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Vignettes (V)

By IAIN BRITTON.

one man’s status

made specially for his pure-blooded
uniqueness | the last of his tribal
likenesses | is his father’s black hat |
his crowning topknot | a chimney-like
status in the sky’s red pavilion |

amongst wet-weather archetypes | he
chooses the dank miasmic earth to fulfil
his needs | to squeeze blood from the veins
of stones | he curls up in his armchair |
ensconced in warm clothes | a dazzling
mixture of ancestral influences crammed
into the heavy breathing of a paradox

placidly ornamental

stumbling into this room of flowers |
of Polynesian-carved bowls |
arranging summer with the deft
fingertips of her mother | a woman |
bundled up in a blanket shuffles from
bookcase to sideboard to table | a cat
placidly ornamental sits motionless

purrs | licks | the woman ensures her mother
feels textures | the evolution of a parade
in images | she anticipates each morning |
her husband | unchangeable & smiling
her mother rote-cleaning his glasses

dust-coated origins

from the scummed-up residue
of childhood | the pumice-dust
chalked bare feet | you have finally
grown into the shop you’ve become |
you stand between acres of finery | a
lover’s passion for altering skins
& bodies | the colours of a false
awakening | you’ve shifted from
your dust-coated origins | these houses
these cracked-window surfaces |

you stand unrecognisably faithful
to a purpose-built infatuation

clowning

the sea batters homes | the
miscellaneous jumble of human living |

it batters boats & jetties | the sad
performances of a clown | we shelter
from harsh spoken words | guffawing
painted lips | eyes winking grotesquely |
we hide from the meltdown of his
cratered face | the antics of a furore
the tossing off of coats | a heron’s lame
shadow is left struggling on the beach |
left coping with the sunlight | & the sudden
airborne evidence of people laughing

consequences

in fresh streams for occasional dunkings |
you fish amongst waterweeds & boulders
rely on hereditary seepages for traversing
hook-ups | discovering there are consequences |

a brother tours his peripheral boundaries
with the remnants of past ascetic claims
the unpretentiousness of a livelihood |
he packs his accumulated wealth
into a compass & you tag along dependent
on where he’s going | his obstinacy | his
fix for tomorrow | convinced strength exists
in companionship | in his attempt to prioritise

triumphal arch

a blustery daylight plunders the canopies
of trees | it messes with the bougainvillea
struggling against the trellis | a girl shakes
her red hair in the sun’s face | a triumphal
arch welcomes the man in the boiler suit
picking overdosed flowers from her garden

from the helter-skelter of a sodden late
spring | she is her own participant of these
ancient games | her own forecaster of a
world rushing on | skimming the horizons
for blue infinities | ululating loudly
capturing the attention of forgotten echoes

blind man’s buff

reusable visions shoot off fireworks displays
cathedrals imbibe in liquefied pictorials |

of his blindness much is never spoken |
never discussed | much remains curtained
from landscapes | he shuffles along
multi-purpose corridors between shafts
of subterranean light | he sees Xanadu
illuminations through rose-tinted glasses |
he wants to speak about the peacefulness
of skyrockets silently exploding | he holds
my hand & takes me along a corridor | as if
playing blind man’s buff below ground zero

enchanted state

it’s not unexpected | not beyond the
rippled glaze of this pond’s tongue |
what life remains concealed | separated
by invisible bucolic walls | covered in
leafmould | stepped over by trampers |
tourists | lovers wanting to be lost | to be
entangled | preserved in a glass-age

enchanted state | like a receptacle in a
memorial garden two women crouch
beside the pond wrapped in flags |
unacknowledged keepers of tradition’s
rivalries | reflections jittering at a touch

the yellow christ

music for mixed voices | tenor types | contraltos |
the hall reverberates | Verdi’s Requiem
spills from crevices in windows |
birds dissipate unable to compete | the
yellow christ | more male than female | hangs
listening from a macrocarpa | the world stops
from its morning emotional excavations |
pushes its body’s capillaries into the city’s
glossy muscle-bound towers | & only

a wide awake one-man’s free fall follows |
the sun poling straight down a slippery slope
of well-wishers gratefully forgiven

yankee doodle dandy

the band fifes up | tunes up | heaps praises
on young bloods charging across desolate
playgrounds where the land is burnt black
& ash swirls odourless into thin-tapering
banners | the band plays yankee doodle dandy |
a yellow submarine | it whistles colonel bogey

small battle-sized boys watch | then kill
the things they love | they run for the bushes |
the stinging nettle | the offal pits | they hide &
reek of war paint | angels conceal their footprints
amongst the shot-to-pieces petals | &
after the interval the fighting fizzles

a new anatomy

patterns of blue-stained fleur-de-lis blossom
in the first light | they angle past piles of books
past the guitar | the posters of starlets | all flesh
& pouts | all body semantics | a failed seventh-

day adventist explores the night’s neon billboards |
as if rediscovering a newness | a new anatomy
to write home about | his room is this
uninhibited statement | this walk-through
expression of a graffitied alphabet | a painted
literature clutters the air space | a dream teases
his ego | he talks in lists of words | curls into
this gorgon-altered image of a stung plant

like a juggler

like a juggler | he tosses cloud formations
amongst shifting updraughts | he catches | tosses |
calls them by name | the woman beside him

still walks the pavements of her city | famous
for its cathedrals | miracles | its bloodletting ditches
for its iniquitous haunts of backstreet clairvoyants |
like a juggler | he throws coloured stones into
revolving perspectives | into swirling thermals
of a volcano’s toxic throat | the woman
observes a planet giving birth to a moon | &
then another | she hesitates | arguments impact
on the axed idols of an illuminated belief


Iain Britton was born and educated in Palmerston North, New Zealand. He spent many years living and teaching in London and Bournemouth. Since 2008, he has had five collections of poems published, mainly in the UK. A new collection of poems, photosynthesis, was published by Kilmog Press (NZ) in 2014. This year his poems have been published by The Interpreter’s House, Long Poem Magazine (UK), Free Verse, Harvard Review, Queen Mob’s Teahouse (US). More poems have just been published or are forthcoming in Stand, Clinic, Card Alpha, The Curly Mind, M58, The Literateur, The Black Market Re-View, Cyphers (Ireland) and Upstairs at Duroc (Fr). He has previously appeared in The Fortnightly Review here.

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