The Barfly – D S Maolalai

there was a spot
on the inside my wineglass
and the spot was yellow
and the spot
was a hornet. I fished her out
on the bent end of a spoon – no, not dead,
but drunk enough to be so –
and placed her on my table
with another glass sealing her in.

the legs were moving,
the body
looked large as a thumb,
the stinger glistening sharp
and deadly as cholera. her body
was segmented
and her wings
clung flat to her back.

I read my book a while,
drank some wine,
as she came slowly back from sleep.
the head moved
briefly. then a
twitch. I’m used to flies
which die in my winebottles,
but a hornet
was a new
and interesting sight. I wondered
did she intend her drunkenness
or did she
fall into it
as many do,
trying to hurt me,
and now
could not get out.

she rolled over from her side,
bad as a sunday morning,
and began to shake,
buzzing angrily at the glass.
I picked it up
to give her some air
but she couldn’t get aloft,
just stumbled
drunk on the tabletop,
yellow stripes
livid on the wood.

I thought of winos on the roadways,
sitting outside
supermarkets, sipping cider
and eating cans of cold soup.
I thought of litterbins
busy with insects, and pity,
and all the other things. I thought of myself
shaking in the morning
and wondered idly
if insects can have hangovers.

then I brought the glass down again,
and bottom first
and felt the wetness of the crush
and the relief
that my own hangover
would go unwitnessed.


DS Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working maintenance dispatch for a bank and his nights looking out the window and wishing he had a view. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.


Contents Drawer Issue 13


Image via Pixabay

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