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.



You forget

In the full comfort of the Western hemisphere

Yesterday is only tomorrow’s history

Where we stood at a distance

Our vision blurred by the dust of

Stomping feet charging in defiance

Retreating one hit beyond a bullet


                 from;  414 DAYS WITHOUT CHARGE by SuAndi












1 – BIOGRAPHY:  SuAndi


Born of Nigerian and Liverpool British heritage SuAndi has been a Performance Poet since 1985. Her collections of poems include Style (1990) Nearly Forty (1994), There Will Be No Tears (1996) and I Love the Blackness of my People (20003). In the nineties she turned some of her attention to the Live Art stage. She tours nationally and internationally, her ICA commission 'The Story of M' received critical acclaim in the UK and North America. Her work has been recognised with NESTA Fellowship in 2005, The Big Issue Community Diploma 2003 The Windrush Inspirational Award 2003 the O.B.E. in the Queen's 1999 New Year Honours List following her Winston Churchill Fellowship in 1996.She has also written two librettos: The Calling (BBC Philharmonic 2005) and Mary Seacole Opera (2000) which toured Britain after a West End opening.

Since 1985 SuAndi has been the freelance Cultural Director of NBAA (formerly Black Arts Alliance.) www.blackartists.org.uk.

On behalf of NBAA she has organised exhibitions, performances, seminars, colloquiums and workshops in all recognised locations.  2001 - 2009 she coordinated the Northwest celebration of Black History Month under the banner www.actsofachivement.org.uk

Her life motto is: poetry hurts but I like it, and the arts are a struggle that is achievable with the support of friends. (And hopefully, lovers..)











Once I was eight

Satin red ribbon wrapped ringlets

Growing into a right madam

With enough sass for twice my age

Once I was eight


Once I was 13

Flaring spots

Puppy fat weeping

No one understands me

A true teenage demon

Once I was 13


Once I was 24

Slim slender sleek

Femininity my art of war

Men were so meek

When I was 24


Once I was 33

All my future ahead of me

Every door a door of opportunity


Relying only on me

Once I was 33

When did I become 40?


Once I was 40

Still dreaming

Of breast feeding

Morning coffee mother’s meetings

School gate waiting

Homework helping

Her first lipstick

Her first kiss

Mother of the Bride weeping

Do people still knit?

I will

Helping and remembering how nappy changing

Biological clock ticking

Ticking ticking

41 43 44 and more and more and


Once I was

Don’t say the number

Smile when age is spoken

Let a joke drop

And laugh

But never tell never never never

Puppy grew into maturity

Little girl let loose and flew

If only you had known me when I was







My cousin John tells

Not handsome


B e a u t i f u l

Most beautiful man who ever walked

This city

The earth possibly

And could dance

Light foot three feet in the air

Michael still a twinkle in old man Jackson’s eye


And style

Stylised in a fashion no-one had ever seen before

First Afro, Dread

And a voice that Bob would have envied

And Nat practised to achieve

Roots, Jazz, culturally cool

Lucky boy

Unlucky man

Living in a war zone


The Ritz sprung floor

Helped cha cha, tango and waltz get some style

Rockers to roll

Gave bounce to clumsy youth with red pimples

Now green-eyed to see this man

Brown skinned and too damn good looking

Twirling local lasses in perfect circles

Synchronised to the rhythm


How they scowled at him

And he involved with music

Danced with closed lids so his soul could hear

Did not eyeball them back

So never saw them hatch a plan

That followed him into the street

Past the hospital where I first kicked into life

Crossing over to the dark of  the Palace Theatre

And forward to Princess Street near the bridge by the water



They took him

Pushing scrawny bodies stacking up tense

Mouths screaming savage names

From their own savage mouths

And marking the first bruises on this beauty of manhood

Grabbing now

Bits of him

An arm a leg

Grabbing his head his hair

Using everything they had to keep a hold

Teeth nasty with decay

Missing his cheek (maybe God was watching)

And found instead the tip of his ear

As a morsel for supper

That up-tempoed his footwork into a new rhythm

Faster with more deft then he had ever danced

His legs filled with the electricity of terror

And let out a roar that no Mancunian had ever heard before

Causing  the ancestors to quake in memory


He pulled himself forward

But they clung, clung fast

Until arm and socket stressed

So radius and ulna left the zone of humerus

With a gunfire crack of departure

That freed him

And now his captors ran


No fleet footfalls

But the stumbling falling pushing shoving stampede of beasts

No not beasts for at least they have innocence

These were demons in the face of God

The threat of daylight

Returning to the squalor of their lairs

Where George and Jack hang grey in grime covered windows

That aid  to conceal the filth within


Where was his beauty now

His proud head lowered

Those arms that raised hands to clap out beats

Wave the breeze to attract a gal to dancing

Now the two hang loose like his soul

Music is a silent memory

The glitter ball has cooled its glow

And yellow lamps

Mask the dark street ahead


He senses the splash of rats

His ears still deaf with obscenities

The air is so foul

That his nostrils are confused

Sending a stench much worse

Then the decay of the canal

To sit in his stomach


His heart cries for freedom

Home and freedom

Freedom and home

A distance too far to travel

This night

Any night in his lifetime

So to Hulme he turns

Where women,

Mother and sister

Will bathe his wounds

Bind his arms

And spit out vile curses

To the enemies in the ‘hood







You forget the hate

In the everyday of living

Of Tesco’s,

Didn’t it snow

Dam the traffic and

Primark is fantastic but just too busy


You forget

In the full comfort of the Western hemisphere

Yesterday is only tomorrow’s history

Where we stood at a distance

Our vision blurred by the dust of

Stomping feet charging in defiance

Retreating one hit beyond a bullet


We watched mesmerised in horror

As children bled on TV’s

And the names of the missing

Were announced with the frequency

Of the weather forecast


So we stood

Some of us

Outside embassies

Walked in protest

Chanting and calling on names

To awake the Gods

Did they hear us

In time they did

In time



We staged theatre

Wrote poetry

Held seminars

Debates, conferences


Looked at places of learning

And renamed them in honour of both of them

In her honour

In his name

Because their names above all others

Spoke to us of freedom

No Boers

No white supremacy

Africa for Africans


Then, as dawn turns to dust

Perfect showed its flaws

And we counted them

Like minutes into hours

Hours into days

We measured time

Without knowing

How she endured

What she endured


414 days

Without charge


There are prisons without cells

Where torture lives in the mind

Threatens the sanity

Where a door half open

Has as much terror as one locked


Love is a memory

That breaks the heart with disappointment

Because nothing is perfect

And she seemed without flaws

So that when we saw them

It scarred and scared our souls


Her halo, now dripped with blood

Down came her name

Replaced by Bruce Forsyth[1]

An educated decision I heard


Because we who did not understand

Could not understand

Murder is murder

Ask his mother

There can be no forgiveness

Can there

Can there

Can there








The house stopped breathing, - almost

The daily inhale, exhale stopped - almost

Windows basked in sunlight failed to open

So cool breezes could not tickle away the dewdrops of a morning’s expectation

As doors opened to find no one waiting there

And dust lingered hopefully for a tender hand to wipe it into order

Winters became simply dark

As drawn curtains no longer embraced to keep it warm

So the house stopped breathing - almost


Night workers took detours

And drunks hallucinated passed

As the house would sometimes shudder

Trying to re-establish its foundations

And the old chimney, many years without purpose

Would burp out a puff of sadness

And it seemed as though the trees would choir

A protective sigh the leaves shivering together


After a few years

There was hustle and bustle

As old suitcases and packing boxes

Scattered themselves across the floors

Until stacked carefully

Left the rooms as empty as a discarded soul

And the house’s breathing became so shallow

It felt sure it had stopped – almost


Then one morning voices of excitement

Waited expectedly in the garden

Waking the house with a curiosity

And when it saw so many gathered

And in their midst the face of a mother

It took in air with such sharpness

That every window opened wide in excitement

For the house knew, she had not returned

But it had a duty once again

To shelter a family

And the house began to breathe deeply




– Dr Raimi Gbadamosi[2]


Imagine a future you want to build on

A place so far from here

You can’t remember where

Yesterday was


So you build a life fresh from its beginnings

Everything is new



Nothing is sentimental

Because without life

You have no memories


Imagine that

Nothing passed down

No hands gnarled by life

Once so gentle

They brushed like silk across your cheeks

To locate a spot to rest a sugar-drop of love


No place for such foolishness

We are

You are

Like the explorer in a new land

Adam in brown skin

Rubbing stylised nappy-headed ideas

From mind to this plateau of new life


How wondrous

To be the first

How dastardly

How without meaning


History is not a burden

It is the source

An explanation of being

Tomorrow has no starting point without yesterday

And today is simply a passing of bewilderment

A time without substance

Empty of rituals

Tokens of existence

The nucleus of life


For when I




Do this

A simple gesture

It is not merely the movement of muscle and tissue

It’s a magical thread of lineage

The link of others in fields

Maybe sugar plantations

Without doubt pounding a calabash

Foufou for dinner

Raising spears honouring the gods


This is not something to walk away from

It is the art of our culture

Lose that and we lose reason

Without reason we become

What they have always thought



The Lost

So tell me

What future is there in that?






Joshua wailed nightly

Dog on heat

Knew the sound

And dipped its tail and whimpered

An agony silently remembered


Other men rolled

Like boulders

Heavy with age

Blown like feathers in tornadoes

Hiding themselves in small balls

Of feigned innocence


Joshua knew innocence

It lay like a smut moustache

Above his lip

And he licked it hungrily

Before every sentence

Taking huge gusts of air

That tasted like freedom


But before he could speak

The wail blew itself out

Slapping itself on doors


Hanging momentarily

From the ceiling

Then whoosh like a flicker of a flame

It was gone


His mother used to say

His mother hadn’t said shit to him

Most of his life

And his father’s silence

Was only matched by his distance


Lots of people had told him

Move. Stop. Stand. Go.

There, Be Quiet.

Don’t talk.


No. No. No. No. No.


This last day

Last day

Joshua had stopped wailing

Now he held his head

Held it totally

With his hands

Wrapping his arms around it

Right up to his elbows


Something had changed

Changed amongst those closest to him

This last day

Sum total of time

24 hours

1440 minutes

They had started to whisper


He felt

Though not sure

A slight warmest almost from them

They never looked at him

But they had stopped shouting

So Joshua no longer knew

If his wails had sound

Because no one told him

To shut the fuck up anymore


Now when he ate

He found his mouth welcomed and caressed each bite

Other days his teeth had ached

And his tongue like a rotovator would turn and eject everything

But not this time

Yet, even as he realised this pleasure

One of them sat closer to him

Whispered so quietly

That the sound shocked Joshua so much

A wail almost escaped again


You ready, said the whisper

Whilst another laid hands so gentle

Joshua almost,

Almost but did not

Remember his mother


Dead Man Walking went the cry

And Joshua began his last wail.



[1] Following the death of Stompie Moeketsi in 1989, MMU student union building name was  changed to something less controversial and for a time it was named the Bruce Forsyth building after the popular entertainer. The name was dropped shortly after.

[2] Tate Liverpool Feb 18th 2010



4 - Afterword

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