Two Poems by DS Maolalai

Sweet summer

you get off work late
in the late stretch of evening,
with the sun down so low
it could just be some guy going home.

but it’s pleasantly warm
and it’s easy and, hell, you get off
the train early. take a walk
downtown, enjoy this
afternoon eight o’clock
with its lying down shadow
and sprawled about sunset,
and the bright junelight shining
like spit on a candy–
coloured flowers.

squirrels snake circles
around trees
eyes wide
and lively
as half-sucked

bees hum in the air
like honey, and a whispery breeze
with the quiet smile of violet candy,
or maybe just
the smell of violets,
coming over a garden
where some lady is trimming her flowers,
sunburn and kind eyes and a sunhat
and tiredness at the length of the day,
always willing to scatter nuts on her doorstep for the squirrels
or offer the kids next door
hard candy
that tastes like cut leaves.


I call you
to the office
to look at a
poem – don’t
do this normally
but I need
someone’s eye
as to whether
what I’ve written
counts as slander.

you read it,
mouth quietly,
and tell me
that it’s nice;
suggest one change
to soften a sentence.

I nod, very satisfied,
and let you go out.

I change it
and look.
change it back.

DS Maolalai has received eleven nominations for Best of the Net and eight 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).