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She draws the course carefully,

criss-crosses the straight lines,

neatly numbers each square,

scribbles HOME in the final one.


Josefina throws the pebble onto the first square,

skips over it onto two and three, hop,

five and six, hop, eight and nine, then home.



                 from;  Hopscotch  by Jan Harris






Surprising times

The first time I saw your face

While all is quiet

A daughter’s house

Mothers know the mercurial properties of time

Flower Girl of St Kilda 
          your photograph in the newspaper 



Nubilous Jubilous 




1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Jan Harris


Jan’s poems have appeared in several literary magazines and ezines including Nth Position, Popshot, Ink Sweat and Tears, and 14 Magazine. She was the editor and web developer of ‘Madelaine’, an online magazine of poetry, prose, pictures and recipes. Madelaine was designated a ‘Poetry Landmark of Britain’ by the UK Poetry Society in 2005. Jan lives in Nottinghamshire and works from home as a freelance writer.







Surprising times


We devour the day like a scrumped apple,

sincerely note a lessening of gravity. It seems

the tufted duck floats inches above deep water

but she merely stands in the shallows.

A devious wind upturns a swan

his rubber foot treads the air then stretches.


Rain is forecast, yet dry leaves fall on our heads,

scrunched notes from lost days.

We expected russet, gold, ochre, vermillion;

there is brown and brown and a small boy

proudly bearing a hundred spring green leaves.

Rumpled sheep sit cross legged on benches


and our reflections in the lake laugh

and laugh at the absurdity of making plans.





The first time I saw your face


mortar crumbled,
gales sliced through gaps in the wall,
tiles thundered down the roof
leaving us exposed and trembling.
I’d expected love to rise like bubbles
in a champagne flute, not this tsunami. 


I drowned while I held you above water,
your head cupped in my hand,
one fingertip resting on the pulse
of your fontanelle.




While all is quiet


She steals time while others sleep,
plucks seconds from the night
and cups them in the pale moon of her hands.


While the house collects its breath
she gathers up the bustle of the day
and strains it through a muslin cloth:
spent elderflowers,
the peel of bitter lemons,
tough pips and woody stalks,


In the silence she sips her wine,
warms the golden liquid on her tongue.
It floods her mouth with light


morning clamours like a hungry child.





A daughter’s house

Scented candles deck the marble hearth, redolent
of jasmine and summer barbecues. A woollen rug,


shot through with cobalt blue and amethyst, fits
snug against the stone, its colours mirrored by two


cushions from a childhood room, at home now
on a window seat.  The crowded mantelpiece

displays a cut-glass vase of roses, freesias, peonies,
an heirloom from the new branch of her family,


her fingerprints pressed next to theirs.  High-tech
gadgets glisten on the shelves - Skybox, Xbox, Wii –


a tower of DVDs, some movies she was banned from
watching years ago. A blur of faces lines the wall


 as if a speeding train has halted for the briefest time
 and left behind a tracing of its passengers, while just


two people disembarked and chose to stay.  Beside the
open door an old grey coat hangs from a chair, its hem


still damp with rain.  The contents of a bag spill on the
floor: a phone, a key, a packet of her parents' favourite tea.





Mothers know the mercurial properties of time


Frail baby bird in your incubator,
arms bent like wings, unfledged and translucent,

your face foreshadows old age,

as if time must run backwards
for you to catch up.


Suspended, we hold our breath,

look only seconds ahead.

“Give her time”, they say,

so we place a scintilla in glass

and hang it from a thread.


With years shimmering behind us

I glimpse you at the window of your room.

Raven black, jewelled with lapis lazuli,

you stretch into the night,

the arc of your back a yearning,
something feral in your eye.


An echo of your birth takes flight.

“It’s too soon,” I tell the quicksilver mirror
before my reflection ghosts away.





Flower Girl of St Kilda


Toes bound with sea campion

spiral tasselweed in her hair

she offers her flowers to the storm

runs barefoot to Conachair

casts Harebell to Atlantic drifts.


She thought she could beat the wind

but time and change overtook her.

She balances on mistress rock

a basket of dog violets, wild hyacinths

proffered from outstretched foot. 


Fathoms below, tide pounds gabbro stacs

into new forms. The flower girl

snares gannets, puffins, gulls,

lights the oil in her curls,

sweeps her feet with fulmar wings.




your photograph in the newspaper

the niqab frames your eyes
owl eyes in saffron dusk
amber where ashes reside

I lift you from the page
feel your small warm weight on my hand

fly little bird
fly on silent wings
there are men in the forest
and earth is hard as stone







Josefina feels behind the dustbin

for a nub of sky blue chalk

and a speckled green pebble,

smooth and snug for her palm.


She draws the course carefully,

criss-crosses the straight lines,

neatly numbers each square,

scribbles HOME in the final one.


Josefina throws the pebble onto the first square,

skips over it onto two and three, hop,

five and six, hop, eight and nine, then home.


She throws the pebble onto the second square,

hop, hop, hop, five and six, hop, eight and nine,

home for moment before she starts over.


Josefina hops and jumps until the light fades

and her bare feet are blue with chalk,

small toes clenched like a fist.


step on a crack, break your mother’s back

step on a nail, put your father into jail

step on a line, break your mother’s spine 


She tucks the chalk back behind the dustbin

snuggles the pebble into her palm,

and sleeps between the lines.







The sea, so far away tonight
drawn by the half-dipped sun,
red light, gold upon the beach

the woman waits
her footsteps trail behind
soon they too will wash into the deep

and in her hand a piece of beach-glass, warm
he drew their names once in the sand
skimmed stones upon the waves

she lets the beach-glass fall
the story polished smooth
the turn of tide, the light.




Nubilous Jubilous


Nubilous jubilous surf the clouds
swuff through the sky like a shoopowder star
scud through cirrus and into the skree
slip stream the brubru to Vina del Mar

Nubilous jubilous ride the rain
adrift on a bubblegum bicycle
wrap up in a cumulous eiderdown
squiffy wheels and handlebar icicle

Nubilous jubilous skim the breeze
snaffle an egg from the snoobirdle tree
snitch a balloon string and shimbelly down
scrambled or boiled it’s past time for tea.




3 - Publishing History

Surprising times - published online at Nth Position, http://www.nthposition.com/ April 09

While all is quiet - published in 14 Magazine, issue 12, October 2011

Flower Girl of St Kilda - longlisted in Mslexia poetry competition 2009
your photograph in the newspaper - published online at www.therecusant.org.uk, 2010

Hopscotch - published by Earlyworks Press in Sky Breakers, an anthology of poems and flash fiction

Perhaps - published in The French Literary Review, Issue No 5, December 2006 and online at http://ink-sweat-and-tears.blogharbor.com December 2009

Nubilous Jubilous – published in Popshot, Issue 1, spring/summer 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.  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 -