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

 

exists

 

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

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