Smuggled Goods, by Brian Burden

How many cigs did Cyril smuggle through?
Five hundred twenties underneath the floor
Of his old camper van. If he makes two –
Two quid a pack, I mean, he can be sure

Of a cool grand. Could Cyril ask for more?
Of course he could. He bought a ton of hash –
A hundred quid’s worth, at a legal store
In Amsterdam. He’ll sell you some for cash.

Some porno mags: they’re awful tacky tat,
Some dodgy DVDs and videos –
For his own use. You can’t blame him for that.
Have you seen his old lady? Christ, she’s hideous!

He says the human traffic pays the best,
Desperate people fleeing for their lives
From torturers and tyrants and the rest.
And most of them have relatives and wives

To swell the profits when their turn comes round.
Cyril’s a pretty enterprising man.
But after his last run, well, Cyril found
Exhaust fumes did for one young African.

Come out the back. I’ve got her in the freezer.
She looks so warm, but she’s as cold as ice.
It really upset Cyril, poor old geezer.
So is she nice, my friend, or is she nice?

You’re right, and she deserves a decent grave.
You have to show respect when all is said.
Now, on that score, could I call in a favour,
So Cyril can sleep easy in his bed?

Lots of new building going on round here,
You tell me in your knowing sort of voice.
Foundations for a library and a school,
Even a church, so Cyril’s spoilt for choice.
Just name your price. If Cyril says Okay,
We’ll bed her deep in decent Essex clay.

Hey, just a tick, do you see what I see?
I saw an eyelid flicker, I could swear.
Help me to lift her out; bring her in here.
Put her down by the fire; give her some air.

It’s all right, love, you’re in safe company.
Just swallow some of this. There. Is that better?
Should we call Cyril up on the Q.T.?
Say she’s revived and can he come and get her?

No, I don’t think so either. There’s more profit
In letting Cyril think he’s in a fix.
She says she’s grateful. Girl, think nothing of it.
We’re going to sort out Cyril’s box of tricks.

Pass me the phone, love. This ought to be fun.
Remember, your mate Cyril thinks he’s lost you.
Hi, Cyril! We’ll clear up your mess, old chum.
But we want cash up front, and it’ll cost you.

Brian Burden is a retired college lecturer. He grew up in Banbury, Oxfordshire and graduated from Oxford University. He now lives in Essex. This poem is from his self-published collection In A Green


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