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The dull grey segues through to spring. Not a single

snowdrop nor a lonely daffodil raises its head.

All are dead. The grail of stored life rotted away.


As days lengthen the stifling sun does nothing

to alleviate the saturated mud. An acrid stench rises

from the awful swamp. 

                 from They promised the Earth by Sheila Schofield 







Part 4 - in solidarity with Ian Dury

Roman Holiday

Something to declare  I Rewind

Something to declare II Fast Forward

The Precipice...a short 16mm home movie, Bavaria, 1939

They promised the Earth

The knock

A question of coloour

Winds of change

The Peace




1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Sheila Schofield


Sheila Schofield Large is a poet and poetry tutor living in France.  Her poems have been published in several anthologies and online.  Her first chapbook, Thin Ice, was published by Mosaique Press in 2019 and her next, The vastness of the sky is due for publication in September 2022 also by Mosaique Press.  Her poem Winds of Change was commended in The Poetry Society Stanza competition in 2017 and published on their website.  The Precipice, a short 16mm home movie, was highly commended in the York Poetry Prize 2019 and a recording of the poet reading this poem is published on York Mix.  Sheila is president of a French literary charity, Artemesia, which organises readings, events and competitions on line and n South West France. 






Part 4

in solidarity with Ian Dury


Our cue comes from the quick hit of your rhythm stick.

Timing that bumps along yet never misses. Forbidden 

rhymes that strut about and spit impatience. Naked

and shameless. Hammersmith Palais, Bolshoi Ballet,

equal votes and porridge oats. We rocked and pogo-ed

to your poetry. 


You honed the penetrating wit that fired out quips like

stones from slingshots. Cleaved your tortured path an

asymmetrical genius. Fought your corkscrew corner

with courage dressed as arrogance. Spasticus Autisticus

the battle-cry of outcasts.


We are your tribe. As one we rise. Our amputated limbs

could crawl the globe in several girdles. Blind, deaf and

mute we refute disabled labels. We are normal. It is they

who cripple us. We are Spasticus. We are legion. We are

one-eighth of their billions.


If the Earth turned on its axis to the rhythm of Spasticus

we would dance into infinity on two wheels. And If the

world were truly equal and acceptance universal, we’d

ride moonbeams, slide down starlight, we’d have

reasons to be cheerful.


Roman Holiday

after Juvenal (circa 1st to 2nd century CE)


These days satire is subdued. The news too bleakly

absurd to amuse. Who can credit a word in this world

turned arse-about-face against its own convoluted codes

of morality. Mortality is cheap. How easily we forget that

Empires expire. Rome stole democracy from Greece,

then twisted it to fit. The Senate itself a magnet for sadistic

endeavour. The Circus Maximus a forever doomed roar.

Whilst we are armchair voyeurs. Transfixed, as missiles

soar into another victim’s war. Crushed limbs and stricken

faces out of place on our supersized sofas. An invasion of 

our cosy reality. For levity we ogle the elite. Devour royal

antics. Hold street parties mired in nostalgic ire. Replete

with home-baked opiates; prosecco & poppy seed picnics.

We wave our arrogant passports as Hypnos leads us

sleepwalking through hoops of fire. And the ringmasters fiddle.

Lies drive a deadly bus through democracy. Soon it will be dead.

Yet we have our own grotesque circus.

Please pass the bread.

Something to declare


1 - Rewind


The Union flag rises over Brussels and flutters in a

new dawn. We care little for economic unity but can’t wait

to take our little English lives over a channel afloat with hope;


choppy with opportunity. Our brightly striped espadrilles

barely brush Calais in the rush. Espadrilles. We taste the word

with thick coffee and toffee apple tarts in village squares


where quick lizards hide in ancient stones. From sleepy trains

poppies flash through cornfields and a light-fingered mist lingers

on lime green hills. Like filings to the magnet of youth our band


expands. On dusty attic floors mattresses sigh with sleep

and the occasional whisper of amour. We earn an honest sous

serving foie gras and garlic snails on starched white linen.


Survive on ratatouille and rough red wine. In late bars looks

smoulder as we gather stoop shouldered over French tobacco.

The dark-eyed boy with the American lighter proffers Gitanes.


By day we lay on scorched sands. Supine. The brave among us

sublimely naked. The sloe-eyed boy continues to offer; blue smoke

ever calling to the gypsy in my soul. The gypsy who dances over


the drab past and catches a crystal-ball glimpse of the clasped hands

of unity. Holding a future that is safe in solidarity, rich with hope

and bright with the cloudless skies of summer.



II - Fast forward


The heart that once flipped at the flick a zippo

is now as dark blue as my new passport. The tatters

of the floundering flag lie at the feet of another continent.


Torn apart by the rent in the fabric of our future. St George

has slain the dragon and traded himself in poor sacrifice.

We are alone. A miserable little island mired in misplaced


nostalgia. Rigid with the dread of other. We turn our cold,

lonely backs on the warm sands of our youth. Face a world

that shifts over unchartered swamplands. We have stripped


naked the fragile identity that shied from the chance to wear

true unity. Divorced the sisters that shared our turbulent

history. Severed the hand once held in ethnic brotherhood.


Perhaps I should have gone for the all-over suntan. Said oui

to the Gitanes. Moved on with nothing left to regret. Now

I mourn those toffee-apple tarts. Our coffee is Americano.


Our espadrilles are uniformly black. Yet still we embrace our

neighbours in solidarity and a fragile hope that one day

they will take us back.

The Precipice...a short 16mm home movie

Bavaria, 1939


He cuts a fine figure. Mein Herr.

Bolt upright against the granite craggs.

Squinting into winter sunlight. Not tall,

but somehow compelling. His bark

outsnaps my terrier. Testier

than his own vulpine hound. 


In command of the Emperor’s new sleigh,

he stalks blood-stained footprints across

icing-sugar snow.  Devours strudel

with his Disney. Sneewittchen his favourite.

Snow White I am not. I am Gretyl. Chasing

happy-ever-after through dark woods.


He turns to share a narcissistic glare

with my camera. I beckon him to the left. 

He ignores me. Thrusts an unforgiving boot

on to a ledge of ice-slicked scree. 


His face is a picture. Mouth agape. Hands flailing

in futile salute.  Arse over self-important tit.

Auf Wiedersehen. Gute Nacht.


I told him he was too far to the right.



They promised the Earth


A proper winter, they forecast, with hoarfrost

on the hedgerow. Snow and berries, red

as madness.


But rain tsunamies through dank streets

where the slate sky hangs low enough

to touch; fingers no longer nipped with frost.


The dull grey segues through to spring. Not a single

snowdrop nor a lonely daffodil raises its head.

All are dead. The grail of stored life rotted away.


As days lengthen the stifling sun does nothing

to alleviate the saturated mud. An acrid stench rises

from the awful swamp. 


And autumn? Now I truly mourn. The word itself

woven with ochre mist and rich, fungal musk. Now

we trudge through rotten green and puce sludge


that follows us...like retribution.


When I know that we are way beyond the cautionary,

is the day the word season disappears altogether

from the dictionary.

The knock


They meet in that secret place,

these three sisters-in-arms of peace.

Ears still ringing from the onslaught

of words that hurt every bit as much

as sticks and stones. At times the verbal

battering is worse. Now they huddle

together to rehearse what to do if discovered.

If old lives come knocking at the well-meaning

door of sanctuary.


One fears for her face.

Acid has been a frequent promise.

Another for her life. The slick flick of the knife.

The pitiless hands. Her slim, obedient neck. 

The third holds a dead weight inside. Unable

to voice the awful truth. The terrifying conviction.

That if he were to arrive, indignation ablaze; anger

contained behind the iron face of coercion,

she would find a way

to return to him.

A question of colour


He is a man of orange. And of red; thrilled by the scorch of

umber sands. The fires of sunset. He is unmoved by the

generic brown which has become itself a race to those

who have no real interest in his culture. Brown


moves nothing within him. Unlike the scarlet elipses

of prickly coral; the vermillion of water lilies; the myriad reds

of the desert honeysuckle that scrambled over crimson

hibiscus in the lush of the garden at home.


Not for him the cool hues of the north. These he leaves to her.

She plants sky-blue ipomea to spiral up the cold face of English

brick. Creates a cobalt drift of bluebells at the feet of dark trees;

sows gentian, campanula, larkspur; scatters cornflowers to sway 

through new wheat, the pale gold of her hair.


North and south. Opposites of the globe. Complements

on the colour wheel. When they swirl together an amethyst

jewel emerges. Violet as sunrise. Red-blue as blood. The purple

extracted from rare snail glands in ancient Tyre. Favoured by

Moses; demanded by Roman generals. The purpora of Homer;

the poetic footwear of Sappho.


These two will not be defined by simple colour. Neither brown

nor white portray anything of this celebration of difference.

Their mixing, which is more rare, more precious, than all

the riches of Tyrian purple.





Recreating Tyrian purple dye required 12,000 rare, spiny-dyemurex snails to make enough to dye a handkerchief.

Winds of change


I set about my eco house with gusto. 

A rising helix of straw bales beneath

five oscillating wind sails.  Ingenious.


My sister was more gung-ho

when she got the bug.  A rustic chalet

with log walls.  Deep in the woods.  Snug.


He had to go one better.  Big bro. 

With his massive redbrick pile.  Soaring turrets,

the odd twisted spire.  Sheer arrogance over style.


Indestructible.  He boasted.  Smug sod.

One night the weather turned with dire

consequences.  A hurricane howled round


the full moon.  The log cabin soon became

a nubble of firewood.  The top-heavy towers

did for the faux chateau.  Razed to rubble.


My straw house took flight.  A whirling

quinquereme.  Landed right side up. 

Unscathed.  By a babbling mountain stream. 


Tell the truth I’m glad of the excuse

to get out of that place.  Apart from the awful weather,

rumour is there’s a ferocious wolf on the loose.



The Peace


We grew up on the north side of a lamp-black

lake in the Auberge de la Paix. That knew little

of peace.  Or comfort.  As my father raged over


the reservoir at his bête noire, M. Heureaux,

patron of the Hôtel de Charme.  Basking

in sunlight.  Windows winking above boxes


of pink pelargoniums.  Jasmine twined.  Wisteria

adorned.  A rakish moustache of blonde beach

curved beneath warm, ochre stone.  The ancient


doors invite.  Visitors flock.  While our crenellated

gothic horror broods.  Gardens sulk.  Roses shrivel. 

Unkempt lavender, violet as a bruise, skirts


the once-white rendered walls, where black mould

blossoms.  The vicious polémique over fishing rights

endured conflagration and occupation.  Provided


the perfect excuse for insults.  ‘Collaborateur.’

Each side would mutter.  Dishonestly.  But history

moves on.  Weather alters.  Summers blister. 


Fish expire.  Rains lash.  Flash floods rise high. 

Higher.  Heureaux sandbags his doors.  Fears

for his window boxes.  His treasured beach


long gone.  On our decrepit terrace my father

bides.  Scans the fragile dam for signs of breach. 

Raises a defiant glass to Heureaux.  Against


this unfathomable tide.  And across the old divide.





The Precipice...a short 16mm home movie

First published on line by York Mix 2019
Winds of change

First published by The Poetry Society in 2017 and in Thin Ice, Mosaique Press, 2019

The Peace

First published in Thin Ice, Mosaique Press, 2019


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.