Iain Britton


I want to begin my talk

with How or As you          or

When I was

but         the one-armed bandit

in my brain

spins the wrong fruit

and there is no clatter of success

                no indicator the coloured baubles

of my life are going to flash and ping

or puke out diadems a gunrunner is going to kill for.

He kills anyway.

My talk is what it is –

I open my mouth
and only the cloisters
of a blue heaven listen.

                Figures in the room                don’t clap.

Gowned from neck to foot
                                                    they shuffle about
stooped in tacitness.

                They dismantle aphorisms

torn from a Dead Sea Scroll.

                I open my mouth

                and a voice

                strips itself

                of stories.



I begin my talk

                when the earth

was a sepulchre

pushing up effigies

                for         burning

                when the earth

was a map you could fall off

tumbling       through auroras/                when you could


with tribes/                mercenaries.

                               They kill. Too.

The mornings are populated by heads


Cold mists. Depersonalised units.

There’s this expectation

the breaths of many

                will be tagged with names.

Oystercatcher Press (UK) published Iain Britton's 3rd poetry collection in 2009. Kilmog Press (Dunedin, NZ) will be publishing his next collection due out November.

His website – newish - recently updated is www.iainbritton.co.nz
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