by Diarmuid ó Maolalai

Israel and Palestine.

I had put the goldfish
in a small tank by the window
and had named them
(some joke)
Israel and Palestine.
they didn’t know the joke.
they lived together
as good a life as they could
bobbing like bathtoys
near a view
every day
nothing happened. I fed them
but never enough to kill them
and they gobbled it like morons
and looked at me
with dumb glorious eyes
and fat heads,
after a while
knowing if I came over
it would mean new food.
when I left the apartment
I left them there –
what was I to do? bring them in a sock on the airplane?
and I wrote a note for the landlord
“if you have children
then these are for them. their names
are Israel and Palestine”
in hindsight
maybe a bad joke
since the landlord
who was traditional Jewish
probably had
we hadn’t discussed.
they kept me company
for two years
and must have got flushed
the day I moved out. there wasn’t much
to that flat
and I’m pretty sure I’d got it
two days after the last guy. probably
he didn’t have time
to clear them out for his kids
while the next tenant
was banging on the door
and he was sweeping away
the rest of my trash.

Paddy’s Day 2018

it is the sweetness of the dream,
or the stickiness
and love
comes stumbling drunk
through every doorway;
a woman and 2 men
outside my apartment,
and the men are gay
and married
(that couldn’t have happened
even a year ago)
and I hear them.
they are
banging through the hallway.
it’s paddy’s day
and they
are stumbling,
joyous stumbling drunk.
only 1 of them is Irish
and he is happy
he has 1 friend with him
and 1 lover.
I’ve spent the day at home
so optimistic
something would come
that I missed it.
I should go in
deal out cigarettes
and share a drink with them
but instead I’ll stay at home,
drinking here,
listening to music
and the sounds next door
of a party happening.


I rattle the triangle
like a bag of potatoes.
I strum the violin
til people get up
and shut down their windows.
I’m a one man band
of extraordinary virtuosity.
no bum notes here. just arses.
wet wineglass shrieking
like a harpooned pigeon,
ploughing into sounds
you’ve never heard. I bang
and scream
better than Munch.
if it takes anything at all
I’ll make you notice me.

This is my evening.

1 glass for ashes
the other for
1 night long
to look down the days
and think
this is deferent,
this is deteral,
this is the way
of the fox,
the wolf,
the woodhuddled animal.

is the deer,
ready to run at the road
if the car
will just slow down

this is the hand
that guides the pen
that inspires the sword.

the backspace key
is the only gift
and the wine;
the ability to expel mistakes
made in the moment
by the drunken finger
and only let the night move in.
accidentally blown into the eyes
and burst away,
breathed downwards

to linger
on wool.

nights like this
ring around
an abundance in which

things dance.


is listed in the dictionary
as a proper name
and an old-fashioned one at that;
a character
in Scott Fitzgerald
or some old
American play.
but it has the cadence
of a word too,
lost in time –


a memory of love
or some subtler
shade of feeling,
grassy veldt or hills in sweden
and letters
in peasant unpselled french:
amory – from amore;
lit. the ardour felt when
your love
is in another country
or more
than a taxicab


from a memory;
the feeling
when your love

About the Author:


DS Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working maintenance dispatch for a bank and his nights looking out the window and wishing he had a view. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.