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she thinks the zebra looks melancholy

face too long   ears donkey-big

front and back feet both merged to make two fat legs


when she looks closely at his ash-grey muzzle

she believes he’s trying to smile

but it could be indigestion –

                 from Mrs Uomo's Zebra by Danielle Hope 






















1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Danielle Hope


Danielle Hope is a widely published poet, a translator of Italian poetry and a doctor, originally from Lancashire, now living in London. She has published four collections of poetry, plus one poetry and art book, and one illustrated dual language book with her translations of the Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli (all Rockingham Press). Her poems have featured on the London Underground, on buses and in Poems in the Waiting Room, in UK and New Zealand. She is editor of the literary magazine Acumen, since May 2021, having been advisory editor prior to that. She did not sing Over the Rainbow in the BBC talent contest, and, sadly, does not play the violin, unlike her namesakes. www.daniellehope.org  @Danielle_Poet







A hearse bumps

along Kiburn High Road

over pot-holes,

past iron-grilled shops

and Dalek wheelie bins.

First of the day

for Willesden Lane Cemetery.

The pawn broker’s lamps

are broken again.


The immune system

broken, the cell

entered by a virus

sings for help.

Its net frays

then snaps, the cell dies.

Or could it be tuberculosis,

cold, fever, winter,

hunger, grief?


Blistered roads

bring us neon, hotel clocks

set for different cities,

then bankruptcies,

plane trees stripped,

air starved, no go blocks

except by Chrome.

A little more space

in this doorway please.


The cemetery is cool

and green and quiet.

Over dandelions

a blackbird sings.




Morning walk on second beach

         Newport Rhode Island - for Joan


In the first fog this beach appears to flow forever.

Above the failing tide red algae fronds

fizzle in the surf, while your chocolate Labrador

rubs her cheerful smells into the salt wind


and I ask you why second, thinking it must be

something about being subsequent or inferior,

but you tell me it’s just geographically the one

further out of town. And even though here


it’s American sand pierced by occasional

quahog shells, I think I hear the faint roar

of pebbles on Dover’s shore –-

see both laundered by bloodshot swell.


But enough you say. Let’s take a second

before the day drowns –-  this instant

on the oceanfront ¬–  to relish these fist-sized

monster-clams –-  in Chinese legends


they are dragons, can transform into treeswifts,

stars or thunder.  I pick one up to look

inside its cupped cliffs. In this second light

its purple rings glow like Saturn’s moons.



Greenfly and old white underpants


The old rose we thought had died has sprouted

bright new stems. And the greenfly have arrived

covering its single bud with a swarm of wriggling legs

that shuffle over sepals. I fetch a soapy cloth,

just like my mother told me, to gently wipe them off.

On another rose the aphids are dark pink. The cloth

is a torn strip from my father’s worn-out white

underpants. My mother claimed they were

good for cleaning. These old ways. Soap. Living

with us across ancestors since the Babylonians

blended fats, wood ash and water.

Tonight, I am looking for you with my mind.

I stroke a rose leaf as if it were your hand. 




Delirium: the waltzer


An unfamiliar chair and place

I want to get off.


Turning.  Landscapes ulcerated with

chipped words, half faces, skidding lights


traffic into my stomach.

I want to get off.


But my cage bucks over the ridge

and a claw reaches


from the black galloping music.

The waltzer top spins white.





               This name suddenly is cried out to me
               From somewhere in the bushes by a bird

               Edward Thomas (The Word)


A blue-tit on the ridge beside my window

his milk-white cheek

                                                level with my face


I stop breathing

                                                                   while he turns upside down

dives under the eaves


 then out 

                                                 vertical lift 




Minutes later              

                                                 another arrives

pistachio-green plume    marzipan chest

                   liquorice bands on eyes and neck

                                                                                   like a fighter pilot

head and body splashed

                                               the colour of indigo food dye


All day two of them toil –

                                swoop-swoop over cat ground from tree to sill


dangling fat millipede   larva   caterpillar   scraps

                                                                                                    inside ten seconds  


                                                  scissor away                                     

                                                                                  cht cht cht cht twer-ret –


Sometimes these blue birds arrive back together

                                                                                   almost crash

just-in-time one cross-turns

                                                                                           wings never touch

                                                    in a perfect Cuban 8 




Mrs Uomo books her hospital appointment online


Mrs Uomo takes out the grey envelope from her doctor

powers up her free computer. Broadband splutters.

The NHS Choose and Book website is cheerful and green.

System requires you to enter your NHS number.


Mrs Uomo spends an hour looking for her NHS number

limps out to her GP surgery to get it.

Returns for her passport.

System is disconnected for inactivity.


Mrs Uomo, cup to the left, powers up again.

Thank you. Number accepted. Please choose a password.

‘No’ is not a valid option.

Passwords must be six to eight letters or numbers.


Outside autumn is falling off the trees.


Do you want surgery, consultation or tablets?

Click on the part of the body where you want

your procedure. Mrs Uomo clicks on hip,

then replacement rather than fracture.


The pop up menu flashes a two-for-one offer.

While under the gas Mrs Uomo could have

liposuction, toe nail removal, electrolysis,

neck tuck, breast enlargement or vasectomy.


Please select your desired dates and destinations.

Grabanop will now search for your best options.

This may take a few minutes.


A child plays tug with a dog, tossing leaves high.


Sorry we find no matches.

Please select a wider range or choose ‘any’ date / hospital.

Mrs Uomo clicks ‘any’ and goes to make another

cup of tea. Comes back with two shortbread chocolate biscuits.


Red spills across the lawn and Mrs Uomo’s tongue rolls

in her mouth as she listens to rattling plates in the houses next door.




The Iron Road

(translation of LA VIA FERRATA, by Giovanni Pascoli)


Between embankments, where cattle graze,

the railway stretches away in a straight

burnt-brown stripe that shines into the distance —


telegraph poles stilt in the pearl air,

carry another chain above the tracks

then one by one shrink and disappear.


What creates the thunderings and moans

that swell then fade, as if a woman mourns?

Amid the threads of metal and the howls,

the gale strums this immense harp.






In the middle of the garden at the old farmhouse

a hollow appears and the new tenants puzzle

with theories about a ghost. They google

till late with a spooky tingling in their spine.

But the house martins and the sparrows

know that here once there was a well.

Each dry spell the local farmer would

come with a wheelbarrow and pour in soil. 


When the big railway comes with its promise

of velocity and links for the North, the bull-

dozers won’t care about these little histories,

nor about the bees sucking on ragged robin –

this touch of nature to make them kin –

their eyes fixed on other futures.




Mrs Uomo’s Zebba


Mrs Uomo has an olive-wood napkin ring

with a hand-carved Grévy’s Imperial zebra on the top


she thinks the zebra looks melancholy

face too long   ears donkey-big

front and back feet both merged to make two fat legs


when she looks closely at his ash-grey muzzle

she believes he’s trying to smile

                                   but it could be indigestion –


Mrs Uomo has seen zebras at the zoo

in a wildlife park  

on the radio in a series about Kenyan bushlands

she remembers the herds of impala   waterbuck     eland

the commentator’s excitement as two zebra stallions reared       

                necks outstretched    front hooves thwack

                old scars rip open on their necks 

bite   smash   dust       stamp    snap    blood 


territories slashed         only two thousand

in the whole-gazelle-hartebeest-cheetah-wide world


Zebba   as she calls him     wouldn’t fight

at least not now

she strokes his midge-dazzling marvelled pelt

listens for his bray’s siren


she likes offering him cookies

but he eats so little   she always has to help him out





I have still some of that mid-tan

polish in the metal tin that you

bought for my winter shoes—


over years it has dried and cracked

so the brush spits shards all across

the floor and my arms and face –


today I’m in a rush so I scrape

some into the buffing cloth and rub

at the worst of the water marks—


it won’t make the kind of mirror

that you used to admire after

you’d nourished the leather


then raged at my boots with rags

but I’d like to think we could

agree on this compromise.





IMMUNOLOGY, Published by Rockingham Press, City Fox (1997)

MORNING WALK ON SECOND BEACH, Published by Rockingham Press, Mrs Uomo’s Yearbook (2015) 

DELIRIUM: THE WALTZER, Published by Rockingham Press, Fairground of Madness (1992)

THE IRON ROAD, Published by Rockingham Press, The Last Walk of Giovanni Pascoli (2019)

Mrs Uomo books her hospital appointment on-line,  Published by Rockingham Press, Giraffe under a Grey Sky (2009)


4 - Afterword

Email Poetry Kit - info@poetrykit.org    - if you would like to tell us what you think. 

We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org

Thank you for taking the time to read Caught in the Net.