THE HUMAN SPIRIT

by Diarmuid o Maolalai

The human spirit

is very breakable.
we don’t
fight.
give in
all the time.

crayons
break
in our five year old
fingers
and look at that;
suddenly
our pictures
have double
the amount of blue.

we take circumstance
and adapt.
survive
better. most of us
don’t challenge the world.
we change instead,
to fit it.

take bad jobs
when the alternative
is starving. take bad
relationships
over no-one at all.

birds
take off in winter. go to
africa. go
to spain. we don’t
do that.
we won’t even
dig a hole
to die in.

A life so fine.

I have
surrendered
the kitchen. waved
a flag. every day
dirt slid off me
and I pushed it back,
tired
like an overnight
bus. spatters
respat themselves
after being
wiped clear
and squashed flies
still spotted
on the counter.

what broke
resistance
finally
was one dropped bomb
on construction – a pillar
out of place
in a castle
on the sink. plates exploded
and glass shot
shrapnel. cups collapsed
like cliffs into the sea,
sloshing the linoleum
with waves
and rotten water.

the kitchen
is for chaos now. a closed door
and mad havoc
and a life so fine
for flies. the mice can have it.
woodlice can learn to climb.
I buy sandwiches
prepackaged
and eat them in bed
reading novels. the rest
of my territory
is already
shrinking.

Something a lot like poetry.

no cause for a candle.
burn one anyway –
the sun has not settled
but what the hell;
you like lighting fires
and it drives away the flies.

and you lean back
and you tap your leg against the tablestem,
vague in the aim
of creating some dribbles
on the side of the winebottle
which props it,
but no luck – she burns
clean,
sitting straight to attention
and stiff as a priest’s collar.

and you stiffen your drink
and sit,
trying to look interesting
and staring out the window,
into an alleyway
with nothing but cats.
the attention you pay
to making everything
be arty
for the benefit
of no audience at all
and no reason
beyond self-image –

it’s something
a lot
like poetry,
though at least the candle
provides a little light.

Biting a flower.

one day
I was hanging out with cora
when she was still
my ex. walking along queen st
in late february
to that fake beachfront they’d made
on the lake. I don’t remember much
of what we talked about,
except she told me she had gone on dates
which she’d enjoyed
somewhat
but she hadn’t fucked anyone
since we’d ended things. she had,
of course. so had I,
but you don’t
tell someone that.

after a while
I confessed
why I’d suggested
she meet me,
and her mouth
felt small
like biting a flower
but then it went in harder,
got big
and all around. we sat down on the beach
in a public sunbed
and tore each other
for 30 mins
or more.

then we got up
and finally went
to my place – pulling paper
off the box
of why we’d come.

I don’t begrudge it.

the pigeons
are barking
beautifully
and christmas
is shining
out of windows. kids
are lining up
to get presents
given. in shopping centres
santa clauses
die for a cig. I walk from work
the same as always
but colder
and go into a house
the same
as always
but warm – and the good thing
about living alone
is that you can take less notice
of winter
than badgers; all the festivals
lining on your house
like strangers
knocking to get in. christmas, halloween,
hell,
even my birthday
passes with vegetables
and flipping through the first
ten pages of books.
let people
light up their houses with fire hazards –
I don’t begrudge it. plus
it’s dublin;
lights on a tree
walking by
are the best stars
I’m ever
going to get.

About the Author:

DS Maolalai is a poet from Ireland who has been writing and publishing poetry for almost 10 years. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press, and he has a second collection forthcoming from Turas Press in 2019. He has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize.

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