nigel burwood


At Saunton Sands

The waves have broken
On this superb beach
For millions of years
Each one perfect.


Over Kettle Bay

Late afternoon today
wispy clouds
over Kettle Bay.
Like the wings of a rib cage
puffed with pipe smoke.
Like I say,

I don’t like the word,
it’s not a word I’d choose,
too hackneyed, flat,
over used.

I reached to the sky
for another word,
yet nothing else got near,
wispy is what they were,
very, very wispy.


Afternoon Man

About to press the bell
at the ground floor flat,
I saw Lotte’s body
through the forest of plants
that guarded the window.
Her body and another body,
rather too closely entwined.
Some morose afternoon man,
pigtailed around baldness.

I quietly absented myself.

There must be a German word,
for this feeling –
an equal measure
of jealousy and relief.


Never Said a Bad Word

At the funerals of those who died too early,
well before their time (a short innings)
I usually hear the dead man described as
having ‘never said a bad word about anyone’
and sometimes it is true.

I hear it so often that
it seems that saying bad words
about people is the secret of a long life.

Is it meekness or genuine niceness
that holds our dead man back?
Does he feel that if he put people down
they would do the same?
And why does he spend his afternoons in drinking clubs?


Where is Fantomas?

At that time Fantomas haunted
the places and passages of Paris,
always disguised, always a man
–sometimes two men.
The hack author Igor Larsen,
(“Two Eggs on my Plate,”)
or the poet assassin Lassenaire,
elegant criminal of the Seizieme.
Untraceable, unseizable-
sometimes a frail old man,
the pedantic antiquaire Loupart,
or Lord Mortimer-
a tweedy English bounder,
wiry, whiskered, springing from the dark.
Everywhere and nowhere,
untraceable, unseizable,
but never for an instant himself,
a feat beyond his incredible power.



A peevish quarrel breaks out
On the sullen streets
Of Middle Europe.
Arms and ammunition
Move towards the point of tension.
Exotic weaponry, smart bombs
And dumb soldiers
Rolling through the outskirts.

Amongst the pock-marked high rises
They play the joyless killing games,
The hand that held the Game Boy
Now guides the missiles
Into the heart of the crowd.


En Route

En route to Milan
Some photographers told me
“Stay at the Julia
It’s really cool.
Writers, artists, models
Hang out there.”

I don’t object to models
But I’ll stay in uncool places
Like the Fenice
At the wrong end of Corso Buenos Aires,
Vast crumbly rooms
Slightly doomed air
(But so have I)
Cheaper than the Julia too.

These hip places
Overrate themselves
Act as if they are doing you a favour.
I discovered the Fenice
I deem it cool.

(I might have a drink at the Julia.)



A war hero kills his roundheel bride,
in ocean winds under glistening palms.
Rain falls on her body,
darkens her dark dress,
draws blood along her black hair.
Lightning reveals the stoic face
of a shamus sleuthing in a hotel garden,
his scarred jaw, his laconic teeth.

At a night club in the bay hills,
singers wear slinky dresses
with sparkle and sheen and have long hair
and dark glowing eyes like Veronica Lake.
Lust and longing perfume the air,
where the svelte girls torch-sing about lost love
and the utter impossibility of happiness.

A lot depends on a heartsick gangster
driving down a dark mountain road
in a long white Lincoln.

Later all the good and bad people
shoot one another in a dirty garage.


Dark Car Theory

Only a part of the secret
is ever revealed.
It happened on 85
just past Cupertino.
A dark car is closing in behind me
at high speed on the crowded highway
in dying light.
Pulling over to let it by
I slow down and glimpse
a secret running under the world,
the dark car theory,
the demon is multiplied,
the meek are twice meek,
the unlit car will weave fast
through the shining safe cars.
Take care, those who most need
to take care cannot.

The racer tears into the future,
he had been useful
to demonstrate the theory.


In fern

In the middle course of my life
Having strayed from the straight path
I got lost in a dark wood.
Luckily I was carrying a mobile phone.



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