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POETRY OF NIGEL BURWOODPOETRY OF NIGEL BURWOOD

Palais Something by Saki 10,000 Rare Books
On iridescent vellum In fern Ponza
Eno Music Obituary for Cousin Jasper New Life Nico
Dark Car Theory Hell
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Palais

I crossed the gold room
making for the wallflowers.
Will you dance?
I am a dancer,
please dance with me.

I've been alone
reading a dull book.
Today until now has been a bore,
hold me tightly to you
on this shining floor.

A precious pleasure
to dance with a stranger,
so close. To measure
our steps around this
gaudy ballroom.
Let me lead,
the light will follow.







Something by Saki

Shall I read something by Saki?
Perhaps the story of Sredni Vashtar,
the boy in the shed, his horrid aunt
and the caged ferret?
I'll get the volume from the cabinet.
We can lie on the rug by the library fire,
with the shabby red curtains drawn tight.

Today summer just disappeared,
look at the cold lemon light
bouncing in from the lake.
Saki is the right man for this season.
Saki and his fierce, bad ferret.







10,000 Rare Books

10,000 rare books
richly bound in calf and vellum
in a panelled library
hung with fauves, cubists and vorticists
might take away this pain.

Summer coming in
through the mullioned windows
giving on to a wild garden
with the wild sea below
might cheer me up,
for a while.







On iridescent vellum 1967

With the emerald sheen
of their scarves
tangling at the neck
the wraiths glide down
the royal road.

The lords of black and velvet
encounter in the damp half-light
English girls with pearly skin
and light-in-love eyes.
The streaming air
as strong as cognac.

The phosphor flies forward
through the fogged dusk
sprays the whole canting crew,
the shrieking gixies.
The recorder notes this,
but cannot interpret.







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.







Ponza

These unimportant islands-
Boecklin came here
And Norman Douglas (grand man)
Who saw its caves opening on the waves
"In pillared stateliness"
Seizing on one word
"Improbable".

Convicts, political enemies
Trussed in oubliettes,
Islands of banishment,
Islands of oblivion.

This volcanic group of islands,
Home of the enchantress Circe,
And Julia, insolent daughter of Augustus.
Ponza.

The mineralogists Scrope and Doelter,
List all its rocks and stones,
But do not even try to explain
How those stones held in the hand
Are quotidian, lustreless, unremarkable
Yet en masse glow
Like incandescent rubies and amethysts.

Unimportant tourists shipping back to Naples,
Forget even the name -
Ponza.







Eno Music

A decidedly odd fellow...
Quite young, with a beard
a sizeable beard, like Lennon at a bed-in,
(Amsterdam Hilton)
'cept this one was dressed as an old lady,
a dress, a tyrolean hat and a handbag,
like a gossip in a Viennese coffee house,
like Lytton Strachey in drag.
You get the photograph?

In a high pitched voice
he asked the way to Baker Street,
wanted the Planetarium.
I mapped the route and said
"Check out the Eno music..."
He smiled, revealing pretty teeth.
So odd.

Beyond speculation,
the critical path he had trod
en route to this.







Obituary for Cousin Jasper

The exquisite,
the epicene
Lord Jasper Tristam
(jeunesse dorée, heir to extreme wealth)
went down on the Titanic.
I think of his pale, powdered face,
his warm green eyes staring out of the freezing water.
So effeminate
he could have passed as a woman
and escaped drowning.

Incapable of deception,
he was loved by his friends
who knew him as "Bijou."
He was nothing but himself,
(the rarest of qualities.)
A slim volume of his appalling verse,
"Foam"
was published in 1915.
It is long out of print.

His father was sending him to America,
to make a man out of him.







New Life / Nico


In retreat from feeling

I'm gazing at the ceiling,

Tuesday afternoon, West 10.

Surrendering to nostalgia,

that longing for the no longer.

I wonder about the Velvets,

(The masters of monotony)

and sweet Nico, long dead.

Ermine furs adorn imperious Severin etc.,


Did you know she was in La Dolce Vita?

On the dawn strand at Rimini,

she is part of the party flotsam,

the jet trash.

Possibly she returns to Cinecitta

with Marcello in the Berlinetta,

or the dark Facel Vega.


The Umbrian angel will

beckon to me on the beach

with the promise of a new life,

la vita nuova--attractive,

but always politely declined.







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.







Hell

Floating demons in Bel Air
The blanket generations everywhere
Make way for the lonely ones
Treading the paths of stars

We drive dark boulevards
Eerie Mulholland, endless Ventura
Malibu, Topanga
Through monstrous canyons of malevolence
Above the callow city

On Sunset by the Bodhi tree
A raddled pug face
Calls to me
"Welcome to Paradise"

How close to hell,
This heaven.





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