Series Editor - Jim Bennett

Introduction by Jim Bennett


Hello.  Welcome to the next in the series of CITN featured poets.  We will be looking at the work of a different poet in each edition and I hope it will help our readers to discover some new and exciting writing.  This series is open to all to submit and I am now keen to read new work for this series.


You can join the CITN mailing list at - http://www.poetrykit.org/pkl/index.htm and following the links for Caught in the Net.




Often, I must descend high cliffs via

broken ladders, scale rocky ravines, or

cross chasms on broken bridges;

once I swung on a rope trapeze:

endless space above, glittering sea below.


Sometimes, I am at a party in tatters,

while superior women titter

behind lace-gloved fingers.



                 from; Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe  by Lesley Burt





A Visitor

Earthquake on TV News


Family Fortunes

Focus Shifts


Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe


Shock of White Hair

The Sparkle     


1 - BIOGRAPHY:  Lesley Burt



I am from Christchurch, Dorset and, with the exception of a few years in Germany and Hampshire between 1966 and 1974, have lived here ever since. I have two children that, to my astonishment and theirs, are now approaching middle age.


 I wrote poetry as a child, and at grammar school was one of the rare kids who loved poetry and all things Shakespearean, as well as Jane Austen and Dickens.


My qualifications are in teaching and social work. During the last ten or so years of work, I did a couple of Open College of the Arts courses, and began to write again. My poems were published in various magazines such as Tears in the Fence, Poetry Nottingham, The Interpreter's House, Roundyhouse etc. I developed my skills further through a couple of Jim Bennett’s online courses. In recent years, a good number of my poems have been published online by Poetry Kit. I have also edited two Poetry Kit online poetry magazines.


I retired in January 2009 from a post at Southampton Solent University where I was a lecturer in social work. I have missed my brilliant colleagues and the students; however, this gave me time to compile my first collection, Framed and Juxtaposed, published by Searle Publishing http://www.searlepublishing.com/. I have also set up a small poetry group in Christchurch, and we have read at local events and on an international community radio station. I was very happy to receive first prize in the 2009 Christchurch Writers Competition; there is something special about recognition on home ground!


I am currently working towards another collection, and another year of enjoying meeting with my local poets.






A Visitor



Elim Church's slate-grey spire

is a pyramid of four triangles,

less bulky, high, ancient and famous

as the town's Priory tower.


You drew my attention this landmark;

said you bet residents never notice.

You visited my town for some years,

my bed almost as often; my heart longer.


How clever you were: whenever

I see the spire I still think of you.





Earthquake on TV News



Our townscape, a 3D patchwork:

red bricks - grey stone

tarmac - scented gardens

playgrounds - weeping willows.


Stitched together by Saxons, Normans,

smugglers, warriors and peace-lovers,

with bridges - hedges -  roads - railways;

hemmed by two rivers: Stour and Avon.


Family, friends, ourselves

woven into traditional patterns

of named streets - numbered houses

parasols on patios - cars at kerbsides.


Our position in space and time

constantly indicated by the church spire

and Priory clock-chimes every quarter-hour.

Familiar - secure.


Difficult to imagine all this unravelled;

this very patch of earth shaken;

these landmarks, locations collapsed;

our history in heaps; community in fragments;


like theirs - our own neighbours,

streaked with blood and dust;

watched worldwide

while we fight and loot.








We skip breakfast, take a dawn stroll

while the lagoon is clear,

and Mount Agung visible

before humidity wraps it in sky.


In a while, traders will arrive to sell

fake Rolex Oysters, conch shells;

wood carvings of fish, flowers,

cockerels in wicker cages.

Loungers will unfold and fill with tourists.


Masseuses and hair-braiders

will gather under coconut palms,

proclaim services, banter with each other,

barter with pink-skinned punters

while gamelan music wafts through voices.


For now, Sanur's stretch of sand is serene. 

A woman places an offering on the shoreline;

with a hibiscus bloom between her fingers

makes signs over it,

splashes water from a phial.


She does not look back,

oblivious as the sea

douses her incense, laps up her rice;

knows for sure the gods accept her gift.





Family Fortunes



I dream my mother bakes

a plate of fortune cookies for me.

As if she would ever do something

she had thought of as so American.


When I break them open,

messages in her neat handwriting

look like Christmas cracker mottos.


They instruct me to always:

be punctual, work hard, read books;

above all, despise injustice.


I have no need for parental guidance,

screw up the oblongs of paper,

throw them into hot embers.


While they shrivel into smuts,

drift up the flue, I eat the cookies

and find I have become an adult.


Now I must make a batch

for my own children.

The batter is lumpy,

the oven burns my fingers.

I scrabble for a pen, but

do not know what to write.





Focus Shifts



My mother and I

among bowls, spoons and jugs,

flour and dried fruit:

mixing Christmas puddings

as we do every October.                 


We chop, weigh, laugh,

chatter about the children,

the stickiness of glace cherries,

seasonal scents

of brandy and grated lemon peel.


While I am beating eggs

I glance up and see she is an old lady.


The effect is like a Magic Eye picture

where you gaze

until your focus shifts

so that a tiger leaps

from jungle foliage

or a Spitfire zooms

out of clouds.


Startled by clarity

I wonder how, until now,

I had never managed to see it.


But I blink.

My mother is back.

She smiles.

As usual, we take turns to stir

and make our secret wishes.




Published in Roundyhouse No. 30 June 2010






On a long-ago August,

alone in the sunny garden,

I admire a row of runner beans

and big yellow courgette flowers

from my recliner;                       


hear bees browse dandelions,

occasional lazy growls

of light aircraft,    

and the blessed silence

of your adolescent absence.


My heart sinks when you phone.

You and a friend are too tired

to walk another step

home from the beach.


Eventually, I say Okay

and, grumpy, drive out

to find you both

slumped against the call box

with crimson shoulders,

gritty toes, blistered heels.


Your chin lifts

when you see the car.


is supposed to sound casual.


Tonight, late, I am stranded

by cancelled trains;

you insist on leaving your bed

to rescue me in your car;

I wince, remember my lack of grace.





Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe



Sleep is not restful; it skitters

through nights in fast-moving sequences,

scatters in disjointed scenarios.


Semiconscious dimensions,

where tasks must be complete

before it is possible to be at a wedding:

hurry, shopping, hurry, baking,

making beds, scrubbing kitchens;

but the moment I finish each item -

like Hydra's heads - another two appear.


Often, I must descend high cliffs via

broken ladders, scale rocky ravines, or

cross chasms on broken bridges;

once I swung on a rope trapeze:

endless space above, glittering sea below.


Sometimes, I am at a party in tatters,

while superior women titter

behind lace-gloved fingers.


Now, for once, my dream is calm:

nearby, a stream drifts through sunshine;

green shade is balm on bare skin.


Suddenly I wake; find I am naked

at a picnic with men in jackets; luckily,

too engrossed in themselves to notice me.






You exploit a repertoire

of voice and gesture

for readings of Peter Pan,

Horrid Henry, Cinderella...

... and recount your life

in comedy sketches.


Like the one about your interview for


even though you can play

little more than  'Chopsticks'.


You dramatise the tale

of deception over dinner:

eyes wide, bright smile,

hands flexed then extended -

Oh, you want...

finish without words, just fingers -

no, whole arms -

to mime the tinkling of ivories,

as if this is somehow less of a lie.


More recently (briefly lucid

after weeks in hospital)

you describe a whole sleepless night,

before you are discharged,

visualising the kitchen

with you chopping and whisking

ingredients for a Spanish omelette.


Too ill to cook;

but you turn it into a story

to leave with us.




Shock of White Hair


I turn to stone in the High Street:

unblinking, speechless, oblivious

to traffic noise and chatter ... 


...  staring at a short woman

whose untidy crop of white hair

surely belongs to my mother.


But two years ago I saw her

powdered, shrouded, round arms

stiff at her sides, in the Chapel of Rest.


Her death is beyond doubt.

I have never believed in ghosts.

Yet this strength of likeness is compelling.


The imposter turns. The spell breaks:

these cheekbones lack softness;

my mother's ready smile is absent;


My glimpse of times we sometimes met

by chance on market day is over.

This has been a trick of narrative.





The Sparkle


The seaside is the edge

of the county; the country.

On the way, wedged in the back seat

in heaps of picnic paraphernalia,

you argue with your brother

about sharing a bag of barley sugar.

Fields roll by.


At that first glimpse

of a glistening 'V' of sea

in the green cleavage of distant hills,

you bounce and squeal


as it disappears, reappears

time and again

while the road descends

between hedges,

round hairpin bends.


The parents park.

You unbuckle

your red Clarks sandals

and dangle them from your fingertips;

feel sand and gravel under your heels.


At last, here is the ocean

- a gilded dragon-skin -

spread to the horizon

and for ever beyond,

with rippled muscles

soaked in sunlight.


And you tingle at the centre

of this glitter-sprinkled world,

as if you are the explosion

that ignites the sparkle. 





3 - 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.  Our other magazine s are Transparent Words ands Poetry Kit Magazine, which are webzines on the Poetry Kit site and this can be found at -