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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press


By: D.S. Maolalai

the air is bright,


and cheerful

as puddles of spilled diesel

pooling on the filling

station floor.

I've explained things to the staff,

bought breakfast and 7up,

feeling dumb, my broken motor

wallowing like a hippo in muck.

the AA man will be here

in an hour, he says. I've called the office –


they've already picked a nickname;

"van diesel". they found it, it's glorious

and it's hard to be angry.

I open the can and breathe,

lean on the door,

kick my useless

wheelwell. it sits

to no shift with impact,


as a bag

full of rocks.






D.S. Maolalai has been nominated seven times for Best of the Net and three 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)

"As far as behind the scenes stories go, I can only say that the poem is pretty much a true story: I'd started a job around Christmas the year before last which had the benefit of being supplied with a van from the company fleet. I was doing office work for a maintenance company, but was required to visit sites on occasion, and didn't have a car of my own. The week there I took it for a refill before heading over in the morning and messed up, filling it with the wrong type of fuel, which meant that I wasn't actually able to go to work and had to call my new boss with possibly the most "you've hired someone totally incompetent" excuse of all time. Always good to lower expectations, I suppose, but it was embarrassing. The "Van Diesel" part was true too - about five minutes after I'd hung up from talking to my boss I got a call from his boss where he told me that was what he was going to call me from then on, although I really didn't mind that - I've never been one to get mad when an insult is clever. The nickname didn't stick, but I was definitely seen for a long time in that job as 'the idiot who doesn't know how to work a van'."


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