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.



Books line walls, obscuring

cobbled streets, slate sky,

wooden passers by,

lines of tourists snaking

across the grass, waiting


                 from In a Glass House by Oz Hardwick







Cow Parade: Brussels

A Train and a Fox

In a Glass House

Mid Wales with the Lights Off

Hitch-Hiking in French Cinema

Stari Most, Mostar


The Gift

Cow Parade: Milan

Passing Over




1 – BIOGRAPHY: Oz Hardwick


Oz Hardwick is a York-based writer, photographer and musician, who has been published extensively worldwide, and has read everywhere from Glastonbury Festival to New York, via countless back rooms of pubs. His latest poetry collection (his fifth) is The Ringmaster’s Apprentice (Valley Press, 2014). A keen collaborator with other artists, his tanka sequence co-written with Amina Alyal, Close as Second Skins (Indigo Dreams, 2015) was shortlisted in the Best Collaborative Work category at 2015’s Saboteur Awards.

Oz is Professor of English and Programme Leader for English and Writing at Leeds Trinity University. In an academic capacity, he has published the monograph, English Medieval Misericords: The Margins of Meaning (Boydell, 2011), edited a number of books on the Middle Ages and myth, and written many articles on the Middle Ages and medievalism.








Cow Parade: Brussels


‘The mad beast of custom must be hunted down’

– André Breton, Le Surréalisme et la Peinture (1927)


The first surprised us on the Rue des Bouchers.

Mapped, antique, it knew its place,

impassive, unperturbed in the mill and surge

of late night diners hitting the town.


We alone were taken aback at the sight,

a proud cow – eyes calm, horns lowered,

tattooed with trade routes long abandoned,

morphed to a map of our distance from home.


Throughout the night more followed,

each unique in its brazen disguise,

playful or poignant, each questioning,

dizzying intruders vying for memory.


Floral, feral, abstract, winged,

spiralled, striped, avian, aquatic,

dancing, diving, yet all calm eyed,

implacable beasts pursuing madness.


As the sun rose we shared one dream.

We followed a skybound herdsman, high

on the Cow Path: Magritte striding stars,

driving his cattle home, singing.




A Train and a Fox


This is not Adlestrop – you’d be hard pressed

to romanticise this unscheduled stop by York

Sewage Treatment Works. The scent of grubby grass

is overpowered by a chemical stench

worse than the stink it masks.


The Class 144 Pacer fails

to add that touch of nostalgic steam –

it’s simply inconvenient at the end

of a long day. There are no announcements

as ‘customers’ fidget and hiss into mobiles.


Then, from out of the scrub by the grey fence –

a fox. Make no mistake, he is not Reynard

or Chaucer’s Daun Russell. At best

he is vulpes vulpes, but won’t answer to that either,

nor will he escape the gallows, nor even talk.


No, as a living, breathing fox, he will not consider

narrative, metaphor, or abstract symbol. Yet,

before resuming his animal business, our eyes meet

and, between a bland train and an unconcerned fox,

hangs more poetry than I will ever write.


In a Glass House


Everything looks smaller inside

as you drift from room to room,

testing boundaries, searching

for the heart of words, a detail

to match your long imagination.


Books line walls, obscuring

cobbled streets, slate sky,

wooden passers by,

lines of tourists snaking

across the grass, waiting


to see their own reflections

in the dead poet’s lines.

At last you find it,

perfectly small, fragile

beneath glass eaves.


The air smells familiar:

pipe tobacco, tomatoes,

paraffin, polish. Your eyes

sting with forgetfulness

shaken loose from years until


catching the light, you discover

a tiny imperfection, scratched

lightly at first, later more firmly,

a dead man’s name,

while, on tumbling shelves,

books catch fire.


Mid Wales with the Lights Off


It is mid Wales with the lights off.


Piling in at dusk, he said ‘it’s fine.’

I had no choice, so said ‘alright,’

slammed the door, left light behind

as he drove down into darkening grey.


As irresponsible as gravity, as mad as trees

crazing deeper darkness, as careless

as desire for things unknown, unseen

we span, we spin through woven lanes,

blinking, near-blind, hoping to see



Looping and jolting, holding

my breath, tensing, tensing more as he

swings against hedges, catches branches,

squashes God knows what, I hold tight

and close my eyes. It makes no difference

but quells the dread of oncoming lights.


My life is in the hands of a stoned driver

and darkness and chance.


      But should I care?

There is rare calm in relinquishing the control

one never really has. This could be anywhere.


It is mid Wales with the lights off.

Hitch-Hiking in French Cinema


She was a classic movie driver: glamorous,

bright eyes glancing, hands off the wheel,

drawing maps and destinies in the air.

Her road knew where to go.


To one side, the slow, silver Loire;

to the other, St Clément, Port St Maur,

blurred placenames. Lighting a cigarette,

she held me with a smile.


Where now? We let the road decide.

Hands off the wheel, she spoke too fast:

I understood few words

but read the subtitles.


Stari Most, Mostar


Twenty years ago there was nothing

where we now sit, smiling for the camera,

doing the obligatory tourist thing,


though the young boy, offering himself

to eighty feet of blind gravity,

would still have been nervous; alert, sweating,


as he hid in a doorway or a gaping window,

fearful of recent friends, now enemies,

the opposite side of torn borders.


But from here you wouldn’t know; sunlight

bright on new buildings, crowds

gathering on the rebuilt bridge


to watch the boy dive, splash

in the cold Neretva, surface smiling,

scramble, panting, onto the bank.


Now, the war is somewhere else,

on TV news, briefly glimpsed

in the backs of bars. I’m not naïve,


I know that in a hundred years

someone, somewhere, will be fighting his brother,

his heart pounding with fear and unknowing,


but against the chaos stands this boy,

gathering change from impressed onlookers

beneath the arch of Stari Most.


Yes, there will be hate, and there will

be blood, but the river flows on,

and we will always rebuild our bridges.




It’s like Don’t Look Now – the blur

of red, the indistinct faces, the white

noise of everyday movement. A house,

a pavement café, elaborate costumes,

ribbons and slashed sleeves. But there’s also

innocence. A young girl rides

a small horse, holds golden flowers,

leads a pale kid before the crowd.


Then that blur of red: cheeks, lips

laughing. A hooded figure slips

from shadow on the far side of the square,

turns away. If I could hear her voice,

I wonder what she would be saying;

what language would she speak?



The Gift


We met on a bridge in the shade of tall buildings.

I recall no details but his neat black suit

and discreet manner, like a high-class waiter,

a faint smell of soap and wet towels.


He passed me a small, scuffed attaché case,

spoke a few words in Italian that I didn’t understand,

as we walked, shoulder to shoulder, awkward strangers,

before he vanished into an anonymous side-street.


As I headed to the hotel, I noticed cracks in the pavement

as, all around, the water continued to rise.

I climbed the stairs to my room, left the lights

turned off, rested the case on the bed.


Inside was a small garden, with bonsai trees,

a mirror lake, manicured grass. Birds

swooped low, skittered at their reflections.

I leaned my head in close, listened to their songs.


Cow Parade: Milan


Her eyes hold years. She has been waiting

with flowers at the station door, remembering

all I wished to forget; meetings

mapped and lost, cities abandoned

to unread guidebooks and closed albums.


Not quite old friends, but familiar strangers,

we reminisce of late-night bars,

narrow streets, the warmth of breath

on winter nights, countless candles,

firelight and strong, dark chocolate.


Her eyes know a past I have glimpsed in doorways

in New York, Prague and other places

searched since first we met, yet

her almost forgotten, familiar face

looks more to futures, mine to choose.


And, for a moment, here we are,

free of cities, man and beast,

beneath the timeless sun, as I drink

her milk of less-than-human kindness,

full, fresh and unconditional.


Passing Over


And when you reach the border that isn’t on the map,

get dressed as soon as the labourers break into your compartment.

And when they start removing the floor panels, try not to meet

their eyes. And when the smart man asks you to fill in forms

in languages you do not recognise, as a young boy

in a crisp uniform crawls through the luggage racks,

try not to dwell on the way you skimmed the small print

in guidebooks you should have read more closely. And though,

when they lead you silently onto the foggy sidings at 3am,

you will inevitably recall cheap paperbacks and grainy movies,

try instead to consider what you truly believe, and whether or not

it is what they also believe. And, most importantly,

when the elderly woman with too much makeup,

sitting stiffly in the over-lit, overheated hut – the only person

who smiles and speaks your native tongue – makes her simple demand,

make sure you are carrying exactly what she asks for.




Cow Parade: Brussels From Oz Hardwick, Carrying Fire (bluechrome, 2006)

A Train and a Fox  From Oz Hardwick, The Ringmaster’s Apprentice (Valley Press, 2014)

 In a Glass House  From CC&D (2014)

Mid Wales with the Lights Off  From Oz Hardwick, The Kind Ghosts (bluechrome, 2004)

Hitch-Hiking in French Cinema  From Oz Hardwick, The Kind Ghosts (bluechrome, 2004)

Stari Most, Mostar  From The Book of Plans, Hopes and Dreams (Beautiful Dragons, 2015)

Carnevale  From Black Light Engine Room (2015)

The Gift  From Bridgewatcher (SPM, 2013)

Cow Parade: Milan From Carrying Fire (bluechrome, 2006)

Passing Over  From Oz Hardwick, The Ringmaster’s Apprentice (Valley Press, 2014)



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 -