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.



of course, for sure! It wasn’t

one but two – meanings, I mean – a twin

string of words, like pearls, like

DNA, a double helix

looping through my brain, two



                 from; Caduceus  by Gabriel Griffin





Lament for an illegal immigrant   

Out of Africa


Blood bath

Vu’ Cumpra’?

Nicotiana tabacum.L

Well, I Never Fell for that Story of the Americans Landing $$$$$$$


The Nuns’ Araucaria

The Nunnery Boiler                             

Lab dog




Gabriel Grifffin,

Isola San Giulio, 28016 Orta NO, Italy.   poetryonthelake@yahoo.co.uk



Childhood in Wales, now lives on small island on Lake Orta, north Italy.


Founder/organiser of Poetry on the Lake, Patron: Carol Ann Duffy: annual competition, festival and events on Lake Orta, Italy, (www.poetryonthelake.org), editor of anthologies and  Poetry on the Lake Journal (annual, in preparation N° 3). .


Poems published in: Scintilla, Peterloo, HQ, Poetry Life, Acorn, Still, White Adder, Leaf, Envoi, Blinking Eye, Barnet, et al. Prized and placed in many competitions. Founder/organiser of Poetry on the Lake annual competition & festival (www.poetryonthelake.org ),

Own collections: Campango and the Mouthbrooders, Transumanza (www.poetgabrielgriffin.com)









Lament for an illegal immigrant   



No moon, but fishermen

are used to that and the sea’s chanting,

the descant of the nets. The decks

silvered with sea verses,

the minims and trebles of fish

hushed into songbooks of ice.


Something didn’t sing, humped

in the net, thudding onto the deck.

Its ears heard no notes, its eyes

were blind to the men standing round,

its throat choked with words

that no-one would hear.


They let the sly octopus

sidle to the ship’s side, forgot to stop

the arch and leap of bream.

The sea moaned, the fish

slipped out of tune, the kittiwakes

hurled screeches like broken strings.


The men unfroze, thumped

what didn’t sing, what was lost for words,

over the hissing deck. Tipped that which

had no hope, had never had a hope,

back to the sea. No

word, no hymn, no prayer.


But the rags of its clothes cried. The sea

beat its fists on the boat. And the wind got up

and howled till dawn.




Out of Africa


We fly into Africa on an all-in,

They boat out of Africa all in.


We’ve taken a taxi to the airport.

They’ve jolted a week in a scorching truck.


Our plane is pressurised.

In the truck it was 50° C.


Our aircraft is the latest jet.

Their craft is a leaking boat.


The stewardess serves drinks of choice.

Their water bottles run dry halfway.


We are coach-borne to 5 star hotels.

They are chucked into the sea still far out.


We see rain forest, silverbacks, mountains.

Their shore is a lava cliff, wave swept.


Not many see it.







You don’t always notice them. The thorn

and tangle of years has smudged

their alien forms, but there –


under the berries and briar, the lizards’

flickering, a slow-worm curled easily

in their bulks’ dark hollow –  they urge


their granite stolidity, their right

to stay where they rest. No return now

to the arid slopes, the mountain’s


sterility, the wind’s hard blowing. Too

ponderous to go further, the force

that had driven them spent, deposited


in an alien land; dull in leaves’ shadow – 

still each molecule bears a memory

of feldspar, mica, quartz,


and glitters if touched by the sun.




Blood bath

Illuminated manuscript, Strasbourg, early 16th century.


The usual crucifixion: Jesus hanging

limp like some old teacloth used to dry

more plates than it could cope with, then

abandoned sodden on a nail. Blood. Blood,

oozing, spotting, spurting, dripping,

gushing from the teacloth, rushing from

the wounds and thorns

splashing into


a wooden tub. The tub’s

at the foot of the cross, along with

a skull, stones, bones, and a number

of unidentifiable flowers – perhaps

one is clover. I suppose you could call it

a flowery mead, seems more appropriate, seeing

that in the tub a young woman –  pretty, blond –

is wallowing nude. In Christ’s blood.


Brings to mind that scene in East Sheen years

back when a lorry, skidding, lost its entire

close-packed load of ketchup – that was before

plastic bottles. No-one was hurt, thank God, but

ambulances ferried to and fro all day scooping up

the swooned. The police, after consultation, removed

the warning ACCIDENT

and replaced it with FILMING IN PROGRESS

till the mess could be washed away.


And our star actor is still

hanging from the cross. Stand-ins                                                              

by the thousands. We’ve lost count of

all the retakes and since it’s not

our scene can get on

with something else. We’re strong-

hearted, have seen it all before, don’t

mind a bit of gore. We

jump right in.




Vu’ Cumpra’?

(A popular Italian term used to denote illegal African street pedlars,

 a corruption of the phrase Vuoi comprare? Want to buy?)



Try dodging.  But there’s

one a block at least, opaque

against the shops’ bright lights.


You’re stopped.  Roast chestnut scent

slinks off, gives way to breath

of pepper, acrid herbs that bite.


A  knitted cap, coat oversize, wools

that scratch and stifle shine.  Only eyes

spit neon light.  Guess he takes turns


for shoes and beds, no ochre sands, hot

cobalt skies.  No, no thanks!  Nothing

I need or want to buy.


A watch?  Good!  Opens his thin coat:

watches in rows.  Like medals on those guys

who run his rundown land, worth


as much, I bet, as these.  No, thanks.  I try

a getaway, I’m blocked – Socks?  Pure wool!

Who does he think he fools?  I don’t want


a dud watch, acrylic socks, a cheap lighter,

pirate cassettes...Here, mate, take this, have

something hot.  Grazie.  His voice


sounds flat.  He turns away.  Poor sod.

I ask you married, mate?  A wife?  I curve

both hands to chest, cup phantom boobs.


A grin. The Metro rumbles underground.

Repeats my mime, makes tits oversize.

Wha-if in Africa.  Very good wha-if! We laugh.


Bambini?  His large hand opens, fingers wide.

Looks up: beyond the viscid lamps

a lurid moon, choked in the filthy skies.


His kids with locust legs, I bet, and white

lamb’s eyes. Kids who pull herbs, suck bones

and nibble bits of mushroom moons


that swell and blow their bellies out; below

dark skin faint globes of light – A torch?

I buy the torch. Sirens howl, brakes yelp.


I call Good luck ... and to your wife and kids!

Black beetles hovering – winging off – his eyes.

He pads loose-limbed, questing through the herd.


From  slaughtered lands the sounds of flies.




Nicotiana tabacum.L

“... a viscid annual or short-lived perennial”


In Umbrian fields: stooping, tanned, straw

hats over cotton fazzoletti, they slowly pan

down lines of green; the flowers cow-lung

pink, clustered in a brazen showing.  Heat

shimmers the scene unreal; a card discarded from

a faded pack, its colours smudged and blurring.

On shaded terraces we pour cool wine, gaze while

they heap the baskets, carts, and straighten

sighing take the loads in lines to sheds,

seeds of sweat and tiredness shining.




No, thanks, I don’t! Leaves shrivel, twist,

contract like hands whose fingers yellowing

lose lymph, as they their cool ellipses.

Heat swirls the smoke haze of the shed;

in the darkening day a choking, bitter scent.




You cultivate flowers of your own; their petals

soft as ash, flyaway as clocks of dandelions.

Cut it out! Or down, at least. You’re young... 

You laugh, inhale, breathe blossoms newly blown,

whorled, impalpable, feathery as down.

I close my eyes, see petals flake, fall, form

loam where spores seed, mycelia creep

and black fungi slowly grow.





Well, I Never Fell for that Story of the Americans Landing $$$$$$$



she said the moon ) in Turkey

is more how do you say ? ? ? beautiful…

we asked but

Surely !

it’s just the same = as = here

she smiled : - ) & the next day

brought a Turkish moon (

& hung it on the wall

it glowed ( gleamed ( glared (

we stared enchanted °°  °°  °°

and we got quite hooked

on its dancing horns () )( () )(






After. Raking through

what you’d said. Banal and yet –

some phrase not clear, a word

ill used, a meaning

still obscure –


of course, for sure! It wasn’t

one but two – meanings, I mean – a twin

string of words, like pearls, like

DNA, a double helix

looping through my brain, two

serpents twined around

my spine, a caduceus

of mixed intent, a promise to

be picked up if...


You went. I’m left.

Trying to recall – how did

that riddle go? – which of two

to ask the way

if one tells the truth, the other

lies blind and you

don’t know who

is who?




The Nuns’ Araucaria



Not at all the kind of tree you’d expect to find

In a monastery garden. It squears above the wall

Its giant fingers horning the heavens, effing

Up at the skies. And the nuns who moved in have

Left it there, yet chopped down

The stammering mimosa, the cherry whose blossom danced

A Swan Lake over the boughs, the sacred yew by the gate with

The scarlet berries we plucked and sucked and spat at

The monastery well. But a monkey puzzle?


Was it an abbot who had planted it, a symbol

Of life’s labyrinth or of evil’s intricacies? Did he intend it

To stand as a speechless sermon long after he’d died?

Is it a warning of purgatory’s trials or a statement

Of the life we are confusedly living: snared, squittering

In Fate’s mesh while the Dark Hunter, unmoved,

Looks on? Or does it symbolize nothing

At all, have no significance, is just a prelate’s whim,

A caprice to slip between the lines of the Rule?


From my window at night that tree plays games

With the stars; tracing a Nine Men’s Morris

Over the mooning sky. Soundless as shadows nuns

Slide under its boughs –  who’s to tell if it grabs at their

Veils or pricks them on their way? Or do they –

For some penance or for a sly joy – clamber

Into its bristly branches, struggle out of their

Caught and cumbersome habits and wriggle,

Naked and lithe as monkeys, up to the winking stars?




The Nunnery Boiler                             


In the black

Heart of the night

Something wakes me


Not quite a sound

A purring below

The range of hearing

A drumming

A vibration under my body

Under the bed



No lamp swings

No window trembles

I rule out earthquakes

Feel the throb

Wonder if it’s their


Vibrating through

The walls and rock


It’s not night

To the brides of Christ, they

Affirm the Lord’s name

Before cockcrow

Slipping off night robes,

Sliding into black habits; only

The novice’s veil

White as the dawn still

Tied behind the hills.


On the blind

Window pane frost

Has pinned arcane

Symbols; grotesques

Glitter like sins. Cold

Is crouching at the foot

Of my bed, ready

To snap and bite my toes.


But waking them sweetly at dawn,

Assuring them of God’s love,

Enfolding them in blessed warmth,

Is their own animal spirit –

Hot and throbbing.




Lab dog



The truth today’s a vivisected dog.

It screams but makes no sound, its vocal chords

were slit by those whose coats and words are white

as ticker-tape that falls to hide dark ground.


We manufacture lies: production lines

of fiction, fantasy, romance, sci-fi;

spin hides the politicians’ sleights of hand –

they juggle power and profits while kids die.


In countries racked by famine, Aids or war

Death rides in triumph brandishing a scythe

we all have helped to sharpen. Our main care

is for ourselves –  just want an easy life!


Don’t venture near the lab to look inside –

they’ll shoot you down, afraid that dog still bites.



Publishing History


Lament for an Illegal Immigrant – Barnet Anthology 2005 and published with Rumenian translation online at Translation Caffé 2008

Out of Africa –Private Photo Review 2008

Outsiders – published on line with German translation and in And the Story Isn’t Over poetry pRO 2009

Blood Bath -  Barnet Anthology 2004

Vu’ Cumpra’?  Private Photo Review 2008

Nicotiana Tabacum L. - online www.poetrypf.co.uk

Well, I Never Fell for that Story of the Americans Landing $$$$$$$

White Adder Chalk Face Muse EFL Anthology 1999, ed. Martin Bates

The Nuns Araucaria – Peterloo 2006

The Nunnery Boiler – Bloodline, Blinkng Eye 2007

Lab Dog – Barnet  2008    




4 - Afterword

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