WALL OF WORDS

Shortland Street shivers in summer cold -
the wind rattles
bouncing off mirroring windows.

At Chum Eade's a haircut's cheap. Eyebrows inclusive.
Sanchez butters the best at his
sandwich bar in the Chancery. Vitamin C

squirts from Nell's Fruit Juice Fingers Shop.
A wall of words rises above my head
and out of sight

chopped off quotes exaggerations
corny aphorisms to live or die by.

Finally I'm on the front page
instead of the All Blacks
says one. We've
knocked the bugger off
reads another.

Sophisticated graffiti
extolled in marble for those
who want to

stop and look
jab in their verbal fix for the day. If I
pause long enough I extract what I can

from what is meant. Lawyer councillor
Tae Kwon Do Blackbelter steps up seizes the moment
takes a breath. Enter the bride-to-be

of a senior partner and Sunday golfer
who swivels about at his desk
high above the earth. A meteorologist too

she says... He knows what's going to happen
before it happens.
She crosses to a precipice
of engineered glass

takes the escalator up. Large portraits
of light hang opaquely above her as she vanishes
into a firmament of white fluorescence.




THE STAINLESS STEEL CAFETERIA


Don't try and interpret the American meaning of what I can do for my country
while I've seen the animal in me go out on a hot summer's day and feed on fresh grass.

I followed him through dense city streets which could've been any urban area any
Sodom sur la Mer any place carnal would've sufficed or it could've been just

where the ladies on Hunter's Corner hang out
all looking like the girl I knew after my first glass of testosterone

cardboard cutouts of her leaning against shop windows
in doorways in alleys backs bared to the scars on shabby brick walls

beautiful cutouts of adolescent voluptuary. I went with him
as far as the town's boundary and let his sense of wildness run uninhibited

with the wind of the day - a Haast eagle the size of a horse
shadowed his new-found ecstasy - an eagle with talons raking close to the treetops to

the rising smell of his blood. I can do what I want for my country I've decided.
I've this borderless nihilistic wanderlust to cross horizons in giant leaps

to create lakes with my footprints to level mountains with sleepovers to swim in
territorial waters and clean up fish stocks with my baleen wallowings. I can

move the moon as if it were a ping pong ball spin it around cover it with a fist put it in my mouth
hang it out to orbit dripping with my spit. In my country of cows defecating

paths for themselves to follow and re-follow I regularly enter the organ-grinding
movements of hills where gullies fold inwards bushes cluster where lovers

overflow flash floods begin boulders are born. I enter into a headlong
confrontation against picnicking families of christ-like people

spread out on clean-white rugs best silverware best wine freshest bread best children
shinier than apples bibles open to the anthropomorphic smiling sun. Some graves nearby

unwrapped like parcels from their concrete and clay appear to be waiting for holy light to
drop in for the lucky few to go wherever they're going to breed more of themselves to

take to the air like a 'saved from extinction' flock of flying antediluvians
belting leather appendages across an ethereal gap forced open in the sky. They

appear to be waiting for something like that or that or that moment when sleep
is primordial a death wish in the hope of waking up in a clinically stainless steel cafeteria

where the lobotomised owner is freely dolloping out double-coned ice creams to once
suffering children. I can do many things for my country when I'm in the mood when

the right music is being played the animal is under control and happily tucked within me and
I've got a greater understanding of my tenses like here and now. I've this

peculiar penchant for cutting out paper people for linking them up and decorating - no
wallpapering my study each week afresh with new faces each clearly different

coloured in some hatted others bald or hairy or spiked some are black-skinned brown-skinned
green and yellow hunched humped bandy albino and red-eyed. Others

I've run out of ideas of doing anything with and are lazily tacked like plain festive cards
across the room. For my country I tear them all down on a Friday and feed them to the garbage

for the city's dump. I don't exercise enough. I go for a drive across borders ignoring white dotted
lines signposts in different languages men lurking somewhere inside large uniforms. I melt

through barriers go from road to road to thinning road exercising my right of diplomatic
invisibility. All I can see at this time is the shadow of my car. There is nothing more to be seen.




THE SEAMLESS HOURS


Day begins in darkness before the
seepage of light before
the first yellowy fingers
grip the jagged line of mountains and heave.

I lift my body briefly above sleep. A
night bird clicks its beak
chuckles crazily to a phantom's dance and
the wind shuffles in.

I roll over and talk to a dream-eaten face and she
talks back
then we sleep my arms
wrapped around where she should be

holding smooth curves the smooth skin the
rise and fall of a striated illusion.
Ears burn. I hear the
clatter of footsteps

voices in polyphonic discord vehicles
heating up the winter the rustle of a woman in my bedroom
dressing
washing

brushing her hair talking to herself or
is it to the man who sits on the bed watching? She
kisses me and I bruise easily from each touch of her lips.
I hesitate as if

juggling thoughts. I take her on a tour
amongst walls the bricks and mortar
of my home down long passageways through
rooms furnished unfurnished. We go

between ceilings then follow the shapes
of storeys of floors and descend steps into
the warm dark
the narrow dark

the long dark
our eyes clutching at objects
the infinite going down
and then we stop

to ascend the staircase of the tower -
a half hour's climb and I don't know
if I'll be at the top to
greet her or if she'll reach the 600th step alone

where God's open mouth
salivates
in the sepulchre
of his cloud. We

enter a farmer's kitchen and the sky
thunders and releases a few reminders that outside there are
no certainties of immortality no guaranteed places on tall
sculptured columns. The kitchen

smells of flour and dough hot scones and bread.
There's a fire an oven the smell of wheatfields
of crops and harvests and ploughs haybales
and cut summer grasses. There's

beer and wine and the hot stink of youthful mayhem and walls
waxed with age
cooked and blackened and hard like granite.
Further in I

show her the Chapel of the Paraparaumu Virgin
Mary the Mother Mary of the Roses Mary of the Purple Pussy Cat
down the road. She stands where she's stood for years
painted like a Barbie glossy unchipped and glowing. We

can't help but walk (as softly as) over the packed-in relics
under our feet - the Rons and Williams Nancys and Jacks. I
know them intimately - they continue to follow me all the days
of my life - being screwed in isn't permanent enough.

In my bedroom she watches the man
taking off his clothes
washing
brushing his teeth. She

feels my hands dip into her body
as if into a river and she grips me tightly. With
this discovery
she assures me I've gone too far.




'AT A PRIVATE VIEWING...'


The sliding glass doors announce our arrival and heads on warm-collared necks

turn dilated brown eyes at our interruption of a woman's speech and they pin us

to the floor firing tacks. We don't move. Bright fluorescent tubes

x-ray us through and through. We're not family. Our features are too sharp too

Caucasian our profiles distinctly white and pointed with freckles moles

body hair vowels rounded. The family are dark

getting darker the darkest standing in corners. The woman's chanting

as if to a river as if to clouds passing over its surface to trees growing

from the pictures of water. Wrong place. Wrong time. We stand incongruously



intruders in glass - obtrusive spectators amongst a family celebrating its mother - and

her gift for oratory for making bits and pieces live within them for creating histories. She's

surrounded admired. She has written her name in earth

glazed it with muddy fingers - and like some obese fertility incarnation

she comes over and puts her hands around mine

holds them and her warm fatness unfolds then folds over me

sucking in my air and something is lost is taken from me is stolen irretrievably

manipulated into one of her creases. Above us through glass

lightning speaks in many languages.

 

     Iain Britton 2005