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

 

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he spills daylight

 

                 steps on bones

 

                       washes his feet / my feet

 

          blackens my shoes / whitens my face

 

for the photographer

at the gate

 

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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 /            

 

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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 

 

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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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