@thebays.co.nz – Iain Britton

A stock photo of a New Zealand beach including the watermark

from iainbritton@thebays.co.nz

it’s about mixed messages       & an argument
is swallowed       the biggest

hamburger in town

stolen from an over-active wish
is swallowed too       the man

who woke up the family mirror

walks into the sea

& the girl goes with him

they walk into the sea
& a large bulbous balloon
all fired up hoists its passengers
through flashes of sunlight

where Icarus hopefuls

transfigured old prophets

are part of the same digital ghost

the man who woke up the mirror
can’t explain it
he can’t explain his love for the sea

the wedding of the month
is off again       on again

he argues with the girl
until his book of bones is put to bed



sunken outcrops of reefs

rip at sea-light       a black

feeds on life forms
on single-celled suns

which shine on girls
swimming in a world
of crabs & starfish

the café shrugs off a shadow
the sea       being the sea

laps at it       laps it up

you talk of the benefits

of things organic things edible

hacked from bushes       waves

break on daydreams

on early solitudes       words
stretch & split in the heat

our table
is a clutter of voices

in us       small
whisper of collusions

which don’t really matter



created on the 7th day

he didn’t rest       didn’t know
he had to

this stuff
of dreamers       flourishes

at the park       history wets

its lips       it smells of a woman
in summer
showing her new credentials       of the love

of her life

brown-faced       & wholly immersed

waves swoop in       sluicing out
the apertures of a tidal hangover

it’s hard to believe he existed for her
ever walked these gardens

dreams       like his
should be chunked
into small inflatable parcels

& shoved into the cosmic pool

without loss of intention
she presses against him
more intimately

for now this journey of theirs       sleeps
as if holding its breath underwater



i draw a diagram

of kinship

i draw you       forever lodged in my flesh

you who have forgotten to shed
old anathemas old desiccated flakes

you deceive yourself

deceive me       you rarely

come out to play       i draw
you into a diagram
of someone sharing the daylight

of looking at the crags & caves
of the bay       of seeing people who live
buried deep       others who emerge

every day

wearing different clothes

who want to reshape
the horizon the steep cliffs
who live in houses which slide

now & then into the sea

i draw you       forever lodged
in my flesh

& sometimes       awake at night

you feed me

one candle flame at a time



amongst scorched vistas       the sea

shimmers       the beach burns

sunbathers arrive already burnt

a woman goes to the water’s edge

the sea is loud incantatory resonant
& the woman from the art shop pauses

she paints the sea with her eyes

a pale Godiva stripped

of pretensions of self-love       she muses on

islands       summit upheavals       swimmers
frolicking       she sees

fires in the windows of the city

houses hammered into rock-hard ledges

she contemplates the sand hills
the reefs
the weathering gullies

then covers herself in marram grass
& lupin       & lives in a sand castle
to avoid the harsh autumn smoke

at the water’s edge
she pulls on a child’s mask

at the water’s edge she can’t go on

she goes on



to turn again to the sea        the silver rainbow

the red scoria          to turn again to people

collecting lenses full of birds & fish

of landscapes unfolding        to confess once more

this woman confronts the figure of a man

who delves amongst the creases

of long purple clouds        who practises his lingo

his sharing of Homeric connections


i see her clearly        straddling a rock on the beach
straddling very still on her rock saying nothing
the curious arrive to watch her riding nowhere very still
on the beach        the man takes photos of her
as if she belongs everywhere       a mother dependent on
drinking sweet madonnas



perforating this woman’s daylight        i see her clearly

i delve into the purple cloth of morning        signifying

where she & the man are going        how she & he

hesitate at the railway station the bus terminal

where power lines loop into the last houses       the sea

washes the sand the rocks       this woman

morphing from shades of green into a dark blue haze

the sea washes her skin her hair her limbs

he tastes the salt on her eyelids the water

trickling off her shoulders       the miracle of her

as she is       she holds onto his soft celestial kiss


this moment has to do with them only

& this diminishing phenomenon of living off

scraps of pure stillness       pure breath       & nothing else



Categorized as ANNEXE

By Iain Britton

is the author of five collections of poetry. Recent poems have been published or are forthcoming in Landfall, Brief, New Zealand Review of Books, Cordite, Southerly, Harvard Review, POETRY, JACKET2, The New York Times, New Humanist, Stand, Agenda, Poetry Wales, Long Poem Magazine and The Fortnightly Review. THE INTAGLIO POEMS was published by Hesterglock Press (2017).