DS Maolalai, 5/27/2019

Current Occupation: Facility Maintenance Dispatch
Former Occupation: Hospital Control Room
Contact Information: DS Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His first collection, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden”, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press, with “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” forthcoming from Turas Press in 2019.

 

#

Control.

 

I liked it,

dying

surrounded by ringing telephones. if it hadn’t been

for an old girlfriend

coming to london

I’d have probably stayed on

indefinitely, like

one of those old

dusty fuckers

of whom we made

so much fun

on our lunch-breaks. mocking them

for spending their lives

always watching the call queue, always

from the corner of their eyes. it was

a call-centre, though we were supposed to call it

“control”. just a place

for lines

to converge over england.

 

“biker 3,

dispatch” “khc” “double activation”.

I knew the codes

for different calls

and learned

phonetic alphabets. it was

easy, watching

days move

like spiders through the window.

like stretching out

on a mattress

at night.

 

one day I heard

that my ex-girlfriend

had found a job

doing punch-up

in a local

theatre. of course

I left immediately;

some jobs

like control-rooms

anyone

can do anywhere;

why should I begrudge

giving someone a city

they want to be in

where they’re doing

what they actually

want to do?





#

High art.

 

I don’t trust anyone

whose whole job

is writing. it’s a great way to get

so you think

you’re more clever than other people,

or that writing things down

is difficult,

or some sort,

somehow,

of high art. I have my work phone in my pocket

and there’s a group text

between me, as the office co-ordinator, and our three

main building techs. mostly it’s used

for dirty jokes

and checking the status of burst pipes

and broken lightbulbs. but

they also send a message through

once a month

to make sure that everyone

got paid what they’re owed

for all the on-call time

and overtime. and it’s almost invariable

that someone’s wage

is wrong. that they’ll have to go

fight it out

to make rent

and pay for their daughter’s

schooling. seeing that matters,

I think. otherwise

you get too interested,

talking about politics and art

and humanity, and forget

what those words

mean.





#

Last Tuesday

 

nobody was answering any emails

except for the people

who were waiting for answers

only other people

could give. there were rooms

which needed stuff

moved out,

but the price had gone up

because now the work

had to be done

out of hours. and someone

was looking for numbers

on feminine hygiene waste products

used in each branch

and at the company which collected

they were too busy dealing with it

to dig figures out. at lunch

I didn’t have change

for a sandwich

and had to settle

for an apple

and a cup of the free coffee

which tasted like wee. and my boss

was down from belfast – kept asking me

for things

I didn’t know. then he gave me

“5 mins work”

which I got done with

after two hours. the sky

spat red down

and at 3

my shit

blocked the toilet. I got a message

that the pay was wrong.

at 4:30

I stood up and left

even though I was meant to be on

until 5.

sometimes

days are like that.





#

Kilbarrack to Tara: 8:45

 

I like it; going into town

on the train occasionally

like a man with a purpose,

a mind and a serious job. the track is suspended

for a good view of rooftops – they display

far more character

than the bits you see

every day. I am neither the least

nor the most romantic of men – I don’t imagine

that looking down

at houses like this

matters more

than any other direction.

but what? is it not still more beautiful

to see the leaves only, instead of the whole treetrunk? or see

where someone has installed a skylight

and angle a look

inside? and doesn’t your eye light up too,

and focus on the first spark that shines

when you’re trying your best

to get a fire going?

 

 

 

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