October 25-31, 2021: Poetry from DS Maolalai and Lee Chottiner

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DS Maolalai

DS Maolalai (Dublin, Ireland) has been nominated nine times for Best of the Net and five times 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)

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by DS Maolalai and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Apparently lockdown

my girlfriend
says her friend
is having problems
with his girlfriend.
and we’re both friends
with both of them,
but mostly he’s
her friend.
apparently lockdown
is having an effect now;
they’ve argued over dishes,
her smoking
and a possible
dog. and it’s strange
to lose someone
who you’ve gotten to know
through their boyfriend
being friends
with your girlfriend.
I wonder, if they split,
will he visit
more often.
they’ve been staying
in lately
because her system’s
rather weak.


I thought Canada was cold;

they had told me –
and arrived in strong boots,
and a hot leather coat
which I’d bought over summer
in an East London market.

and this was still August,
the sun on the pavement
the only white going,
the air thick as soup
and smelling of baked gravy.
I put on dark glasses,
took off my coat
and my snowboots;
laughed all the way into town.

it wasn’t until months later I found out
that winter hits Toronto
like a fist overnight
and you wake up deep and groggy
to feet of groggy snow;
trees crackling like a fire
as their ice-lining shatters
and reforms with the movement of the wind.


Portugal, 2009

I remember it was summer,
the end of our first
year in college.
we went for a week to portugal,
to a house booked by a friend
through a friend of a friend
of her parents, all of us
still young enough
that sex would seem impossible,
instead just sitting
under lemon trees
and dangling our fingers in poolwater,
fresh and blue as jelly,
flavourless as spit.

and we slept each afternoon,
played card-games
built around drinking,
got through bottles apiece
of this portuguese whiskey,
sticky and cheap
with a cartoon on the label.
I got punched in the face once
by a girl, after I leaned in
through her window in conversation
(a friend – it was nothing sinister)
and spilled some whiskey mixture
all over her unpacked clothes.
she knocked a tooth almost loose
I remember, which won me some sympathy
and some kisses from someone else
with the balletic way I spun back.

and the lemon trees in the garden
which were only grown for show
were poached every night
to flavour our vodka cocktails.
and at least twice the pool furniture 
went in the pool.
there was a veranda
which never had anyone fall off it
but it felt good to stand up there
and yell down
when we got drunk and hot

and mostly of course
it was us boys doing that to the girls
like little kids shaking the cages
of parakeets. pretty girls
who looked frankly terrific in sunlight,
and whom we should have appreciated more.

Lee Chottiner

Lee Chottiner, a poet and journalist, sees writing much like making footprints in the sand; maybe they’ll remain long after he’s left the beach (or maybe not). His work has appeared in October Hill, Loud Coffee Press, Poesis, Poetry Super Highway, Pokeberry Days: A West Virginia Literary Collection, Journeys (Pittsburgh), Brink Zine, Jittereview and Weelunk. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Lee Chottiner and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Health Care

By the Gershwin Theater,
as Broadway crowds,
he sits on a bench,
chewing a bagel.

Beneath the knee-
length shorts,
his upper calf looks
chocolate and clear.

Lower, it turns to an
ashen prune, craggy,
his foot so swollen
it won’t fit his sandal.

A woman at
the next table
curls her nose
at the smell.

But he sits there
on the bench
a bag of bagels
at his side,

chewing on one,
chewing on one,
while at the Gershwin
they stage Wicked.



I am Indefatigable
and I explode.
I am many hard-edge ruins
floating on rough waters,
my stacks marking
my descent,
a course set
for the deep
as life sails beyond Jutland.
Poems of smoke and fire
are written still,
and faces—
many faces—
crowd the words
from the pages.
I am Indefatigable
and I explode,
a childless uncle
in fading photos,
creases blinding my eyes.

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