Series Editor - Jim Bennett for The Poetry Kit - www.poetrykit.org

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

Submissions for this series of Featured poets is open, please see instruction in afterword at the foot of this mail.



Auden was right; they never get it wrong,

The Old Masters, when it comes to suffering.

Some, such as Bosch and Breugel, make a song


And dance about it; others, like Memling,

Are more subtle. In fact, they could fashion

Any human truth into a painting.


                 from;  Memling Museum, Bruges by Phil Howard






     Unusual Meeting

     Memling Museum, Bruges


     About Manchester

     Supermarket Sweety

     Lydia Dwight Resurrected. V&A Museum Number 1054-1871

     The Road to Hull

     Animal Magic

     Alternative Histories

     Particle Participles



1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Phil Howard


Phil Howard is a local authority worker who would like to see poetry restored as an art form which can be appreciated by all through relevant and accessible work that tackles compelling subject matter. Some of his newer poetry has been published in recent editions of Snakeskin, Streetcake and The Recusant. He is currently working on a collection titled: Inside, Out and Beyond.


Phil Howard's biog: philhowardpoet.tumblr.com





Unusual Meeting


'The Gold Thread Works' it says on the reel;

The feel of fine wire as I hold

It pressed tight between finger and thumb.

"It's some old stock but it's the best

One can get", she says, "Stephen Simpson

Of Preston Ltd., the main man.

It's flats now", she says, the haberdashery

Store lady, "but the Work’s thread adorned hats

Worn by the doomed Titanic's crew;

So too", she confides, "it's no lie,

The Queen's lovely wedding cake".

I make the right noises; it means

A lot to her, that I can see:

An Ariadne who's kind of lost the plot.

I'm Theseus or the Minotaur -

Can't be sure how others see us -

The shop is the Labrynth; I need a clue,

A klew of thread, to follow back up top.




Memling Museum, Bruges


Auden was right; they never get it wrong,

The Old Masters, when it comes to suffering.

Some, such as Bosch and Breugel, make a song


And dance about it; others, like Memling,

Are more subtle. In fact, they could fashion

Any human truth into a painting.


Take Memling's fine 'Portrait of a Woman',

Also known as the 'Sibylla Sambetha',

She's all women distilled into a someone;


As mother, wife, daughter we just know her:

An image of serene femininity.

Then why has someone written 'wicked monster'


On the frame, making a beast of a beauty?

Genius never trumps stupidity.






I left it - hidden - there for her,

The print of the purple gerbera,

Under the photo of Causey Pike,

The one they bought for me at work


For being there for long enough

Though, frankly, it's a little naff

But it fit the gerbera frame

Because, sizewise, they're the same


Give or take a fraction or two

And, happily, that being so

It stays hidden there for her,

The print of the purple gerbera.



About Manchester


Polling around the M60 circular,

Around a city surrounded but not beat,

Around the marginal estates and neat

Semis of a city gone vehicular.

Polling on past an ex prototype factory

('Luxury conversions - each with a view.')

Past the towns of the heroes of Peterloo,

Of the rebellious and the refractory.

Polling past Weaste - site of the Engels' mill -

And further back was the Wilmslow Road,

Where Turing broke an unspeakable code.

Polling over the Ship Canal - views of Winter Hill -

And on to the 602; another story:

Salford; Tony Wilson and L. S. Lowry.




Supermarket Sweety


Walk in beauty

My own true love,

The stars above

Have a duty

To light beauty

Like yours, my love.

O in Asda

They worship her,

In Sainsburys

Her they would please,

And in Tesco's,

Also Waitrose,

And Morrisons

Glad orisons

Will praise beauty

Like yours, my love.





Lydia Dwight Resurrected. V&A Museum Number 1054-1871


She wears her shroud lightly now, Lydia Dwight,

Each fold testament to a modeller's skill,

Life-referring blooms at her feet, a skull

As memento of the grave's chilly blight;

Her figure sculpted in clay, bluish-white,

Worthy of any fine Renaissance school,

All-luminous, but still with death bed scowl,

A risen child, salt-glazed she plays with light.

How else would England’s first master potter

Give material expression to his grief

Save through the medium of stoneware clay?

What more fitting, more elegiac, way

Of reaffirming his hope and his belief

In life eternal for his dear, dead daughter?





The Road to Hull

The sign said Welcome to Kingston-upon-Hull

But, underneath, someone had scrawled

Mindless bastard centre of the North.

Greetings signs are always bull,

But if I lived there I'd be appalled

That some embittered no mark in

Life should see fit to sally forth

And shame the long-time home of Larkin.


East coast names don't help, of course;

To Hull add Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Goole,

They're all as depressing as Hell

But surely not a reason to force

Some sad misanthropic fool

To calumnise an innocent port

(Allowing for the fishy smell);

I hope the dirty rascal's caught.


Sadly, he may not be alone:

Larkin himself called Hull a 'dump'

And slagging it's now a merry

Sport. Let the City Chiefs chafe and moan,

Something about it gives folk the hump.

But Hull suited Larkin just fine,

One senses it on the ferry:

Freedom at the end of the line.





Animal Magic


Oscar, the hospice therapy cat, knows -

Predicts - when a patient is about to die.

Upon the almost-dead he bestows

A feline benison. He'll go and lie

With the stricken one - curled up on their bed.

He's not alone; I've even heard it said


That unusual animal behaviour

Can presage storm, flood and 'quake - a kind of gift.

So, if science is to be our saviour,

Perhaps it's time for a paradigm shift

Which re-evaluates other species' worth.

Could be there are more things in heaven and earth.





Alternative Histories


I slept my way to Hell last night,

I was in the trenches, on patrol,

Bathed in a flare's implacable light,

Perhaps I found a spacetime hole

Into a parallel universe,

One that was infinitely worse.


It's happened several times before:

A glimpse of another world so clear,

The sensation of being sure

I could touch it, it feels so near,

So palpable, so very strong.

You think you understand? You're wrong.




Particle Participles


Schrödinger's cat, is he alive or dead?

He must be both, quantum theorists said;

Indeterminacy is the game that's played:

No outcome exists until measurement's made.

Out of idealism that notion's grown:

Nothing exists until it is known.

But, notwithstanding this point of view,

Sub-atomic reality just won't do:

The thought that macroscopic articles

Could behave just like single particles

Which can defy both reason and rhyme

And be in two places at the same time.

So, regardless of whether Puss is in sight,

He's either dead or alive, not both, right?




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 -