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.




I remember it well...

Out of the oven: a white-hot rock,

Like a Pompeii lava bomb,

Or dinosaur’s egg.

We marvelled at the ingenuity,

And chewed it



                 from;  Soda Bread in the Seventies by Helên Thomas






     Love Poem For My Disco Glitter Ball That I Bought In Kao San Road Bangkok For A Snip

      Free Market Forces

      Soda Bread in the Seventies

      On Being a White Square

      Season To Taste

     Do You Think She Killed Him?

      the culinary puffer fish as metaphor for my cutting words

      Poetry for Children;

          Scabby Knees 

          Memory Beach

          My Holiday 




1 – BIOGRAPHY: Helên Thomas


Helên Thomas is a Northwest UK based performance poet whose first taste of poetic success came in 1985 when, aged 17, she was a prize-winner in 'She' Magazine's National Poetry Competition with 'Ode To Bad Poetry'. In October 2000 she won the Manchester Poetry Festival Slam. She has performed at a range of venues including libraries, tents, a canal barge, an ancient historical monument, lots of pubs and an inflatable peach.

Helên has organised events for Warrington’s Hot Wire Events and The Lymm Festival. She was actively involved in Warrington Community Press, which produced two publications, one of which was ‘The Hotwire Slam Anthology’. Her poetry has appeared in numerous books, magazines and online and she has been commisioned to write  bespoke poetry on a number of occasions. She was commissioned to write a ten-minute performance poem to commemorate five years of The Lymm Festival, and has been on the festival's panel of judges for the annual creative writing competition on three occasions.


In 2008, Helên's book of poetry for children, 'We Are Poets!' was published. Helên regularly performs her poems and delivers workshops in primary schools. She has just released a CD / download album which features some poems from the book, along with previously unpublished poems, many set to the music of her partner Owen. The album is available from www.helnthomas.bandcamp.com


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






Love Poem For My Disco Glitter Ball That I Bought In Kao San Road Bangkok For A Snip


My glitter ball sees all

with its flies’ eyes

It never cries

or sheds a tear

It does not drink beer

despite spinning around a lot at parties

It's not a drunkard

or a tarty


Its relatives I've seen on 'Come Dancing'

though it doesn't much go in for romancing

It's reflective and quiet and has moody swings

but we never argue about anything

It's at its best when the sun's at an angle

bouncing beams off the walls

making spangles

of globing orb strobing square snaps of light

It never studies but my ball's very bright

clad in a multi faced mirrored mosaic

juggling daylight as I awake

launching dawn lasers around multi hued

this revolver shoots bullets of sheer pulchritude

It's a piece of suspended animation

broken reflections in rotation

and I ask,

"Would you rather be flat on a wall

in a flat, on a wall, Ball?" 

And with its smile shaming sheen 

It gives no reply

enigmatic as ever

I suspect

that it's shy.








Free Market Forces


Buy that! Want this? What’s that? Want it? Go on, you need it. You’re worth it. Why not? This month’s must have. You can’t be seen without it. What, not got one? God! You’re worthless. Nobody loves you. Nobody wants you. Get it? Got that? What if you dropped that? What if you break it? Better buy a warranty. Better get a spare. Be prepared. Buy some extra bits. Now you need an add on. Come on! Better get a move on. Oops, now it’s obsolete. Better get an upgrade. Yours is old. You're out of mode. Better get the new mold. Remodelled, repriced, re-sold. What’s that? Wrong colour? Got scratched. Take it back. Better get a better one. But hang on! That cost a few bob. What if you get robbed? Better buy insurance. Better fix a fence. Get a gate. Get alarmed. Get armed. Join the neighbourhood. Watch. Buy a better watch. Better than your neighbour: Mrs. Jones. She’s so chic. Collagen and cheek bones. Fixed loans. Sticks and stones. You’re going to die alone. Better buy a mobile phone, an i-pod and a Rolex. I bet you don’t get much sex. Work out where’s your six pack? Join a gym or get pissed? Watch your weight. Lose don't gain. Mind the gap. Take the train. Watch yourself. Avoid a sprain. Break your wrist. Here’s the twist. Get a lawyer. Be a victim. Get a counsellor. Get neurosis, necrotosis. Get a second diagnosis. Open wide. Got halitosis?  Better buy this. Gives you fresh breath. Butter wouldn’t melt. Yes! I beat the breath test. Buy big butts and bouncing breasts. Soft touch? That’s the acid test. Bigger, better, faster. More! Get a gun. Buy a war. Build a wall. Build a barrier. Buy a harrier jet. Get a contract. Make a killing. Market forces. We’re all willing. Free to pay. Never, never. What you say? What’s the cost? Just one dollar. Every day. Bargain.


['Free Market Forces' was published in 2007 in 'This Poem is Sponsored By' - Corporate Watch's 10th Anniversary Anthology.]




Soda Bread in the Seventies


In the days before chest freezers,

And old Doctor Atkins,

We had power cuts and bread strikes;

Panic buying in the Co-Op.

But Mum stayed strong,

When we ran out of bread,

She baked her own,

With soda instead

Of yeast.

I remember it well...

Out of the oven: a white-hot rock,

Like a Pompeii lava bomb,

Or dinosaur’s egg.

We marvelled at the ingenuity,

And chewed it

All the way through ‘Basil Brush.’

She never made it again.

Not long after that,

They invented ‘Pot Noodle’.



['Soda Bread in the Seventies' was published in the anthology 'Taste', Clan-U Press 2006]



On Being a White Square


I'm a crisp linen tabel cloth lovingly laundered,

A communion wafer that’s strangely four cornered,

I’m a canvas primed for a colourful brush,

Or a fresh fall of snow before treading to slush,

For industrious Inuit I am a brick,

I’m a glue-crafting child’s chiselled Pritt Stick,

I’m a slippery, hard slab of heart stopping lard,

Or a mini, hotel fridge cooling the bar,

I’m a wedding cake, frosted, its details awaiting,

I’m a Christmas card ice-rink ready for skating,

Perhaps I’m a sugar lump plopped into tea,

Or an empty price tag on something that’s free,

I’m a synthetic moon for mass manufacture,

A monologue’s script improvised by an actor,

I’m a homemade cube of peppermint cream,

The record of last night’s unrecalled dream,

I’m next year’s photograph album’s first page,

I’m an old lady’s age.

I’m a gallon of milk in a transparent tank,

An ungrateful person’s letter of thanks,

I’m a naked calendar lacking a date,

I’m the nouvelle cuisine emperor’s new plate,

I’m an anorexic’s favourite menu,

The last man on earth’s party venue,

A four walled tunnel’s end that’s in sight,

Might be, maybe, a square of light.


By Helên Thomas (Published in 'The Ugly Tree' Poetry 'zine issue 19 and also in 'Best of Manchester Poets', published by Puppywolf, 2010)

Youtube link (audio) http://youtu.be/WqT2P5MVWp8



Season To Taste



In spring I simmered Easter bunny stew,

Beneath its skin: dumplings of myxoma,

For caviar of lambs’ eyes and of ewe,

Ram-raided the carrion crows’ larder,

Fried bulbs of daffodils and bells of blue,

Their shoots adorned pasta primavera,

For cappuccino frothed spit of cuckoo,

With jam tart wounds: tacky red stigmata,

For drastic weight loss, I prepared for you,

My special: tagliatelle toxocara,

And plastic-surgeons’ pinky residue:

Liposuction taramasalata.

The outcome was not what I had contrived,

You gorged yourself, yet somehow you survived.


In summer, kernels of apricot ground,

And marzipanned cake fit for a new bride,

Then digitalis ‘vine leaves’ wrapped round

A mulch of garden molluscs, that died,

From slug pellets, or cider slow drowned.

For black peppercorns I utilised,

Laburnum and lupin secrets I found.

Dishevelled salad I tossed, which comprised

Of rhubarb's dark green to keep your sleep sound,

Before which, nettle stings I stitched inside

Your dental floss; then I urged homeward bound

To your mouth, African bees' suicide.

Come breakfast all I could heave was a sigh,

For all my efforts you deigned not to die.


In autumn: sundried, road-kill casserole,

Cow-bar culled, magpie inspected, pecked,

Blood marinated potage of pothole,

Maggot-riced, rock salted and flat packed,

Morsels tweezer-peeled from tarmac’s clefts,

With sulphur tufts and rare game braised, I served

A spill of tongues with juicy marrow cracked,

Then Granny Smith’s most vile windfall dessert:

A boozy, worm-holed sludge of apples bruised,

For raisins: drunk wasps and blue bloated flies,

With nutty gravel crumble, clay clods baked;

Poured septic sauce called ‘custard’ on the side.

Three portions later, to my sad surprise,

My favours failed to bring forth your demise.



Dead winter saw sorbet of yellow snow,

And warm umbles spice-mulled in caribou,

With goblets steam full of festive Merlot,

Spread giblet fois gras from geese with bird flu

For nibbles: old starving snowmen’s noses

Made carrot soup; and dubious fondue

Tainted taste buds with tuberculosis,

From gobbets of phlegm hacked into tissue,

I sauced for pasta evergreen pesto,

Of nasal descent and I laughed when you

Guessed, “Hmm, truffle oil?” You hadn’t noticed,

When you’re tucking in, that I never do.

Then as Christmas re-lit our attraction...

You died from allergic nut reaction.



Link to audio: http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_1447473


[Published in 'The Ugly Tree' Poetry 'zine issue 19]




Do You Think She Killed Him?



Sunday: summer’s newly wed innocents,

Urban garden, with cuttings, bedding plants,

Task: to assemble a raw, yellow fence,

To the buzz of traffic, in the distance

Bleak beneath spilt ink school uniform skies

the persistent sizzle of thunder flies

sealed in a city, all breeze paralysed

a dead afternoon is hung out to dry... 


Her memories: ominous, creeping blue, stained

mending a fence, a day spent, mundane

where spiky punk green grass, rails against grey

of an egg-box town, on a normal day...


Sit-com old neighbour with beige cup of tea

helpful, in slippers and baggy cardie...

“Pass the hammer Ben!” is Frank’s final ask

 a throaty rude suck; a life draining rasp

sounds from his mouth like an emptying bath

plump tongue: a glistening alien, vast

into his throat, autonomous, sliding

“Come on Frank!” They try to rouse him...

..but nothing...


a tragic, practical joke, near banal

nightmares ambushed, Franks lies there still

he’s a small doll held in her sometimes dreams

lullabies drift him to sleep in her arms...


She recalls work first aid course simple rules

There’s something about the tongue; they take turns

saliva sticks lips, like envelope gum,

lolling in gaps and failed airways, his tongue

a slippy grotesque; now she grabs his jaw,

groping for space into which breath can fall...


Asleep she conjures a dazzling fraud,

elbow deep, she’s hauling  yard upon yard

From Frank’s dead throat glittered seaweed stinking,

strings of sausages, fake flowers, bunting,

a grande finale out of Frank’s gullet:

 six white doves and a pink fluffy rabbit

 He stands, to applause, gasps, and elation,

Hands held they bow to the crowd’s ovation.


The paramedics arrive; she observes

Like telly, she’s sure they’ll jolt him alive...


With opiate infused, warm milky drink,

 She tucks him in bed, and kisses his cheek.


“There now, you’ll feel better in the morning.”




the culinary

puffer fish as metaphor 

for my cutting words



The Japanese word

‘sushi’ means ‘it is sour’

sometimes it’s lethal


blowfish or puffer

by another name fugu

often is fatal


prepare for repast

take out prandial peril



deadly delicious

clean cuts render edible

go gall bladder, guts


bile free and spineless

sound bites edited; souped up

vitriol punctured


unsayable truths

filleted for consumption

in palatable portions


raw cyanide, sliced,

diced, redesigned, redefined

‘that’s nice’, served with rice


Published online:




Link to audio:http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_2150256








Memory Beach


At weekends, on holidays, in all sorts of weather,

With swimsuits and wellies we go to the beach,

With buckets of upside-down sand we build castles,

And dig moats around them that fill up with sea.


We gather dry starfish as brittle as biscuits,

Driftwood sandpapered and washed by the waves;

Pebbles, glass smooth, shaped by years in the ocean,

We sift through the flotsam for shells in shy coves.


We ponder the rock pools and wonder of mermaids,

Tell tall tales of jellyfish stings and jump clear,

Dare to touch seaweed and dead crabs, so stinky,

Jabbing and jousting a snapped craggy claw.


As pirates swashbuckling, we plunder dune islands,

Tumbling down gullies of hot windblown sand.

Playing cool cowboys and super Sioux Indians,

We slay mutant monsters until the day’s end.


Back by the bay, the tide’s turning, waves breaking,

Invading the shoreline, the swell of the sea 

Floods moats; our fortress defences fall crumbling,

Collapsing sandcastles that sweep clean away.


By Helên Thomas (From ‘We Are Poets’ Flapjack Press 2008)

Also published online at www.nthposition.com


Link to audio:http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_2081076





 Scabby Knees 


Scabby knees! Scabby knees!

Can I pick them, can I please?

They’re so itchy, brown and scratchy,

Crusty, flaky and quite nasty,

Like burnt pastry on a pasty,

If I pick them Mum might catch me.


Scabby knees! Scabby knees!

Can I pick them, can I please?

Can I scratch them, can I pick them?

Can I pull bits off and flick them?


Scabby knees! Scabby knees!

I got them falling from the trees,

Onto the hard ground with a thud,

Playing games of Robin Hood.

My knees would be scab free they would,

if I’d fallen in the mud!


Scabby knees! Scabby knees!

Can I pick them, can I please?

Can I scratch them, can I pick them?

Can I pull bits off and flick them?


Scabby knees! Scabby knees!

Look like they’ve got a  bad disease,

Crispy coated with dried blood,

Underneath there’s gunky crud,

I would ban them if I could,

Scabby knees are just no good.



By Helên Thomas (From ‘We Are Poets’ Flapjack Press 2008)

Link to audio: http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_4595702




My Holiday



My holiday looks like an old tin can:

Rusty old, dusty, fusty, musty caravan.

My holiday looks like a giant belched the sky,

Frightening the sunshine, making trees cry.

My holiday looks like a bag of soggy chips

That’s fallen in the bucket that doesn’t catch the drips.


My holiday sounds like pelting hail stones,

The chattering of teeth, a chorus full of groans.

My holiday sounds like a car that feels unwell

Clanking to a standstill like a dying carousel.

My holiday sounds like squabbling grans,

And the pained peeling ‘ouch’ of overdone sun tans.


My holiday feels like a greasy deck of cards,

That slimes on your fingers like slugs in lard.

My holiday feels like scratchy pointy rocks,

Or water in wellies seeping through socks.

My holiday feels like nettle stings on feet,

And the pink bumpy dot to dot of prickly heat.


My holiday tastes like sweaty sunscreen trickles,

Sour blackberries plucked from under bramble prickles,

My holiday tastes like chips beside the sea,

Campfire smoke, and hot sweet cups of tea .

My holiday tastes like ice cream and candy floss,

Crisps and sandwich crumbs swigged from bottles of pop.


My holiday smells like sea air surfing the tide,

And funfair hotdogs on the pier with onions fried.

My holiday smells like a novelty steam train,

Or walks at dusk through cow fields after rain.

My holiday smells like molten motorway tarmac,

And forgotton mouldy butty sludge in my back pack...



3- 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

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