S  e  c  r  e  t  s    blackmail press 24
Iain Britton
New Zealand

Brief bio: Cinnamon Press (UK) published my first collection of poems in February 2008 – ‘Hauled Head First into a Leviathan’.  Interactive Press (Australia) will be publishing my second collection - ‘Liquefaction’,  in May this year.

Regardless of which muscle
pulls what bone
choices have to be made.

The sky always knows its place
and swirls down a funnel behind the shed
disappearing quickly.

The moon and stars
sparkling like full offertory boxes
drop in too.

Who paints the rainbow
or pays attention to the length of my stride
padding a footpath.

I count the number of heartbeats
the earth pounds in my ear every minute. Walkers pass

glance up into the living matter of my face, hot-cored at the centre
and capillaried in feeling. The Esplanade is full of men sitting in clearings

on logs, on rocks, in tubes of sunlight. They drink from plastic bottles
share scraps of edible treasure. They kick up leaves

pink blossoms, gravel. They gesticulate what they want, which path, who leads.
Our footsteps talk. Who chooses the patterns for the trees

or draws clouds
dive-bombing the lagoon.

What hand
interferes with the hunger

of a city, the children
playing in their skeletons.

We scrounge for signs.
The godly

have built their Golgotha

Native born …

he tests the morning air
with a finger

refers to my thin armour
as his house

is happy to let himself
walk in my shoes.

Before we visit the ruins
he tells me no one

of significance lives there
or eats spuds or carrots

kills the birds
which eat the fruit

the sweet fat bugs
which hollow the trees.

The coming of the horse,
cow and chainsaw

changed all that
the savage offspring

of a dead English mother
changed all that.

No one of significance
rolls down the aisle now

marrying similar skins.
No one thinks

to rebuild the tabernacle
in ruins.

He picks what he likes
to look at.

Music fills the blanks
between the cut-down

narratives of old storytellers.
It rises and falls

amongst the morning’s
chants, the man on his roof

talking to the sun, the woman
at her fire cooking,

the children spinning their tops
their songs whirring

in the dust. The future
is about smaller paddocks

squashed-up streets
houses packed

with too many arms
and legs.

He chooses what he wants
to show me, tells me

it’s safe now to go further afield
pretend the scene

is coated in chrome,
marble is the rock to stand on,

that the savage offspring
of a dead father

is of no consequence
any more. He compares me

to a blood companion.

A Winter’s Incursion

I do as I want.
I watch the sky lean down
and dig in its light.

Apples cling hard and green.
claw at paths.

A woman on the veranda
hears spring cracking
through tunnels of foliage.

She hears the fingernails
of blossoms

A kotare scoops tracts of estuary
for fish. The sea
plays on my sunglasses

and like a shadow
the woman crosses dark maps
of countryside

unspoilt by languages.
She has become a landmark
I can’t quite touch.

She comes inside
begins to pick up, put down –
rocks, shells, the skeletons of plants.

She is deferential, detached
related to the sea
which possesses rhythms

which has reasons
for us being here.
She’s a stranger wanting contact

sustenance, a taonga
wanting to be seen
recently beached

after a long sea haul.
She pauses for me
as we step out onto the grass

to the flattened bodies of storms
a winter’s incursion.
I do as I want.

I choose
to give her reassurance. So many homes
like broken gifts seem to want us.