new zealand electronic poetry centre


Iain Britton

Fugacity 05
Online Poetry Anthology


Beneath the copper mine I walk nakedly

Beneath the copper mine I walk nakedly live nakedly
let it all hang out nakedly. 50 metres down I’ve given up being particular
about who’s coming to visit who’s there to stare at me in the dark. Who
wants to see a man with his reproductive equipment on show
all hairy and retracted?...
a man who feels by his hands
by the eyes which are switched on in the sunless cellblock of his head? No
point he reckons in guessing who’s coming for breakfast for lunch or dinner
point in worrying about etiquette or presentation or how one looks or
what one ought to say.

50 metres down the air is rarely ever sweetened
unless it comes with the falling damp. I live here with my brother. I
live here because one day
the rock on which we once stood opened its jaws and swallowed us and in doing so
swallowed some other jerks as well.

No one has yet rolled away the stone to let us out. No super muscles.
No lightning flash of wings to check how we are...or
where we are...there’ve been no Marys (if you know
what I mean). No apparitions of female saints. No ‘stairway to heaven’ and Christ
don’t we need it?

What we have is my brother and I (when I can find him)
sharing mouthfuls of coppery water
ooze from the hills
the green slime of melting grasses
the juices of the dead that leak from above.

Now’s not the time to visit. Now’s
not right with the electro-magnetic fields. Tectonic plates are on the move - you scratch
my back and I’ll scratch yours. The mine’s arteries are cracking up. The earth’s
heart keeps having seizures and I have dozens of pustules on my skin. Now’s

not a good time to drop in and say hello. There’s a manstink here that’s unavoidable
that’s not for the tourist the curiously courageous or speleologist
who wants to discover what it’s like to breathe downunder to come for a while
like Orpheus or to snoop about like Ruaumoko without letting off steam. A manstink

is what you’ll get is what I’m used to that speaks of ages
rotten eggs lousy longdrops in strategic places. There’s a pong here from
a fallen slaughter.

My brother’s with me and then he’s not  
travelling about like a bat - a silent mover relying on soft sonic booms
on the slightest whisper of change. My brother’s a stranger living at depths where an
angelfreak like me fears to tread. He knows this uterine chaos of broken-down shafts
and rock implosions like the pipes and sewers of any great city - New York Rome any
old Jerusalem that’s ever been that ever will be.

We live by feeding on long-legged wetas in the dark.

I’ve heard voices now and then
heard children cherubim cupids nymphets
the sounds of thugs and thieves
lovers copulating
heard the spill of sperm
of people toileting like cats
cars doing wheelies
people picnicking
laughter and sobbing
the sounds of storms the 1812 Overture of nature
crashing. I’ve felt God’s feet hiphopping heavily.

The mine shakes its hollowed-out belly
rocks collapse dust erupts into a coughing contortion.

I don’t believe in ‘get on your knees’ or else...        
I don’t believe anyone’s listening         
I don’t believe in holy rollers
in Paradise as Milton sees it
in Born Again hippies on the road to Golgotha
in hellfire and damnation
in grace forgiveness and salvation
in phantasmagoric operas and
all that voodoo crossing stuff        but I’m trying to

I’ve got no choice
we’ve got no choice
my brother and I are stuck
condemned moles in plugged-up holes.

The sun tells us nothing. The moon doesn’t speak. We
read by cockroaches alone. We read them like braille - touch rocks that move. Touch
ledges. Overhangs. Sometimes the ground feels as if it’s perpetually shifting. We
read the daylight the night time by counting and touch. They bring us chewed-up
particles of news in their spit - what’s happening under a tree or between the floorboards
of a kitchen or on the marram grass in the sand dunes or amongst the fillings of sandwiches.

I conjure up pictures of received information. I’ve this picture of the great continuum of myself
inhabiting the airspace above College Street Palmerston North surviving on starlight and
confessions and profane thoughts. We both admit to succumbing to flashing flickers of
paranoia for sheer entertainment. We both see ourselves when we see ourselves as
doomed youth doomed wanta-be lovers doomed heroes and brothers. We don’t touch or
talk or stay together anymore. We live for the day of the 2nd the 3rd        the 25th
Coming for the animal who lives in us the animal
who we live in        to
open its mouth and cough us out. I want to vomit        to be

propelled upwards outwards to spiral and spin like a carousel
to go so fast there’s every likelihood I’ll disappear from the list of endangered
species that ever was that ever had been. For now I

stand naked in the darkness
looking at a tumbling black sea
a black formless place
where the horizon should be. Black clouds

have gathered within a dream and an infinitesmal point
of plutonic incandescence has the potential of
starting creation all over again

from the beginning of the 8th Day.


April 2005

Last updated 13 May, 2005