3 Poems by D.S. Maolalaí

The alto-sax

he hums
all around the kitchen,
crazy
as free jazz. the beat of his wings
is constant, turning over tables,
moving up and down
some scale, like a saxophone
tuned high – alto, I think it’s called.
he is a product
of my leaving carrot-peels out,
and perhaps the dog
not finishing her food. he is
black-blue, shiny
and articulated
like machinery. I sit
in my kitchen, watching
as he goes in
and out of view
around the window
and over the dogfood. when he settles down
I stand, grabbing a book,
and walk toward him. I like jazz, but I don’t
love it.

People in bewildering situations

closing my eyes,
listening to the radio, just as I imagine
people did
before they had phones
to distract them;
really hearing
the drum
and noticing
the little touches – a hornman
just late
to the climax, people
in bewildering situations
and the guitar squeaking
like a stepped on mouse. in the kitchen
my sister
makes tea
and offers me a cup. I listen to her
as jazz spins with wilderness, wake up
and nod. christ; music
is boring.
I adjust
at the table
and check my phone.

The jigsaw

dragging out music
like a dog from a kennel; he played an ok
piano. and
discovering that my grandmother
had had one,
which since
I had gotten my hands on,
suddenly
he took any excuse
to visit. in the kitchen
I did pictures, mixing inks
and scrubbing paint, half-listening
as he banged out front,
jumping like a bad boxer, composing
right
and left, one hand scribbling
while the other checked melodies.
like hearing someone
do a jigsaw
with scissors, lazy chaos
and dropped saucepans hesitating. and occasionally
the music would show
loud and confident
as brass orchestra. I mixed my paints,
scratched the canvas
fast as I could.
I found that
when he visited
my skies came out
with more black
and red


DS Maolalaí has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019).

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