Journal » Trout 15 » I Am The Brown Man In The Grey Boiler Suit ... [Iain Britton]
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I am the brown man in the grey boiler suit ...

Iain Britton

with my lives lined up like a cat's.
They are male and female

awkward and noisy, hungry, with snouts
at each other’s genitals.

I am the colour of mud and it shows.
It sticks and I can’t shake it off.

I stand in the cemented forests
of my city, an anonymous soothsayer

amongst the crowds.
I look beyond the suburbs

where thieves once left heads
for scavenging birds.

I look to Hikurangi
and my house

built of straw and sticks and mud.

have tattooed their bodies into its wood
burnt in features

and glued in blue shells
for seeing in the dark. Gargoyles

laugh and splutter from fence posts. They
spit at intruders standing in the dust.

An angel lives here
and each day she reads the Bible

brushes off
her bed bugs and washes

and polishes the bony relics of my mother
and father. Every night she sleeps

on the family box, warms the jewels
and keeps them safe.

I am the brown man from Hikurangi
who for now lives on a city rooftop

pot-bound like a plant, guarding jealously
the space of my prayer mat

the hanging bells from the acid air
the plum tree with its last blossom.

Around me, apartments are strung together
with clothes

flapping in the sunlight.
All paths

lead to the doors of my shop.
I sell myself cheaply

offer women
lessons in natural therapy.

I work the streets, the paths, sucking in
the odours that accumulate on wet corners.

I let down my long hair for children to climb.
I pad my lives about me

and look beyond the suburbs
to the roots of my mountain, to my house

to people who stoke up fires
on winter nights, who carpet the earth

in self sufficiency.
I can do no wrong, they say. I fag

drink hard, squeeze hallucinations from leaves.
This place is my universe, the storage pit

for the hung pictures of my parents.
I graffiti the silence.

The carved bodies of my children
want me to play.


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© Copyright 2008 Iain Britton & Trout.