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picture of Helen Thomas

I have a friend who doesn’t age,

Her D.O.B’s not static,

Her diary never turns the page,

Her portrait’s in the attic.


                 from The Secret of Youth by Helên Thomas 







Four Ants Recreate Abbey Road Album Cover With Everton Mint.

Suddenly, somewhere,  a vegan teetotal transplant survivor starts writing peculiar poems.


If You’ve Nothing to Hide There’s Nothing to Fear...

The Secret of Youth


Out of time

Children's Poetry:
I Went On A Trip And Then I Came Back, 
And Here Is A List Of What I Packed…
The Odd Monster Out
I'm So Excited, It's Halloween!







Helên Thomas has been writing poetry for over 40 years. She has worked as a performance poet, writing for adults and children, and  has performed at a range of venues including libraries, schools, festivals, a canal barge, lots of pubs and a giant inflatable peach. Her book of poetry for children, 'We Are Poets!' was published in 2008.

In 2013 she joined forces with electronic musician Owen J. to release an album of absurdist cheeky synthpop. As one half of 'Tingle In The Netherlands', Helên provided vocals and lyrics for the album, 'Why Can't You Write Something Nice For A Change?' https://tingleinthenetherlands.bandcamp.com/

More recently, Helên has been  creating experimental soundscapes and music, some of which has been used as a background for her poetry.  Audio is available here:  www.helnthomas.bandcamp.com

For more information please visit: www.helendthomas.co.uk





Four Ants Recreate Abbey Road Album Cover With Everton Mint.


We're not the Beatles

we're just four hairy ants

we cut vegetal

things like leaves and plants.


One day we found a

lovely thing to eat

it was stripy

and it tasted sweet.


It was minty

and it was black and white

we dragged it back home

it took us half the night.


We gave it Queeny

she varnished it with honeydew

she said, “Don't eat this

whatever else you do!”


She made us place it

on a thoroughfare

in the garden

and told us to take care


crossing the highway

because of wasps and bees

she said the striped thing

would help us cross with ease.


And so we placed it

exactly where she'd told

us to leave it

straddling a bee road.



Audio: https://soundcloud.com/helendthomas/four-ants-recreate-abbey-road


Suddenly, somewhere,  a vegan

teetotal transplant survivor

starts writing peculiar poems.


My kidneys wrote me a letter:

they thanked me for all the tea,

and voiced their approval

of my much reduced

alcohol consumption,

though they did still enjoy

the occasional gin and tonic.


They weren’t quite so keen on

my twelve-hour winter sleepathons:

extended duvet days, which they said

made them feel dried out, sluggish

and dirty. They voiced their hope that

I never become a Jehovah’s witness.


They thanked me for shunning

The Atkins Diet, but mentioned that

they wouldn’t mind trying Vorderman’s detox,

or at least the latest antioxidant infused, dairy-free,

Tibetan snowberry juice with added flavonoids.

They seemed quite well read for kidneys


I wondered, how did they look;

like identical twins? Or was one slightly bigger,

more dominant in a passive-aggressive

whiny campaigning way, whilst the other,

quiet-life-loving kidney would happily acquiesce.

Were they as jumping bean jocular as their smooth,

smiley, kidney shape might imply?


Then I re-read the letter, and realised that

it was all about them; just a list of demands.

Not once did they ask about me;

they couldn’t care less how I was.

Who did they think they were?


I filled in my donor card

and stepped out blindly

into the centre of the road.



At dusk I see five, each owning one bough,

Spare feuding grey sisters, this grave quintet,

Keeps relative distance to disavow,

Round-shouldered resemblance in silhouette.


Dripped dry, reject, water-colour vultures,

Pointless as buds of fake paper flowers,

In profile, their unopened demeanour,

The hunch-worn shrug of stoical failure.


But then, in tune, each steps from stave to air,

As sun parched dhows leave dock for the ocean,

Reclaiming grace, the medium is theirs,

Like ageing swimmers in transformation.


From cartoon gargoyle to animation,

Their cargo all secrets of creation.



If You’ve Nothing to Hide There’s Nothing to Fear...


I’ve got nothing to hide so I stopped wearing clothes. It was summer. Some people pointed and laughed. Others looked shocked. Some women, who’d stared, seemed smug yet relieved, which was fine. I like to spread joy. A few neighbours frowned and one or two jeered, men mainly, but only in front of their aghast, tutting wives. I got banned from the newsagent’s as the top shelf girls looked on...


I decided to put a toilet in the front garden. It was fully plumbed in, safe and clean, but outside. This would mean no need for aerosol air fresheners, after arse exposure to the elements, so surely much safer for atmosphere and environs, plus more vitamin D for me, for free.


It was on my land, but people complained; I asked them why. It was fully flushable, and they were welcome to use it themselves if caught short en route to the shops or whilst demonstrating with their placards outside my home. Their spelling was atrocious.


Someone contacted the police about my bare faced nakedness and my outdoor toilet. Surely it didn’t need planning permission did it? It was taking up the same amount of space as the neighbours’ pampass grass, or a small garden sculpture.


Apparently, it wasn’t so much the toilet that was the problem, it was the fact that I used it regularly whilst wearing no clothes, “I’ve got nothing to hide!” I said.


But they still locked me up. The toilet remains, but is now full of geraniums.



The Secret of Youth


I have a friend who doesn’t age,

Her D.O.B’s not static,

Her diary never turns the page,

Her portrait’s in the attic.


It’s never bothered me ‘til now;

Her business is not mine,

But recently I’ve wondered how,

She doesn’t pass the time.


For me I think the hour has come,

To voice my fears or mention,

That whilst she stays forever young,

One day I’ll draw a pension.


And though she’s got some years on me,

The gap grows ever shorter,

I fear that in a year or three,

She’ll claim that she’s my daughter.


Of course I wouldn’t rumble her,

Or cause her to lose face,

And if time ever tells on her,

She’ll grow old in disgrace.





Beware the spores! They are growing bigger, more numerous and better organised (except for the ones that are getting smaller; so small as to be invisible to the human eye.) They attract their victims by emitting a unique bait of pheromone musk scent that smells of money and admiration. They are artificially intelligent; they learn from mistakes.

We can sell you special goggles!
Tick the box if you’d like to receive a catalogue.

There’s an unseen Disney film locked in a vault. It’s about a beautiful forest full of cute animals who all love each other. They can all sing, dance and talk. They’re all vegetarians and their individual foodstuff of choice can be found in abundance along with clean spring water, which bubbles into sparkling streams. The animals frolic joyously and have lots and lots of fun. Nothing else happens; it’s all quite lovely. They all live happily ever after, from beginning to end.

Not available to buy.

There’s a worm made of tar. It has no skin or bones. It feeds off plasma and platelets, and wears the walls of your blood vessels as its exoskeleton. It divides by binary fission, doubling and doubling like time-lapse gothic botulism. You can see it spreading underneath your skin, filling your capillaries until they creak. You’ll be compelled to rip out those strangling black threads like faulty electrics or rapacious weeds. There are procedures: we can arrange to have your veins lined with lead.

Tick the box if you’d like us to send you a catalogue.
Your statutory rights are not affected.


Audio: https://helnthomas.bandcamp.com/track/protection


out of time


the egg timers were hers:

a stickler for the perfect boiled egg,

she could break any shell, and know

if it hadn’t had three exact minutes.

that was her quirk, worse in hotels,

sending back, insisting on precision.

I remember one time,

in a Kathmandu guesthouse,

she returned half a dozen;

she never gave up.

everyone bought timers,

for Christmas and birthdays,

she owned thirty-five,     

her age when she died.


she’s been up there five years,

some climbers say they spoke, offered help,

but she said she’d be fine; they’re liars.

on their ascent, she was just sitting there,

they must have known,

she’d run out of oxygen, and time,

they couldn’t waste theirs rescuing her,

they’ve different rules climbing Everest:

morality’s a burden; it gets left at base-camp.


as far as I know, I’m alone,

Dad’s a mystery; Mum wouldn’t tell,

Grandparents gone, now it’s just me,

I can’t have children,

it’s just one of those things.

but I want family,

blood not surrogates,

so I’m going for Mum,

I’ll bring her down; if that can’t be done,

I’ll send medics to her,

she’s young, fit and frozen,

her eggs must be OK

they have to be.


still, the hardest part is reaching her,

and the harvest. I’ll do what I have to:

raise money, learn the skills, climb,

however long it takes, I’ll get there

sooner or later,

we’re a very determined family.


Audio: https://helnthomas.bandcamp.com/track/out-of-time



Poetry For Children:


I Went On A Trip And Then I Came Back,

And Here Is A List Of What I Packed…


An assortment of anoraks and ankle socks,

Bright bouncing beach balls blue,

Castanets, a camera, chopsticks and a clock,

Don’t forget the didgeridoo,


Essential equipment for all expeditions,

Flip-flops and a Frisbee,

Gloves and a guidebook that’s the latest edition,

Hula-hoops and a hanky,


Important information, ink-pens and ice packs,

Jumpers, jeans, pyjamas,

Kites, ketchup, kaftans, knickers, kickers and knick-knacks,

Luggage labels and leg warmers,


Marmite, make-up, mobile phone, magazines and maps,

Nailbrush, nightie, nachos,

Open-toed sandals, ouzo, oven-gloves and macs,

Pantaloons, back-packs and ponchos,


Quick acting, queasy quelling, travel sickness pills,

Roller-blades and loo rolls,

Slippy, slimy, sloppy sunscreen that very often spills,

Toothbrush and trainers with insoles,


Underpants, umbrellas and umpteen other things,

Verruca cream and vests,

Wellies, woollies, waders, waistcoats and water wings,

Xylophones and X-ray specs,


Yellow Pages, yoga mats, yams and a yashmak,

Zebra patterned swimsuit that’s stripy white and black,

I went on a trip and then I came back

And all of it fitted into my rucksack!


Audio: https://helnthomas.bandcamp.com/track/i-went-on-a-trip-and-then-i-came-back-and-here-is-a-list-of-what-i-packed




The Odd Monster Out

There once was a monster family,

And they lived in a big monster house,

The youngest of all was Emily,

She was timid and coy as a mouse.

Her brother was ugly and hairy,

Teeth cracked like an old crocodile’s,

His roar was ear-splitting and scary,

From him people would run for miles.

Her sister was blobby and smelly,

With two heads: one blue and one green,

Her body would wobble like jelly,

She was nasty, rude, horrid and mean.


Emily's Mum was called Myrtle,

She was evil with hair made from slime,

Her skin made her look like a turtle,

It was rough and as green as a lime.

Em's Dad was grey, gloomy and grumpy,

He would grizzle and whinge, and he’d moan,

His face was like porridge; all lumpy,

And he weighed three million stone.


Emily disliked her family,

She wanted to scream and to shout,

But she was too shy to get angry,

So she was the odd monster out.


She was quiet and gentle and fearful,

Being monstrous just wasn’t for her,

She didn’t enjoy being dreadful,

She preferred being kind and demur.


So one day she said to her family,

“I’m not a good monster; I know it!

Being terrible  just isn't my cup of tea,

So instead I think I’ll be a poet!”



I'm So Excited, It's Halloween!

In fancy dress, I'll paint my face,
Pumpkin carving is really ace.
I'll save the inside orange gloop,
To cook a cauldron of spooky soup,
For zombies, ghosts and ghouls to eat,
Then off we go to 'trick or treat'.

I'm so excited, it's Halloween,
Haunting time. I could scream!
I'm so excited, it's Halloween,
Haunting time. I could scream!
I'm so excited, it's Halloween,
Haunting time. I could scream!

Out they come, the moon and stars,
Jack-o-lanterns light the dark.
Goblins giggle and werewolves howl,
"Too-wit-too-woo!" says a passing owl.
Witches cackle and lost souls moan.
Skeletons shimmy and shake their bones.

I'm so excited, it's Halloween,
Haunting time. I could scream!
I'm so excited, it's Halloween,
Haunting time. I could scream!
I'm so excited, it's Halloween,
Haunting time. I could scream!

Watch out for thirsty vampire bats,
And wicked witches with sleek black cats,
Casting spells in pointy hats,
Mixing potions with frogs and rats!
While Mum and Dad drink blood red wine,
Dracula dances with Frankenstein.

I'm so excited, it's Halloween,
Haunting time. I could scream!
I'm so excited, it's Halloween,
Haunting time. I could scream!
I'm so excited, it's Halloween,
Haunting time. I could scream!


Video: https://youtu.be/FubnM6iHLLI



'If You've Nothing To Hide There's Nothing To Fear'  published in 'Best of Manchester Poets, Volume 3.' Puppywolf  March 2013.

'Protection' was published on the [now defunct]  Nth Position Online

'I Went On A Trip And Then I Came Back,  And Here Is A List Of What I Packed…'  from 'We Are Poets!' by Helên Thomas, published by Flapjack Press. www.flapjackpress.co.uk



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.