20 | It slopes upward. | When I look at my grandmother’s family photos I realise I don’t know who anyone is.

It slopes upward.

it slopes upward, that’s what it does,
like a bowl half-full of porridge.
that’s what you never think
about dublin, though it’s there,
wherever you look. it slopes upward,
and below it
is a city, blanket grey,
hot as breakfast and thick
as tar coffee. outside the city
is all edge, sloped and gentle,
and in here, wild landscape
and streets tangled
like blacks and whites at the end
of an unashed cigarette. but the thing – it doesn’t end there –
it slopes further, down
into the water,
crisp and salt
and wide black-grey. depth of colour
and further depth. seagulls wading. I walk out
some saturdays
and pace the coast road
toward the city. the sea, rotten
with boats
sloping into harbour, dipping
and sloping upward.


When I look at my grandmother’s family photos I realise I don’t know who anyone is.

April 15th

rats chew and scuttle
in sacred places. within our gutted
skyscrapers, frogs
forget their spawn
and float away. we go out against history
slashing rhythms from our keyboards
like the engine of a boat
chopping water
and dropping boxes
in the wake. we yell in cathedrals
and listen to echoes
as they bounce
and then bounce softer. in 100 years
not even our bones will be remembered.


ds maolalai 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).