Iain Britton has published poetry in Poetry NZ, JAAM, Takahe, Trout, Poetry Monthly (U.K.) and Still. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.


The afternoon speaks
of cliffs rocks
seas breaking
a dead poet
on his plank of wood


What's to be said
about all this? A

gannet steals his
eyes the sun
cooks his feet

his navel
blackens like a raisin.

The sea rolls on to
its back. Perhaps

he didn't think too wisely
preparing to be different.

His body sinks into
the teeth-infested waters
off Karekare. What's

to be gained by watching
seagulls fighting over
his vocal remains? ...

the ghost of a poem
on crutches.

Red Smoke

Into daylight
we emerge
heads first
to stare at the harbour
the green boils
of half buried hills
a city levelled.

A Victorian cottage
boned and hollow
like a rib cage
appears to contemplate
the whereabouts
of its navel.

Mist like red smoke
pushes at us
shoves us back
turns and hurriedly
clamps its mits
on our skin.

At the end of the street
we check for others
left scrambling about

but first you say

Let's get this
red sonofabitch
off our backs
keep together
and be careful where
we put our feet.

Made for Falling

This nightmare practitioner
of fired-up dissolution
driving through
pie-eyed streets

stops at lights. A
thunderstorm slaps
his face. He forgets
to wake up
going down
Ayr Street.

The night grows
of the weight
that has fallen
from the sky.

In Rotorua yesterday
an earthquake hit

popping the dead off walls.


came up to us
dressed in green
and described
her passion
for religious music.

We shared with her
our belief
in the confessional
and she agreed.

She had never been
able to keep a secret.

She wore green
so that she couldn't
be seen against
trees or paddocks.

She was thin
and veiny like a leaf
and would only
strip off her clothes
if she could hear
God singing to her
in his best Italian.

Poor Bugger

Try telling the rush-hour
commuter the poor bugger
lies asleep under a wooden door
beside the railway line

with last night's taste
thick in his mouth.

The sky's wet
so is the grass.

When he wakes
he pushes off the door
scuttles to the nearest shops.

The sun burns red
clouds bruise
the universe applies
its heavy pressure.

It's only a stagger from
Liquorland to door
from dazzle of neon
to gas-spiked streets.

It seems he finds solace
dreaming of himself
in deepest streams
drinking it all in
puking it all out
but surfacing slowly.