
in your hands drawing eyes
in from everyone, as if only
a weak man would move
such a thing. and groceries
shift and compress by your
passage; cart shitting orangejuice
and eggshell through bars
beneath bags of potatoes. chack
chacka thunk. a beat. the light
is so bright in a supermarket
aisle you can see every pore
and each line on each person’s
face and expression of far-

away focus – snowdrifts of make-up
like cauliflower bunched around
nostril-lines. and sweat is a braille
of the face and the hands –
just another language you don’t
understand and you wouldn’t speak
well if you could. no poet
of moments – a poet
of typing out words.
the world spools an eye
like a fat blinking walrus and swings
out a future ahead full of phonecalls
and balancing current and savings,
a sixpack of beer that you’ll drop
on it’s head in the kitchen.
and later the car will break down in a way
that is not too expensive
but annoying to fix and takes weeks.


the trees pop and sway
in an effervescent bubbling:
sunlight through a glass
cracking ice cubes.

it’s september: swallows
and housemartins
cluster, thrown like leaves
against driftwood
in an eddying river-
side, along with crushed
beercans – soda
cans and other debris.
in the mornings

I look at them
landing – the end
of endless swoop. all summer
the river has been abuzz
lively – fly nymphs
and birds looping

cursive pursuit. the blue
note of freedom as swing
through the city. a diagram
of step-by-step
formal tie knots.

I wish I was going to africa.
they add style
to late afternoons. sometimes
I stand on my balcony
for fifteen minutes
or thereabouts or more.

DS Maolalai has been nominated eleven times for Best of the Net, eight for the Pushcart Prize and once for the Forward Prize. His poetry has been released in three collections, most recently “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019) and “Noble Rot” (Turas Press, 2022)

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