Iain Britton: “pidgin peace meal”

the man


in feathers


shuts his eyes          squats


amongst jacaranda fallout


drinks cold tea /


forgets to speak up /        as if his beginning


had its faults in a syllabic nod


in the screwed-up mechanism of a missing tomorrow




he spills daylight


steps on bones


washes his feet / my feet


blackens my shoes / whitens my face


for the photographer

at the gate




I tick all the right boxes


check names              tickets


the red and blue ribbons

the winners of categories


I cross out others          with heads tucked into chests


convinced every fast-food supper is their last /     every scrap of blue sky /

field of lupins /     every girl washed by the sea /




the man


paints a tree


a hot pool of mud


a gap where  molecules breed



he pushes me into blurred possibilities


where cargo-cult customers line up


to dismember old myths



flying nuns grab at wasted prayers


the city




on the edge of a steaming oven



I read a book


see for myself how characters are hung out to dry


and how they live



the heat

is in the language

in the breathing fragments




my favourite pastime


is watching my neighbour


through a hole in the fence


dance       birdlike


into a thanksgiving heap



he offers cold tea


to whoever he thinks is thirsty


whoever’s hungry



he speaks to a snapshot


a face in a face


he’s cracked and marred


by three score years


of  sucking


on the smell


of an oily rag



he lives in a drought-stricken room


shifts occasionally


a collage of grafted hybrids


sends out mixed signals


of what branch


what fruit


what tugs the belly



why wait for this flawed human product


to track amongst last year’s residue



I bypass today’s callers


meeting outside


staring in