Iain Britton

strange alliance

the movement is quick
i pull off my jersey
         the sun folds it neatly
disciples of the man
in the grey boiler suit
        talk tactics
             for standing on street corners
shouting ‘repent ye’ graffiti
at other faces

        the day is hooked
sniffing at cherry blossoms
         the wild life of children
female office workers
sitting on lawns
unwrapping aspects of men
around Hato Petra
i count my paces

this ritual never changes
i take ownership of the path
and wait by the carved Taiapa gate
i grab my jersey
put it on /           the church
creaks with wood
with too much carbon
on its breath
sparrows frisk crucifixes

you arrive / kiss
there’s more to this
than is preferentially possible

the sky dictates moods
you condense steam into herbally-laced
mixtures           hands-on practitioners
drink up

anything newsworthy
instantly disrupts / dissipates
invisible observers
force us apart
to find new spaces

plays his flute
to whoever’s riding the clouds
the wind gusts
or thrusting naked accessories
at fascinated crowds

he’s the born chieftain of his island
logged in
and fed ferns at every meal
for the sake of feigning        anonymity

he plays his flute / drinks coffee
at the local store
sticks fingerprints
on landmarks for the blind
this ritual never changes

the road
is packed with families
clambering for views

/ i smell sweat their effort-
flogged sounds

the stacks-on-the-mill ascension

we expect payment
for opening the books
for gesturing in their favour
the blue roof doesn’t leak
we enter the long-distance lens
of the grey-garbed performer
preaching about the first birth
first howl
first mouth load of meat
at the gate
voice scraps are picked over by seagulls
workers return to their cubicles
to the loved ones stuck in their heads
you wash hands and face

early moonlight
chalks the roads
whitens streams
fondles stones

i wash my hands / face too

we mind map a long night’s journey
into the contours of a metamorphosis
a strange alliance
emerges / we let
body cells liquefy
extract core samples
from our solar centres
and for a short time
we live spellbound
attracted /       a strange alliance
deliberately entangled



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).