Series Editor - Jim Bennett

Introduction by Jim Bennett


Hello.  Welcome to the next in the series of CITN featured poets.  We will be looking at the work of a different poet in each edition and I hope it will help our readers to discover some new and exciting writing.  This series is open to all to submit and I am now keen to read new work for this series.


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




The girl on the underground is a sartorial time traveller.

Navy high waisted pencil skirt tightens over her ripened

bottom, blue pinstripe shirt, demurely buttoned up to the

collar, sets her rocket breasts on a youthful trajectory.


                 from; Time Traveller  by Fiona Sinclair






     Unfinished Business 

     Self Portrait. 


     Please don’t bother the bride          

     When a sex symbol takes to sensible shoes 

     Last Rites. 

     Time traveller. 

     Nest Egg 

    The Contract. 


     Family portrait.  Published: 





Fiona Sinclair



Fiona Sinclair has taught English at Secondary level for 15 years. Her poems have been published in numerous reputable magazines including

Moodswing’, ‘Obsessed with Pipework’ , ‘Snakeskin’ and ‘Ink Sweat and Tears’.


Her first pamphlet ‘Dirty Laundry’ was published in 2010 by Koo Press, Scotland.  A second collection is due for publication late 2011 by Indigo Dreams Press.


She is the editor of the on line poetry magazine ‘Message in a Bottle’.








Unfinished Business



At 16 a crush, trying every strategy in ‘Jackie’

magazine to divert his gaze from the girl with

the ‘Purdy’ haircut. Caught his mates sniggering

at her ludicrous capercaillie courtship, so stomped

out of college. Mother could have talked her round

but was distracted with her married man and a swarm

of unpaid bills. For years, dreams familiar as TV

repeats, not of the boy but the jilted A’ levels. Her

clutch of O’ s meant ordinary jobs, clerical, receptionist,

several attempts at night school until mothering mother

became a full time occupation. The Autumn after her

death, she signed up for A’ level Literature. Slumped

in a chair in his ‘Reservoir Dogs’ suit, the tutor wearily

addressed the class like a CIA recruiting officer : most

would drop out and the average result was a fail.

Nevertheless the following week she began to grope

her way through the ‘The Franklyn’s Tale’. Turned up

for one lesson mildly concussed after the snow had

thrown her like a frisky horse. Sent in a tape recorder

as proxy for a session she had to miss. As the exam

dates began to march towards her with bayonets fixed,

she sold her allocation of advertising space with the

frenzy of a city boy trader then hid in a telesales cubicle

swatting up on ‘King Lear’. Outside the exam room,

her friend gabbled hare eyed between gasps of cigarette,

whilst she responded in nods.  Afterwards pitching up

at work raving like a drunk about tricky questions.

In January the tutor’s phone call surprising as the

notification of a competition win, I‘m not supposed to

tell you the results but…her tourette’s outburst of joy

causing colleagues to grin and cover their receivers.

Now she takes night trips to New York, where she

chases the Manhattan skyline like a dropped £50 note

and wakes frustrated as if from an erotic dream.




Self Portrait.


Her father’s curls, which despite tantrums

at the hairdressers, mother kept shorn, citing

Julie Andrews and Twiggy as cropped haired

beauties. At 16, she entered a hair growing

contest with Rapunzel. But her adult locks were

neither curly nor straight and refused to learn new

styles painstakingly copied from magazines,

‘Lazy hair’ the stylist at Vidal Sassoon labelled it

 like a teacher issuing a bad school report.

 Now middle aged she owns £100 straighteners

powerful as industrial laundry irons. Nevertheless

needs conjurer’s props of hats and scarves to repel

damp that still spins her hair into candyfloss.

Her father’s skin too, waking up one morning

at 13 to find the acne fairy had paid out generously,

coating a glaze of grease over her face like candied fruit.

Class mates who had blossomed into Jenny Agutter

were entertained by her lunchtime application of

phlegm green mask followed by the monstrous

peeling of her face like a Roald Dahl witch.

At 30 her epidermis became hysterical, defending

itself from so much as a dirty look by throwing a

tough carapace over every  injury. Until her upper

body is littered with scars like botched tattoos.

For years she ignored her boyish breasts like a mental

double mastectomy. No attempts made with push up

bras to put them on display for fear of glimpsing

an extra bump.  Jumped as if touching another woman’s

when she brushed them with her hand. And like a

Victorian prude never looked at them. Then at 40

nature gave her a boob job confirming unfortunately

that she has her mother’s breasts. Attempts at self

examination find their touch loathsome as dead flesh.

Envies women who joyfully pet theirs like puppies,

because hers are a pair of time bombs waiting to go off.








She was a honeymoon baby. Her virgin parents believing

that week in Eastbourne gave them immunity from conception.


Her impression on mother’s figure, a small bulge as if she was

digesting a large meal. So pencil skirts and stilettos need not be


given up for sensible shoes and smocks after all. Shopkeepers

still flirted and business men continued to eye her up in the street.


As the screaming ambulance muscled its way through the city’s

Saturday traffic , despite the blackened out windows discrete as giant


Sunglasses, mother clasped her clammy dressing gown around her

and tried to smooth her ruffled hair. Brought to a temporary stand still,


she peeped out and glimpsed ‘Julie’ wife of her old flame traipsing

along in a cream linen dress, swinging a department store carrier bag,


and lay back tearfully on the stretcher. Labour was like childbirth

in a Victorian novel; sombre nurses and doctors on standby.


Her first public appearance as a mother, the cricket match, where wives

sat in cars and waved to each other like passengers on passing trains.


Whilst she flicked through fashion magazines, sleeping daughter

was cradled by the back seat. Suddenly he was at the car window,


Prince Charming who had defied Fairy Tale convention by marrying

an ugly sister. ‘She has her mother’s looks’ his words oozed like syrup


down her throat.  Afterwards she saw, shameful as incontinence, the dark

stain creeping across her navy sweater, the breasts that had so far only


produced a drizzle of milk, chose now to express themselves.





 Please don’t bother the bride



She makes the ideal extra in a wedding video with her

extravagant white picture hat and vintage tea dress.


Chooses to sit near the wall on one of the red velour and

gilt chairs ranked like theatrical soldiers in a light opera,


studies the order of service as if she was a slow reader;

simultaneously trying to imagine the friend closeted in


a secret tower of the country hotel, attended by her mother

and sister, thrifty fairy godmothers who conjure their prudent


magic to transform outfits and materials sensibly bought

all that year in sales, into fantastic bridal paraphernalia.


A dusty cassette player begins to croak the wedding march.

She turns .The gown that seemed unremarkable in the shop


when her friend bought it at half price, without trying it on,

her Madame de Pompidou hair, garnished with a tiara and the


waxy bouquet translates her into a Wedgwood figurine.

 She is Marie Antoinette amidst a congregation of suits


without ties and cardigans. Post ceremony, the pair stand on the

lawn, co-joined figures on a vast wedding cake. She hovers at their


side, tongue tied in the presence of the film star couple. Sips

warm Pimms and nibbles occasionally at the corners of polite


conversation with other guests. Eventually manages to deliver

her excuses like a sick note for games, exempting herself from


the reception where she would be placed on the white elephant

table with widowed great aunts and a dateless nephew.


One week back from the honeymoon and the friend calls at her

usual time 8.30 am. Over tea and cakes they smoothly pick up


 their discussion where they had left it. But clothes and books

 and her friend’s PhD must budge up to accommodate her casual


references to John now, who elbows his way into their conversation.






When a sex symbol takes to sensible shoes



Suddenly across the store, through a middle aged

bottle glass blur, I spot blonde hair familiar as a logo,

but hesitate unable to make out that fantasy body

drawn by an adolescent boy on his exercise book.

Close up, these photographs from the ‘Misfits’ are like

meeting an old friend after a debilitating illness.

Trademark eyeliner has become heavy shutters closing

on the empty windows of a house whose occupant has left.

Her body still forms a perfect 8 but is not gift wrapped in

gold lame instead she is a hillbilly’s wife in white cotton

Sunday dress posing in a Steinbeck farm yard.

Looking down the barrel of the camera, lips no longer

part in the throes of an orgasmic O, but are forced into a

localised smile. The confection of a single 1950s picture

draws my eyes like wasps to a baker’s window, leaving me

craving other heyday poses, addictive as sugar.

Paying my last respects to the snapshots from her final film,

I notice, more shocking than being shared around like a

joint by the Kennedy boys’ club, her comfortable shoes.




Last Rites.



She went to Boots from habit, selecting Rimmel 

because neither woman had ever touched the brand.


 A man led her into the grisly Santa’s Grotto,

 then reassuringly stood sentinel.


At first sight, shock, her mother appeared to have

been snatched by grave robbers.


 She would never have chosen to be seen dead in

 the elaborate white funeral gown.


The daughter’s final duty now to protect her from

 prying eyes that might pay a peep show visit.


Striking up a one sided conversation, like a

hairdresser with a darkly quiet client,


she forced her fingers to dab the make up on, tolerating

the clammy, stiffened flesh for only a few minutes.


This time the cosmetic alchemy failed to conjure

up her face, casting instead the indelible image


that her mother had sunk into a profound sulk.





Time traveller.



The girl on the underground is a sartorial time traveller.

Navy high waisted pencil skirt tightens over her ripened

bottom, blue pinstripe shirt, demurely buttoned up to the

collar, sets her rocket breasts on a youthful trajectory.

Despite the carriage’s bumper car jolting, she balances on

death defying stilettos like an accomplished trapeze artist.

Although her Siamese cat’s eyes peep out through letter box

spectacles and her harvest of blonde hair is gathered into a

generous bun, this girl is not waiting to be transformed in a

‘Why you are beautiful Miss Jones’ revelation, because like

Marilyn in that dress, she is more erotic in her 50s costume

than standing stark naked on the tube. Yet there are no Sid

James remarks from the suited men, builders in dusty denims

and youths in shorts, who surrounded by casual girls oozing

flesh like a gallery of Reuben’s nudes, stare only at her and pant.







Nest Egg



That last week, dealers fooled by the bungalow’s

shabby exterior were dazzled by its contents like

explorer’s finding the treasures of a pharaoh’s tomb.

Objects that belonged in another house, bought

when her parents realised filling a Victorian villa

was like colonising a new country. Father had sat on

the Georgian settee whilst biding for it. Mother had

made up at the Hollywood dressing table. A come

down for furniture and family after his death, crammed

into the council bungalow, where sturdy oak legs

tripped up feet and protruding tables bruised knees.

Since mother’s death, daughter had regarded the place

as a furnished let, half expecting her parents to have their

effects sent onto them. Now dealers soon recovered

themselves to haggle over rose wood chest of drawers

and ebony chairs. As each deal was struck, the rigmarole

of manoeuvring the pieces through narrow doors and halls.

Leaving daughter with a pile of notes feeling as if she had

sold her siblings. But each piece took a secret away with it.

The solid kidney shaped sideboard had become a speakeasy

for mother’s daily stash of Mateus Rose. Mahogany book

cases had looked down on her various cottage industries

from Thursday night sex with the lodger to tarot card readings.

Money placed into the greasy palms of occasional tables. 

On the final night, daughter dismembered the saggy three

piece suite and the two spent single beds. Dragging their

remains outside to be carted away like plague victims.

That last morning, she heaved clothes in bin bags and

books in boxes into the back of a friend’s van, sprang up

into the passenger seat clasping a new savings book

containing £750 and the vehicle sped off like a get away car.                  





The Contract.



Silence for twenty years, then at the last minute,

the daughter summoned her mother with a whisper.


Grim giggled reference to Sunset Boulevard as the

granddaughter shakily tackled her mother’s make up and hair.


Manoeuvred somehow in to a conveyance hideous

as the electric chair, the daughter listed tipsily,


allowing her bankrupt body to lay bare the

narrative of her last twenty years.


Already partially absent, the daughter’s words

dissolved upon her tongue,


 enabling the mother to adopt the role

 of  sympathetic hospital visitor,


whilst the quickening disease slide diplomatically

between them like an impenetrable glacier.


A further twenty years before the granddaughter realised

the significance of the summons.


There on the cusp of death, despite mother

and daughter steadfastly remaining alien flesh,


an unspoken agreement made, that the

granddaughter was reconciliation by proxy.







Illuminated photographs of lilies

invite us to drown our sorrows.

Economy of space means comfy seats

are placed uncomfortably close.

Beside me is a woman whose bulk

is not loss of control but a massing of strength.

She is painted in colours that nature

warns are dangerous;

aggravated by a comedy hat.

In her urgency to organise her weekly medication,

she overwhelms a small table,

loudly tabulating her days.

On my right is a man dressed

elegantly to disguise his status,

who betrays himself with a

monologue into a mobile.

Suddenly, he demands more than

silent agreement from his listener.

Instinctively half turning his body

in a cue for privacy, he extorts loyalty

with the clichéd line ‘I can’t do this on my own’,

that seems inadequate to his demand, 

but he charges it with a tone of ferocious despair,

that carries a threat to them both.

This is a waiting room for patients whose

afflictions have turned them inside out.

Despite the walls attempts at tranquillity

our symptoms like unruly pets will not be house trained.




Family portrait.



This old carrier contains the remains of

a jumbled family jigsaw whose puzzle

lies in the tale-tell outline of vanished lives.


A few of you went underground, lay in wait,

until distracted hands digging in drawers

disinterred eyes that still could not be met.


Time travelling back through tiny windows

of history even faces estranged by youth

remain as potent as their owner’s presence.


Strange suddenly to find this platonic version of you

surviving untarnished in the memory of a friend,

here you are entirely innocent of the people you became.


Slower than growth, some of you are allowed to

creep back, given temporary lodgings in shadows.

House ghosts whom we must learn to live with.




3 Publishing History

Unfinished Business 

Self Portrait.   published: Snakeskin. 

Motherhood    Published: Snakeskin

 Please don’t bother the bride   Published: Ink Sweat and Tears.        

 When a sex symbol takes to sensible shoes  Published: Grey Sparrow Journal

   Last Rites.  Published: White Leaf Review. ‘Dirty Laundry’ Pamphlet Koo Press.

 ime traveller.  Published: Ink Sweat and Tears.

Nest Egg  Published: Snakeskin

The Contract.  Published: The White Leaf Review and Anthology.

 Wonderland.   Published: Obsessed with Pipework.

 Family portrait.  Published:  Aireings





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 -