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The cottage door opens. A woman blinks

at acutely angled sunlight. He stands. She

hurries to the gate as if she would give chase,

calls: This railway was the death of Grandfather.


              from The old line through beech woods  by Lesley Burt 






1.      The Kiss

2.      Corfe Castle at sunset

3.      The godmother

4.      Parish without postcode

5.      The old line through beech woods

6.      Home-hunting

7.      Driving home through February

8.      Women Picking Olives, by Van Gogh

9.      Following footsteps

10.  Escher hands out a gift




1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Lesley Burt


Her poetry has been successful in competitions and published in magazines over many years, including: The Interpreter’s House, Sarasvati, Reach, Dawntreader, Prole, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Tears in the Fence,  and The Butchers Dog; also online, including by the Poetry Kit, Long Exposure, The Poetry Shed, Algebra of Owls, Strange Poetry and Ink, Sweat and Tears.  Her pamphlet was Highly Commended in the Mslexia/PBS pamphlet competition 2018.







The Kiss


Twilit meadow and star-filled night –

mirror fragments spin together,

a migraine of gold-foil, crimson, sapphire;


music thrums a trance of flowers, dance –

forgotten; entwined, until sunrise

shatters Lucy-in-the-Sky’s fake facets.




Corfe Castle at sunset


From a turret, the raven discharges

another series of discords. Jackdaws

peer out of fissures, thresholds gape.


Watch from the motte: a train’s fat steam-trail

channels parallel hedges, stops, swells,

disperses among village chimneys.


Footfall ruffles only dandelion-clocks.

Below, on the station platform, a guard 

blows a whistle, raises a lantern. Wheels clank,


dining car rattles; women in feathered hats

sip tea, titter into gloved fingers – never

notice a raven launch into flight.





The godmother


Twilight rides pillion: roadside lemon trees,

oleanders, olives, merge with dimness.

Her scooter halts its putter near Taormina.


She coughs in the doorway; waves a card,

gold-embellished, looped with script. Ash wafts

into the scullery, sprinkles the stove.


Fortunes to claim, she purrs, ten million

when you wed oil, far side of the Med;

holds out the card: your invitation to dance.


Her scarlet Rokett – dull in Etna’s breath – drones

down the hairpin; cypresses needle dusty sky.

Saucepans gurgle garlic, basil, tomato.





Parish without postcode


A sink-hole opens, just where the Priory sat in scrutiny of tweedy textures on Hengistbury Head and, beyond, on asterisks of sunlight that dazzle jet-skiers who ruffle the Solent. Bones of a thousand years drop in underneath daisies they pushed up, plus the man on a sit-on mower who beheads them every week. The confluence of Stour and Avon cascades in, mingles with mill-tail and Mill. Dozens of dinghies wobble among bobbing ash-filled urns. Ducks dabble in horse-chestnut leaves, mackerel gleam between dandelion clocks, salmon leap over slouching gravestones and swans bow necks before guardian angels. The clock paddles its hands and chimes out waves of Westminster Quarters. Brides are bedecked for the bells on Saturdays and a choir sings on the cusp of Christmas. The mower-man hears nothing beyond ear-defenders as he navigates undercurrents, sticks, stones and bones. Street signs are buried beneath the broken church that named the town. Parishioners flounder in all directions.




The old line through beech woods


A runner stretches – alternate feet on a log –

near a thorny hedge. Shadows waver across

his white trainers. Leaves fall, tesselate

a dead-straight path with brown, red, yellow.


The cottage door opens. A woman blinks

at acutely angled sunlight. He stands. She

hurries to the gate as if she would give chase,

calls: This railway was the death of Grandfather.


Nikes raise dust as the runner disappears

where beech trees lean into his path. Rooks

settle beside tousled remnants of nests,

witness the closure of the cottage door.





The traveller – dazed by acid-yellow fields,

cornflower sky pierced by hawks and poplars,

cloud-shapes of leaves, feathers, towers –


listens to urban folk talk of stark scenes

in black-and-white, cities drawn Gothic

with spires, shadows, nuances of grey;


wanders a winter in ancient woodland

where brambles tug ankles; stumbles among

twisted roots, deadfalls, lightning-tree totems;


sleeps on leafmeal while the forest shimmers

in its glaze of refrozen frost and implies

possibilities of a hot, crackling hearth.




Driving home through February


Constant engine hum,

hiss of wet road, sloshes


where moats border verges

after weeks of rain;


branches write on dampness

of pale,  cloud-streaked sky,


to remind me of Ashbery’s 

the way trees, centuries old,


drink deep, stretch wide

to breathe, touch neighbours


soundless until ruffled,  

and today their only green


is mistletoe clumped too high

to reach, too late for Christmas.


Too soon for spring,

rooks gather, test positions.




Women Picking Olives, by Van Gogh


There are those who see beyond the weight

of spires, buttresses and hymns; hassocks,

gravestones, grey shadows, damp crypts, cobwebs;


more than seasons' rhythms: rain on fields,

nuances of green – grapes, olives, the heat and chatter

of harvest’s casks, baskets, wilting basil and oregano;


to a universe where trees, seas, creatures are as yet

unclaimed by names; they see how earth rolls inside – 

not underneath – swirling sky. 


Following footsteps


Sudden –  the mother’s death – she wobbles

takes to wearing the old lady’s shoes


keeps them soled and heeled, polishes

over scuffs, wraps in soft scarves

nestles them in bandboxes at bedtime.


The sisters go up West, parade Jimmy Choos

and Prada in Bond Street and Soho


while she conceals her toes in old slippers

to watch Saturday Kitchen, pops feet

in old Crocs when she weeds borders.


Until a friend helps her make a stand –

takes her to Russell & Bromley and clubbing.


On Saint Crispin’s Eve she leaves

after midnight, barefoot, hand-in-hand

with a man who strokes her tingling insteps.  



Escher hands out a gift


His face stares back from the sphere,

eyes wide – the better to see himself –

mouth masked by heavy moustache

that droops its corners. Behind him,

his history fills bookshelves, pictures,

lit by windowpanes that acknowledge

worlds beyond his room. All this

reflected in one hand that offers

so many strangers something of himself.




The Kiss –  Three drops from a Cauldron Issue 17, July (ed Kate Garrett)

Corfe Castle at sunset – Highly commended in Poetry Kit Summer Comp 2018 (Judge Jim Bennett)

The godmother – commended in Welsh Poetry Competition 2018 (Judge Sally Spedding)

Parish without postcode – Sentinel Literary Quarterly Champions SLQ April 2018 http://www.sentinelquarterly.com/april-june-2018.pdf (Judge Mandy Pannett)

The old line through beechwoods – commended in PK Winter Comp 2018 (Judge Jim Bennett)

Home-hunting – Three Drops from a Cauldron, Midwinter edition 11th Dec 2017(ed Kate Garrett)

Driving home through February in Reach 233 (ed Ronnie Goodyer)

Women Picking Olives by Van Gogh – Long Exposure 10/09/17  (ed Daniel Williams) https://longexposuremagazine.com/2017/09/10/1149/#more-1149

Following footsteps – The Poetry Shed https://abegailmorley.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/following-footsteps-by-lesley-burt/#comment-4368 (ed Abegail Morley)

Escher hands out a gift – Poetry Kit December Project 2018 (ed Jim Bennett)


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.