Iain Britton

A perversity locks in should I lose

Ignoring good balance she swivels lightly on her chair.
I have these openings in my head
which allow her manoeuvrability like a bird.
The sun laps at her skin, her long hair and then rolls on.
A perversity locks in should I lose too much too soon of my own image.


Let’s talk about it.
Let’s rubbish the laws of fair play
and get down on our knees

and eat grass
eat weeds
eat manicured perennials

our parents-in-law
husbands and wives. Let’s eat. Let’s go for it
and wash everything down

with a warmed-up cocktail of cloud.
See how it goes. I have this propensity
for sitting on mass graves

mass slag heaps
of metallic offal, the broken whiteware, squashed cars
wrecked beds

the pricks shot at the OK Corral
the village idiot who picks off the wings of moths
the legs of spiders.

I’m part of an explosive scenario
the splitting of a nerve, a long winter’s night. I’m part
of the last ice age.

I spread myself out
on a long white table and the anthropologists
come prodding at me with steel tools.

They study the stones
in my crop. A woman brushes her hair
in the convex moons of my eyes.

Let’s talk about him, they say.
The grain caught between my teeth. The fibre mushed in my gut.
My fingernails.

The arrowhead
stuck in my heart’s hollow. Let’s talk
and I speak from the blue tongue of a glacier

from the driest dirt in Ethiopia
from a war site at Gallipoli. Let’s get on with it.
Let’s eat the speak.

Will that be coffee with milk
I ask the girl with ancient eyes
who wants to be more than a friend.

Iain Britton's poetry is published or forthcoming in such magazines as Ambit, Agenda, Stand, The Reader, Staple, Orbis, Magma, The Stride Magazine, The Warwick Review, Mimesis (UK), Harvard Review, Drunken Boat, Bateau Press, Slope, Nimrod International, Tinfish, Rattapallax, Fulcrum (US) Vallum (Canada). Jacket, Cordite, Heat, Southerly, Meanjin, Island, Harvest Magazine (Aust) and most NZ literary journals.

Cinnamon Press (UK) published his first collection of poems in February 2008 – Hauled Head First into a Leviathan – which was a Forward Poetry Prize nomination this year in the UK. Interactive Press (Australia) will be publishing his second collection in 2009.

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